Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fire Island

One of the best parts of my job at Corcoran is that it allows me a whole new world of experiences. This past weekend was one of those experiences. Ernie, one of our managers in the Hamptons, invited Antonio and I out to his house on Fire Island. I was skeptical and a little nervous at first. I wasn't sure what to expected, but I worried when the shuttle driver gave me an ominous warning. As I got off the shuttle at the ferry dock, she looked at me and said, "Good luck!".

We took a quick ferry ride over to the island and were greeted by hundreds of people dancing in the club above the dock. Ernie met us at the dock and walked us back to his house. It's an interesting island - there is one main, dirt road. There are boardwalks that expand out from the main road. That's it! There are no cars, no fancy stores. Ernie's house was gorgeous! It was a 6 bedroom home on the ocean. It was impeccably furnished with a beautiful pool. Our room had a view of the ocean - it was like a resort.

Our weekend was really relaxed. We had dinner with Ernie and his friends on Friday night. It was spectacular - in taste and presentation. When gays put their minds to something they rarely do it half-assed. After dinner, we went down to the beach. It was a clear night. It was amazing to hear the waves crash and see the moon and the stars. We had breakfast that next morning at Jim and Jerry's house. They are Ernie's neighbor and they are the definition of fabulous. They lead these incredibly cultured and extravagant lifestyles. They were artistic and witty...and hot! Who knew old men could be so sexy? Antonio and I joked that we could see the power of self-loathing and low self-esteem. Being comfortable with yourself leads to complacency. We laughed as we said this, but kind of feel that neither of us were joking.

We spent all day on Saturday - either on the beach or by the pool. It was so much fun! We watched the sexy guys play volleyball, enjoyed the sun, walked along the water. It was so relaxing because it was completely comfortable. Fire Island is primarily a gay paradise. Guys will hold hands, kiss, dance and there are no disapproving stares. We went to Tea that night. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I figured it wouldn't be like an afternoon in a British home. The bar was packed! It was so crowded, but still fun. We saw Rodney from The A-List New York and no one cared. On Fire Island, he's just another hot guy. We went upstairs and saw Lena T - a transgendered DJ. She was great and the crowd loved her. The deck was shaking with all the jumping up and down and dancing. Lastly, we went to the Pavilion. It was a hot, sweaty mess. Every current gay icon was blasting through the speakers - Britney, Ke$ha, Katy, Gaga, Beyonce. We had a wonderful dinner complete with organic, home-grown veggies and delicious pasta. This morning, we got up and spent some time at the pool before we left to go back to the real world.

This mini vacation will stick out in my mind because it was such a departure from my comfort zone. I was nervous because everyone I met was an alpha male. I felt that I was being judged. I knew that I was the palest person on the beach and also not the most muscular. It's hard to be comfortable with yourself when everyone else is so attractive and carefree. But we did see plenty of people who were...a little too comfortable with themselves. I saw so many old, naked men! Good for them! When I'm 60 and wrinkly, I hope that I have the self-esteem requisite to walking around the beach with so many hot, young guys around.

I also found the weekend inspiring. Ernie and all his friends are the best in their fields. They were so glamorous, regal and fun! It felt like a movie. It made me want to go out, work hard, get my real estate license and buy my own place on Fire Island. Okay, let's start small. I'll start with a quarter-share on the island. It was a vision of what is possible. It's interesting because the island (specifically, The Pines - where we stayed), have both an intense sexual and innocent feeling at the same time. There are times when everyone seems focused on their bodies and judging everyone. There are also times when people were just concerned with play volleyball or dancing. It's a weird dichotomy. Some of Ernie's friends would walk around naked, but it didn't feel sexual. It felt like a very free-spirited place.

I'm glad to be back in the city. I like the hustle and bustle and ability to go anywhere and get anything I want 24/7. But I'll also miss the lazy, island relaxation. It's like the entire island is simply concerned with having a good time. I feel like this weekend was an initiation and I feel like I passed the test. I can't wait to go back. I am so grateful to Ernie and everyone I met this weekend. Everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming. Maybe next time, I'll come back a little less...crispy. Ooh, this sunburn is going to suck tomorrow.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I just finished Meredith Baxter's new autobiography, Untied. It was a sad, yet hopeful (and frustrating at times) memoir of a woman who seems to have finally found peace. I found myself wondering why she stayed with so many men who mistreated her. It was her introspective look at her childhood and own experiences that finally lead her to clarity. It may have taken her over fifty years, but she seems to finally comfortable in her own skin. It may seem odd but I can really relate to her story. Of course, I'm not a middle-aged lesbian, but her story being completely self-centered while and simultaneously lacking a shred of self-worth resonated with me.

Meredith grew up in a cold and distant household. Her mother and father-figures gave her everything except love and attention. At a young age, she began to feel that there was something wrong with her. She reasoned that her mother's emotional absence was her fault. Her childhood shaped the relationships she formed as an adult. When her now ex-husband, David Birney, would belittle and denigrate her, she felt she must have deserved it. She wouldn't question the abuse because she believed that her perceived faults gave others the right to treat her that way.

At the same time, she was completely self-centered. Everything was about her. Over the course of three marriages, she had five children. She loved them all, though her dedication seemed questionable at times. She would use her career as an actress to get out of the tense household for weeks at a time while filming movies on location. She would leave her children with David and nannies because she simply needed a break. She wanted to get away from him and would do it by any means necessary, even if that meant not protecting them from David’s judgmental and hard parenting style. She started drinking casually on the set of Family Ties, but it escalated over time. Eventually, she was driving home from tapings with a tumbler of wine in between her legs. She began drinking even more heavily after divorcing David after fifteen years of marriage. She would drink to the point that she would black out and be unable to care for her children. She was living her life with only regard to her own pain. Eventually, she started attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and began going to therapy to work out her emotional scars.

I can relate. There are times when I feel so small; so insignificant. I'm just one person - do I matter? I don’t really see anything special about myself. I’m average. I think both Meredith and I have issues with self-worth. Her's stemmed from a troubled childhood and I'm beginning to see that mine is tied to an unrealistic body image. The roots are different, but the feelings of unworthiness are the same. At the same time, I feel that everything is about me. When I walk down the street, from machine to machine at the gym, or around the office at work, I feel that people are judging. They are looking at me and picking out my flaws. It's ironic that I feel so small and insignificant and yet think that I garner the undivided scrutiny and attention of everything that sees me. I am self-centered. Where do I go from here?

I am grateful that Meredith wrote her story. It gave me a new perspective. With deeper thought and examining of my own issues, I think I can avoid being a sexually confused, alcoholic TV mom. Her sharing her own pain will definitely help others. I am happy for her. She seems to have finally found contentment with her partner, Nancy. It’s been a long road of healing and she deserves nothing but happiness, as do we all.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beyoncé - 4

Some of my favorite albums are ones that critics and the general audience don’t really like. I loved Kelly Clarkson’s My December and Madonna’s American Life, which were both commercially unsuccessful. I even enjoy Christina Aguilera’s Bionic, which was dismissed as a cheap ploy to copy Lady Gaga’s style. It should come as no surprise to me that I really enjoy Beyoncé’s new album, 4. It’s much different that her previous albums or her work with Destiny’s Child. It feels mature and thoughtful. It’s obvious that she did some introspective soul-searching before stepping back in the studio after her previous album, I Am…Sasha Fierce. Let’s break it down, track by track.

1) 1+1 – This is not a radio-friendly song and a poor choice as the 2nd single. It’s a slow ballad, but Beyoncé sings it beautifully. She can really hit the high notes. Couple her beautiful voice with simple melodies and deep lyrics.
2) I Care – This is another slow song about love. It doesn’t really stand out in my mind, though I listen to it as I go through the album.
3) I Miss You – I LOVE this song! It’s so simple and ethereal. Her voice is haunting! She really nailed this one.
4) Best Thing I Never Had – This has the potential to be a mildly successful single. I like it, but feel like it’s a poor man’s Irreplaceable. It sounds a little dated and the flow of the song just doesn’t appeal to me.
5) Party (Feat. André 3000) – Beyoncé doesn’t really have the urban sound like she’s used in past albums. Party feels like a smooth groove that is fun without being the trashy, drunken escapades by the likes of Ke$ha. André 3000 does a great job, though there are times I mistake him for Kanye.
6) Rather Die Young – This song is a slow burn. I’m just envisioning her singing in a room surrounded by candles and sheer curtains. It’s a great love song.
7) Start Over – This is when I recognized that love is the theme of the album. I love the chorus and it’s sung beautifully.
8) Love On Top – To me, this song sound like a total throwback to the early 90s. It’s got a very upbeat and innocent feel. I could definitely see Whitney Houston sining this song back in her good years. I like it, but it’s the next few songs that really make the album fantastic.
9) Countdown – This song is as gangsta as Beyoncé gets on the album. The chorus is a little hard to understand but it’s still pretty cool. It’s fast and fun!
10) End of Time – Anyone who knows my musical tastes would know that I love marching bands. It’s just one of the sounds that resonate with me. End of Time is a great love song with that marching beat.
11) I Was Here – MY FAVORITE!! This is such a deep and meaningful song. It’s about wanting to leave your mark on the world and being remembered. I think anyone can relate to this song. The sweeping instruments and flawless, powerful vocals are perfect!
12) Run The World (Girls) – This was the first single and only a moderate hit. I didn’t like it when it was first released but came to love it, especially after she released the video. I actually downloaded an MP3 of the video version because I love that gritty introduction. It’s definitely more like something that Katy Perry would released, though it still has a little urban flair.

The cover of the standard edition is horrendous. She looks trashy wearing a fur without a shirt. She has deep smoky eyes and greasy, dirty hair. It’s just not her. What is surprising is that the image does not match the album’s tone at all. I prefer the cover from the deluxe edition. It’s much more regal and classy.

Overall, I really like the album. It’s not great for the gym or any occasion that requires a lot of energy and electricity. It’s a sultry, graceful progression in Beyoncé’s career. It may not be a blockbuster like her previous albums, but I think it’ll go down as her most meaningful.