The Sliding Doors Effect


In the movie Sliding Doors*, timing is everything. The story begins when Helen, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is shown running down a set of stairs to catch the train. For the rest of the film, her life is split into two parallels based on whether she makes it or misses it, which is enough to make you evaluate of all of the coulda, woulda, shouldas in your own life. When life seems to splinter into different storylines, what you're experiencing is The Sliding Doors Effect.

This past weekend, I schlepped back to New York for an old college friend's wedding since moving away three years ago. It was a considerably short trip: I arrived on Friday night and departed on Sunday afternoon. On paper, it looks like I barely have enough time to blink yet, somehow, I magically compressed a week's worth of nights out into two. This involved staying out until 7:30 a.m. both nights, which is obviously not something one plans. Personally speaking, nothing sounds more delicious than completing a nightly beauty ritual and climbing into bed at a reasonable hour, but what could I do? I was in New York City with my best friend! We were bound to stir up some mischief...

Our original plan for Friday night, if it must be known, was to meet for drinks at Virginia's and then head over to Lupa for a 10 p.m. dinner reservation. We'd have a lovely time catching up at an old neighborhood-y spot and scurry home to rest in preparation for our ambitious plans on Saturday: an early coffee session at Sant Ambroeus Soho before an 11:00 a.m. Pilates class, and then, lunch at Pietro Nolita before going back to her apartment so that I could get ready for the wedding. In regards to Sunday, I'd have just enough time to squeeze in brunch with another bestie before scooting off to the airport. 

Everything was going according to plan. We had fabulous mezcal cocktails at Virginia's and were halfway through our cassarecce with shortrib ragù at Lupa when occurred to me that I owed someone a visit–an artist friend who I had missed while he was in L.A. last month.

"Do you want to meet my friend?" I asked from across the table while texting him on my phone, "He's really cool." 

"Sure," she replied, taking a sip of red wine.

And so, at midnight, we landed ourselves at a corner bar on the Lower East Side with two artists. After a round of drinks and introductory chatter, we were spontaneously swept into a cab to go dancing at The Blond. "Let's burn off that pasta!" we screamed to each other as we bopped around the floor. After that, we all stumbled down to my huckleberry friend's gallery in Tribeca and smoked Glamour cigarettes while discussing art and drinking cheap whiskey in plastic cups. At some point, I cried. And then we hung out at an apartment somewhere. Next thing we knew, it was 7:30 a.m. It was one hell of a fun night. 

Needless to say, we missed our morning coffee, Pilates class and lunch the next day. The weather turned cold. Sometime around 2 p.m. on Saturday, we both stood in front of a ramen shop in the East Village, staring at their picture menu with glazed-over eyes. 

Me: "What's the difference between these pictures?"

Best friend: "I can't tell."

Me: "I think it's the egg."

Best friend: (long pause) "Yes... Yes, it's definitely the egg."

Me: "Is it weird that I want the egg with the non-spicy one but no egg with the spicy one?"

Best friend: (glazed eyes)

It would've been a completely different universe–no, a different reality–if we had taken a taxi home after dinner. What a difference a text makes.

*It's an oldie from 1998, but still remains one of my favorites. Gwyneth cut her hair into a modern pixie cut for this film and I thought it looked so chic that I went out to the salon and requested it for myself right after I saw it.

A Case For the Lowbrow

"Bonjour! Voilà, le French hat; voilà, le french fry!" says Carrie Bradshaw, surprising Mr. Big with a McDonald's dinner.

This is really terrible to admit, but I have a dirty secret: Sometimes I like adding a spot of Coffeemate's hazelnut-flavored coffee creamer to my coffee in the morning which totally makes me feel like a suburban soccer mom. And it's actually really bad for you–it's not even made from real milk or cream–but I weirdly enjoy how it turns my cup of joe into a dessert-like treat. 

I also love Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup, plain and simple. I keep a stash of them in the pantry for sick days, for when I don't feel like cooking, or for whenever I'm craving a bit of nostalgia. A friend once recommended that I try Progresso instead for the heftier chunks of chicken and vegetables, but I could never. Campbell's soft bloated noodles, swimming in a salty, yellow-tinged broth, touches my heart in a way no other canned soup can.

"A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika," Diana Vreeland said, "We all need a splash of bad taste–it's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical. I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I'm against." I wholeheartedly agree. When things are too curated or hoity-toity, it lacks a certain verve. There's no life-force, no energy, no vibes. It doesn't feel real. That little splash of bad taste is the key ingredient to your special sauce. 

My friend Bill was shocked when I told him that, if I were to eat fast food, I'd indubitably choose McDonald's over In-N-Out.

"I don't get the fuss over In-N-Out," I said, as we were strolling along Santa Monica Boulevard, "I honestly think it's overrated. Their fries are terrible! McDonald's fries taste so much better."

"But In-N-Out uses fresh ingredients," he pointed out.

"OK but, brand-wise, McDonald's is chicer. It's more couture. Trust me."

"But the whole point of In-N-Out is that you can customize your order."

"But their menu is so limited. At McDonald's, I can get a McChicken sandwich–or the Filet O' Fish!"

"I can't believe you're saying this."

"But it's true! If I'm going to be downing thousands of calories, I'm going with McDonald's. It's the Chanel of the fast food world."



A Shared Sentiment

For so long I had been looking hard into every person I met, hoping I might discover in them all the thoughts and feelings I hoped life would give me, but hadn’t. There are some people who say you have to find such things in yourself, that you cannot count on anyone to supply even the smallest crumb that your life lacks.

Although I knew this might be true, it didn’t prevent me from looking anyway. Who cares what people say? What people say have no effect on your heart.
— From "How Should A Person Be" by Sheila Heti

Pumpkin Pie

Sigh. I love fall, I really do. It's my absolute favorite time of the year. For me, it's September that feels like the start of a brand-new year, not January. Leaves may be drifting off of trees, but that first chill after a hot summer is something of an awakening. I pull out my sweaters from storage with glee and I go crazy at the sight of pumpkin pie at the grocery store.

A slice of pumpkin pie is the equivalent of Proust's madeleine for me–it reminds me of Thanksgiving with my family, though I can't seem to recall any one Thanksgiving specifically. It's as though all of my memories have coagulated into a creamy-smooth pumpkin custard. One taste contains many years' worth of gatherings. Oh, I can just hear the loud chattering now... And the shrieks of laughter from all of the little kids running around!

Instead of whipped cream, I prefer putting a dollop of whipped sour cream onto my pumpkin pie. Yes, you read that right–sour cream. I find that whipped cream makes it too sweet and I like pumpkin pie precisely because it's not too sweet. A latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon goes nicely with it, or you could do with a hot ginger or chai tea.