30 days left until I hit the playa again; four work weeks left, and at least five weekdays of that time that will effectively count as vacation days in my head (well, I'm actually going to be working pretty hard on three of them, but I'll be out of town for them, so that sort of counts, right?). 22 entries to finish up for the Rolling Stone Album Guide, and I'm not going anywhere near that thing after the 22nd of August, which is why I'm listening to Ornette Coleman's Beauty Is a Rare Thing this morning. There are almost infinitely many worse things one could do with an overcast Saturday morning than listening to Ornette.

Another Extra Glenns/Franklin Bruno/Mountain Goats show last night, this time at the Village Underground (preceded by dinner at Mitali West, where I'd never been before, with Maura, Lauren, Sara, and some people I'd never met before, a couple of whom I knew vaguely from I Love Everything, inc. Geeta, who's just moved to town). The Extra Glenns, especially, sounded great--the soundman poured lots of reverb and delay onto Franklin's guitar, and it came out pretty damn 4AD, actually. And "Carmen Cicero" is going to be the single of the year, if it turns out to be a single.

Another advice question (I happen to know who asked this one, & am therefore not simply guessing contextual things below; remember, if you want to ask me something totally anonymously, you can always send it from a yahoo or hotmail account):

OK. I give up. How are you supposed to say goodbye on a first date in a way that isn't totally awkward or humiliating?

Well. "Awkward" you can't really get around--it's sort of like asking "how can you eat really spicy food without getting that sort of burning sensation in your mouth?" But, as with that question, it's also sort of the point: there can be a pleasant frisson to the awkwardness, and if you can work with that, it can be enjoyable rather than frustrating.

The key is remembering that while (even as you try to seem casual and confident) you're wondering what the other person's wishes and expectations are and what appropriate responses to them would be, that other person is doing exactly the same thing. The problem is that when most people start having dates (or whatever), they're at an age where it's impossible for them to judge quickly whether they've hit it off with somebody or not. Once you're out of college, you can usually tell without working at it too hard.

Also, part of the question is "what do I physically do as we part ways?" It's very easy to fall into the end-of-date three-foot-distance what're-we-going-to-do-right-this-instant shuffle. If you happen to be a city-dwelling woman in your early-to-mid-'20s who is meeting these first dates for the first time (as a number of people who've asked me similar questions in person are), part of the unspoken contract that men who agree to meet you for a let's-go-get-something-light-to-eat date enter into is that, if you want a good night kiss, you are entitled to one, but you have to claim it. (I mean, use your head. If you've enjoyed his company and felt some kind of connection, so has he, probably.) How do you claim it? You go right up and smooch him, then say "good night" and walk off. If you don't want to claim it, then you say goodbye as you would with any friend you wouldn't be smooching. No problem. It is your responsibility to break the deadlock, in any case. If this seems like an unpleasant onus, well, that's the price of progress, and it's really not so bad.

Also, do not, under any circumstances, use the phrase "I had a really good time," or any cognate of it. Instant embarrassment.



previously ask for advice