Forrest Point, 3/24/17

An annoying child (aren’t they all?) squeals over the beauteousness of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” It is a live version, always a bold choice in a public space. Most people can’t deal with the screaming and clapping of the crowd in the background–who really wants to hear such a deafening cacophony if they’re not actually at the show. The child’s screams at least calm down as “Rhiannon” segues into “You Make Loving Fun,” which no one ever does past a month. My pinot noir arrives as I think of how Christine McVie never gets enough credit. Just how I see myself, oft treated like a retard incapable of anything, least of all anything great. The child’s shrieks pick up again to “One of These Nights” by The Eagles, one of the ultimate cock rock bands of the 70s. At least it’s not “Hotel California,” a song that tends to follow me everywhere as I hate California.

My dining companion complains that their tacos “aren’t as good as they normally are” and I take momentary comfort that I’m only drinking until “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers makes me bristle. Mainly because I still definitely have not learned to fly–though people have broken my heart and stolen my crown, as the lyrics say.

The gear shifts abruptly to “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. It feels as though I’ve been hearing The Beatles a lot more frequently of late, as recently as the other day when some subway buskers were singing “Help!” in an endearing enough way for me to give them a dollar in quarters. This song–“Hey Jude!”–without fail, makes me think of the story behind its creation, which I read from a Beatles biography while in high school. Paul McCartney, wheels turning artist that he was, couldn’t help but turn his pep talk to Julian Lennon post-Cynthia/John divorce from “Hey Jules, don’t make it bad” to “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.” Poor Julian, never given his adequate royalties for spurring the song’s genesis. Just goes to show you can’t fucking trust artists with your emotions.

Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” too, reminds me of a pop culture element, specifically being featured in that not loved enough 1996 film, Michael, even though no one was begrudging John Travolta for being a scientologist yet. I ask my dining companion if they’ve ever seen it and they say no. I swear to Christ, no one ever knows what I’m talking about. But Steven Tyler kind of does in “Dream On” as he mentions all the lines in his face getting clearer. This is probably the only song from the Aerosmith library that exhibits any propensity toward depth. And speaking of, I need another refill for my glass, I tell the bartender, a girl too obsessed with caressing her ponytail to care enough to give me the time of day.

Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross” takes the playlist motif too far, and honestly, what’s the point if it’s not Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young? This Southern rock genre has never resonated with me in any way and I think maybe I’ll just stick with watching Sweet Home Alabama for my fill of the region. Oh god, I spoke too soon in thanking the lord that “Hotel California” didn’t come on, but now it does and I really need a drink, especially to endure the live version. The ponytail bartender finally stops bothering with her hair long enough to give me one. I think this song playing on repeat in a confined space is my version of hell.

Our experience concludes, almost too full-circally (I know, that’s “not a word”), with Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy.” And these days, even though I technically live in one place, I feel more transient than ever.

Complete Playlist

“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac
“You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac
“One of These Nights” by The Eagles
“Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Dream On” by Aerosmith
“Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Hotel California” by The Eagles
“Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac

Rocka Rolla, 3/12/17

A girl with a remixed leopard coat walks in as The Kinks’ “Lola” plays. She’ll probably be the most bangable person here on a Sunday night. By the time she’s taken her coat off and started sticking her tits out toward a guy that she shouldn’t, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash persists in keeping with the sort of faux edge of this bar. The thing that always bothered me about this song was that the clear answer to the question is that he should stay–because if he goes, there will be “double” the trouble. They–whoever “they” is–try to bring more distinct grit to the playlist with Slayer’s “Dissident Aggressor.” I feel like one most days for not having a real job, which I guess is why I’m here on a Sunday night. As I drink from my second “coffee thing,” an ill-advised combination of whiskey and frozen coffee topped with coffee grounds, a Long or Staten Island girl (it’s hard to differentiate sometimes) materializes.

Her abrasive accent doesn’t seem to bother the guy she’s with, who appears endeared that she would even know of a “dive” like this–the kind that plays Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart,” now presently booming over the speakers. I always wonder if people like them come to places like this to “feel alive.” Like the sorority-esque girl who appears after the Long/Staten Island one to order three vodka sodas and describe a place to her friend as “smalltown.” The Misfits’ “Horror Business” appropriately provides the soundtrack to her yakking away authoritatively at her friend. All the while, I eye the “food” menu in front of me, titled, grossly: Heavy Meals.

It’s not a lie, however, as the options consist of shepherd’s pie, a sausage roll, pie, chips & beer and/or “homemade” pickled eggs. It all sounds both delicious and nauseating at the same time, especially as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Suzie Q” swelters over me, as though urging me on to order something equally steamy.

Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” provides a bizarre musical detour that proves Prince transcends all genres and walks of life. I surrender to ordering shepherd’s pie to make Lily Allen proud and my arse cheeks endlessly ashamed. The coffee thing has such a persuasive effect on one’s abdication of self-control. David Bowie’s “Young Americans,” I want to believe, is being played ironically as everyone in the bar looks faded and gray from clinging so strongly to that era of Williamsburg when Spike Hill was still around. As though to cruelly drive home the point that time has been pulled out from underneath them all–myself included–Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Time Keeps on Slippin'”) succeeds “Young Americans.”

My reheated shepherd’s pie arrives and a girl with curly blonde hair regards me with the same expression she might use to infer shock toward the presence of a Hasid in her midst. I glare at her to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” Fuck women, fuck men, fuck ’em all. Weirdly, I had just rewatched Empire Records the other day after thumbing through Alexa Chung’s IT and being reminded just how 90s-chic Liv’s plaid skirt and crop top blue angora sweater were. Of course, I could never wear such an ensemble without channeling Homer Simpson. Speaking of, the shepherd’s pie isn’t half bad on two coffee things. If I let someone anal fuck me tonight, there’s no question that I would take an instant shit. On that note, a gross guy (because they all are) wearing a “novelty” hat makes eye contact with me to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Into the Great Wide Open.” So this is it now, huh? Crumbs of glances that might foretell foul one-night stands? I chug the rest of my coffee thing at the risk of having a heart palpitation and storm out of the bar as though someone has done something terrible to me. And, in a way, it’s true. Most people’s mere existence is insulting.

I think of a time when there must have been more quality control with regard to who moved to New York–a time when it must not have been so easy for everyone to “make it” here. And I stagger home, another Sunday troll scuttling back to her hole.

Complete Playlist

The Kinks-“Lola”
The Clash-“Should I Stay Or Should I Go”
Slayer-“Dissident Aggressor”
Mötley Crüe-“Kickstart My Heart”
The Misfits-“Horror Business”
Creedence Clearwater Revival-“Suzie Q”
Prince-“I Would Die 4 U”
David Bowie-“Young Americans”
Steve Miller Band-“Fly Like An Eagle”
Aerosmith-“Walk This Way”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-“Into the Great Wide Open”

Mesa Coyoacán, 3/10/17

I’m the first one to arrive in someone else’s party, or so I think. I later learn that A has been there for as long as I have, but we were both so engrossed in ourselves and our solipsistic activities that we don’t see each other until her boyfriend arrives–apparently it takes a dick to get noticed in this goddamn town. Still, not having to dive right into communication with another human being is helpful to the process of ingratiating oneself into a public space, and it gives me the chance to familiarize myself with Sinkane’s “Telephone” (fuck the Lady G title), the first song I notice as I order a pinot noir, which I guess is meant to suit the “traditional Mexican dishes,” which seem more neo-Spanish/California fusion than authentic, or well portioned. It’s Mexican food for the North Brooklyn set, which is to say it is petite and merely adequate. But Mesa Coyoacán isn’t first and foremost about food, so much as ambience–about imbuing its clientele with the distinct sense that it’s “scene.”

But what the restaurant really does to throw a curveball is play another song by Sinkane–DFA Records darling–right after called “Passenger.” It really is quite rare for a playlist to feature the same artist more than once, especially back to back, and I start to assume that maybe this is one of the many “no rules”/”we’re too hip to care about musical mores” aspects of Mesa Coyoacán. Or maybe one of the waiters is an intern at DFA Records and just wants to help promote the new album from Sinkane, Life and Livin’ It. Sinkane’s sound, evidently and according to the internet, is “krautrock, prog rock, electronica, free jazz and funk rock with Sudanese pop.” This is just the sort of “fusion” description that suits Mesa Coyoacán’s “vibe.” Not to mention the group of people that happens to be meeting here tonight in honor of N’s 24th birthday. Every year she ages, I expect her to be older, but she never is.

The bartender regards me as though I should have finished my wine by now, but I’ve deliberately been saving it due to high “by the glass” (not by the beach) price points. In fact, I’m already having anxiety over the thought of calculating a bill in a large group of people, as someone always gets fucked over, usually me. As the Life and Livin’ It album continues to play, the island-y vibes of “Theme From Life and Livin’ It” comes on. “Live this life the way you want to lead,” urges Sinkane, and yes, it feels like everyone in New York is doing just that in terms of selfishness. When A and I finally say hello, N and her own boyfriend arrive to the tune of “Won’t Follow,” making me quite visibly the fifth wheel until S–also sans fixed piece–arrives. I find that the older you get in New York, the harder it is to be single in public. Yeah, granted, it’s actually the only city one can be “alone” in and not feel lonely, but there’s still a stigma to not being attached that goes hand in hand with how people in New York gauge success, or rather, failure.

We all sit down at the communal table with barstools in spite of N’s fears that they would not give us the reservation without our entire party present. S, the sixth member of our sextet to partake of N’s birthday celebration, shows up mere minutes later, and I feel slightly less like Bridget Jones. By now, the concluding track to Life and Livin’ It, “The Way,” is playing and I’ve already expressed my fears about splitting the tab to N, who assures me it will be fine. With her comfort, I suddenly feel galvanized to order another pinot noir. Fuck it, maybe the division will all come out in the wash.

H, N’s boyfriend and the freshest meat in the group, seems to be holding his own in spite of the fact that everyone at the table is metaphorically cracked out and probably has been for decades. I order some designer tacos, now losing total focus on the playlist. Being hyper-aware is definitely one of those full-time, thankless, unpaid jobs.

After the third pinot noir and a sampling of H’s tequila flight, I’m on a new plane where being single doesn’t matter. I don’t even think about how, when my birthday rolls around two months from now, I will not have “that special someone” to celebrate it with. I even start to get into the spirit of being happy for N when her flan-like cake is presented to her and she thinks quite carefully about the wish she wants to make before blowing out the candle. I go to the bathroom to pee, but my real motivation is taking pictures of myself and avoiding being asked to do any math when the check comes.

When I return, N looks at me in a way that indicates I’ve been gone for rather a long time. S tells me I owe $45, not as bad as I thought really. Nothing’s as bad as I think after three pinot noirs. But, a few weeks from now, it might require four for me to feel that way.

 

Semi Complete Playlist

Sinkane-“Telephone”
Sinkane-“Passenger”
Sinkane-“Theme From Life and Livin’ It”
Sinkane-“Won’t Follow”
Sinkane-“The Way”

 

Keste, 3/9/17

V and I walk into a largely deserted Keste, formerly Sottocasa. Its discreet location perhaps makes it more underrated than the Bleecker one. “Down” by Marian Hill sounds particularly loud in the empty space–its acoustics allowed to fully thrive. V has already taken two cigarette breaks as Future featuring Rihanna’s “Selfish” comes on. It’s sort of the anthem/word of the past decade and will presumably only continue to be for the next and the next and the next. “Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly featuring Camila Cabello follows as V remarks on the sudden surfeit of Italians–overt ones–that have now infiltrated the once marvelously vuoto establishment. Isn’t Camila Cabello that bia from Fifth Harmony?, I wonder as I watch the Montepulciano in my glass start to disappear. They were out of the cheaper Sangiovese. Train–a band that signifies Sacramento to me–plays next. Some usual tripe called “Play That Song.” No, please don’t. Why can’t early 00s bands of this nature remain dead? V comes back smelling of smoke and gets on Tinder. I will never get Tinder and I will always be alone.

This song feels truly interminable and I breathe a sigh of relief when it transitions to “In the Name of Love” by Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexa–which should give you a strong indication of how much I hate Train. V and I talk about the absurdity of the recent and abrupt weather changes while Sia featuring Kendrick Lamar’s “The Greatest” punctuates the latter’s love of collaborating with white women. One day it’s spring, the next it’s snowing. Is this all part of the post-apocalyptic feel of now? Germane to my inner topic about Kendrick loving to sing with le ragazze bianche, Taylor Swift featuring ZAYN’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” (I really don’t) succeeds “The Greatest.” I’m disappointed in ZAYN for going from working with M.I.A. to Swift/a Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack. The soundtrack motif persists with that shitastic “Can’t Stop the Feeling” song, which I maintain is a pro-rape anthem directed at women who just can’t stop their true feelings of wanting to get banged by a gross guy. When the gluten-free (V has allergies) pistachio pizza arrives, “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie. I think it’s another one of those millennial-tailored tracks (like “Selfish”) catered toward lulling adult babies to the dance floor.

The entire time I’m eating the pizza, a sense of anticipation pervades me. I’ve told V that I have to meet some people here about a “unique business opportunity.” Skin care is involved. When they arrive, she sort of cordons herself off, and I feel bad, but mostly just for myself. I can only notice portions of the playlist over the course of the next hour and a half but I know it’s Rihanna-heavy, with “Love on the Brain” and “Work” interrupting my focus from hearing about all the money I can make if I invest. I suddenly feel like Ariana Grande when “Side to Side” comes on and she comments, “I been here all night.” I think I’ve had about three glasses of Montepulciano at this point. After the two women have departed, each in the car that the company paid for because of their high sales, I return to sitting next to V, who is communing with a gentleman. The restaurant is about to close and I don’t want it to. I don’t want to go home most nights. It’s like a mental hurdle I can’t surmount. But when Alessia Cara’s “Scars to Your Beautiful” closes out the setlist, I suddenly feel it would be better to be in the silence of my room.

 

Semi Complete Playlist

Marian Hill-“Down”
Future feat. Rihanna-“Selfish”
Machine Gun Kelly featuring Camila Cabello-“Bad Things”
Train-“Play That Song”
“In the Name of Love”-Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexa
Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar-“The Greatest”
Taylor Swift feat. ZAYN-“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”
Justing Timberlake-“Can’t Stop the Feeling”
Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie
Rihanna-“Love on the Brain”
Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj-“Side to Side”
Rihanna featuring Drake-“Work”
Alessia Cara-“Scars to Your Beautiful”

Il Passatore, 3/8/17

“I feel like we’ve heard this here before,” I say to Kate as we walk in. It’s Bossacucanova & Adriana Calcanhotto’s “Previsão.” I don’t really know why Il P so often favors Brazilian music. In fact, it always feels like Italian restaurants never play Italian music. This much seems to be confirmed as the next track, “Agua de Coco” by Marcos Valle comes on. I pour Kate some water because I’m the one wearing the flannel, the sartorial construct most associated with maleness. And, in point of fact, it’s more than likely that the waitstaff here thinks we’re together based on the frequency with which we come. They all want to know: will they or won’t they? “Bïa” by Mariana comes on. I’ve never heard it, but it seems like a fitting title for International Women’s Day.

The restaurant is mostly empty as it’s not exactly date night, nor prime dinner hour. And yet, the woman who comes in announces that she has a reservation for three. “Sit anywhere you want,” says the early 20s waiter, who I’ve already confused with another early 20s waiter when I thank him for the wine and indicate that I think he’s someone else. “Sorry, all white people look the same,” I titter. He’s not amused. “Parece Mentira” by Katia B is next. Seriously, what the fuck are these songs?

“You don’t like tuna?” Kate says suggestively to the waiter. He shakes his head. Nobody seems to like tuna these days. It’s all steak, steak, steak. This is iterated by the deep, throaty vocals of E Depois’ “BiD” featuring Seu Jorge. Its dark sound casts a pall over the restaurant as the lights dim. This is replaced by the levity of Bebel Gilberto’s “August Day Song (King Britt Remix).” It’s so light, in fact, that I can almost forget all the memories of the past contained within this restaurant, starting from the very first time I was introduced to it by a high school friend of mine back in 2010. This place has been here for eons by New York standards.

My pear salad comes as Antoine Olivier and Glaucus Linx’s “Meu Amor” softly makes its presence known. The combination of pepper, asiago cheese and arugula is almost as much of a revelation as João Gilberto’s “Saudade Fez Um Samba,” a jaunty little ditty that, like most of the tracks on this playlist, reminds one of what Americans pictured South America to feel like in the 1960s. You know, “Girl From Ipanema” shit. “I think they do think we’re lesbians,” remarks Kate. “At this rate, I am,” I say.

Sometimes, even food can’t detract from the agony of being a detached-from-all body in the ether. This is why we’ve ordered a carafe of Montepulciano. Lubrication of the mind can help to free it for a time before you put it back in that pesky solipsistic cage. I eat the last piece of bread in the basket without asking. I’m a cunt. But Kate’s always watching what she eats so it doesn’t really matter. Does anything really matter?

It does to the waiter, who mentions to a patron friend of his that his girlfriend is coming this Friday. Fuck him. What is it with guys preferring the long distance thing? The waiter is too attractive to work or to be relegated to a woman who can’t sexually pleasure and be pleasured all the time. An instrumental version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” breaks up the motif of the playlist, which I’ve lately lost track of because my Shazam can’t hear most of it anymore. Either that, or it’s all just too obscure. My bucatini arrives. It’s clear that the quality of the dishes at this restaurant have diminished as the red sauce looks distinctly like Prego. Even though we’ve both noted that the food isn’t as good anymore, we always talk ourselves into coming back. I think we both want to re-create the experience and sentiment of something that can’t be re-created. Or maybe that’s just me.

“Birmingham has like a little hipster Brooklyn side,” says the same woman who had previously declared her reservation for three. She’s now sitting at a table with the other two women in her party. Maybe they’re celebrating International Women’s Day. Guess Birmingham’s come a long way from the riots. Another random Brazilian song that my Shazam can’t detect drowns out their voices, thank fuck. I know it’s not very feminist, but clusters of women together really give us all a bad name. And yet somehow I hear that one of the women in the cluster is “in the doghouse ” with her boyfriend. Like, what did she do? Not give head? How does she have a boyfriend? She’s a clucker. Il Passatore is definitely not the place to go when you’re not in a couple. It just makes you realize all the injustices in the world, that to “secure a mate” means being a complete eunuch with zero brainwaves.

The dreamy sound of the now unknowable songs punctuates the arrival of two textbook douchebags who sit at the bar. I compliment them for having the gumption to sit at the bar as two men who could easily be mistaken for being gay, as Kate and I are. My compliment is wasted on them. They are humorless, as this meal is tasteless. But the wine is fine. And that’s really the takeaway from Il Passatore: you can always find something in a situation that’s just fine. Though, in this case, certainly not the music, which really ought to be more tailored to the theme of Italianism.

Semi-Complete Playlist

Bossacucanova & Adriana Calcanhotto-“Previsão”
Marcos Valle-“Agua de Coco”
Mariana-“Bïa”
Katia B-“Parece Mentira”
E Depois-“BiD” feat. Seu Jorge
Bebel Gilberto-“August Day Song (King Britt Remix)”
Antoine Olivier and Glaucus Linx-“Meu Amor”
João Gilberto’s “Saudade Fez Um Samba”
Instrumental version of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”

La Caye Restaurant & Bar, 3/7/17

I’m sitting alone at the bar trying to think positive thoughts about being one’s own best friend when Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” comes on. Naturally, I think of my ex, who remains undeserving of all the love I’ve expended on him like a diamond necklace wasted on a trailer park denizen. People say I give him too much power by constantly writing about him, but whatever. If I want to feel powerful, I’ll just regress back to my past life as Mussolini. I look briefly around at some of the other people sitting at the bar. It is two men, separate, but situated close to one another. It appears as though the lyrics are all too real for them and the bartender cuts the music somewhere in the middle to switch the song to “Empire State of Mind.” It feels like a disingenuous transition. Considering the demographic of the surrounding corner (at Lafayette and St. Felix) on which the restaurant stands, however, maybe the patrons of this establishment truly believe in the promise of New York. A segue into En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)” feels slightly more organic than the first one, playing into that whole wounded lover motif. “4 Page Letter” by Aaliyah continues to confirm the current auditory theme, with Aaliyah singing, “People always say that I play myself for you/They say that you don’t even notice me.”

As this song ends, my garden salad and side of mac and cheese arrives. It is soiled by the shift to some random shitkicker song before Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” comes on. It is then that I choose to choreograph my first bite of salad. “No Air” by Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown puts me slightly off of my bite minutes later. And I then think back to a recent conversation with some friends about what man could possibly “handle” Rihanna. Not that she’s a mess or anything, but she does have some very specific preferences for men. We decided Idris Elba would be best for her.

A commercial for Pandora comes on followed by Beyoncé’s “All Night Long.” This song reminds me of being in Amsterdam when Lemonade first came out. As I enjoy the last few tastes of my salad, “Ex Factor” by Lauryn Hill swells over the speakers. Oh god, why is this playlist targeting my wounds? Will I ever heal? Will there ever be a Lacuna Inc. for real? “Tell me who I have to be to get some reciprocity.”

At some point during the epic guitar solo of “Ex Factor,” I’ve delved into my mac and cheese, which, by now, has grown lukewarm. Like my life. A commercial for New York Presbyterian hospital interrupts the mood briefly, succeeded by Adele’s “Remedy.” Guess Adele is passing for black these days after her Grammys Beyoncé groveling. The gradual transition of white artists posing as black ones persists with Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” At this juncture, I order a glass of merlot.

As though on cue for the presence of wine, Usher’s “There Goes My Baby” is next. I don’t really care for him. “What’s My Name?” by Rihanna featuring Drake disrupts the romance of the song prior and someone behind me starts singing along to it. Drake clearly couldn’t “handle” Rihanna/wasn’t “just [her] type, o na na na na na na.” John Legend featuring Ludacris’ “Tonight (Best You Ever Had)” makes me think of the rougher Luda I once knew, the one who would have never collaborated with someone as soft as Legend, and would have simply licked me from my head to my toes without asking. The mac and cheese is gone.

“I’m Going Down” by Mary J. Blige goes back to catering to my fetishizing the pain of my loneliness and rejection as she wails, “I’m goin’ down without you around.” An insensitive patron near me mockingly imitates her voice. I want to glare at him but that would involve looking up from my piece of paper. “Let It Go” by Keyshia Cole featuring Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim is something I barely have the focus for as a Jamaican man across the bar screams to me, “You don’t look good!” I say, “That’s not very nice.” The man next to him laughs. The Jamaican man adds, “No, I just mean it looks like you have a lot on your mind.” “I guess I do.” I don’t bother to explain to him that my mind is simply fraught with sonic reactions.

He sidles over without sitting down and says, “Let me tell you a story. We all go a little crazy without someone to vent to.” “Yes, I’ve seen it happen.” “When I was a boy I went to my father and said, ‘I have a problem.’ He said, ‘Keep it to yourself.’ I asked, ‘Why?’ ‘Because this word, problem, is negative. It pollutes the mind.’ From that day on, I never used it again. Whenever people at work come to me with ‘problems,’ I say, ‘No, tell me the situations.’ And I think you’ll find it will lift the blocks you think you have.” I nod at him and smile. I don’t respond, “Sure, me having $15k debt isn’t a problem. It’s a situation.”

I’ve sort of blacked out the playlist through this pearl of wisdom and come to as Drake’s “One Dance” plays. Ironically, my wine glass is still half full. More Mary J. Blige in the form of “Be Without You,” as in “I just can’t be without ya, baby.” Maybe this is Mary J. Blige Radio. The girl who has now joined the Jamaican philosopher at the bar sings along briefly before telling him he’s a psycho. Usher is abruptly cut in favor of Lauryn Hill’s “I Used to Love Him.” Now I don’t know if it’s Usher or Lauryn Hill Radio. A commercial about snacks. “The Sweetest Thing” by Refugee Camp All-Stars a.k.a. Lauryn Hill. It’s a song I’ve never heard. Thank god for Shazam.

I ask for my check to John Legend’s “So High.” And maybe by now, I am. High on salad, mac and cheese, merlot, free advice and the knowledge that every black woman has had as bad of a breakup as I have.

Complete Playlist

Whitney Houston-“I Will Always Love You”
Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys-“Empire State of Mind”
En Vouge- “Don’t Let Go (Love)”
Aaliyah-“4 Page Letter”
Mary J. Blige-“Real Love”
Jordin Sparks feat. Chris Brown-“No Air”
Beyoncé-“All Night Long”
Lauryn Hill-“Ex Factor”
Adele-“Remedy”
Mariah Carey-“Always Be My Baby”
Usher-“There Goes My Baby”
Rihanna feat. Drake-“What’s My Name?”
John Legend feat. Ludacris-“Tonight (Best You Ever Had)”
Mary J. Blige-“I’m Going Down”
Keyshia Cole feat. Missy Elliott & Lil’ Kim-“Let It Go”
Drake-“One Dance”
Mary J. Blige-“Be Without You”
Lauryn Hill featuring Mary J. Blige-“I Used to Love Him”
Refugee Camp All-Stars-“The Sweetest Thing”
John Legend-“So High”