NARCISSISM

Having managed artists, including my ex, for the better part of 30 years, I know a little something about narcissism. I've read about the condition but found this video particularly interesting and educational. As I watched, I recognized a lot of the traits not only in the men (only men) that I've worked with, but also some in myself (how narcissistic). My friends might say I have an outsized ego, supreme self-confidence, and a healthy degree of narcissism. And they would be right. However, I temper all of that with true humility that allows me to recognize the beauty and brilliance of others, which separates me from the textbook narcissist.

The question I have to ask myself is not to what degree am I a narcissist, rather why I feel so compelled to work with them. After he met an old friend of mine whom I believe suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a new friend said "Wow, you are so patient." When I asked why he said "Because you can just sit there an listen to that guy talk about himself on and on." I looked at him and said "I've worked with artists for decades, of course I'm used to narcissists."

But his question stuck with me. My dear friend Elizabeth told me years ago that she really wanted me to stop working with narcissists. And for years my friends have been urging me to author a book about my life but I couldn't bring myself to write about how cool my life is. Firstly, there are countless people with far cooler lives than me and secondly, it seemed like an exercise in narcissism. Finally, at 50, I chose to pursue public speaking seriously because I understood it was a way to use my experiences to teach people. My father, god rest his soul, was a math professor, my mother a librarian, and my brother an English professor. I was definitely supposed to become a professor as well. And now I find that life has come full circle. Such is the beauty of the universe.

In stepping into the spotlight where the focus is on me rather than brilliant but utterly self-involved men, I am answering Elizabeth's wish. I will write a book and continue to keep speaking to as many ears as will listen. And I will remain friends with but try to stay away from the narcissists who have come to define most of my career.

GET THE FUCK UP AND SEE "GET OUT"

Last weekend I told my friends Beau Sia and Kris Ex about a dinner I'd had at Mission Chinese in the LES in NYC. My brother and I were seated at a communal round table and I (foolishly) asked the white father and son next to us what they'd ordered. The father enthusiastically answered then proceeded to ask where we were from, tell us he was married to a Thai woman, and that he was a fan of Asian cuisine. I said to Beau and Kris "I want white men to stop fucking tell me that they have an Asian girlfriend or wife." They both immediately said "You've got to see 'Get Out.'"

I had seen the cryptic billboards all over Hollywood, but had not yet watched the graphic trailer. I hate horror flicks, haven't seen one in ages, but based on my boys telling me it was about race and it being Jordan Peele, I was all the way in. I saw it today and it didn't disappoint. All the performances are spot on. I will now see anything Daniel Kaluuya is in and really hope that Lil Rey Howery acts more.

The appearance of a sole Asian in a key scene of otherwise almost all white people was surprising. I read this analysis in Next Shark which makes some interesting points, the strongest of which being "Now it’s our job, as Asians, to recognize our complacency under the canopy of white supremacy and realize that like Black folks, we have nothing to gain by siding with whiteness." I have spoken publicly about the need for Asians--and anyone who is not black or brown--in hip hop especially to acknowledge our privilege.

I want white people to see this movie so they can get a clue of how racist they're being with their seemingly innocuous and welcoming comments. Again, the best thing I've ever written and uttered, how this Asian woman rocks a mic.

PERFECT ON PAPER

When we were single and in our 20s, my friends and I would create lists of automatic no's for men: no rappers, no drug addicts, no Republicans, etc. When I became single again at 42, the list of no's had changed little, but my focus was more on what I wanted: someone my age or older, who had been through a marriage (or serious longterm committed relationship) and perhaps had kids.

Then I met the man who was perfect on paper: 6'4", handsome, immaculately dressed, well traveled, confident, etc. My friend said "he should play the Prince of Egypt in the live action adaptation of the movie." I spotted him standing alone at the bar in a Jean Georges eatery and followed him outside where he took a call. When he was done I introduced myself and he said "It's nice to meet you, Sophia. I was just wondering where all the sexy bald women are." And he liked women with no hair. Good start.

We went on a date a couple nights later. It was gorgeously romantic: a walk on the Upper West Side, sitting in the newly developed outdoor seating area at Lincoln Center, talking for hours, and ending up at a local diner. A couple nights later he cooked dinner for me. The food was tasty and he had bought a bottle of Riesling, which I had mentioned offhand as my wine of choice when we first met; he had even created a playlist for the occasion and called it "Sophia." It was a lovely night--you know there's a but coming--when it came to the goodnight kiss, it was a disaster. He had his tongue so far down my throat I felt like I was getting a tonsillectomy. Most women I know agree that a good kisser is a deal breaker because we believe it to be a harbinger of what the bedroom performance will be like.

So I called Joan and she said maybe I could coach him. Shit. How does a man get to 50 and not know how to kiss? But I thought I'd give it another try. We saw each other again a couple nights later and he said he wanted to stop seeing the 35 year old yoga instructor he was dating to see me. Now, I wasn't looking for a man at this point, so I wasn't down. However, had he been extraordinary, I probably would have been open to exploration.

As flattering as it was, my issue was he was so certain that I was the one. Look, I know I'm the baddest bitch on the planet, but how could he possibly know that after less than a week? It felt like he was looking for something and was ready to project it onto a woman the second he thought he'd found it. That kind of desperation, in addition to the bad kissing, sealed the deal and I learned that being perfect on paper is a far cry from even being good in practice.

 

GENIUS

I managed someone named The Genius (more on him later) and thought a lot about the nature of genius. I think the term is grossly overused, like "iconic" and "legendary." Though I never read EAT PRAY LOVE nor saw the movie, I have watched author Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk a number of times. I will never tire of its humor and humility. What I most appreciate is her recognition of the divine as inspiration and that it is fleeting and that whatever it is that we do, to do it with passion and dedication. You know what they say about invention, inspiration, and perspiration.

"And what I have to sort of keep telling myself when I get really psyched out about that is don't be afraid.Don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then 'Olé!' And if not, do your dance anyhow. And 'Olé!' to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. 'Olé!' to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up."