Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TWIR: “Another Day, Another D-bag, Another Dazzling Disappointment.”

TWIR: “Another Day, Another D-bag, Another Dazzling Disappointment.”

I'm an absurdly anxious person with extreme control freak tendencies. I hate everything about flying from start to finish. Do you call a car or to save money, take the very-convenient-to-work-and-home-subway? If you take a car, how bad will NY traffic be at any given time? Will the security lines a nightmare? While I know you can basically take anything you want with you on a plane leaving NY (ironically), will the motherf**kers working for TSA in Florida confiscate the pricey perfume I’m carrying on? And then there’s the matter of strapping myself in to a metal death cage that weighs 200,000 lbs and travels about 600MPH at 37,000 feet. When the end of this incredible journey is finally reached, I’ve got an anxiety-ridden visit in with my parents in the land of strip malls. I DIE… and not in the amazing Camp Zoe sort of way.

To deal with my neurosis on a recent pilgrimage back to mecca to see Superman and the rest of Urban’s wunderkinds take on Tennessee, I did what any rational person would do. I arrived at JFK two hours before my flight and headed straight to the sports bar in T5. After receiving free drinks from the bartender and the creepy, middle-aged men on either side of me, I boarded the plane and heard the pilot announce it was going to be bumpy the whole way to Florida. I instantly popped extra half of an Ativan and as soon as the beverage service started, ordered white wine only to have the steward bring me red vino. Regardless of his colorblind mistake, I opened and poured into a glass… right before he came back with the white I originally ordered. At this point, it only seemed appropriate to open and drink the cold white and let the red have a breather. I had two hours, right?

What seemed like 5 minutes later I woke up as the wheels touched down in Jacksonville to a tray table that had been packed up and the same steward telling me – with a horrified expression – that I’d passed out and he'd tried to wake me up multiple times for wine payment and/or general health concerns? I apologized, not particularly embarrassed or genuinely sorry, and offered to pay Judgy McSteward who, in turn, said something to the effect of, "just get the eff off the plane, crazy lady."

Sometimes while trying to keep up with the ridiculousness in your life, you get caught up in it. You become a casualty of crazy, akin to being a casualty of war. I've also come to realize that for every unbalanced action, a similar and equally absurd reaction is very much possible. For example, at home we have to hand wash dishes as we are unfortunately without a dishwasher. We use these ginormous, white coffee mugs every morning to hold the rocket fuel espresso we make. It makes me slightly insane when the crevices inside have coffee stains and are not cleaned to my liking. (Read: I'm completely neurotic and want everything done my way). However, instead of just soaking the mugs in hot, soapy water a little longer, I spray bleach inside the mugs. And we’re not talking about the veggie-based Green Works. I mean the Bud Heavy of bleach, regular old Clorox. It is beyond a doubt, certifiably demented of me to think that bleach is the better choice to a faint ring of a best friend's coffee left over from yesterday morning.

Romantic relationships will most likely render the maximum idiotic, ill-conceived, and impracticable reactions from people. Take, for example, dating someone’s ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend. In theory, it’s a genius idea. Think about it. Someone else already did a test run and you know that at the very least, your head won’t end up in a freezer or your skin on a blanket (too far?). At any rate, you know this person is likeable and maybe even well liked by your friends if it ended amicably. However in practice, it’s a great big douche move. Think about it. You’re dating your friend’s ex. You’re taking a big sh*t on big book of friend code and in return, getting your friend’s sloppy seconds. It’s a really bad idea. Unless... it all works out, in which case; Mavel Tov!

Unrelated, someone I know seems to have slipped into a torturous pattern of essentially not being attracted to someone unless they work together. I’m sure for that person, it happens to be a totally subconscious, coincidental event. Anyhow, could someone please remind me that person the office (particularly if that office is an ad agency) is the probably the ultimate worst place to meet someone? You’d think I they would have learned by now. I they have not.

A nice, tall, attractive 24-year old boy in Manhattan who claims to want to date you is basically a modern day Trojan horse. (Trojan cult? …get it? He’s young. Anyhow…) Having passed the 24-year benchmark four years ago myself, I should have known better... just like I should have known better than to order and consume my 6th grain alcohol margarita Friday night at Rio. However not really being one for restraint, but instead acting more like the poster child of “gluttons for punishment" everywhere, neither situation really stopped me.

The thing is this man/horse is unbelievably appealing at first glance with his tall stature, southern accent, affinity for SEC football, possession of seersucker pants and an endless supply of crisp shirts. The total package looks tempting at first. But once you get up close and pick it apart, it turns into a big f**ing mess that blows up in your face. And there you are crying at the bar, feeling like a fool because in addition to you, this baby Trojan colt also hooked up with half the girls in the office! And what did you get out of it? A monster hangover.

At some point you stop feeling bad. You have Jameson on the rocks with your friends on a Sunday night at a speakeasy in the West Village. (You whip up a pointed blog post). You reach a limit. A best friend and fellow New Yorker reached one a few months ago with a man she met on a plane. They went on a date where his truly awful shirt caused her to raise an eyebrow. However, not wanting to screw up that second chance karma, she entertained a second date. She showed up horrified to him in sweatpants and a shirt she described, while shouting over the phone as, “a shirt that was actually, originally designed to not have sleeves!!!”

And while yes, perhaps we’re overly critical bitches, and clothes can be changed, sometimes you have to ask; Is it worth it? Looking back, if all you ever really had was an adolescent g-chat buddy who talked about himself always and occasionally slept over, it’s not worth the anxiety, the tears or the potential damage to relationships with real friends. That big, wooden horse can stay locked outside the gate because I’m hoping on a plane to New Orleans with some of my favorite people on the planet. And to quote one of them, “the mustometer will be redlined all weekend.” So to my dear friends heading to NOLA, I’ll say this: Saddle up, because I’m putting myself in the running for the weekend game ball. And I’ll be starting out with an Ativan and some red and/or white wine high in the sky Friday morning.

Don’t be fooled by the pearls.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keeping Up With Crazy, vol. 1

You want to see crazy people? Go to a sandwich/chopped salad place around 1:00pm in a mostly commercial area of NY. Want to amplify your crazy? Go to what I consider to be the only one with decent food in the entire financial district, Patuca, and you find yourself in the epicenter of hungry people whose drive for at-desk-productivity outweighs the quality of life that comes with taking a lunch hour… or people like me, who would rather go back to their desk and singlehandedly try and watch everything has to offer than sit in City Hall Park and enjoy the lovely weather, er, fog/rain.

Personally, I find crazy people fascinating, so I quite enjoy the priceless people watching in a hot, crowded deli. Before you even get into what really makes people tick in these places, there’s usually someone dressed as though they clearly forgot they had to be in public for most of the day. I understand that office thermostats are often set around 30* below, but that does not give you carte blanche to walk around looking like the bastard child of the Easter Bunny and Batman.

By that I mean, I saw a woman walk in wearing a teal “sweater” with elongated sides all around which I am assuming are meant to wrap around you for extra warmth, but the problem was that you couldn’t even see armholes. It was as if she cut a hole in her childhood security blanket and set out to her adult day. I mean, this thing would have put living room throw blankets to shame. A snuggie would be more fashionable and frankly, more trendy. I wanted to take a picture of the crazy woman in her bat cape, but I stopped just short of snapping it, in part because my blackberry camera has a flash that would have gone off and attracted attention and in part because of something that rarely happens with me. I stopped and thought, would I want someone to do this to me on an off, ahem, hungover day? No, no I wouldn’t.

Enough empathy for now. Back to my comfort zone: picking apart mannerisms of perfect strangers who never did anything to me. Thank goodness for the protective glass covering the salad ingredients. I have to believe that were it not there, people would point to their desired ingredient not stopping short of sticking their swine flu carrying fingers in there for a sampling.

Crazy happens during ordering and there’s really no reason. I get how it can be unnerving to wait in a long line and then have to depend on someone who might not speak the best English to put together your precious lunch. (Note to self: the ability to speak Spanish would really come in handy here – way to go on growing up in Florida and studying French for six years). Anyhow, think about it; there are about 20 options of various salad/sandwich toppings. Even if the person serving you doesn’t exactly speak the queen’s English – or have a green card – when their job is to make salads for people all day, every day, what do you want to bet they understand the words “tomato,” ‘cucumber,” “beets” and “delicious goat cheese?” And frankly, worst case scenario they screw up and make you a new one? You’re paying $15 for lettuce. They’ll start from scratch.

Speaking of $15 salads, price point is another thing that cause people to go bonkers. I don’t understand it. I stood in front of a troll woman in the sandwich line the other day that, of course, was clawing over protective glass covering to scream out complex orders of tomatoes and sprouts. Well, this troll woman was none too pleased with the amount of avocado on her sandwich, quietly suggested they give her more and then turned to me I guess looking for sympathy and gave a little, “harrumph!” Umm, hey lady, do I strike you as a person who would give a shit about the amount of avocado that the sandwich guy allocated to your sandwich, because I don’t. So please step far enough out of my personal space to notice the sporting of the wayfarers inside, the earbuds in-ear and the BBM to Casey in hand and know that I’m not interested in anything having to do with your lunch.

Of course what I just said is BS because after she started snorting off like the woman troll she was, I kind of needed to know how it would pan out. Clearly not needing more avo on her sammy, she barks at them to add more, so they do. She then completely loses her cool when they charge her an additional $0.50, as per the board that says: Additional Toppings $0.50 each. Right. I mean, am I the only one who finds it embarrassing to cause a stir over the difference between a $6.75 and $7.25 sandwich? I get that the eating out adds up, but honestly, if you’re concerned about saving money, buy groceries and bring in your lunch.

Lastly, perhaps what’s most troubling is that I actually think about it this much. I mean, none of this matters, but when you go to the same place nearly every day, there’s a lot of time to observe. And I’d be lying to say I didn’t love crazy people. On that note, I asked a friend last week if she’d rather go to Iran right now for a month or spend six months in a small town in Tennessee having to watch Fox News and attend Baptist church. She, of course, said Iran and added, “I’d wear those robes around and no one would know how fat I am.” She’s not fat, not even close. However, I suspect she’s not the only one who would make that same choice, crazy as it may be. And strangely enough, I love living in a city with people who would choose chaotic and violent rioting over a certain cable news channel… even if they crowd my personal space while barking off salad orders in an overpriced deli in lower Manhattan.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Week in Review: Foreign Territory.

When leaving the ease of a familiar routine or the comfort of a shared 600 sq ft of space in the sky you call home, it’s safe to say that you won’t know what to expect. What you expect might not be what comes to pass. Now this can be as spectacularly exciting as it is extraordinarily disappointing. And somewhere in the middle of the is-she-self-medicating-highs and cut-yourself-on-purpose-lows, you realize that this is life and if nothing else, at least it’s interesting.

Let’s start at, well, the beginning of this theme I hope to pull together into a complete thought by the end. I’m going to say something, and then I’ll hold a minute for you to pull it together. I gave up alcohol for lent. …………………………………………………….. It wasn’t my idea. My good-Catholic-girl-BFF-roomie decided to give it up for lent. Like a lemming, I followed and said; yeah I’ll do that too.

When you give up alcohol, one thing you most certainly don’t miss is the hangover. One thing you do miss, however, is the alcohol. This is why I caved and as I began to write this, I opened up the finest bottle of $8.99 sauv blanc that the wine store downstairs has to offer. For the rest of lent, I’m just hoping to cut back and be healthier, which will no doubt turn into some concrete resolution to maybe, “lay off at least four out of seven nights a week,” and then evolve into, “seriously, no more day drinking… during the week.” At least I am aware that my rationalization sounds about as sensible as, “well I’ve shut down the meth lab, but I still shoot up once a month or so to keep my edge.”

Regardless of my lack of ability to commit to a measly 40 days of self-started prohibition, I can still celebrate the end of Doobie’s sobriety at brunch on Easter Sunday. Because that’s what the deprivation is all about, right? Making one of the two Whiskeypalian-raised, requisite church appearances per year and then following up with liquid lunch. Needless to say, this venture into foreign territory panned out just as everyone expected it to. No one had faith in my 40 days of sobriety. Then again, I’ve never given anyone much of a reason.

The next undertaking into the unknown panned out with an unexpected ending of the most unpleasant nature. I recently ventured to San Francisco for the first time to visit a friend of mine. To say I was excited to see him is a gross understatement. Two days in, to say I wanted to teleport myself back home to New York, or get hit by a bus, is also a gross understatement. On the bright side, I saw two cousins and a dear friend from high whom I hadn’t seen in nine years (who took me through the “gayborhood” as he called it, and accounted for such a pleasantly surprising highlight of my trip out there). On the down side, I travelled 3000 miles to find out that the boy I fancied recently started seeing someone else. Special. Again, on the bright side, I had some unexpected, self-directed acting lessons. What the hell else are you supposed to do with a full 48 hours to go than put on a happy face and act like you’re having fun? I’ll tell you. Average about 1000 TMs per minute to Doobie/Chanita/Casey/Jamie/Chantelle/Michael detailing what you’re really feeling (unadulterated misery) and outlining what you’d really like to be doing (drowning yourself in a bucket).

Restoring balance and perspective in my universe, I ventured back to the birthplace the next weekend for a dear friend’s wedding. Now, this was a weekend I’d been dreading for reasons other than the wedding, much of which is just general anxiety generated when I’m not in a major, metropolitan area. It turned out to be better than I could have imagined. There’s nothing like a few nights (read: gallons of wine) among friends from the home front to make you see how, in the eternal words of Bob Marley, everything’s gonna be alright. And there’s nothing like seeing a best friend live out the wedding she always wanted to make you see what happy really looks like. And there’s nothing like Elmer’s school glue for children to adhere the ripped leather back to the heels of your shoes after sinking into the lawn all night. Unexpected highlight of a casual wedding, where the bride and groom are actually already married before the ceremony: taking your wine glass down to the river with you for the service.

My last and most recent expedition into the unfamiliar actually wasn’t that unfamiliar. Like any good New Yorker in training – 5.5 years to go till the title is legit – at lease renewal time, instead of doing the easy thing and staying put, we decided to surrender to the soul-sucking process that is moving in Manhattan. Getting evicted a mere year ago wasn’t enough. It was time to set out and spend $6 grand I don’t have, but would need in order to call a new neighborhood home. Or would I?

In an unexpected turn of events, the second apartment we saw was a go. It was cheaper than our current place, in real Soho (not “Soho”/a refrigerator box in an underground tunnel by the Spring Street E train), the rooms were equal size and my ginormous couch would actually fit up the one flight of stairs you had to climb. Too good to be true? Yes and no, but mostly not really. One hiccup was that they wanted us to each make about $30K more than we currently do. Let’s be clear about something. If I had a $30K addition to what is already a comfortable salary, I would be looking for a more expensive apartment. Still, to end the search at apartment #2, we were ready to move forward. That is until I went out for cocktails in celebration of the return of a dearly missed NY transplant in from Chicago for the weekend. After a few rounds and a quick, “ja, I’m moving again” conversation, I learned a valuable lesson: good things can come from shitty bars, in particular Black Bear Lodge in Gramercy. BB will forever have my seal of good karma approval, for it is there where we started the conversation that led to getting the best apartment ever.

The best apartment ever is the entire 5th floor of 118 Hudson. It’s situated in Tribeca proper above Bubby’s and across the street from Nobu and Mr. Chow. Yes, I’m culinary name-dropping. The elevator opens up into 1700 square ft of space and there’s a washer/dryer in the unit. Enough said. But is it? No, because the finished roof deck wasn’t mentioned yet. And it plays host to a tiled bar, fridge and a grill that, unlike others I’ve seen in NY, would not be easily confused as part of a “kitchen-set” accessory for a child playing with dolls, not to mention there are lovely panoramic views of the Tribeca skyline. Not to be outdone by apartment amenities was the process itself. I’ll lay it out for you: we looked, we wanted, we took. No broker, no fee, no deposit, no lease. Just an amazing space in a low rise building full of guys who are all friends with each other, and perhaps soon, with us too.

For a glass-half-empty kind of gal like me, this foray into good luck was a welcome change. An old coworker recently told me, “The sum total of splendor in the universe is always the same. It just keeps changing locations,” and I take that to mean that my luck will once again become depressingly shitty. I find strange comfort in that, probably something to do with familiarity of the situation. I was also recently told getting your heart broken makes you feel alive. Alive? Maybe, but only because you’re painfully aware that you are. I liken that tidbit of advice to telling someone it’s good luck to see rain on their wedding day. File that under, “you’re definitely being told this for the sole purpose of trying to make you feel better, not because anyone actually believes it.” Finally, I was most recently told - by a psychic I saw this weekend on W Houston – that July and August would be good months for me. While that has potential, as it coincides with a mini Fire Island share I just got in on with one of my most favorite partners in crime, I also think it was Miss Cleo’s last ditch effort at selling me on more “psychic services” since I would only shell out the $10 bare minimum. You see, I’d never gone to see a psychic before and I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of faith in what she said, but none the less, it was interesting enough to try something new. And maybe continuing to try new things is the big take-away here. Putting yourself out there could be the very thing that makes you realize how much you actually love everything you left behind, chief among it being white wine. And no matter what happens, New York is always there to fall back on. So whether you’re coming back from a foreign land, foreign coast, foreign borough (less likely), or a foreign state of being, i.e. sobriety, nothing compares to the homecoming with that skyline. And seeing it from a new neighborhood is certainly a refreshing point of view.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Week in Review, XVI. “Going to the Chapel…”

The Week in Review, XVI. “Going to the Chapel…”

I was walking around near the Meatpacking District on Saturday looking at townhouses. I always try to browse within my means. I noticed a sprawling, empty, low-rise building stretching through a good portion of the block. There was a sign on the scaffolding that read something to the effect of, “rental, commercial and estate demolition.” While I’ve personally been a victim of great buildings changing ownership and function, I still think it’s exciting to see new renovations, forms, functions and constructions in the city. OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I actually think purchase power on that level is exciting. I mean, I was over the moon two weeks ago when I bought a new dress and heels on the same trip to Tracy Reese. I can’t even imagine the excitement that comes from pulling the trigger on a gigantic piece of prime NY real estate. “…half the block on W 18th between 8th and 9th, you say? OK, I’ll take it!”

I have absolutely no credibility or authority on vows of commitment, successful relationships, or even making it through a wedding reception without blacking out, so I thought I’d be appropriate – er, funny for me - to reflect on the ghosts of weddings past, both up on the alter as an attendant and in the pews attending, to serve as an amusing/cautionary tale for those people biting the dust next year.

I’ll admit it; I’ve had a really easy wedding season this year. So easy, in fact, that Doobie and were able to book a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest in the fall. I look at it as one last celebration of the lack of restrictions single life offers before we commit all disposable income for the foreseeable future to celebrate our friends’ commitments to commitment. I have anxiety thinking about next season’s minimum of 10 new dresses, 8 out-of-town flights, 5 weddings, 3 bachelorettes, untold amount of drinks, a partridge in a f**king pear tree, and ZERO prospects of an “& Guest” to bring along with me.

Now, clearly this might apply more to the ladies reading. Goodness knows all of this is a simple, 500-step process for any female involved. Guys are lucky bastards who require so much less assistance and fuss in these situations. What will they wear? Well, whatever they’re told… which is a suit, personal tux or rented tux. What’s the rest of the attention focused on? Organizing a perfectly-timed bachelor party to Vegas during March Madness right before that April or June nuptial. Once it’s time for the big day, I’m fairly certain their main concerns are centered around making sure to get a cooler of beer for the limo and not dying of a heat stroke in the suit/tux at the wedding. Oh, if it were only so easy for us gals.

It all starts with the bridesmaid dress, aka a $350 conglomeration of satin and tulle that you would never have even worn to prom back in high school during a time of less developed sartorial sensibility, much less in front of your closest friends and family in pictures that 50% of these couples will treasure for the rest of their lives.

You have to go into the purchase process knowing two things: 1. The sizes are ill fitting, usually skewing to the small side, making it necessary to buy a larger size than you might normally wear, and 2. Because of the ill fitting sizes, you’ll need to throw another $100+ into alterations of something you’ll never wear again. And don’t brush over the ill-fitting sizes comment. Some people are obsessed with wearing a certain size. If you are one of them, please ask yourself when, if ever – and I’m guessing never, someone has said to you, “ooooh, darling dress… what size is it?” No, sorry, that’s never happened. Why then would you set yourself up for disaster by buying something that won’t zip up?

In the back room of a cathedral, I once watched a fellow bridesmaid zip up a skimpy size only to have the zipper rip in half. I tried my best not to laugh out loud/immediately started snapping pictures. Out of nowhere, an old church lady (picture Dana Carvey from his SNL days), busts into the group with a mammoth tackle box full of supplies and starts sewing up the gaping hole in the dress. Adding to the tension, this one chick who grew up in Minnesota, and has since picked up the thickest southern accent you’ve ever heard, tried to gather us around saying, “Yaaaaaawwwwwlll, I thaaank we shuud prraaayy.” Sugarbee, JC may have turned water to wine, but that zipper isn’t fixing itself through the power of prayer. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, someone yelled out, “Yall?? Oh you grew up in Minne-f*cking-sota,” I then wondered if the guys had any limo beer left in their cooler. While it all turned out beautifully in the end, an evolving train wreck of this proportion needed toasting.

Moral of the story: always have drinks on hand and buy dresses that fit.

Before the dress ever even zips up…or not, there’s still the matter of addressing hair and makeup. Some people are better on their own. Some people are hopeless. The easiest solution might be to organize pre-ceremony hair and makeup for the bridal party… you would think.

Last summer, I was over at a friend’s getting hair and makeup done before we headed over to the church. The girls with longer hair went before me and I watched as their hair was twisted into tiny, scorching hot curls and pinned then to their head for good measure until we were ready to leave. The vision of half pulled-up, flowing curls will look lovely on them, I thought, but surely they must have another plan for the two of us with much shorter hair.

False. The plan was the same. I moved to the hair chair panic-stricken, desperately explaining to the lady how well my hair holds curl, knowing how hideous I’m going to look at the end of this process. She decides that on me, she’ll just stick to ringlettes seared into my hair at 500 degrees, no pins. Once the ringlettes were in place, and my hair was plastered back with easily enough aerosol hairspray to double the size of the hole in the ozone, she brushes out my curls. I can’t see anything at this point, but I sensed that I looked ridiculous. My worst fears were realized when she says to me, “well don’t you look like you just hopped off the Good Ship Lollypop.” Hey lady! You did this to me. Thanks. That’s exactly what every neurotic, image-obsessed girl in her mid 20s wants to hear at the end of the process. Thank goodness there were drinks on hand.

Moral of the story: allow your attendants to dress like adults. Remember, they’re on display and in pictures that 50% of you will want to keep forever.

Those being the only two hiccups I’ve encountered on the bridesmaid side of things, I thought I’d wrap up with a few DO’s and DON’T’s I’ve learned over the years as a guest.

  • DO remember that the little packs of rice are meant to be thrown at the bride and groom from a distance and not down your friends’ dresses and pants… ultimately ending up all over the hotel room and in the sheets when you “fall asleep” in your dress.
  • DON’T drink an entire bottle of champagne before a wedding you’re not in. Remember, you will be available for cocktail hour, not stuck taking pictures. Otherwise drinking an entire bottle of champagne is such a good idea.
  • DO bum a cigarette from the Father of the Bride. It’s super classy.
  • DON’T sit next to one of your best friends and your other best friend’s little brother at a ceremony conducted in a language you don’t speak. Your friend’s brother might make you giggle. Once they start, they don’t stop, and this is inappropriate at a religious ceremony.
  • DO live it up when you realize you’ve been intentionally seated at a table in the back of the room, by the bar, with all the other degenerates there. This was not an accident. People are actually expecting you to be loud and act like an idiot. Embrace it.
  • DON’T let someone swing you violently around a dance floor when your dress is cut down to your rib cage. You will flash people. This is inappropriate.

And lastly…

  • DO please still invite me to all 47 weddings next year in spite of all I’ve just said. I might have to embezzle money to fund all the plane tickets, er, dresses no one else has ever seen before, I’ll definitely still blackout with the cast of characters tying the knot next year, and they’ll all be discussed in great detail after the fact, over another barrel of wine at the Pig with my two dinner companions from last night. But don’t worry; you all might get your chance to poke fun at me one day. Of course by that time we’ll all need to use the wheel chair entrance to the townhouse I picked out on the west side of Manhattan.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Week in Review XV – “TopTier Friends”

The Week in Review XV – “Top Tier Friends”

I pass judgment on perfect strangers on the way to work. It’s uncalled-for, unreasonable and unmerited really, but it’s a necessary part of my heat-distraction-mantra. OK, who am I kidding? I do this year-round, but at the moment it goes something like this: “it’s not that hot… it’s not that hot… hi – have you SEEN your hair ... it’s not that hot… it’s not that hot…. oooh, buddy – only gay men can wear jorts and look good in them - désolé… it’s not that hot… that guy’s suit is tailored far too well for him to be single – or heterosexual – too bad… it’s not that hot… it’s not that hot …” oh come on – skinny b*tch in jeans is clearly on drugs to be in denim and not be affected by this heat…” and so on.

Anyhow, it doesn’t work, because by the time you arrive at the subway even your sunglasses feel like a constricting, heat-radiating nuisance. And I’m a glasses-on-on-the-subway kind of gal… obviously so that I can stare directly at the strangers on my car in closer quarters and continue to pass judgment. I also think about what it would be like if something terrible were to happen and I was forced to spend the last minutes of life with these freaks on the uptown R train at 10:00, errr, 8:50am on a random Tuesday morning. That’s a bit morbid though.

You know how sometimes you do Sunday morning brunch with your friends and it turns a little too boozy for your own good? (Read: You know how 75% of the time you do brunch with friends you continue drinking until you eventually self-destruct, black out and kick-off the work week feeling like you’ve been run over by an uptown R train full of sweaty strangers lacking sartorial direction?) It was one particular weekend brunch a couple months back that I found myself locked in the back of a molester van in Chinatown with two fellow A-listers while they bargained with a Chinese immigrant over fake, quilted Chanel bags. Ahh, the American dream.

It always starts innocently enough. That day we’d met at the Plaza fountain to run the 6-mile loop in the park. The very hint of exercise made us ravenous. After we finished that landmark triumph in athleticism, we walked over to Sarabeth’s on Central Park South and asked them if we were presentable enough to dine at their establishment so long as we sat outside. It only takes one person to order that first drink at brunch to get everyone else to join in. To her credit, P-Pants also ordered an entire pot of coffee. A few hours later, it became apparent (to us anyhow) that we needed to head downtown to see the latest illegal productions of high-end rip offs, sad as they may be. And why not? None of us had been to Chinatown in years, so it was really a sort of cultural exploration too.

Twenty minutes on a downtown C-train later and we’re in the thick of it, still in sweaty running clothes and still buzzed. This calls for a quick stop at everybody’s favorite mall pizza chain restaurant, Sbarro, to pick up a surprisingly good selection of beers to brown bag for our journey through bags on the black market. When all was said and done, though there wasn’t enough time for Bed, Bath & Beyond, it was actually a pretty nice little Saturday. We saw at least five people get arrested, bought Chanel from the back of a windowless molester van, snagged a few necklaces that broke immediately upon returning home, and got a fake “I’m not a Plastic Bag” bag for $25, when the 3000 authentic Anya Hindmarch ones sold at $15/each as a special promotion to encourage hugging trees.

So, I’ve been rambling on about this to illustrate the point is that there are certain things you only do with top tier friends. It’s that small inner-circle that’s part of the larger circle who you can count on for an immediate and resounding “yes, I’m in” to whatever it is you suggest. They’re the ones you think of first when someone offers you 4 tickets in a suite to see Bon Jovi in his mecca… Jersey. They’re the ones who cause the biggest disappointment should they not be able to attend said Jerseyfest, leaving you to feel lost and let down like it’ll be the hardest thing in the whole world to find someone else to go with you to see these living legends of rock play live while you’re being spoon fed free food and drinks. Only a top tier friend would steal beer from a mentally challenged cashier at the grocery store in Hampton Bays to cheer you up on your birthday when you’re in the middle of a stage-5-breakdown-anxiety-attack, convinced you’re getting fired from your job you love. Not that it really happened, or that Doobie was the one who would have done it if it ever had happened. To her theoretical defense, she told the cashier the beer was free and he just believed her.

I’m convinced no one actually likes all of their friends, so I’m hesitant to believe that everyone doesn’t have some A-team- All- Stars that they favor. Now, it may be difficult to pick them out as we get older and continue to meet new friends. Right now, for example, Facebook tells me I have 588 friends, but I am pretty sure I don’t know 75% of them. I think it might be easiest to break friends down into categories and carve out the top tier from there. The way I see it, you can generalize into about 3 categories of friends:

  1. The ones you grew up with. Whoever you grew up with that you still talk to… they are your top tier friends in this category and probably always held that spot. For me, they did. For some, they may be the only friends in this category. Actually, some ppl might not have this as an applicable category anymore.
  2. The ones you went to college with. Now, it goes without saying that we all have fond memories with these crazy f**kers, but the gold star friends from this group are the ones you still talk to constantly, who haven’t gone batsh*t crazy after leaving the comfort of the judgmental group en masse. They left the nest and learned how fly, whereas some of the others left the nest, took a wrong turn and ended up in an oil spill off shore and are now dependent on PETA to scrub them clean while Americans watch on CNN, sigh and say, hmm what a shame. That doesn’t even make sense. Anyhow, these are the people who follow through on the pact you made four years ago to travel to Germany for Oktoberfest 2008 and good thing too, because it’s going to be epic.
  3. The ones you’ve met since leaving college and entering this so called real world
    1. The ones you work with. You spend 75% of your life with these people. It helps when you like them too. It’s even better when you can sit with them on a 3-way instant message conversation all day, snorting laughing, while you plan out the scenes of the fictitious movie you’re writing on advertising and betrayal starring all the classic characters you talk about behind their backs. These are the people who you punk, telling them they need to call a bar to confirm a party, when really you’ve given them the number to the strip club Scores, and they aren’t even mad, just happy to finally be in on the scam.
    2. The ones you’ve met in NY (or fill in the appropriate city here _____). This can mix with those in 3a. For me it’s those people with whom I shared apartment 3a on 55th st… all 25 of them, without getting sick of each other. Seriously. Well, minus the 3-month stint with the hyper hyena girl we got off Craigslist. I thought for a split second that these might be the most mature set of friends you’ve got, and maybe in some way they are. They have no problem leaving really great seats in the Garden long before the OAR show is over because you’ve all realized that you’re the oldest people there and need to go hang out with adults. Mature decision. They also have no problem making a cauldron of rum-soaked sangria on a random Saturday afternoon and then staying out till the sun comes up because you were so into the GNR dance party going on in the living room you didn’t realize it was 9:00am. Immature decision.

Now I considered another category centered on people who know how to act like adults when splitting a bill at a big table. I stopped myself from going there (nope, no I didn’t) in high, desperate hopes that not everyone has to deal with people who don’t quite get it. Seriously, there are few things more irritating than watching that bill come to the table and having people try to itemize what they’ve consumed. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin and float away from the table when someone pulls a bill out from the night before (actually happened once) or tries to say something to the effect of, “umm, I only had a side of iceberg lettuce and 3oz of house wine.” Yeah, hi, I also was at the table you lying lush, and I noticed you put down a lot more than that. My thoughts are: What‘s a couple bucks among friends? , it all equals out over time and at most you’re saving yourself about $10. I get it if you work for some freakish communist who thinks $35K is fair compensation in NYC in 2008. I’d say something upfront too so I could buy myself a $17 watered down vodka/soda later on at the bar. However, if that’s not the case, then WHY would you ruin lunch/brunch/drinks/dinner by making everyone feel awkward, walk out of the restaurant annoyed and inviting unsolicited criticism from perfect strangers, only to hop on that downtown R train thinking, “Well that sucked, and damn it’s hot. I hope something bad doesn’t happen so that I have to spend my final minutes with these freaks. I don’t even have sunglasses.”



TWIR, XIV: Please Consider the Fact That No One Cares

TWIR, XIV: Please Consider the Fact That No One Cares

Monday, March 24, 2008

You know what drives me absolutely bonkers (among a hastily-expanding, infinite amount of things) are the posers who think it’s trendy to put that green note with the little tree icon at the bottom of emails. “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”

Listen, I am as much of an eco-freak as someone living in a concrete jungle can be; I more than support the cause. I use mass-transit. I own 2 real furs… err, wait? I have a f***ing compost pile of Diet Coke bottles/cans under my desk at work that I feel too bad about not recycling… and will eventually take to a bin… at some point… maybe when I leave the office late at night and don’t mind being mistaken for a homeless person who just dug through the garbage. I stood in line at Whole Foods at 5am in the rain for a “I’m not a plastic bag” canvas bag to use instead of plastic bags at the grocery store, and among other things, I’ve stopped eating mammals* because of the greenhouse gases they produce on the meat-butchering farms where they are raised. (*I reneged this commitment twice in the past 10 months, once at a media party and once after a media party, both times excessive alcohol was involved and come on, sometimes you just need a bite of a burger). I digress. This is not about me.

Back to the e-consideration of Mother Earth. It’s so f***ing presumptuous to think that people are just printing out your emails left and right - like they aren’t already getting 9859285732986 other emails in a given day - to the point that you need to step in and say something to stop them before they print it out. Thank goodness you have that little icon and note there, you arrogant jerk, so that when people get to the bottom of your emails, just before they hit the Print/Kill-a-Tree command, they can now stop and think, “F**K, WWAGD?!?!” (F**K - What Would Al Gore Do)? Well we all know what Al would do; he wouldn’t print that email. If people are really printing out my emails, I would ask them to please consider what they’re doing with their LIVES if they truly feel they need a hard copy form of this sh*t to file away.

Equally annoying as the faux eco-freaks (fauxcofreaks… that doesn’t work does it) are 99% of real estate agents in New York. Living in the center of the universe is great, but for sure the worst possible thing you can do here is move your stuff from one NY apartment to another. I challenge you to find a more agonizing process to go through. Adding brokers to the mix only compounds what is already an extremely painful experience. The whole process is just awfully ass-backwards. And if you’re an in-advance-planner-type, forget about it; start the anti-anxiety meds now. In my case, the last round of relocation started with eviction, which was a special little twist of the knife in the side.

Most brokers are shady. And that’s being kind. Take the guy from Best Apartments who showed us a place in Tribeca. It was a great place in Tribeca proper, as opposed to a Craigslist ad that says something to the effect of “$3150 / 2br - Big true 1 bdrm-flex 2 bdrm, 740sqft, city.water vu, drmn, gr8 area! Tribeca/Soho!!!!” That really means Tribeca/Soho/a sketcy area not remotely close to either of those posh neighborhoods, and watch it, because you’ll likely get mugged at night by a shady character… possibly the broker who is trying to sell you on the place. That brings us back to Best Apartments Buddy. He shows me this apartment and I liked it a lot, however, I was the only one who was able to see it at the time. I gave him $500 to put a hold on it till we could send in the applications. As luck would have it, we found a much better apartment on the day we were approved for this one. We said thanks but no on Tribeca, and he said we owe him $4695 because we decided not to take the apartment. Excellent reasoning. Then he threatened to take us to small claims court, and after we called him out on his BS, he decided he’d just keep the $500. This kicked off what inevitably turns into the equivalent of taking a large sum of money and dumping it in the East River.

Speaking of large sums of money, another annoying thing brokers do is show you apartments out of your price range. These apartments will be the ones you fall in love with, and of course everything else will seem like a rat-infested sh*thole in comparison. As I said, we saw mecca the same day we were approved for another apartment. This was the holy grail of NY apartments: centrally located, stunning, 2100sq ft and just out of our price range. Fitting right into place as part of the universe’s grand scheme against us, we decided we could stretch a little more for such a fantastic space. How often do you find that much space in NY? OF COURSE IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Please. During the application process, the owner of said apartment decided that perhaps the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle wasn’t the ideal tenant situation for him. Did he even take into account the fabulous clothing that explained the lack of available funds in our checking accounts? No. He decides we need an extra month of security upfront, which along with the 15% broker’s fee (another special aspect of moving in NY), brought the grand upfront-cash-needed-total to $30,000. I sh*t you not. Am I wrong in wanting to scream out, “If I had $30K lying around, do you think I would be looking for an apartment to RENT with two other people, asshole?!?!?!?” That settled… onto night #47 in a row of wine for dinner. Those of you who were there know how well that panned out.

Maybe the last worst thing brokers do (can I even say that – it’s probably like picking a least-favorite child) is show you spaces that are flat out unlivable. Under this umbrella falls the 6’x6’ “bedrooms,” underground apartments with no windows, entire apartments with no closets or living rooms, walk-ups that triathletes couldn’t manage every day, and among other things, anything on Avenue D or Peter Cooper (read: Stephen King) Village. The last one made the list while viewing an apartment and looking out the window to an empty playground with empty swings blowing in the breeze. This is the stuff that Law & Order: SVU episodes come from. Anyhow, we saw so many awful apartments it was entirely depressing. Exactly what part of “overpriced bat cave that you can only fit a twin bed into” did you think you were going to sell me on? I am a professional, er mature… I will be 30 in about three years; I need a place that leaves me with a modicum of dignity and enough disposable income to buy at least 3 new outfits each month. Is that too much to ask?

Eventually you get so tired of looking that you settle on a place you can live with and live in. Sure it’s $500 more each month than you’re paying now, it’s a fraction of the size of the fabulous 5th Avenue apartment you left (after they evicted you and changed the locks) and even after downsizing the copious amount of STUFF you’ve collected over the past 3+ years you still need to get a storage unit for the opposite season’s wardrobe… the point is you’ve finally found a home and you’re not far away from once again feeling settled. It’s then that you get an email from your broker letting you know that within the next 24 hours you’ll need a certified check for the majority of what you make in a year another for 15% of the annual rent, but CONGRATS, because you have a new home! Then, just before you go to print that sucker out to remind yourself of just exactly how far into debt you’re about to fall, you see that familiar little evergreen icon and accompanying note from yet another self-important asshole reminding you to consider the environment before printing this email.