Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bugface, I am ashamed of you.

I was working my section at Borders waaaayyyyy back in 1999 when in walked a gangly teenager, at least 6' 5", all knees and elbows, ribs everywhere. He had sparkly blue eyes and platinum blond hair and he started telling me jokes and making puppet characters with his supernaturally long fingers. I did not even know his name, but he was so funny and my face hurt so bad from smiling that it took me a good ten minutes to notice that he was wearing a Border's employee tag - and another five for me to infer that this hilarious creature, whose name is Entling, was in fact the new floor manager.

Can I tell you how excited I was by this news? It's not every day a girl finds out that her new quasi-boss looks a lot like the kid brother she never had. He made me laugh every single time I came to work for that $6.15 an hour -- for two years. How do you thank someone for that? Impossible, I'd say.

It is now 2007 (obviously) and Entling and I have stayed in touch. My life has changed and so has his. He's still in retail and God bless him, he's grown up quite a bit. He has filled out enough that he no longer resembles a puppy bounding across a meadow when he walks across a room. When he reaches for a beer, he can estimate the distance between his hand and the glass and avoid batting the glass onto the floor. And he weighs, by now, more than I do. (Thank God.)

He has also become, at the age of 27, a father. Good news, no? I mean, babies are nice. New people. Smarshy little faces and perfect skin, wiggly little fingers, feet that smell like heaven -- awesome, right?

Well... that depends very much on who owns the uterus in question - and whether the uterus-controlling half of the relationship is a psychiatric disaster.

Entling met the girl, who we will call Bugface, two years ago. It was (according to Entling) pretty sweet. They dated. They said I love you. They moved in together and since she was told by her doctor that she was completely infertile engaged in all kinds of super-fun reproductive behavior without a care in the world.

Of course I don't need to tell you that that doctor was mistaken about the fertility of Bugface (or that perhaps Bugface was lying?)

Well, they took the news hard at first. They panicked and paced. Then Entling, because he was raised right and is a good man said "You know what, Bugface, it is time for me to man up. Let's get married and have this baby and be grown-ups. What do you say?" Bugface, presumably under the sway of hormones and happily ever after fantasies, said, "yes" or something like that. Entling put Bugface on his insurance policy at work and went about planning a wedding and a baby shower. The plan looked scary, but this is America. He knew they were not likely to starve.

As the pregnancy progressed, however, Bugface got nervous. You see, Entling doesn't make a whole of money. He has been chipping away at college but has not yet finished. And Bugface, being under the sway of hormones (I presume) began running the numbers on feeding an infant and keeping oneself in cigarettes and People magazine and reconsidered.

Bugface moved out, cancelled that insurance policy, signed up for medicaid and told Entling that she thought she could do better on her own. My question at that point, if I were Entling, would have been "better than having insurance and a roof over your head that isn't paid for by taxpayers?" But Entling is a nicer person than I am. He made an appointment with a couple's therapist and asked that she consider coming to the appointment so that they could work out rationally what ought to be done, given her fears. Because he very much wanted to support her and their child, regardless of whether the relationship ended. Because he is a Man, capital M.

Bugface shows up once, says she just doesn't want anything to do with Entling anymore and doesn't want his money. And that he ought to buzz off.

Entling calls an attorney to find out if he has any rights concerning the child. Guess what he found out?

He actually doesn't have any unless she grants him visitation. And, uh, since he is listed in her OB-GYN file as the father of the baby, the state of North Carolina can sue Entling for the cost of her pre-natal care and childbirth - about $30,000 - because he is a first degree relative of the child.

On July 13th, when Entling's baby boy Calen came into this world, he Entling did not even know until the next day. And then it was because some friend of a friend of a friend heard about it and called him. Bugface permitted Entling to come to her squalid little apartment and meet the baby for exactly fifteen minutes before telling Entling that he could expect very limited contact with Calen. None, actually. Entling also discovered, during this 15 minute visit, that Some Other Guy is now living with Bugface and will be fathering (!) Calen.

*** let's just take a moment and breathe, shall we? ***

Due to the medicaid/welfare issue, Entling called his insurance company and had Calen put on the policy. Bugface be damned. And then he told Bugface that he was sorry about the demise of the relationship, but that he was going to have to sue her for the right to support her and their son so that he would not have to pay back the welfare system.

*** let's breathe again, shall we? ***

Picture having to sue someone for the right to give him or her money. Picture Some Other Guy living with your Bugface and pretending to be the father of your son. Picture being out $30,000 in the process.

Look, I know relationships fall apart. I have pulled a Bugface myself once or twice (sans infant). Sometimes a thing is over and you know it and you gotta go. But dammit, there is an INFANT involved. Bugface may not like Entling in that way any more, but she is broke and Entling wants to help her - and will in fact be in debt for the rest of his life if he is denied to opportunity. And yeah, I only know Entling's half of the story. But I know Entling pretty well, and I can guarantee that whatever the hell went wrong here, it wasn't because he was abusive or mean or even stupid. (He's pretty smart). I can't envision a scenario here in which Entling is a villian. All he tried to do was support his girl and his baby and do the right thing. I haven't even mentioned yet how badly he wants this child to know that his father wanted him and loved him. Because of Bugface, he may never get a chance to say those things.

This is why I say that although I talk a good deal of shit men, um, lacking the capital M, (some of them) this is one case in which I feel ashamed of my own kind. To use the fact that you are the owner of the uterus and primary caregiver to the infant to destroy another person emotionally and financially is just inexcuseable.

Bugface, you are bad one.

If you, reader, want to give some words of encouragement or advice to my pal Entling, comment and I'll forward.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I bought this little gem before the Morocco trip because my friends threatened me with bodily harm should my luggage weigh more than thirty pounds.*

Take a closer look:

How many times have you been packing a bag and trying NOT to trade up to that bigger bag that you dread dragging around the airport when you realized that you couldn't fit your stupid hairbrush into any of the remaining spaces?

Well, ok. Perhaps your answer is zero... but let me tell you, if you have hair half way between your bra strap and your butt, ignoring hair maintenance can land you in mysteries and complications that could take weeks to unravel; you might think things are going well, only to discover a frikkin' leprechaun in the tangle of stuff behind your head, right back there where you do not have eyes.**

It's an efficient little piece of equipment, is all I am saying. Definitely get one if you have hair.

If you don't, the pocket mirror is also excellent.

* Larry, mostly. But Pax too.

**Hair, butts, complications, a semi-colon (sexiest piece of punctuation ever) and a leprechaun (ok, ew) all happening in the same sentence? Perhaps I ought to notice, uh, my own composition strategy and, uh, infer a little something from it. Like that perhaps it's time to tango? Oh, I don't know. ('cept I do).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sin of the Week, 7/29/07.

The worst thing I did this week stab a coworker (Bingo) in the back (metaphorically, of course). You see, later this month, I have to go into the office at Sweet Little College (yes, I do work for a college) for a two day meeting. Due to my travel schedule, I will be overseas until the moment the meeting begins. So I will have to fly to the college, get a cab to school, attend the meetings and then take another flight - but instead of back to NYC, directly to my parents' house. (I know, I know. I am getting there).

Bingo actually lives about 20 minutes from my parents, and she offered me a ride (it's a six hour drive). Since the one way plane tickets runs about $400, and because my parents (while lovely people in millions of ways) are not well enough to pick me up from the airport, I was quite grateful.

Until two days ago, when Bingo told me she is planning on calling in sick so she doesn't have to go to the meeting and spend an entire $60 on the tank of gas it would take her (poor thing!) to get there.


So the cost of my two days of (pointless) meetings at Sweet Little College just went from about $200 flight + $200 rental car + $200 hotel = $600... to + $400 = $1000.

That's right: two days of (pointless) meetings are going to cost me $1000 because Bingo doesn't want to spend $60.

It was (kind of) an accident, but I told my boss that I was running into some transportation issues because I had "lost my ride home" and that I was pretty well screwed unless I could pull $400 out of nowhere.*

She was then able to infer that Bingo was not coming to the meeting. I feel bad about it, but you know what? The meetings is MANDATORY and calling in sick is completely transparent - and she completely screwed me over.

I know it was wrong of me to rat her out. I know it. But I am $400 worth of pissed off and, well, maybe after I have cooled down, I can scratch up $400 worth of repentence. Stranger things have happened.

*Good life strategy - for everyone, I might add: never, ever let your boss think that you are ok for money. EVER. The sadder your stories about keeping the light bill paid and clipping coupons, the better. THIS, and not your job performance, is what your boss will think of when she hands out raises next year.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Poor judgment, I love you, Dario, my ass, The Crazy

I am, at this very moment, riding the 6:57a,m. bus out of Port Authority. Bibi, Sri and I are on our way to the Gunks to climb today, and since I am such a genius, I was out until 1am (again). Four hours of sleep, and out the door we go. I am shattered.

The circumstances surrounding this latest incident of poor judgment might (sort of) diminish the degree of my responsibility for this poor decision. You see, Pax and Joe have just returned from their one-year anniversary trip to Punta Cana, and she texted us to meet for a drink so she could tell us all about it. And since rumors have been swirling about their possible engagement for months, we were naturally (nearly) dying to know what progress, if any, was made toward this end. Also, Sri and I were just on our way out of the gym, we felt we couldn’t refuse since we had already undone the damage we knew we were about to do. 7am bus, notwithstanding.

Sri and I hit Rachel’s and shortly thereafter, Pax strolls in. We order a round and we hear how Pax and Joe are not only not engaged, but that no progress toward this end has been achieved at all. They snorkled. The waded. The ate. The drank. The did stuff. But get engaged, they did not. And then Pax tells us something about their relationship that we, thinking we had already seen it all, had never even considered: although Pax and Joe have been together for one year, they have never said I love you to each other.

Yes, I know. Some people are not into talking about feelings. Yes, I know, some people, particularly a rather excellent and rare variety of men, are people of action and not words. Some people have mommy/daddy/life issues. Check.

But a whole year? Is this not a little unusual? Considering, also, that they are clearly very into each other and have never, according to Pax, had even a minor fight?

No need to answer. I simply do not know myself.

After a thorough trip debriefing, we all came up for air and noticed that our bar tender, a lovely tall, handsome black (African American, whatever the right moniker is these day) man (measuring perfectly appropriately was looking at us with what I can just call a mixture of compassion and amusement. He looked at us, and we looked back. I had the feeling that somewhere, somehow, Handsome Black Man and I had once been friends. Maybe as recently as last week. I opened my mouth to say so when Handsome Black Man started laughing and shaking his head and shifting from side to side, searching (clearly) for the right words.

And then Sri got it.



Giddy laughter all the way around.

“Now I see why what I do with you guys so damn little good!” More head shaking. “Drinks on me, ladies. Drinks on me. You want something fried from the kitchen? Still open!” he says, looking at his watch and shaking his head.

It’s not every day you run into a person who knows better than you do what your own ass looks like. In a bar. Where he is serving the drinks. Because he is moonlighting. Because he is your personal trainer.

Let’s just leave that right there and move on to my ass. This morning (albeit at 6am, when nothing measures appropriately) I hit a .71. Better. But appropriate? No.

The Crazy, Day Eight: Bagel (wrong), Salad (eh, ok), two drinks (I am an idiot), TWO handfuls of cashews and half a powerbar at 1am (mortal sins, both). I ran for 45 minutes, I lifted stuff for 20 minutes, I sat in the sauna for 10. Most assuredly, I am only NOT succeeding at anything like The Crazy. And I no longer care… as long as my trainer keeps buying me drinks, I figure that’s almost as a good as the Almighty himself parting the skies and appearing on a cloud (in his Reeboks) to hand me a notarized (by Jesus, Mohammed and the Buddha) certificate saying that I am OK.

What a lovely way to start the weekend. I hope yours goes just as well.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Cat Fight in Times Square

I went to Chelsea Piers last night to climb their stratospherically high rock wall. So you know why I say I am so hyperbolic:


We, who are accustomed to bouldering and SHORT route climbing (25 foot walls) were, uh... intimidated.

However, we triumphed. Bibi made it 50 feet on a 5.7 route. I made it 40 feet on a 5.6, and Sri just rainbowed everything since she only started climbing about a month ago. Then we went out of salads and chardonnay (what the hell) before heading home early.

After such a successful evening, I decided I'd walk home in the temperate July air. Up 8th Avenue to 42nd St, hang a right and walk east past Port Authority (worst bus station in the world) through the tourists and sidewalk cartoonists, past Madam Tussaud's, past the glitterama McDonald's (can you tell I have an over-affection for the Great White Way?) and Bryant Park, my beloved NYPL, Grand Central, Chrysler Building, a thousand pricey sandwich shops (someone has to feed all those Pzizerites) and, finally I am home, East River tangoing between the Queens-Midtown Bridge and the Manhattan. God, I love midtown. *

Only last night, the walk did not go to plan. Not at all.

I was strolling along, flip-flops a-flopping, ponytail bouncing, mind dancing. I couldn't even feel with my ten pound backpack filled with sweaty, crumpled clothes and climbing stuff, so unburdened was I. Forty feet of wall, I mused. Fifty next time... Maybe a ceiling. Next year, multi-pitch climb at the Gunks. Huzzah!

But then just past Port Authority, a flutter of apprehension. When you live in the country, or even in the suburbs, people running in the same direction and exclaiming things you do no understand is most likely to be a corporate sponsored 10K, Cumberland County Fair egg race, or even a three legged race at a PTA fund raiser. In a city, your alert mechanisms adapt such that when more than one person is running and giving non-syllabic expressions of ANYTHING, all is not well, something is awry. Some shit is going down.

Having sensed this cue, I slowed down and walked closer to the building, away from the runners - because also, at this point, they were also jumping up and down. As I hugged one of the massive pillars that flank Port Authority, (note to self: there is now at least one thing to like about Port Authority) I discerned that it was not the people jumping, but the bus behind them that was bobbing and weaving. Or rather, the occupants of said bus. The shouting escalated. The bus driver jumped out, threw down the key and ran east. Several other people joined me behind the pillar, including a Chelsea**-style lothario who thought nothing of shoving his pelvis up against mine. *** Where was I?

Then there were screams. Just visible inside the bouncing, careening bus: a teenager of the female variety pointing an actual, real live firearm into the face of a similar (as in pissed off "I dare you to shoot me, beeyatch!" rather than, "oh, please, I have children") screaming teenager. Just then, a third person behind our pillar pushed us all on to the ground, face down. I felt a bit interfered with, but again, safety. The guy was correct. There was now a crowd so thick that there was no way we could have fled in any direction.

The screaming escalated, and then a van filled with police officers (thank God, the police) arrived, jumped out of the van, weapons drawn, boarded the bus (I can't believe how calm they were about it. Two of the guys drew their guns, got on the bus, took the gun away from crazy teenager, subdued the other, and pushed them both off the bus to be frisked and placed in custody.

Am I not, reader, a badass for taking this pic of the girls being read their rights?

The fun didn't stop there, however. My pockets, as I was pushed to the ground, emptied onto the sidewalk. Picture $3 in change rolling around all over a sidewalk that looks like this:

True, I did get paid on Monday, and I am, at least for the time being, not struggling for food and bus fare. But does that mean I can lose $3 in change because I can't tell it apart from decades-old chewing gum? Hardly.

Lothario helped me, though. OOOOO, that Lothario. Perhaps I am ready to get out there, after all.

* Midtown is really uncool. No one likes it here. Except for me.

** Read: Gay.

*** It wasn't all that different from what the Turkish soccer player did to me on the dance floor in the Bahamas, so seriously, why kick up a fuss? Also, it was for safety, you know how I feel about safety. (I am ok with it).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Crazy, Part Two

I have been working on an epic post regarding the devil. Naturally, I have a lot to say regarding the evil one, since I believe he (or she) has been working on me full time for at least five years - and is (naturally) having unparalleled success. But I was out until 4am (again... thanks for that last round of mojitos, Sri) and will have to finish that up another time.

You might be wondering (yeah, I know you are NOT wondering, but I am obsessed; please just hang in there), since you know I swore off drinking for two weeks in order to do The Crazy, why I went for the first mojito, rather than a nice-girl glass of club soda.*

Without further explanation, a recap of my progress, re: The Crazy.

Day Five: Ate stuff, drank stuff, worked out like a crazy person, actually tried for soreness. Failed. Went out for pad thai with Sri, had two glasses of wine and an entire plate of noodles and peanut sauce... in other words, blew the whole thing.

Day Six: Not sore, but very tired. Worked out again like a crazy person. Ate arugula, but had curry puffs for dinner. At midnight.

Good. Lord.

Day Seven: Had roughly 9000 work problems to handle. Went to the gym, climbed, swam, handled work problems while on treadmill with cell phone in hand. I always wondered who the jerks who talk on the phone at the gym are. Now I know: me.

And today I am handling 9000 more work problems before heading off to the gym. Again. I am tired.

Actually, my biggest problem is that despite my non-stop late night eating (and drinking, yo) I am no longer measuring appropriately. My waist shrank an inch and my hips only a quarter inch. And now I am a .72 - not the worst thing in the world, no. But it's not appropriate.

So perhaps this post is about the devil after all.

* yes, I know. I know that one post about my obsession with my tape measure and my need not to fall behind on the trail would have been sufficient. But it's on my mind right now, kind of to the degree that my dissertation would be on my mind if I had a lick of sense. Or were not under the full sway of demons, I dunno.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No Clever Title

I got an email yesterday from a man I used to work with at a place we'll just call Presitigious U. The email is only two blips long, but the content has thrust upon me (thrust upon me!) a dilemma.

The email:

"It occurs to me, Nina, that you live within earshot of the midtown explosion. I hope you are not affected by it. Perhaps you are overseas by now; you were training, I believe, for Kilimanjaro or Inca Trail when last I saw you.

I am finishing summer session at Prestigious U and then I am overseas myself until August 21st. I hope, when we both return to the US, that we can meet up for a drink."

Ahem. Have I just been asked on something sort of resembling a date?

My initial reaction is: absolutely.*


The fact that I even noticed that the email is a possible date request gives me pause. For at least a year, men have been invisible to me. I haven't even felt a glimmer of anything resembling attraction, let alone interest.

The reason is that my last relationship totalled me. (Recently had the,uh, breakthrough moment when I could actually admit that. Good Lord). While totalled, I realized that willfully ignoring the whole show has many advantages.

I have been, for the first time since I was about sixteen, able to look at male creatures simply has fellow creatures. I can be 100% motiveless. I can be friends with male creatures without having a glimmer interest in whether or not X male would smell good if I got close enough to find out. I can enjoy all the magic that is maleness (good heavens I love male creatures) - without confusion or the requisite emotional wonkiness. Also, for the first time, I can sit back and watch other women fall all over themselves in an effort to attract the lovely male creatures. What before I considered a deadly serious business (getting attention from the creatures) is now merely something fun to watch other women try (and mostly fail) at. Great, I tell you. Just great.


Friends and family have been not so gently demanding that I give it another go. Another forty years (I hope) is a long time to go all by yourself (or in this case, myself). (According to them). (Sounds fantastic to me, actually).

Reservation A: he works at Prestigious U and if we actually start dating, I might have to attend PU stuff. *gag*. Also, he is divorced, and while I know many people are divorced for valid reasons... well, it's a long story but the short version is: I could never date a man who has a storehouse of rage built up against some other creature to whom he was once legally bound. (Never again).

Before you ask, yeah. He is smart enough, nice enough, mature enough (late 40s). I don't care about looks (not kidding - totally don't care), but if I did, I'd say he's acceptably attractive. As long as he doesn't spend all (or actually, any) of his time plotting against his ex-wife, it could work. That is, if I were able to actually locate him, visually.

Reservation B (dilemma!): I have no desire to date. However, I might be wise to force myself, kind of the way people force themselves to eat brussel sprouts or endure embarrassing medical exams. Not so appealing, but perhaps for the best.

So, um, I am not begging for comments or anything (ok, I am) but I would like input here. Is it stupid to date if I don't feel like it? Or is this is brussel sprout situation?

*If you are not sure, let me tell you why I am. First, I worked with him for years and I know him to be a shy and reserved and serious man. Also he is an Engish teacher and he knows (due to many a water cooler chat) of my obsession with syntax and sentence rhythm. He knows that I consider parenthetical expressions suggestive - or at the very least, friendly. Intimate. He knows that the semi-colon is the sexiest thing since the double dash. (--). (ooooo). If you doubt this consider the function of the semi-colon; the semi-colon coordinates two clauses - two clauses so closely related in meaning that they require no transitional expression for the reader to understand (nay, feel) the relationship. The clauses, in a really well composed sentence united witha semi-colon actually lose meaning if separated from each other. The clauses, united by the semi-colon, are sun and moon, earth and sky. Peanut butter and jelly, even. The two clauses tango. That he used one in his email to me is, therefore, no accident.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Let's Review

Today, answers to questions no one asked.

Q: How is it that on July 10th you had only $14 left to last you until July 23, and yet on July 21st, you claimed to have $27 left? Are you a liar?

A: My funds increased because I took the drawer in my desk down to the bank and dumped the change on the counter. They gave me $22. And yes, I lie sometimes. I can't go so far as to say I am a liar, however. It's not part of my prime directive. Imperfect as I am, I've got nothing on Larry.

Q: Did you ever get any?

A: I am still working on that. I tried Flanagan's on 2nd and 42nd, but they were all out. Since it took considerable courage to walk into a bar in broad daylight and demand condoms instead of alcohol, it may take me a few more days to amass enough courage to try again to "get some." When I do, I will post about it.

Q: You said you would (maybe, whatever) post pictures of your rock climbing trip. You never did. What the fuck is wrong with you? Liar!

A: Look, I am no Mulgrew (obviously) but since you asked: everything. Thanks for noticing. I didn't post pictures of the trip because we only climbed one day (the next we hiked to Gertrude's Nose) an we didn't even bring a camera. And really, who wants pictures of Bibi's ass? (Oh wait... You might actually enjoy those. My bad). It goes without saying you don't really need so see my ass, since you see it in the metaphorical sense every time you click on my internet diary. Where was I? Oh yes. I am going climbing again this weekend. I will bring a camera. Plenty of Bibi's ass next week. Pinky swear! (Imperfect, yes. Liar, not really. I do break promises sometimes though. I recently broke one to Larry. *snicker*).

Q: You mention Larry all the time as if he is the Worst Person in the World. Ever plan on explaining that? Or are you just going to allude to your bitterness in 67.2349% of your posts until you get the memo that your blog absurd - and quit?

A: I do plan to explain. You may be thinking that another story about love gone wrong or a tirade about a man lying to women is (yawn!) not worth the eyestrain. I wish that were true. When I go get around to explaining why Larry is, in fact, the worst person in the world, you will understand why even the devil himself is embarrassed and ashamed of Larry's badness. In short, Larry will blow your doors off. But it'll take more than one post and it'll take me some time to write. If you really want to know more about Larry, keep reading, and you will.

Q: What is the purpose of your blog? I notice that you post a lot and that most of your posts are without unity or coherence. You are an English teacher. Obviously, you know better.

A: Obviously, I know better, yes. However, from my end of the wireless, forcing myself to write is the purpose. I have not permitted myself to get over-picky about content or lucidity (yet). If you keep coming back, you'll have to find a reason, a purpose of your own, so to speak. I hope you do.*

*If you are the Brazilian person who checks my blog upwards of twenty times a day... please stop. You are scaring me. I have no idea how you found my internet diary and I have no idea why you are reading my posts about climbing equipment and emotional paralysis over and over. If it's because you are waiting to hear about Larry because you think he is Brazilian, no. Brazil doesn't produce people this bad. For this special Grade AAA batch of badness, we have the Europeans to thank. And even the Europeans only manage to produce a Larry once every 200 years (approximately). So, sorry.

Also, if you are hoping I'll disclose whether I get the popular wax job named for your country, please... My mama raised me right. I might talk about other people's wax jobs, but I am a lady. I don't talk (yeah, right) about such personal matters. Where was I? Brazilian reader, I appreciate the attention. Perhaps you should see post from July 18th. I'll wait right here for you.


No? Not intereseted? When then, Brazilian reader... you really ought to get a more productive hobby. Go away already! Off with you!**

**Just kidding. I secretly love you (a little bit) Brazilian reader. I know you are not a unique visitor, but you are still special to me. You give me the surface appearance of having a readership... I'm shallow. I'll take it. So, um... I guess you can keep coming back twenty times a day. If you really want to set my mind at ease re: your quality of life, start flying to different countries and checking my blog from unique computers. Or give my URL to other people, check my blog fewer than five times a day and get outta the house, already.

Thank you for your understanding.

Monday, July 23, 2007

$66 ***updated***

I bought these on sale at EMS a month ago, and I am loving them. Mostly, I climb in a rock gym in West Midtown, mostly bouldering, which is short climbs (usually about 5-6 moves) without a harness or ropes (because it's not that high and there are crash pads beneath me).

I realize I may be giving my (three) readers the wrong impression.

The fact is, I am not a badass. I am not getting any younger. I am not a hard body. I do not love danger. Also, I am decidely not good at climbing. I do it because it is fun. Period.

If you want to try it (yes, you do, you do!) click here and then select your region. You'll tear your hands up and you'll feel like a buffoon, yes. But you'll also have fun.

The Crazy, Day Four: Upside: I ate the arugula and I ate the tuna. I also spend two and a half hours working out. Knees were wobbling when I left the gym. However, I also went out for dinner with Bibi and Sri (goodbye, remaining $27) and had a glass of wine. OK, two. Also, in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, I ate more tuna and sort of had a gin and tonic. Meh...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sin of the Week, 7/22/07. I am a monster.

The worst thing I did this week was smack my nephew Liam on the butt.

Horrified? You should be. I am so horrified that I had to think long and hard about posting this particular crime.

(If you are from social services, please note: I am not the child's primary caregiver. Do not come here and take me away in chains. Thank you for your understanding.)

Let me show you what prompted me to commit this crime:

You might notice around the bottom edge of that horrifying bruise a series of tiny red tooth marks. That's right: Liam bit me. Out of the blue, for no particular reason.... he just turned his head and sank his teeth into my arm.

Less than half a second later, I smacked him in the butt. I am sure you can imagine what ensued: he started screeching. He screamed for his mother and when she appeared and viewed the dazed look on my face the the bruise already forming on my arm she looked at him and said:

"Liam! What did you do?"

"I got hit!" he cried (tears everywhere, heartbroken, banished from the garden, soul-rending sobbing disaster). He re-enacted my crime against him, hitting himself in the butt to show his mother what I had done to him. He did not stop crying (or re-enacting) for an hour.

I wanted to kill myself. I still want to kill myself.

His mother took my side. (Imagine that! There could be sides in a dispute involving a grown woman and a two year old??) She told him that she would have done that to him too. And then he proceeded to explain, to my horror, that he was just nibbling me because he loves me. At this point, as you can well imagine, I started calculating how fast I could get home and sharpen my knives. So as to commit self harm.

So we had a long discussion about only biting food. And a long discussion about how biting hurts people. And a long discussion about how when someone hits you in the butt, he or she (or actually only Aunt Nina, since she is the only person who has ever laid a hand on the precious one) is trying to send a message. About behavior.

I wish I were dead.

Thank you for reading.

If you are sad, after having learned that I am a fucking bitch monster-ball, take a look at this. 1500 Phillipino inmates performing "Thriller" (thank you, Gawker) will make you feel better about humanity, even if you can't forgive me.

The Crazy, Day Three: A better day. I woke up, drank my coffee black, ate nothing but fish and arugula all day and then went climbing for two hours. Then I worked out for 2.5 hours. Followed by broccoli and about two gallons of water. The real victory, however, was going to the Chelsea bar crawl, and not drinking. Wahoo!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More Than Chicken

Sri called last night and wanted to debrief me on her hair appointment (Sri: now with 100% better hair!) so I exercised my excellent judgment and free will and took the remaining $27 I have left to last me until Tuesday to the upper west side.

After oooing and ahing and clucking over Sri's hair (and spending $9 on a glass of wine), I boarded a 1 train south to Times Square. Below, what happened on the train.

The Man: mid-twenties, multi-racial, of the hispanic mixed with all kinds of other things type (I am guessing if I had asked him he would have told me either Dominican or Puerto Rican, but pointy Irish ears and a smattering of freckles and a nose that comes only from France and the glowing good skin... I don't know). Tattoo of flowery vine on left arm, spider-web elbow tattoo on right arm. A tribal number on the back of his neck. Baggy pants, studded belt, wife beater, cubic zirconia earrings (both ears), steel toed boots. Your basic nightmare (if you are my mother... Or my father... Or my brother, come to think of it).

The Woman: Late teens, early twenties, also mult-racial but of the India/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka/Tibet kind mixed with European stuff (note, this look is excellent... mix up India/Bangladesh/Sri Lanka/Tibet with anything European, and the result is uniformly excellent). No tattoos, no jewelry. tight jeans, black tank top, strappy sandals, wavy black hair down to her butt, a solid B cup, perhaps a C if the bra was padded. Baby pink toenail polish. Tammy Faye mascara, baby pink lip gloss. All kinds of pretty.

The Situation: Love.

She was sitting on his lap, and they were gazing into each other's eyes with such passion that I feared the three inches between them might ingnite and burn their faces off. Her arms were around his shoulders, and his arms were around her waist and he had one hand curled up around her face so that he could stroke her jaw, or any other part of her face he adored, with his thumb.

(all in whispers..... sshhhhhh)

He: I love you, baby.

She: Baby, I love you.

(bing, bong "This stop is: 66th Street.... the next stop is: 59th Street... stand clear of the closing doors, please" bing bong)

He: More than lottery tickets.

She: More than clean sheets.

He: More than payday.

She: More than perfect hair.

(bing, bong "This stop is: 59th Street... the next stop is 50th Street... stand clear of the closing doors, please" bing bong)

He: More than green grass.

She: More than angels.

He: More than sunshine.

She: More than oceans.

He: More than moonlight.

She: More than heaven.

He: More than summertime.

They stared at each other with such longing that it made me want to go sit on his other knee; so great was this inferno of passionate desire that I might have risked the burning to get in on it. Lovelovelovelovelove! Have I said anything yet about the love? Because this was love. If you don't think so, read what happened next.

She brought her arms out from around his shoulder and cradled his face in her palms. They kissed. And then. And then...

She, in a whisper (shhhhh!): More than chicken.

She dropped her head on his shoulder and he proceeded to rock her like an infant. Because of a love greater than chicken. I am not kidding.

(bing, bong "This stop is 42nd Street, Times Square... the next stop is 34th Street, Penn Station... stand clear of the closing doors please" bing bong)

As I disembarked, and I looked back over my shoulder at them and they were still there, rocking, oblivious to the entire world.

And this is all I have to say to you today, internet: love. Lovelovelovelovelovelovelove. More than moonbeams, more than angels' wings, more than butterflies and kittens... more than chicken.

The Crazy, Day Two: I am failing miserably. Last night after I got home, I had a glass of diet ginger ale with just a splash of gin in it. Then I had a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos... and just the merest splash of gin and ginger ale. Repeat. Today I am meeting Bibi to climb. I hope to remain at the gym long after she leaves and sweat to death. I am too scared to even check and see if I measure appropriately.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Crazy ***updated****

Today, I am starting The Crazy. What is The Crazy? And why am I doing it?

In two weeks, I will board a plane for Peru (with Larry and about 15 other people) to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu.

The journey will take four days on foot, and we will be camping for three nights - that's right, four days sweating our faces off with no showers, no electricity, no HVAC. Just us a few llamas and some Peruvian porters to help carry our tents.

I take an ill-advised journey such as this one two times a year. The last one was spring 2007 to Morocco to hike the dunes in the Sahara desert. And before that, I hiked Thorsmork in Iceland.*

Before all such trips, I do what Lola calls The Crazy. The Crazy is a fourteen day "get your ass back in shape - IMMEDIATELY" program that um, gets my ass back in shape immediately. It involves a two hour workout in the morning, a one hour work out in the afternoon, gallons of water and the a severely restricted diet that includes insane amounts of arugula. Thank heavens I like... arugula.

You might be wondering why I would bother to do this, seeing as I measure appropriately every day. Most my friends are better hikers (and also better climbers) than I am. If I don't do the crazy, I can't keep up with them. Simple as that. And so for the next fourteen days, I will be doing The Crazy and reporting (in somewhat truncated fashion, I admit) my progress here, at the close of each post. If you don't care (good Lord, I don't even care THAT much) you can skip it.

All set then?

Day One: I drank black coffee (ie, no milk in it, gahhh) to get myself in the spirit of things. Other than that, I have done nothing to achieve The Crazy. HOWEVER. The day isn't over yet. I will post again when all modules are complete.

UPDATE: I am failing. I did really quite well up until the point I realized that my balance ball will not inflate properly. And I need the ball to complete the second workout. That pissed me off so bad that I had to have a drink. So as you can see, it's going rather poorly. More tomorrow.

*You are correct: I cannot afford these trips. I teach extra classes to pay for them. Yet another reason I never work on my dissertation...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I also experienced hell.

I got on the elevator about an hour ago because I needed to buy a slice of pizza with two of the $14 I have left to last me until I get paid on Monday.*

I pushed the lobby button and the elevator moved down the line and stopped at floor eleven. The door opened, and I saw (and heard) a woman in a tank top and lycra bike shorts, popping and licking and smacking and honestly making out with her gum in the most disturbing way I have ever heard. It sounded like what happens when your stick face into a bowl of nutella, sneeze, and then attempt to swallow. Schlurrsmickityschmackstick. Awful.

Then something worse happened. The elevator stopped to board other passengers 3 times . For those of you with no math skills, that's a stop every 3.66 floors. If the elevator had started its journey on floor 26, it would have stopped over 7 times! Do you know how long a stop takes??

An average of twenty seconds per stop. That means, for those of you counting, that I had to spend at least sixty seconds riding the elevator with this masticating troll** who had, in addition to poor manners, no idea how to dress, and in my opinion, the worst hairdresser in the entire world.

When the elevator stopped I could not refrain from leaping out of it into the lobby and sprinting for the door. Please pray (for me) that the elevator troll was just visiting my building. I was in hell. If I have to ride the elevator with that sound again I might just sink to the floor and start weeping.

* I recently attained a state of near total destitution by turning down summer teaching gigs in favor of working on my dissertation. I think we all know how that's going. (hint: it's not).

** a troll, yes, but she probably has more money than I do this week. Actually, I cannot afford gum, so there is no "probably" about it.

I experienced danger.

At 5:45 last night, I boarded an M42 bus at 42nd and 2nd. I had twenty minutes to get across town.

Here's what happened as my bus crossed Lexington Avenue (thank you, New York Times):

When I heard the ruckus, I put my Blackberry away and did what everyone else on the bus was doing, which was leaning out the window, watching people sprint across 42nd street and west, the direction my bus was headed. The bus driver got on the intercom and told us there was some kind of fire and that we might have to disembark (yes, he used that word) and continue on foot. We made it another block before he stopped the bus, turned on his "not in service" light and told us to... disembark (this time he used less polite vocabulary). Then he too abandonned the bus. I walked to west 42nd street and 7th avenue and looked east:

I continued west a few steps, and then my phone started ringing. First, it was Lola, wanting to know if I needed a place to stay. Then it was Sri, who was waiting at the climbing gym for me and knew I was on a bus trying to get across town. Then Bibi, same issue. Then my parents called. My brother called next, all in a row, like ducks.

I still didn't realize how, um, serious the problem was until I left Bibi, Sri, and Pax at the restaurant and attempted to walk home. Here are some photos (thank you, cell phone camera) from my journey:

What the point of upending a mail bin on a fire hydrant is, I have no idea.

However, since it was never my intention to live in New York City forever, and since I know that at best, I will be here another two years (tops), I picked up a piece of the debris in that second photograph there and brought it home. I now own a piece of 41st street.

I am not bothered by the fact that NORMALLY the bus is too much trouble and I just walk across town on the decidedly less congested 41st street to the NYPL before I hang a right onto 42nd. I do not have a witty summation. I experienced danger. And that is all I have to say.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Position Vacancy: Stalker, long term.

Compensation: your desperation, my rage. Apply and be crushed. Apply again and be crushed with venomous, vituperative, venus in furs contempt. Apply again and beg for my scorn. And the furs. Apply again and be ignored. Apply again and again. I will always hurt you. It is what I do.

Reader, after three years of bi-annual phone calls and emails begging for another - or was it another? or another?? chance, my boyfriend circa 2002, the one I went out with approximately three times, has finally given up. I have not received a desperate, suicide threatening email from him in what appears to be twelve months.

Everyone hates a stalker: that's true... but a harmless one... one who simply adores me from afar? Maybe I could use another of those... I know it's wrong to enjoy the pain of others, but I have to be honest, here: most men like me when we are dating ad LOVE me after it's over. Can anyone get the memo and feel the love part during the actual relationship? Probably, it says something about me. I am not sure what. But indulge me this vice: I have enjoyed years of grim, prideful, sinful satisfaction from his God-awful pathetic emails and phone calls for all these good years.

All good things must come to and end, I see. It does not follow, however, that I might not hope for a new beginning.

Anyone willing to lavish me wirh praise: re: my intelligence, angelic virtue, beauty and rare bursts of sweetness is welcome to email me at : readerwritesmith@gmail.com.

Fail. as all but one of you will, and you must be content to read my blog and weep for love of me in silence. Succeed, and you must be content to read my blog and weep silenty for love of me in silence.

May the best man win.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I will get some. Or at least try.

I am a coward (and really boring). I don't even make out with strangers in bars anymore, let alone have actual sex. But if I did... wow.

I would go get bagfuls of these. When I clicked on the, ahem, "get some" link, I discovered that the only distributers are bars. Since nothing says romance like a condom that is only obtainable after 4pm... in a place that sells little but a product known to impair judgment (!), and since I have been trying to be less boring and have more courage in all areas of life, including the dating/romance/love/making out part, I have decided to visit at least three of these establishments this week and ask for condoms. What I will do with them once I have them, I have no idea. But I will disclose the results of my "get some" quest here.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I have three of these in different colors. My brother also carries one, and so does my dad. One of my sisters has two of them. When we all get together and Christmas and throw our stuff down on the table, we have to check the names on the credit cards to tell them apart.

Does it bother me that I carry a men's wallet? No.

Does it bother me that other people think my wallet is mannish? No.

Wouldn't I rather have a change purse, too? NO.

Am I not ashamed that I sometimes stuff that wallet in my back pocket, just like a man? NO NO NO.

Does it come in pink? Why, YES, it does!

Where can you get one? Click on the link above.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sin of the Week, 7/15/07

This is so embarrassing.

On three nights (days) I was still awake and churning when the sun arose. On one of the nights (days, whatever), I decided I would self medicate.

Guess how that went?

12:30am: half a xanax.

1:30am: half a glass of wine.

2:00am: more wine.

3:00am: other half of the xanax.

4:30am: two more glasses of wine and a lot of crying.

5:30am: dawn. Friends with normal jobs arise and get on IM and I am drunk and typing at them.

7:00am: send email to my boss telling her we "need to talk"

9:00am: send text message to Sri telling her I can't work out that night because I am pretty sure I will be dead by nightfall. Then I fall asleep with my Blackberry in one hand and the last glass of wine in the other. I sleep for a total of three hours and am awakened by my boss who is very REASONABLY wanting to know what she can do for me today.

I have no answer. I tell her I was just having a moment - and we got off the phone.

I can't wait for my performance review next month. I am sure we'll have LOTS to talk about - then.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'm sorry... are you upside down? Am I upside down?

This weekend, Bibi, Sri, Lola, Tex and I are going to the Gunks. For those of you unaware, Gunks is short for Shawangunks - a series of cliffs and crags perfect for rock climbing.

Toothpaste For Dinner

Seriously, I have no idea why I hike or rock scramble or rock climb. Do I enjoy it? Yes. But is it also very, very upsetting for my amygdala? YES.

With further adjective, some pics from our last rock climbing trip - NOT in the Gunks, but will still give you some idea of what my amygdala gets so excited about.

A few friends sitting on a cliff. Behind them is a drop off of about 1000 feet. Horray!

Here is one of the very very top of Bibi's head. Also, Rob is climbing there, in the background.

Take a look at the guy in the red shirt - the belayer. Then take a look, to the left, at the horizon line.

And just so you know what is behind him:

So this is how I will be spending the weekend. If I live (as I reasonably expect to) I'll post more pics (or maybe not, whatever) on Monday.

Thank you for reading. And have a great weekend.

Friday, July 13, 2007

You be the judge.

Here's a pic of the line I stood in for approximately three minutes:

Here's a pic of my feet after I consumed half a pitcher of sangria and half a quesadilla:


Was it an ERROR for me to opt out of spending four hours in line to see the *free* Courtney Love concert?

Could anything be more stupid than "coming early and looking good to avoid disappointment"?

Especially since the "ballroom" is approximately thirty feet from a major road work project?

THIS is supposed to be an opportunity for me?

Opportunity: quesadillas and sangria at Rocking Horse Cafe.

A successful evening.

And guess what? This morning, after all that cheese, I am still measuring appropriately.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just Say Yes

I promised myself that I would sometimes write about all the work I am supposed to be doing on my dissertation. So here's what I am going to say:

I have taken ten courses toward my PhD. In three of those courses, I have pending "incomplete" grades. The details of each incomplete vary, but basically, I have incompletes because at precisely the moment I am supposed to be writing the term paper titled something like "Why I am Down with Absalom, Absalom", I am also forced to be grading roughly, ahem, one hundred and sixty term papers with titles such as "Gun Controls Rock(s)" (re: how gun control would have saved X's buddy Y's life) to "My Girls Gone Wild Moment" (re: how A and B's spring break was revealed to be the best ever).

There's also the ongoing issue of my difficulty discerning my priorities... and my laziness.

Actually, my laziness is the primary cause of everything that has ever gone awry in my entire life.

Toothpaste For Dinner

But where was I? Oh yes: I promised myself (and Mamacita, and Dad, and Jesus) that I would WORK ON MY INCOMPLETES so that I could GET AROUND TO WORKING ON MY DISSERTATION this summer.

I promised myself that I would awaken each day, go for a run, shower, put on my nice girl skirt and my nice girl blouse and pack myself off to the NYPL to secure my future and develop my mind and BE NICE.

What have I done instead?

Each day, I awaken, and I check each of the fifty or so blogs I read (yeah, I am embarrassed, but... ok I read fifty or so blogs) and then I check them again. Then I review any new debits from my checking account and marvel at the steady outflow of funds for mojitos and martinis. Then I check the blogs again. Then I go down to the lobby and buy a cup of coffee for $1.35. By this time, it is usually about 9:30, and the stock market is open. If you did not know this about me yet... (which, how could you?) you are about to find out that I babysit the stock market because I have just a little tiny, teeny, infinitesimal over-interest in numbers.

Sometime after the market opens, I measure the circumference of my waist and hips and make sure that, once again, my waist:hip ratio is a .7 because if it is ever ANYTHING higher or lower than that...


I don't mind being bigger than Bibi and Sri. They don't weigh two hundred pounds between them. But if my waist:hip ratio is out of line, I freak right the fuck out. If that makes me stupid and scuzzy and vain, if that makes me a bad person and shallow and self-absorbed, if that makes me a total idiot and woman of foolish ambitions and low character...

Well. So be it.

Reader, I must measure appropriately. I am not a tiny little wisp of a thing, but I MUST MEASURE APPROPRIATELY.

If, after I measure my waist:hip ratio, I am a .69, or a .71, or, really, ANYTHING other than a .7, I spend the day drinking gallons of spring water and climbing, climbing, climbing at the gym. Then I do yoga until I can see all the way to China with my third eye. And then I do cardio until I am crying. And then I unhinge my jaw and pour another gallon of water down my throat... and then I reach for the tape measure.

Where was I? Oh yes. My dissertation... and how I am not working on it.

Never, ever does it occur to me, ever, whether I am measuring appropriately or not, to DO SOMETHING to secure my future as an academic, by oh, say... working on academics. Being turned down for tenure, or say, fired for neglecting to do ANY professional development?


But the risk of diabetes, cancer, and God forbid... ugliness! which increases ever so slightly if one is not measuring appropriately?

Reader, I am measuring appropriately! Every single day!

There was a time when life was more sane. More balanced, less surreal. This was a time, I admit, when none of us knew Larry, when most of us had boyfriends who knew they were supposed to do things like open doors and offer to fix things that squeak. This was a time when I didn't really care what I would be doing in ten years and was simply less anxious. I didn't have student loan debt then. I didn't consider the smallest blip of an issue justification for gathering the girls at the local pub for a pitcher of mojitos. I did not own a dress-makers' tape measure. I was... a much nicer person. (Probably).

During those years, I worked out and then simply went to the library and worked on papers. I endured the pain and pleasure of the gym, and then I indulged in the pain and pleasure of my actual life - and worked on my actual work at the NYPL. I got things done. I liked myself. My advisor liked me. Back then, he wasn't threatening me with expulsion from my program.

And probably, I was measuring appropriately the entire f-ing time.

This is the life to which I aspire to return. *


*breathing. breathing. breathing*

I am off to spin class. Then I will shower. I will wear the nice girl skirt and the sensible shoes and the nice girl blouse. My lunch will be packed. And I will spend the day at the library.

*Take a look at this sentence. Do you see, reader, how full of shit it is? Marvel not just at the meaning, but also the absurd syntax. Do you not see that it is about time I got back to work... at the very least, so that I can actually practice my (oh for the love of God I can't believe I am typing this) craft and not inflict upon you (inflict upon you!) posts as poorly written as the one yesterday about the hot (measuring appropriately) cab driver? Just say yes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alert! Alert! I almost liked someone!

I went to dinner with Jib last night, and he told me that since I have not kissed anyone since my last break up, aside from him (he has no idea about Tex... don't tell!) that I ought to get OUT THERE.

I can only assume that by OUT THERE, he means I should be selecting men off an internet dating site and inviting them, one at a time, to disappoint me with their selfishness and stupidity.

I am sorry. Where was I?

Right! I almost LIKED someone!

After Jib and I left the bar, I got into a cab and said "blah di dah, and dah" (which is what we say here when we are directing a cab driver to our homes).

"Where again?" said the driver.

"Blah di dah, and dah" I said.

"Right," he said. I looked at his indentification.

The name was long and ended in "ski"- and I liked it. I also liked the green eyes flashing in the rear view mirror. I looked at the ID tag again - and had a moment.

The fact is, I look at the ID tag in every single cab I get into. I do this because my brother has trained me to memorize the names of cab drivers in case one of them decides to drive me over a bridge and attack me. That way if I live through it, I can identify my attacker and my brother can defend my and my family's honor by shredding the driver into little tiny bits.

I am sorry. WHere was I?

The ID tag: I look at the ID tags so as to know my enemy. But on this particular occasion I found myself looking at the ID tag because I actually wanted to know who my driver was. Reader, he was... hot.

We made eye contact in the rear view mirror. He smiled. Oh... lord. Good teeth.

"Are you from Ireland?" he said.

The answer to this question is, obviously, no. However, my ancestry is nearly all Irish. Since I do not have an Irish accent, I thought he must have been looking at the fair skin and the big ears and the strong jaw. So I said yes rather than explain.

"Yes," I said.

"I can tell by your accent," he said.

I nodded silently. We were now four precious blocks from being torn from each other forever, so there was no point explaining that my family has been in this country, on both sides, for upwards of three-hundred years. I cannot possibly have an accent, other than upper-mid west news caster nuetral. Obviously, he was just talking to me.

Guess what I did next? You're not going to believe it. I don't quite believe it myself. I talked to him.

"Where are you from?" I said.

I even smiled back at the rear view mirror. I checked out the hand-wrist-forearm ratios as he turned onto Madison Avenue. Measured very appropriately. I sat back and collected myself. Heart banging around in my chest a bit. Hands a bit restless. Began having feelings.

"I'm from Brooklyn, but my family is from Russia. We've been here four years."

For the first time I noticed the peculiar lift in his voice around last syllables - almost imperceptable, but definitely there. He smiled again. Glossy black hair, five o'clock shadow, shoulders like...

Look, it was really bad. Or was it really good?

He stopped the meter about three blocks away from my apartment. I had a moment, yes, when I thought that perhaps my heart was banging around in my chest because he was, in fact, about the drive me over a bridge and murder me, but no. He drove me up to my place, and I paid him.

As I gathered my belongings and my composure, he turned around in looked me right in the face.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but you're adorable. Your accent too." Shy smile. "You're adorable."

"Thanks," I said. Safe out on the sidewalk, I looked back into the cab and said, "so are you."

He winked at me and drove away. And right now, my brother is weeping silently and wondering what the family did wrong to have raised such a impudent slut. Sorry, dude. I couldn't help myself.

Reader, I almost liked someone. In fact, I think I might have ALL THE WAY liked a New York City Taxi Driver. That's either totally disgusting or totally um, whatever. But...


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A little light goes out

I know this post is long, but trust me: you'll want to read it. If you do, you'll feel a little like I feel after I watch Jerry Springer: glad I am myself instead of certain other people. All set then?

I have lived, for an embarrassing number of years, in a tiny studio apartment. I live here for one simple reason: when I moved to New York, my brother was convinced that within one hour of my arrival, I would be murdered and stuffed into a dumpster behind a strip bar. It was, therefore, he who chose my apartment. He chose this particular apartment because the location is usually overrun with secret service agents and others with law enforcement training. He loves this about my place. Me too.

And there are other things to love about my place: 24-hour doorman that does everything from feed the fish to collect the mail to take my laundry out. A perfect view of the river, thick walls, (or quiet neighbors?) a gym, a park across the street.


I have a problem,* which I will now explain by describing a downside to living in my building: the elevators,** and the people who are in them.

There are four elevators in my building, serving roughly 1000 people who live here. That means that I rarely get to ride the elevator all by myself.*** And that means that when I get on the elevator, odds are better than 50/50 that I will have to have a useless conversation with someone I do not really know and wish I knew even less.

You see, no one in my building seems to have gotten the NYC memo about privacy, about being in a perpetual hurry. About unfriendliness being a form of respect for other people's time. It's like everyone who lives here is from Alabama (and no, there's nothing wrong with acting like you are from Alabama - but it's WAY better, if you are acting like you are from Alabama, to actually be LOCATED in Alabama, where people have time for that sort of thing), without the drawl. They chat in the mornings on the way down to get coffee or on the way to their places of employment. In the evenings, they describe how the day went. If they are work-from-home people like me, they talk about how their pets are the cutest ever and ask me why I never attend the building social functions, since I am obviously here all the time. An elevator filled with five people sounds like a Junior League meeting.

Picture this: I come home at 8pm after ingesting four cocktails. I smell like sour apple jolly ranchers and second hand smoke, and all I want to do is stagger into my apartment and begin eating something salty. Well... no. Because on the elevator, I have to talk to Mrs. K, about how her daughter's gymnastic camp is the GREATEST - and the ongoing debate over whether they should welcome a kitten into their family.

And don't you have a cat? You do?? OH, that's so great. Hey, do you mind if I just come in for a few minutes and meet your cat? It might help me make a decision, and besides. I have ALWAYS wanted to see your place. It's a studio, right?

And so there I am, reader. Drunk, in an elevator, with a woman so lacking in the memo that I am forced to tell her that, no, she may not come in and see my cat because my cat is on holiday in Scotland until next weekend. Fortunately, she is stupid enough to believe this. The real and actual truth is that my apartment, while charming in its way, is usually so littered with empty liquor bottles, unfolded laundry, moldy take out containers and assorted climbing gear that any sane person who happened to drop in would automatically assume that I had been robbed (and that the thieves had apparently decided to live in my place for a few days before taking off with the television and the stereo).

It is for this reason - in case you're lost, (and how could you not be? what a stupid post!) the reason I refer to is the absurdly friendly, wholesome people who live in my building talking to me every time I get in an elevator - that I get a whole lot of pleasure out it when THEIR LIGHTS GO OUT.

No, I do not refer (metaphorically) to their deaths. I am not quite that mean (yet). I refer to the delicious moment when they press the number in the elevator panel denoting the floor they live on, only to discover that the bitty light residing behind the number denoting the floor they live on has burnt out.

Because when that happens, the press their own special button, over and over, nervously watching the top panel to see if the elevator will exhibit the much more serious malfunction of refusing to stop on their precious floor.

It doesn't, of course. The elevator stops on the denoted floor, they exit. And I all the up to floor fourteen, I gaze at by own, personal beacon:

Because my building is almost a hundred years old, and because I am pretty sure the elevators are at least fifty, other people's lights go out ALL THE TIME. And due to my meanness, it never fails to give me pleasure.

Until, that is, today. Can you guess, reader, what happened to me today?

I got on the elevator, loaded down with three grocery bags and a pizza box. Right behind me: Mrs. K, her daughter, Mr. X, and someone's unattended eight year old.**** Everyone pressed buttons. I angled my pizza box corner into the proper position and pressed.

*pausing for dramatic efffect.*

**still pausing. You know what happened, don't you?**

My heart cracked. I, who have pressed button fourteen with the corner of many a pizza box, was forced to accept the appalling truth: my light has gone out.


***I know. I know. I'll give you a moment to collect yourself.***

I tried really hard to refrain from pressing the button again. But I couldn't stop myself. I jammed corner of that pizza box into button fourteen, nervously watching the top panel, until the corner of my pizza box went dented and crushed and the pizza was crying. Mrs. K was laughing at me. Her daughter was looking at me as if I belonged behind a slab of thick glass at the zoo. Mr. X was congratulating himself on the good judgment he'd exercised when he'd decided I wasn't hot enough to ask for a date all the years ago. And the lone eight year old, bless his heart, said nothing. He silently lifted a hand to stabilize my grocery bags, which were careening back and forth and threatening to knock us all to the floor.

And then floor fourteen. And the door opened. And away I went to put salt on my pizza, eat it, and think tearfully about why I turned out like this.

Why did I turn out like this?

* yes. yes, I know. I always seem to have a problem. So what?

** yes. yes, I know. I am fortunate to have an elevator. Fortunate to have a roof over my head. Fortunate to live in a country where most people's biggest issue is whether to save for a boat or buy a bigger SUV. Can you stop thinking about how selfish I am and focus on my problem, as I so reasonably requested? This is about me. Not you.

*** in case you haven't noticed, I am very into myself. I think about myself all the time, more than anyone else in the whole wide world. So I don't LIKE it (sometimes) when I have be AMONG OTHERS. Me. Me. ME!

**** what the fuck is wrong with people?

Monday, July 9, 2007


And worth every penny. *

I spend a shameful amount of energy trying to find ways, short of hiring a plastic surgeon, to NOT look like I am as old as I am. Which is 37. Philosophy's Microdelivery Peel: It makes me feel, for at least twelve hours, as if I have the skin of a four year old. If I use it once a week, I get far more than twelve.

* Monday posts will typically be about stuff I like (and sometimes buy). Not all products I mention will be womanish - in fact, the next three will be gender inclusive.

Even if you don't want to spend your money as (what is the opposite of wisely?) unwisely as I do, you might find something useful. If not, you can marvel at what an idiot I am for spending more than I make. I marvel at it too... all the time.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Sin of the Week, 7/8/07

The worst thing I did this week was sneak Bibi and Sri into the climbing gym. We spent a few minutes standing in the vestibule talking, so the check in guy got distracted and forgot to ask them to pay for their day passes. I (being the paying member of the gym) should have reminded him so that the gym would get paid and so that we would not be STEALING, but I didn't.

Close runner up: About three seconds after I got a text message from Pax, letting me know that Larry was home safely from his recent Mont Blanc climb, I texted him to ask him if he had summited, even though I already knew he had not. I did this partly because in spite of my hatred of Larry, I have a tiny bit of love for Larry, and partly because I am a just a little bit mean and I already know that he did not summit, and I loved the idea of him having to try to text me back saying that he didn't summit because I know how bad he wanted it and how much he will dislike telling me that he did not make it. And no, the fact that he was forcibly turned back by the guides due to the weather does not matter, not to him. It's a yes or no question, and I know he is crushed.

Now that I think about it, the runner up is the winner. That text message was mean. The fact that he hasn't answered it yet assures me that it had the effect I was (meanly) going for.

Vacation Recap, Part Two. "Ah," said Rodrigo.

On our recent trip to the Bahamas, Bibi, Sri and I were having coffee and talking, as we do for at least ten minutes a day, about how disgusting Larry is. During our chat, I noticed that a man standing a few feet from our table, eating an ice cream cone. He had a look about him I know well: the look of someone who is not from here - or there - or anywhere in particular, but everywhere.* He was working hard at hearing every word we said while attempting to have every appearance of not doing so. After ten minutes of this, I turned and gestured that he might as well go ahead and take the fourth seat at our table.

We told him about Larry. He responded appropriately, was shocked and amazed, etc.

He was from Ecuador, but explained that he was half Austrian, which accounted for the unique accent and startling blue eyes. Rodrigo was his name. He was in the Bahamas for the summer, doing construction work on a hotel renovation -- ours, as it turned out. When we told him we were staying in the recently completed wing, he looked thrilled.

"I worked on that hotel!" he said. "I was in every room. What side are you on?"

"Ocean side," said Sri. Sri was doing what she does when she likes a man, shrugging her shoulders and pressing her hands demurely into her lap. So cute.

"Ah," said Rodrigo. "What room number?"

We all hesitated, even Sri. But finally, Bibi said "553."

"Ah," said Rodrigo. "I see. Well, it was very difficult to renovate. Watch out for the ceiling. It leaks."

We didn't really know what to say at that point. The room was in perfect post-reno condition. We changed the subject... and I took Rodrigo's phone number so that we could all go out for drinks, and uh, whatever else, later.

Fast forward twelve hours.

Toothpaste For Dinner

We tried, about ten times, to call Rodrigo, but he never answered. We went out. We stopped at the casino and spent $20 apiece on the slot machines so we could drink for "free" for an hour. Then we took a cab to "Fish Fry" for dinner (and ate, obviously, fried fish) before walking down to Senor Frogs to find us some trouble and get right in it. Sri was a bit disappointed re: Rodrigo, but we DID meet three Turkish pro-soccer players, measuring VERY appropriately, who bought us drinks all night and threw us around the dance floor until we were all exhausted, sweaty and giddy with tequila goodness.

A successful evening, in other words.

Fast forward to 9am, Sunday morning. In case you missed it, I woke up to this:

Now... here's the thing. OF COURSE the night before involved a lot of tequila. OF COURSE it is possible that I just somehow ended up with a party horn in my bag. But dammit, I don't believe that, and niether should you. The fact is, when we got back to the hotel that night/early morning, I spent ten minutes going through my bag looking for a Tylenol (pre-emptive strike, re: hangover). I can therefore assure you, reader, that the party horn was NOT THERE when I went to bed.

Additional data: Bibi awakened to find that her running shoes, which had been on the floor next to the dresser, were absolutely soaking wet. There was nothing ELSE wet in the entire room. It was literally as if someone had come into the room, filled up a glass of water and dumped it on Bibi's sneakers - and then repeated the process about nine times. Because only the sneakers and a small circumference of the carpet around the sneakers, were wet.

Additional data, part two: Sri awakened to find, beaded up on her comforter like rain on a newly waxed car, three or four drops of what appeared to be milk/half and half/whatever.

Grossed out yet? Disturbed? Weeping silently, perhaps?

Because we were.

There is NO earthly explanation for these events. NONE. I did not wake up in the middle of the night, sleep walk into the bathroom, pour nine glasses of water on Bibi's shoes, hijack and car, go into town, somehow find an all night quickie-mart that just happens to be selling party horns (and pinatas, for all I know) drive back to the hotel, stop in the kitchen for a thimble-full of half and half, come back to the room, tuck the horn in my bag, and dribble the contents of the thimble onto Sri's bed. And, no, my friends didn't pull that caper either.

The only conclusion to be reached is that someone, probably Rodrigo, was in our room while we were asleep. Why he chose to do what he did, instead of, say, murdering us, is God's own private joke with himself. We will NEVER get it.

However, if you are thinking we'd let a little issue like wet sneakers, half and half and a (green, shiny) party horn keep us out of the Bahamas in the future, you're totally wrong. We had a great vacation. So much so that we are planning another one - perhaps not to the Bahamas next time - soon. And of course, it will be recapped here.

* to get this look, be multi-racial, travel a lot, speak several languages, and be unsure yourself where exactly it is you consider "home." (sidebar: I like this look an awful lot.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Vacation Recap, Part One, or "Watch out for the ceiling"

Lately, Bibi, Sri and I have had so much more than enough of Larry's grossness to make leaving the country for a short vacation necessary. So on Friday, we flew into the Bahamas for a 4 night, 4 day weekend of playing on the beach, snorkeling, drinking, gambling, dancing, whatever. Pretty much all of that happened, and we had a great time.


We have a mystery, one that I would like help solving:

Take a good look at this photograph. Yes, I realize that it appears to have been taken by a drunk person with a cell phone camera the morning after a tequila binge. But focus, please. What is wrong with this picture?

Could it be... let's see. Could it be the green shiny paper party horn sticking out of the top of my bag? The one I have never seen before? The one that, ahem, no matter how much tequila I ingested the night before, there is NO WAY I could have simply picked up at random and tucked into my bag? But there is was, bright and early Sunday morning. Just as you see it here.

Reader, I have a theory about the party horn, but it requires a bit of back-story involving a construction worker named Rodrigo, a pair of sopping wet sneakers, and approximately three drops of half and half. Or was that milk? No, idea really. Before I pose my theory, however, I'd like to solicit your opinions as to how this could have happened. Emails and comments welcome. (And please, don't hurt my feelings by sending me an email about my drinking issues, or the ugliness of my handbag, or my love of talking to strangers. I know very well that I suck at life. But let's talk about that another time).

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sin of the Week, 7/1/07

The worst thing I did this week was go to the climbing gym with Bibi and Sri, and while climbing, permit myself to feel a envious of their perfectly sweet 85 pound bodies - go out to dinner with their sweet 85 pound selves, eat less than they did, drink more, and, upon returning home, eat half a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Followed by almost an entire bag of chips and all washed down with half a Heineken. (Hint: I weigh more than 85 pounds. I bet you'd never have guessed.)