Fab Disaster – The Audio Version!

(Photo via Alexander Rose, taken while filming our web series IRL – one of the 11,000 projects I have going on rn bc I have no chill)

Happy hump day, losers! Oh c’mon, “losers” is one of my terms of endearment. Just ask the people who got a Christmas card from me in 2014.

I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to tons of them, since I walk 6 or 7 miles a day on average and like to make the most of my time. One of these days I’ll make a list of my favorites so you can all check them out. 

For the past few years, I’ve had this dream of one day starting my own legit podcast, or in the meantime, just recording my stories so people can listen to them. As a start, I’ve recorded one of my old posts in a sort of “baby’s first pod” for ya’ll to listen to here! 

It’s a far cry from the “official” podcast I hope to develop someday, and there are lot of things I’ll do differently in the next recording (chill out, read more slowly, and edit some of the language of the post I’m reading…just to name a few). 

In any case, the story I recorded this week is from Fall 2012, an era full of memorable firsts like stripper auditions, body painting, absentee voting and eating deodorant. I think it turned out pretty good for my first shot. 

If you enjoy it, follow my brand new Soundcloud and look out for more in the near future. 

Enjoy the rest of your week! 

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The Pains and Pleasures of Moving, Moving On

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The day my two and half year long relationship ended I also happened to have an improv show. It was my 401 class show at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea, and it was a semi-big deal, if only to me and my classmates. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to perform. I had, after all, just had the proverbial rug ripped out from under life as I knew it. It was the lump-in-throat stage of being dumped, and I was feeling a different emotion about it every moment: anger, frustration, that thing where you go “pfft” and roll your eyes that’s supposed to make you seem flippant but is really an obvious trick for holding back tears. Could I really make someone laugh right now? Please.

I considered bailing for about a minute before I got real with myself. I knew there was no way this would help my situation. I would stay home wallowing in my tiny apartment, OUR tiny apartment, and then afterwards I’d kick myself eternally for wimping out and being a fucking quitter. Yeah, the show was going to be really hard and possibly humiliating, but so had every single day since I started doing comedy. I decided to face it and step up 2 the streets. At least then I wouldn’t have let myself down.

Much to my surprise and delight, not only did I not burst into tears or throw up on stage, I may have had my best show to date. I got laughs. REAL, non-pity laughs, I think! An achievement that left me with such an inflated, manic high that immediately afterwards I had 4 drinks and proceeded to hit on someone I decided on a whim to have a crush on. For no reason whatsoever. Just to prove to myself I had the balls, I guess.

I spent the next few weeks on that exact vibe, a combination of intense flirtiness and creative energy. I was enrolled in the final core sketch course at UCB at the same time, and my indie improv team Hot Cheese was just getting on its feet. Alex and I were putting finishing touches on a script we’d been working on for months. And all this was on the side as I maintained my day-gig managing a rapidly expanding design studio. Between that and the impending drama of my lease (too expensive for one) ending on April 30, there was no time to really feel sorry for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly spent a few of those cold, not-spring-at-all days in April standing under an umbrella listening to “Same Ol’ Mistakes” off Rihanna’s Anti and its Tame Impala counterpart on repeat, nursing my moody energy. But almost instantly after my breakup–and I mean this–the feeling of what it meant to be ME and only ME, pre-relationship, rushed back and filled me with motivation. Not to return to the person I’d been before, but to remember her, and fuse her essence with my new, positive transformations to form one mega bad bitch.

“You’re taking it so well,” everyone kept saying. And yeah, I guess I was. In fact, I was a little concerned about it. Shouldn’t I have been more devastated? I had certainly relied on my ex for support through the stress of the day-to-day, and now I was alone. Why wasn’t I feeling the void? The truth is, I was. But with the void, other things opened up, too. I got my alone time back. I could be more impulsive. There was one less person expecting things of me, and while those expectations were welcomed when we were in love, a part of me felt free. I could focus on myself and transform into whatever person I am destined to become without the fear of derailing a relationship I depended on. The decision to be alone was made for me, but I already knew it was the right one.

I took myself out to lunches, read fashion magazines, listened to new music — things that please me and make me happy that I had just stopped doing in the past. No one can really say why I’d stopped. I wasn’t feeling inspired, I guess, but now I was back. I felt energy and motivation and success on the horizon. There were still nights that I felt lonely and desperate and totally lost, but I knew the feeling was temporary. I kept thinking, what would I tell another girl going through this same thing? I wrote little mantras on post-its and put them by my mirrors in the house. I was absolutely dedicated to staying strong and focused. And I knew I would be okay.

It was time for some self care. Some radical catharsis. I had to clean up my life as I moved forward.

The first step was to watch all the shows on my DVR that my ex didn’t like, such as episodes of the smash hit Oxygen reality show Funny Girls from last spring (a heavily produced show that takes awesome female comedians and pits them against each other making them seem petty and ridiculous. Extremely relatable content.) One of the stars, Stephanie Simbari, is a favorite of mine for obvious reasons (vocal fry, tattoos, phone by her toilet) and through googling her I found her wellness podcast That’s So Retrograde, which takes every new age trend and philosophy you can think of and white-girls the shit out of them. Right up my alley since I’d been DIYing my self help lately and could use a little more mindfulness in my life. After all, 5 planets were about to be retrograde and I could only take so much emotional scrambling. Hey, nothing a bag of crystals and a turmeric shot can’t fix!

Truthfully, I’m not one to take any of that stuff too literally. But what I could get behind was a good old fashioned form of emotional cleansing: getting rid of shit.

After neatly folding all of my ex’s forgotten items and placing them in a trash bag for his friend to retrieve, the next step was to tackle all the physical baggage in my apartment I’d been hoarding for the past several months. Perhaps I’ve mentioned before that our apartment was tiny. Like, sailboat cabin tiny. Janitor’s closet tiny. Litter box tiny. So last summer my friend Hannah helped me go through all my things and weed out the stuff I didn’t want or need that was taking up too much space in my life. We put them in bags and labeled them “donate” or “sell.” I’d been collecting vintage clothes for over a decade, and those that I didn’t lose in my 2009 house fire or pass along to better homes were either valued items I wore constantly or, I thought, possibly worth a little bit of money. Like, for example, this super soft Bill Blass maroon denim jacket straight out of the early 90s that I never wore because maroon just SO isn’t my color. It brings out all these red tones in my skin, you know?

The thing was, I never did make it to Goodwill with the donate bag or start my own vintage denim Etsy site that year. What a surprise! Instead, all that crap remained in bags, stuffed below the clothing racks I was using as a makeshift closet. Collecting dust and so, so much cat hair.

I truly am lucky to have a friend like Hannah, because her idea of a HELLA LIT weekend is helping me finally get rid of all my baggage. We dragged suitcases of dusty clothes to Beacon’s Closet, where to my surprise I made about $80 selling about 1% of my crap. And while some of it was undoubtedly undervalued, I felt a huge weight lift as I got rid of all that clutter almost effortlessly. I felt so light! So free! So free, in fact, that I decided to spend those 80 dollars right away at the club.

When you finally remember dick exists after going through a breakup, it hits you like a fucking freight train. There is no feeling like it.  And that weekend my thirst level was worse than the time I mixed ecstasy, coke and vodka at an LA warehouse party, stayed out til lunch the next day and walked back to the hotel in 90 degree heat. And that was pretty bad.

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“I just want to FUUUUCK” I remember yelling at the top of my lungs from Moe and Emma’s couch that weekend.

“So get a Tinder.”

Oh yeaaaah, Tinder! I hadn’t used it since it first became popular in 2013 and not long after that I was in a relationship. I’d done such a good job of stuffing any sexual desire for another person so far in the back of my mind that I had forgotten how easy it is to get laid in this city!

…or maybe not.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. God, all these guys were such Barneys. Ooh – a match! Hmm, I’ll keep swiping. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

That night we went out to a club that shall not be named, not just because it fucking sucks, but because I am about to put one of their employees on blast.

I’m really not opposed to going out to shitty clubs when I’m tryna fuck. I figure the douchiest bars are often where you find the Young, Dumb & Hung boys, who have enough money to pay for the uber to their place and then your uber home. But I was having no such luck. All the guys at this particular locale were kinda short, and if I’m being honest, seemed like the breed of “bro” that’s hiding in the closet behind Carolina Basketball tshirts posting headless photos on Grindr with the caption “Masc for Masc.”

“DOES ANYONE HERE ACTUALLY HAVE SEX WITH FEMALES??”

And then I spotted him. A bartender, 6’3 with tattoos and a babyface. I gave Reid, my wingman for the evening, a mischievous grin.

“It’s on.”

I went up and ordered a drink and our eyes locked immediately. And for the next hour and a half we chatted it up, made each other laugh, flirted shamelessly, blushed and made plans for when he got off work.

Then the bar got busy, so I hung to the side and gossiped with Reid, peering at this cutie from the corner of my eye. He returned carrying shots for both of us.

“I have a confession to make,” he said, smirking guiltily.  “I can’t come home with you tonight.”

“And why is that?” I asked, thinking he must be messing with me.

“Because…I’m married.”

DA FUUUK? I’m pretty sure the Mr. Krabs meme was invented specifically for situations like these. I was so annoyed! I spent two hours talking to this bozo! That’s two hours of flirting time I will never get back. And now it was late and I was going to have to have sex with one of these gay guys. God damn it!

I spent the rest of the evening throwing myself at a muscular dude who “had to work in the morning” but still offered to give me a ride home. I mean, I accepted, of course.

I figured it was time to start setting up some Tinder dates. The first one was with a drummer who wanted to take me to a comedy show. When we got there, although he was nice, it was abundantly clear that our personalities were incompatible. Coincidentally, another one of my Tinder matches was on a date two seats down from us. I tried my best to hide my face and get through the show, which by the way was really good. So good, actually, that I wanted to stay and talk to the comics when it was over. Just not with my date. I walked him home and said goodnight, then walked back to the club to see what was up. They were all gone, so I went to the bar across the street for a drink and ended up hooking up with the incredibly short stranger next to me who was surprisingly very well-endowed.

My next Tinder date was with a guy who became attached very quickly and yelled at me for not deleting the app after our first hookup.

My Tinder date after that was as a guest on a podcast. I literally went to this dude’s studio (his apartment), met him for the first time, and within minutes was doing a live show and first date simultaneously. It was definitely an interesting experience, but didn’t work out romantically whatsoever.

Listen to the trainwreck here!

Somehow, between all these dates with randos, I managed to squeeze in some apartment hunting. Although, as I’m sure you know, finding an apartment in New York is less like a hunt and more like a wild friggin’ goose chase. Just like every other time I’ve moved in this city, I had about 6 different apps and 20 email tabs open at once for the first two weeks of April, using everything I could to find a one-bedroom in my budget in North Brooklyn. Fat fuckin’ chance. The only places I found that could afford near me were a totally run down shack of an apartment that looked like my Great Grandaddy’s garage (complete with a large, paint-splattered basin in the “kitchen” that served as bathroom sink as well) and an attic apartment with a ceiling that slanted so low I could only stand up in half the unit. I thought I had a lead on a converted loft above a funeral home in Ridgewood. That’s right, above a real life funeral home, where they literally take dead humans and pump them with formaldehyde and place their bodies in wooden boxes for people to cry over them. It turned out I couldn’t afford it.

Finally (by the suggestion of one of my Tinder dates, actually), I decided to check out Crown Heights. I had been avoiding moving south in Brooklyn since I’d always lived off the L train, and I wanted to be a short distance to my brother who does as well. But I had a few friends in the Crown and had spent a little time there, so I figured it was worth a shot. I set up a few showings.

The morning of my Crown Heights viewings began with a 1 BR on Utica that, upon arriving by uber, I was able to identify via the man emptying his bladder on the front step. Once inside, I was met with other horrors. The smell of natural gas in the hallway, cracking brown tile floors, an tiny, crusty bathroom easily 3 decades old. How was this a mere $100/month below the TOP of my budget, which I believed to be very reasonable? What part of Crown Heights was I even in? New York real estate had officially lost its mind. As I was leaving that showing feeling very down, I received a text from a strange number. I was used to this as I’d been harassed these past few weeks, not by brokers with apartments for ME, but those trying to rent out my current place. I must have scowled at 50 Nooklyn agents that month as they invaded my space day after day. This time, though, the text was from a broker I’d reached out to about a cute little studio in Bed Stuy. I had scheduled a viewing with her for right after this one, and was very excited to check it out.

“Sry. Landlord has keys and won’t be back til 4pm. Can u meet then?”

It was 10:30.

I did want to go back home to Greenpoint, a good 40 minute ride on the B43 or $20 uber away, so I walked over to Brad and Monday’s to mope and scroll through Craigslist.

AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT, an ad was posted while I was sitting on their couch for a large studio with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, just at the top of my budget not 15 minutes walking distance from Brad’s place. I called the broker and screamed that I wanted to meet him ASAP. Of course, just as I was about to head out, it started pouring down rain. I didn’t care. I grabbed a broken umbrella from behind their couch and marched my way to this gorgeous mini-loft.

When I arrived, I couldn’t believe how nice it was compared to the utter shitholes I’d seen for this same amount. Was I being played? No time to find out — I was so excited and relieved to find something actually livable that I immediately signed my life away on a rental application. I waited for the B43 in the freezing cold rain with my broken umbrella, smiling.

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That was in early April, so it wasn’t time to worry about the moving process just yet. The weather was about to get nice, I could feel it, so I attempted to put my worries aside and have a good time for a few days. Sarah visited from Asheville and I spent some time with her being at least somewhat carefree, taking tequila shots and eating all the food. I continued going on dates, random hookups with cute strangers I never wanted to see again, and even catchup hangs with some boys I knew pre-relationship. It was an interesting feeling, all this freedom and fun flooding my life again after my domestic lull these past 2 years.

Then Lemonade came out. The beginning of the end of my recovery after breaking up. I had wanted to see it air for the first time on HBO, initially because I was excited for the bangers. What I didn’t expect was something so moving, so important, so visually captivating. How it allowed me to express the emotions I felt like I was supposed to feel after breaking up, but that I hadn’t let myself experience. Insecurity, demanding to be respected, not giving a fuck, being free, working hard, moving forward, but still being in love with love at the end of the day. Ugh, it was life changing. And beyond my own experience, beyond how it related to me specifically, Lemonade is such an important work socially and politically that the world desperately needed. I mean, it’s just…everything.

I finally had a reason to stop listening to Anti.

The next week, I packed up all my things, hired movers and settled in my new spot. I was so happy that it felt wrong. I was comfortable in my own home, not even scared to live alone in an unfamiliar neighborhood like I thought I’d be. I felt liberated, or as liberated as you can be with half your income tied up in the place you reside.

That’s when, out of nowhere, my body alerted me of its needs. In the rain of the first week of May, I slipped on the subway steps on the way into work. Nothing major. I caught myself on the railing. But when I moved my arm to do so, I somehow threw out my entire neck and completely lost all range of movement. Strange – I hadn’t felt any tension in my back recently even though I’m used to having bunch of gnarly knots. I guess there was some tension after all, and I’d been holding it in, not noticing.

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I spent that day on the couch at work with ice on my back, and for the next week I couldn’t turn my head or look down or bend over. Cleaning the litter box was a very profane affair. I was a robot at Reid’s birthday party and during Hot Cheese’s first official improv show. Sleeping was even worse. I decided to try acupuncture, which was very zen or whatever but did not completely solve my issue. I tried muscle relaxers, which only made me loopy and confused enough to give my number to someone who hit on me in a Duane Reade. I was useless and smelled like Icy Hot for ten days.

It’s funny how that happens. You get so busy with life, chasing dreams, fulfilling obligations and stuffing fun experiences into every free moment leftover, that you don’t even realize what you’re putting yourself through. I thought my mind was okay, but my body hated me.

Once I got back into working order, I decided to pump the brakes. What I really needed to do was sit down, have some chill, and watch a Kardashian marathon on my brand new cable box. I needed to love myself, take things slow, be patient and enjoy the long awaited warm weather.

So I stopped for a moment, took a good look at my life and all the things I’ve accomplished. And I realized I was no longer in pain, physically or emotionally.

“I Can’t Move My Arm!” and other things you say when having a nice adult time!

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A few Wednesdays ago, while sputtering through an afternoon at work like a car outta gas, I received one of my weekly invitation forwards from my friend Moe. Since we met six years ago, and maybe even a few months prior, my social life has been at least in part guided by the compass that is Moe’s infinite RSVP list. That is, when I’m trying to have a social life. With my just too typical full time job/full time relationship/full time couch potato combination, I’m pretty easily dissuaded from going out to bars and clubs, and have instead been drawn to daytime events that involve more of an activity, where I can (maybe) burn some calories, and give myself a new story to tell beyond “you wouldn’t believe the dumb thing I did when I was drunk!” (which, like me, is getting old). I often still end up drunk, but it’s usually now obscured by the exciting new Experience-With-A-Capital-E I’m having!

Some examples of this that you missed this summer include the following:
1. Visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Remember flowers? I didn’t – not after this past New York winter. Cue the first warm weekend in NYC, and very crowded yet romantic outing was had for thousands.
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 Real person (not staged). Welcome to Fancy Brooklyn.

2. Showing my Mom Around New York
One great way to realize you’re not as old and lazy as you think you are is to try to take your out-of-town parents around the city. Very quickly, you realize other people don’t actually think it’s a “normal commute” to walk 6 miles every day, and before you know it you’re dragging your poor mother behind you because it would be “a shame” for her to not walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to your Greenpoint apartment, all the way from the West Village. She still knows how to have fun better than I do though. Can’t deny that.
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3. Roof Chilling
This is the point of summer in New York. Thankfully, I live in the cheapest (too expensive) apartment of a very tricked out building with rooftop views for days. In my world, this counts as doing something.

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4. A Very Martha’s Vineyard Memorial Day
My older brother has a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard where I like to go pretend to be fabulous sometimes. It’s fun to guzzle vodka cranberries all day, ride twenty miles on a bike down a busy narrow road, spend hundreds of dollars on lobster, and embarrass yourself in front of strangers you’ll never see again, all while getting to say words like “Aquinnah.” Plus there’s just something about not having money and pretending to have money that lets me feel like I’ve truly “made it.” If there were a school that taught twenty-something white kids how to be adults, they would have a class on this. Also, MV is just beautiful. One thing I don’t recommend, though, is driving up from NYC on a holiday weekend and returning 3 days later (like we did). But if you do, you simply must stop at The Lobster Pot in Wareham, MA on your way back.
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5. Attending My First Shabbat Dinner
Can you really call yourself a New Yorker until you go to one of these? I’m not a religious person, nor do I have any Jewish lineage, so the concept was pretty unfamiliar to me. James’ friend and coworker was kind enough to invite us to his weekly ritual, which involved some praying, some dank food, a lot of Kosher wine, and a lot of jokes about Billy Joel and Seinfeld. Oh, and really beautiful views of the Upper West Side. If it sounds like cliché, that’s because you’re jealous.
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6. Attempting to Adopt a Dog
This was a really sad week after Memorial Day when James and I attempted to adopt this one-eyed beagle from a shelter in Staten Island but didn’t get approved because our apartment was too small. Probably for the best – it wasn’t well thought out. But it was still a very sad experience so I’m not going to post a photo of him. I’m not ready.
7. Turnt-ing up in Wrightsville Beach, NC
The classic thing I do every year with my family. Again, just more chilling, lots and lots of food, and lots of Tito’s vodka. I easily gained 10 pounds in the week we were on vacation, and only got a little sunburned. The most memorable event of the evening was when (relatively sober, mind you) I had a margarita at Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill that immediately caused all the color to drain from my face, sending me running through the restaurant to yarf uncontrollably in the bathroom. I didn’t even make it to the toilet. I spent about 15 minutes with my arm in a stopped-up sink scooping up the puke and throwing it in the garbage can. Then I washed my hands and went and ate a plate of enchiladas. If any of the employees from Tower 7 are reading this now, I’m sorry for hogging the bathroom and leaving such a nasty mess. The margaritas were really strong, so it’s kind of both our faults. Also thanks for reading my blog, I hope you like it.
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 An Adult Beach Party

8. Trying to Grow My Own Vegetables

This is the story of how for two months, I had two beautiful baby plants named Kale and Cilantro. The cilantro died quickly because it doesn’t like rain, but the kale grew huge and beautiful like elephant ears and produced delicious salads until the evil Building Managers made us move it so they could do “landscaping” (a nicer way of saying they mowed down all the trees and greenery in the courtyard to put in a concrete patio that serves no purpose whatsoever). I put the kale in the backyard of the church next door and haven’t gone to check on it since. I have to climb a fence to get there and I’m afraid the catholics will look at me weird. Clearly, being a cool hipster grown up is super fun and I’m great at it.
9. A Very Martha’s Vineyard Fourth of July
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The Vineyard again, you say? But of course! Except this time we took a 5 hour Megabus to Boston after work, “slept” over at my brother Nate’s insanely clean apartment, and left the house at 6 the next morning to meet a group of Boston’s drunkest medical professionals and take a BOAT to the vineyard. It was beautiful ride, for the part of it that I wasn’t entirely seasick and exhausted. But we were livin’ large, so I can’t complain. Of course, on the way back, we took the $200-a-ticket Seastreak Ferry, which takes you directly from the island of Martha’s Vineyard to the island of Manhattan. What they don’t tell you is that it bounces almost the entire 4 hour ride, leaving all the noob passengers panicked and buckled over with nausea. That is, unless they were smart enough to take dramamine and fall asleep. I was not. I spent the majority of the ride escorting barfing strangers to the bathroom and listening to the Pirate’s of the Caribbean soundtrack in my headphones, laughing at what I’d gotten myself into.
10. Hitting Up Broadway
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Another thing adults do together is attend “Broadway Shows.” You see, Broadway is a long avenue in Manhattan, the middle section of which is home to giant screens with advertisements on them, every chain restaurant you could ever imagine, and lots and lots of tourists. There are also these big rooms called “theaters” where people wear costumes and dance and sing at you. Sometimes the dancing and singing is rather funny, and in rare cases the dancing and singing is funny and super offensive. One of these rare cases was Book of Mormon, the Tony Award-sweeping musical my boyfriend took me to see. A “Tony” Award is when legendary Broadway actor Tony Danza decides that your play is super good and he gives you a sticker.
11. Taking a Sober Month
Sometimes you gotta take a month to remember who you are – the less ridiculous, more real you  – so you can put your best self forward and figure out how to find strength from within. And that’s what I did, for most of July and the beginning of August, by taking a break from my summer booze binge. I guess I partly succeeded? I remembered who I was, I think, but I didn’t exactly find the strength so much as find out where I needed it. Ever tried going to a work party where everyone’s tipsy except you? To call it “unbearably awkward” would be an understatement, at least for me. More about this another time.
12. Buying a Bike
One thing I did learn from my sober month was that I, like many people, use alcohol as a way to face certain fears…and then other fears I mostly just try and avoid. Who wants be like that? One of the biggest categories of fear in my life – an umbrella of fears, if you will – is the fear that I’ll be bad at something, which has stopped me from boldly pursuing a lot of shit I’ve wanted to do. Like ride a bike in the city, for example. Hannah has an awesome bike and no one to ride it with, and I was determined by the end of the summer to accompany her out to Jacob Riis Park – on two wheels. Luckily, I happened to find the perfect bike right when I had the guts to buy one, and I rode out there with her the next day. As you can see, it was a little overwhelming for us in the heat. We took the train home, but we felt totally great about ourselves anyway.
13. Going to Cat Camp
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Remember in Clueless when Cher and Ty wore shortatards, did Buns of Steal together in Cher’s living room, and talked about the self-help books they wanted to read? And then Cher was like “we should probably do something good for mankind or the planet for a couple of hours.” Well, I think we can all agree the best stuff to do is stuff that’s fun, but that also benefits society. Which is why I felt like it was a perfect idea to go to Purina’s Cat Camp by myself during my lunch hour. I got to play with kittens while standing around and encouraging people to adopt them! It was a really beautiful experience. I never did understand why Cher didn’t care about Marky Mark planting that celebrity tree. It totally aligns with her values.
14. Making an Attempt at Climbing
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I accepted the invite (from Moe, of course) to go to Brooklyn Boulders as another attempt at fear-facing. I’ve never been a huge fan of heights, as pretty well explained in this post from last year. But I keep hearing from EVERYONE how much fun this climbing thing is, and what a great workout it is and how great it makes you feel in your body and mind. Even though I walked into BB a little nervous, I can still say that I was far too confident in my climbing ability. It’s waay harder than it looks, and there are rules that really force you to be strategic (like, each time you climb you can only use holds of the same color). I think I made it to the top…twice. And we were there for about two hours. But it was only my first time, and I did feel how gratifying the achievement was. I also got to witness my self-fulfilling anxiety in full action: the more nervous I was, the sweatier my hands became, making it even more difficult to hold on, which, of course, made me even more nervous. But it all worked out in the end. If I wasn’t on the ground watching Moe “Six-Workouts-A-Week” Dabbagh completely school me, who would have taken a picture for his Instagram?
15. Catching up With Old Friends Over Home-Cooked Meals
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I had my three-year anniversary of living in New York back in May, but no matter how used to the city life I become, I still feel my happiest when I’m in an intimate setting with a few of my closest friends. Bonus happy points if they’re from out of town. I happened to be having a tough and stressful week when I heard that my long time BFF Sarah Cousler was visiting Brooklyn from Asheville, NC. So we spent 3 days eating the delicious food she cooked, chilling out and catching up. Whatever the question in life, food and friends are the answer. Someone cross-stitch that on a pillow for me.
16. Taking My First Trip Upstate
I think the only way I can deal with living in the city is if I can get out on a semi-regular basis. On Labor Day weekend, James and I were due for a romantic outing, so we rented an upstate cottage on airbnb. Every time I reserve an airbnb I’m blown away, almost unsettled, by how easy it all is and how trusting and generous the hosts are. This effect was doubled by the fact that we had traveled to Woodstock, which is all about ~Organic/Sharing/Group/Love/Handmade/Peace/Giving~ vibes. I hiked a mountain and ate local meat and swam in a swimming hole and watched scary movies and went to bed early and slept late and was sad when I returned. I think that’s why the real Fabulous New York Adults who have houses in the Catskills drive 100 miles an hour up the interstate in order to maximize their vacay time, but we’re not quite that intense yet. Someday.
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So, I had no shortage of adult misadventures this summer, but easily the best (and dumbest) of them happened on August 22nd, at Prospect Park’s Lefrak Center. The event I was drawn to was Wolf + Lamb’s Roller Disco party, which was the invite I received from Moe that week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to continue my pattern of accidentally exercising while having fun. I didn’t realize when I bought the ticket, however, that Moe had been merely suggesting the event and not confirming his attendance. That is to say, he was going to be in Mexico that weekend, and I had just bought a ticket to go roller skating for the first time in 15 years, by myself.
Luckily, I was able to convince Bradford to come along for what ended up being a very exciting and hilarious attempt at remembering how to skate – well, really, learning for the first time since I was more of a blades kid. I slalomed through tiny children while bopping to 80s music and at a certain point I started really feeling myself. I was fierce, like one of those roller derby girls. I could totally do this.
At that exact moment I was cut off by an adorable five-year-old, and when I leaned back to dodge out of the way, my legs swung up in front of me into the air, Tiny Toon Adventures style, and I caught myself with my arm outstretched. I could feel tears welling up, but I wasn’t going to actually cry. What was I, a baby? I had to keep grooving and get over myself. So I did, for another couple of hours.
It wasn’t until later that night that I realized I couldn’t bend my arm (or unbend it, for that matter) past 90 degrees. Still, I figured I was just being a weenie about it. But on the advice of my brother Nate who fear-mongers me into seeking medical attention on a regular basis, I went out and got some x-rays the following Monday.
I was examined by a young-ish orthopedist on the Upper East Side.
“Where were you roller skating?” he asked.
“Prospect Park.”
“Oh, was it the Wolf + Lamb party?”
“Uh, yeah.” I responded, somewhat surprised.
“Nice. I almost went to that party. Those guys are my friends.”
I don’t know what it was about it, but there was something that felt very off about all this. I was an adult, getting examined by another adult, because of an incident at a roller skating party he also wanted to attend. I had felt pretty ashamed for getting injured in the first place. A kid would have just dusted herself off and gotten back up, and I’d somehow landed myself in the radiography room. But could I have been too old for this behavior if a guy well out of med school was cosigning it?
I was told to wear a sling for a week, which led to some hilarious T-rex-like attempts at completing tasks around the office and some elaborate lies about how I got the injury (you didn’t know I’m into ultimate fighting?!) But it didn’t stop me from going out into the world to find the next rooftop, enjoy the rest of my summer, and continue my pattern of laughing in the face of dumb decisions.
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Could it be, then, that this is what adulthood looks like?

Living for a Living

Living for a Living

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I swear to god I’m gonna make being an adult look cute if it kills me.

When I was little I never understood why parents complained about being adults.

“You’ll see,” they’d say. “Being a child is a luxury. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

At the time it felt like my problems were being ignored. I couldn’t even choose what to eat or when to go to bed, and what’s worse, I was forced to go to a school every day where I had to deal with the cut-throat social politics of elementary school girls. This was no luxury, I thought. What were these people talking about?

Now that I’m older, of course, I see what they meant. There’s the obvious fact of having more responsibility, people depending on you for things, worrying about money, about living up to expectations, about health, about death. “Okay,” I thought, about a year into the whole adulthood thing. “This kinda sucks too.”

When I was in sixth grade I had a particularly hard time adjusting. My mother had just gotten remarried and I had moved into a big house with a combined family, many members of which were not too keen on sharing anything with me, oxygen included. Middle school was off to a rough start. I was still naively eager for a certain crowd of kids to want to be friends with me, which they didn’t. A gifted child but a terrible listener, I had a hard time following directions and would often fall behind in class. Not to mention my body was changing. I was wearing sports bras from Limited Too in a children’s size 16. I was standing silently outside a circle of kids while they laughed at jokes I didn’t get. I was copying other people’s math homework because I’d managed to place into the advanced classes without ever really learning my multiplication tables. And I was desperately hoping it would all be over soon.

One night my dad called while I was doing some homework after school.

“Dad!” I squealed. “You’ll never believe it! Today I wished that school would go by fast, and it did!” 

“Mm,” he mumbled, the same way he had when I’d told him I thought I could see air when I was six years old. “Don’t wish your life away, kiddo.”

By this time, I had already heard about the problems my dad had with his eyes when he was a kid. I knew he’d had trouble reading, and that school was especially hard for him in the elementary and junior high years. He’d lived in Taiwan for a year when he was 12, and when he came back to the States he had to repeat the seventh grade. I knew he wouldn’t do middle school over again if you paid him. So why was he being so protective of my time?

I realize now that two things happen when you get a little older: time goes by faster, and less seems to change.

This is why two months have passed since I’ve last written. It’s why I didn’t notice it had been so long, and why I haven’t had much to say. It’s also why, at age 52, my father was telling me to relish the days where I had something he didn’t. My whole life laid out in front of me, years to decide who I was going to be, the freedom to make mistakes that wouldn’t have long term detriment or legal implications, and the absence of that underlying feeling all adults secretly have, that we’re squandering our potential, stressing ourselves to the limit, careening towards our end of days just hoping and praying we’ll have something to show for it. It’s true what they say, that youth is wasted on the young. What good is all the time in the world if you have no concept of time to begin with?

A lot has happened in these last two months. And they’ve been big, important steps for me, but just your run-of-the-mill adulty stuff. James and I got our own place in Greenpoint in a gutted out church, with the fixtures and the central air and the deep tub and the roof and the outdoor space we always wanted. The place is small but we’re happy, and the cats are happy, and we don’t mind giving some things away. Even with the reduced square footage, our rent went up quite a bit. So I needed to take my job hunt more seriously and really put my nuts to the wall to find work.

After putting myself out there and getting rejected so many times in a row that I couldn’t tell if I was job hunting or speed dating, I finally found a place that wanted me. I actually didn’t think I was right for the job, and I wasn’t terribly qualified either, but they seemed to think I was capable enough and hired me right away. Two months later, I think I have a handle on things. I have benefits and paid time off and a healthy sleep schedule. I go to the same salad bar every day during my lunch hour and listen to podcasts while I eat alone. I meet James on the platform at Union Square every day at 6:45, go home, make dinner, watch Netflix, maybe write a little, and go to bed. It is so delightfully, wonderfully, magically boring. And so far, I really love it.

I went to The Gap the other day and bought button-downs. Can you believe this? I’m an assistant at a design studio, so I don’t have to wear heels to work or get my hair blown out every day, but I can’t exactly go dressed like Malibu Barbie. Yeah it’s a bummer, but I also don’t mind being taken seriously. I just want to do good work, make my money, and get out of there. Part of growing up is knowing that you don’t have to show your entire personality, all your tastes and ambitions, every shade of who you are and want to be, to every person you encounter. At this point in my life, I think I’ll get farther if I hide a few things from the people who sign my checks. And the thing about selling out is, it makes your apartment so much nicer. Plus, idk, The Gap has some nice stuff.

The hard part of having the grown up day job is, well, there are a few. The first is getting out of bed every morning (I have no suggestions for this). The second is making sure you can manage not to turn into a sloppy, depressed mom who has given up on looking cute (this is a personal problem I’m trying to solve by keeping dry shampoo in my desk, eating fucking salads, and forcing myself to go to one social event a month). The third is staying focused on what you really want to do, remembering the difference between your actual two-year goal and what you wrote on your employee evaluation. But probably the hardest part is assuring yourself that how you make your money, and how much of it you have, isn’t what defines you. That the small achievements really do matter. And that we still have time, no matter what age, to make our dreams come true.

And in the meantime, well, you might find yourself at The Gap. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tokyo Story

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By my 25th birthday on September 15, 2014, I had been working hard at a job that wasn’t right–right for my career trajectory or right for me emotionally–for about seven months. But on that day it didn’t bother me, because I was 7,000 miles away.

For what was, I believe, a much deserved paid vacation, I decided to visit the city that I had always considered most exciting. Similar to the way nearly every American white girl puts Paris on a pedestal, I have always adored Tokyo and thought of it as a place where I might “find myself.” I had a little money saved, just enough to buy the tickets and still maybe have some spending money at the bottom of the barrel. So one day in late summer, via iMessage of course, I proposed to my long time friend Sarah aka Cousler aka Cousler8 that we visit together over my birthday week. I hadn’t really spent much quality time with Sarah in the last five years, but I knew that she loved the city and when I say I always wanted to visit, I mean I always wanted to visit with her. She was thrilled at the idea, as I’d hoped.

So we put in our requests for days off. I bought a the Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo and highlighted the shit out of it. Even though we could barely get in touch with one another to buy the tickets with our completely opposite work schedules (and Sarah’s signature unreachability) we somehow managed to snag two round trip seats to Tokyo Narita Airport on Delta airlines, for $1,000 each. It was the exact amount we could afford, and the lowest price we’d seen in about a month of lurking Kayak.

Although no stranger to air travel, I had only been out of the country once before. Having failed to locate my passport (did I lose it in the fire that burnt down my college residence in 2010? Is it buried somewhere beneath a heap of Lifetouch photos in the back of my childhood closet? I’ve resigned myself to ignorance) I rushed around town on my days off, procuring the necessary forms of identification, while astonishing and dismaying myself with my inability to master the basic functions of a photocopier. I didn’t believe this was all really happening until I received my passport in the mail. I take that back – to this day I am not 100% certain any of this really happened. It’s now been a month since I returned from the trip, and some details are hazy, like trying to recall a dream, so to make it easier for me and for you I will tell the story of my journey one day at a time. For more photos (many, many more) peep the links to my Flickr and Instagram in the sidebar.

Day 1: #TokyoForever #ByeUSA
In an effort to not spend the nearly 24 hours door to door by our lonesome, Sarah flew to meet me in NY the day before departure. She arrived while I was still at work, and still unpacked for that matter, so we only had time for a few hugs that evening before she fell asleep on my couch watching The Killing and I piled my life into a TJ Maxx suitcase (it’s amazing) in a full-on state of panic. I packed every colorful item I owned, every bold patterned anything. I was prepared to serve a NYC meets Harajuku look every day I was to be there. I packed my big ass camera that I never use into my Victoria’s Secret backpack, put my pink Sharper Image luggage tags on my two bags and slept for five hours. The next morning I said goodbye to James, who’d be staying in Ridgewood that week to take care of the cats for me. Sarah and I ate sandwiches in the $80 cab ride to Newark Airport.

As soon as we got there, I spent $40 more on a memory foam neck pillow. I’m telling you this because it ended up being the best $40 I ever spent. I suggest you all buy one, even if you’re not traveling. My greatest aspiration is that one day everything I own will be memory foam. My clothing, my TV, my refrigerator. My car. Cutlery. Ah, that’s when I’ll know I’ve made it. Anyway-

Our first flight was no big deal. We had a short layover in the very sexy (no sarcasm) Minneapolis/St.Paul airport, then boarded a for the 10 hour haul to Tokyo. I was mentally prepared because I had flown Delta recently, and I knew there would be S-I-C-K entertainment options in the back of the seat in front of me. The main problem was I already had a post-nasal drip that would not quit, and it was soon to be exacerbated. On that flight, I probably watched 5 movies and slept for a total of 20 minutes. Sarah was out for a good bit and I would have been very jealous were it not for the KUSH-ASS memory foam supporting my lower back, and the unlimited beverage service that kept me pretty much wasted the entire time.

Day 2 – Tita Chu and Her Generous Boo
After walking through the bizarrely deserted customs area, and waiting by the wrong baggage claim for about a half hour, we met Sarah’s Aunt, Tita Chu and her husband, whose name I do not remember, so I will call him Tito. He and I didn’t communicate much other than nods and smiles, since the only language he speaks is Japanese. Did I mention I don’t know any Japanese? Doesn’t matter. I should still know his name.

How do I describe Tita Chu? Tita Chu is a hilarious Filipino woman, about 5’2″ and gorgeous with a shoulder length haircut. Tita Chu has the cackle of a witch, if that witch was also your favorite friend to take to the mall. She has the greatest and most effective side-eye I have ever seen. Tita Chu tells it like it is. She wears 4 inch heels 24/7, except in the apartment, when we all wear slippers. God I love slippers. I never realized how gross bare feet were until I was exposed to slipper culture.

What I also didn’t realize until I actually arrived in Japan is that I am far too big for everything in the country. Immediately upon entering Tita Chu’s minimalist apartment in Ryogoku, my arms were hitting Sarah’s family members in the face and knocking over Charmmy Kitty figurines. My suitcase was the size of Tita Chu herself. It took an unreasonable amount of generosity from her, then, to let us stay at her apartment for our first night in the city. It worked out pretty well since we immediately collapsed into Sarah’s cousin’s bed of stuffed animals and slept for 11 hours. It was 7 PM.

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Day 3 – Culture Shock or Cold Medicine?
The next morning I awoke at the crack of dawn with a terrible sinus headache. Luckily Tita Chu wakes up as early as we do when we’re 13 hours ahead of schedule, and she gave me a packet of Japanese cold medicine. I have no idea what was in it, but I do know that it worked. That plus a humongous Filipino breakfast and I was feeling high as hell. I don’t think it was even 8 AM by the time we decided to go explore the neighborhood, and being that it was a Sunday morning, we were told nothing would be open. But it was a beautiful day, and we were antsy, so we set out on our first adventure.

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The view from Tita Chu’s apartment

One of the first things I noticed about Tokyo was, despite crowded streets and sidewalks, how quiet everything is. I’m used to being one of the loudest people everywhere I go, but this was different. No horns were honking, no sirens blaring. And there was no litter anywhere. This was especially confusing since there didn’t seem to be any public trash receptacles anywhere either. We quickly realized that in Japan, you own your garbage. People just abide by the social contract there. You also very seldom see homeless people. It makes NYC look like a war zone.

Down the street from Tita Chu’s, we found a mall that was set to open at 10 AM. In the hour before, teens crowded around the entrance and waited for the doors to open. Waiting in line for things to open is another thing I saw a lot in Tokyo that I don’t really see here that often. I guess people just wake up on the weekends with a plan to hit the arcade, and they are so serious about it that they will literally sit on the sidewalk for an hour to be one of the first inside. I personally hate to wait for anything. This is one of my most American qualities.

We waited at the Starbucks next to the mall. If you’re wondering, Starbucks in Japan is exactly like Starbucks in America, except the menu is in both Japanese and English, the “small” size is really, really small, and there is no free wifi. I know because I figured out very quickly how to ask for a “wifi password” using my own fucked up version of sign language. When the mall opened, I was surprised at how much it looked exactly like an American mall. A lot of the clothes, though Japanese labels, were imitations of distinctly American and British styles. Burgundy plaid skirts and creeper-style loafers were in about half the stores we saw. I would quickly come to learn that the most common looks for girls in Tokyo under 30 are: Punk, Ivy League, Barbie Doll, and American Early 90s. What I’m trying to say is that everyone and everything looked great. But if I wanted to buy a pair of shoes, I was shit out of luck. When I tried on a pair of sky-high wedges and I could barely squeeze my feet in them, I motioned to the sales girl for a bigger size. She covered her mouth and giggled. I’d just tried on their biggest size.

Then it was time for our first Japanese bite. It was a little hard to choose where to go because everything looked so delicious and we had no idea what any of it was. We settled for a little ramen spot where you order from a touch screen vending machine, which then prints you a ticket to hand to your server. It was kind of brilliant, since we knew the only way we could order anything was by pointing at pictures anyway.

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Later that day, while still cracked out on cold medicine and feeling like I was in an alternate universe, Tita Chu and Tito took us to the Edo-Tokyo museum. The Edo period in Japanese history is between 1603 and 1868, which I already knew a little bit about from Ninja Turtles III. The museum tells the history of the Geisha and the tradition of Kabuki, and had original paintings by iconic Japanese artists like Hokusai.

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Afterwards, we traveled to our apartment in Roppongi, which we’d conveniently reserved on Airbnb a week prior for 65 dollars a night. On the way, we watched music videos on an iPhone propped to the dashboard of Tito’s car. Sarah and I had been talking about how much we love that catchy song “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit.  It wasn’t until the music video came on during our drive through the city that we realized it’s actually about Japan. I pretty much get goosebumps and cry every time I hear it now, officially making me the cheesiest person that’s ever lived.

That night, we bought bottles of sake and Japanese whiskey and tried to turn up. So far we’d been too weak to do it, and I really wanted that to change. But jet lag is no joke – I fell asleep in a plate of overpriced dumplings that night while ringing in my birthday at a restaurant in Roppongi Hills.

Day 4 – Kawaii Overload
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The next morning it was officially my birthday in Japan, so I set out to do all the things I’d always dreamed of, like going to a sushi bar, a cat cafe and shopping in Shibuya. Unfortunately I woke up at 6 AM again, this time with screaming back pain, and felt compelled to do two hours of yoga in the middle of our tiny apartment, next to a kitchenette sink that smelled a little (a lot) like poo. I had time to contemplate age and what it meant to be another year older and where I wanted to go in life. September 15 in Japan is actually Respect for the Aged Day, funny enough. So I tried to show myself some of that respect.

That afternoon, after dressing myself up like an adult child, we walked from a sushi bar in Roppongi Hills through Ebisu to Nyafe Melange, a cat cafe. I will let the following photos speak for themselves.

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When you arrive at the cat cafe, the girls at the front desk ask you to wash your hands and then you pay the entry fee. Admission comes with a drink, and is charged by the half hour with the option to purchase a “snack” for the cats. The snack is a small tupperware filled with katsuobushi, or bonito flakes, which are dried fermented fish flakes used in Japanese cuisine. The cats go NUTS over these, and it’s good that we bought them because they pretty much just sleep and ignore you unless you have food (same). I also noticed that most of the patrons were petting the cats in a way I had never seen before. Instead of dragging the palm of their hand across the back or rubbing the butt, they were patting the butt at the base of the tail over and over. I came home and tried the butt-pat with Kosmo and it was a major hit. Try it on your cat!

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From there we walked up Meiji-Dori to Shibuya crossing. Again, the sheer number of people that manage to coexist in one space blows my mind. Maybe it was because I was a tourist, but this equivalent of Times Square in Tokyo was nowhere near as repulsive and unwelcoming as its New York counterpart. I think it’s just because foot traffic in Japan is so cooperative. In NYC people just stand around clogging up sidewalks and waiting to get hit by cabs. Oh, America.

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That’s when we entered Shibuya 109. It’s basically a friggin skyscraper full of fashion stores for Japanese babes, and we were in shock. I wanted to buy everything and take pictures of everyone. I’m kicking myself now because I was so distracted I barely took any photos while I was inside. While the target market for many of the stores was a slightly younger girl, I did find a pretty awesome store with over the top hip hop gear called Baby Shoop. The mascot of Baby Shoop is the silhouette of a woman with an afro, and their slogan is “Black for Life.” A little cultural appropriation is tolerated in Tokyo, from what I could tell. I found a huge fuzzy sweater and the woman who checked me out had a deep tan, a grill and door-knocker earrings, not unlike a Japanese Kreayshawn. When I told her I was from New York she broke into a grin of familiarity. Fashion girls in Tokyo fucking love Brooklyn. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I technically live in Queens.

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That evening we ate at a three story hot dog stand in the middle of Shibuya, essentially a Japanese Crif Dogs, while watching a video performance by the Black Eyed Peas from 2005. Somehow Tokyo manages to be simultaneously futuristic, traditional, and just barely irrelevant.

When we got home, Sarah went out for snacks and came back with bags full of goodies, including a potato cake that she put a candle in, and sang me happy birthday.

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Day 5 – Adventures in Harajuku
The next day we had a breakfast of Curry Cup o’ Noodles before taking the train to Harajuku, because we hadn’t shopped enough already. There we found more eye-popping street cuties and a store called Spinns, which pretty much had everything we could ever want – including an adorable sales girl Yuming, who we wanted as a best friend. There is an obsession in Harajuku with American vintage clothes and toys from the 80s and 90s, and Spinns is very much on this tip. Almost every item was pastel and covered in faux fur or feathers. The walls were lined in unpackaged Malibu Barbies I recognized from my childhood. Another store called Wego decorated with spray painted old TVs and troll dolls. I was right at home…more than I even realized. This store, like many others, had racks upon racks of vintage clothing imported from the United States. I even found old UNC and NC State sweatshirts in the men’s section. It was too weird.

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After spending half our money and wearing our feet to the bone, we hit up a place called Kiddyland. It’s a four-story toy store with a Star Wars section, a Studio Ghibli section, a Nintendo section, and entire floors dedicated to Snoopy and Hello Kitty. I was in heaven, although I’d already learned by now that toys are EXPENSIVE in Tokyo (and everywhere. Being a mom must be so annoying) All I wanted was a reasonably priced Pikachu, and for some reason that was very hard to find. But I had already found some adorable socks, so I was pretty happy.

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We comforted ourselves with some Thai curry, then stopped by the weird beauty garage on our way out of Harajuku to pick up some hair dye. Sarah had been talking about going purple, and because I was an expert (i.e – a receptionist at a hair salon) I offered to do it for her. We used Quis Quis Devil’s Trick hair color in lavender, because that’s all we could find. When we got back to the apartment, flavored Asahis in hand, we put the color on the blonde ends of Sarah’s hair and left it on for 30 minutes. Because Devil’s Trick is essentially just a temporary gloss, all it did was cancel out the yellow tones and make her hair look normal. She was not particularly fond of that.
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Day 6 – Temples, Towers and Being Tourists

Being on foot in one of the biggest cities in the world can take a lot out of you, so we took it slow on Wednesday and decided to keep it local for the day. Luckily there are plenty of things to do and see in Roppongi and the surrounding areas. It was a cloudy day, and we appreciated this. The weather in mid-September Tokyo is much like the weather in mid-September New York: beautiful by night, and just a little hotter than you might prefer by day.

After guzzling our carton of iced coffee that we bought at the corner store and washing our clothes in the tiny, microwave sized washing machine (why aren’t these popular in the US? I could fit it in my bedroom and do my laundry every day instead of once a stinky month), we marched up the hill to Chinese Cafe 8 for some greasy cashew chicken. Upon arrival we were more than a little bit confused by the decor, but we took it with a grain of salt (and lots of MSG…mmm)

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Zojo-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Shiba, which is just a short walk from Roppongi. The grounds are lush and mystical, even if they do partially overlap with a hotel and golf course. On the steps of the temple we could hear people chanting inside. The most amazing moment, though, was when the only stray cat I’d seen in Tokyo emerged from the bushes and sat next to me on the temple steps. I felt like I was in a Murakami novel.
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Just across the street from Zojo-ji is the Tokyo Tower, the iconic Eiffel Tower-inspired observation tower that’s nearly 1,100 feet high. I have a pretty serious fear of heights so I got a little freaked out in the elevator (I’m a loser, I know) but I will say it was the smoothest ride up I’d ever felt. The view from the top is breathtaking and doesn’t even feel real.
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On our way back to Roppongi we walked through Roppongi Hills, a gigantic skyscraping complex with luxury retail, condos, offices, restaurants, BMW dealerships…basically everything rich people need to survive without leaving their neighborhood. We’d walked through it almost every day so far, but this time we stumbled into a record release concert for a boy band called 2 PM, complete with thousands of screaming teenagers. I thought Directioners were serious, but the teens are not kidding about their boybands in Tokyo.
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The inside of Gonpachi

“Legend” has it that Quentin Tarantino got his inspiration for the set of the Crazy 88 fight scene in Kill Bill Vol.1 from the layout of a Roppongi restaurant called Gonpachi, so naturally it is a major tourist attraction, and naturally we succumbed. The inside of the restaurant was similar to the movie, although not nearly as grand or badass. And the food could be described as “aight.” Still, it was fun to overhear dumb conversations between other tourists and get to peep the open kitchen, complete with a yakitori grill. The best thing about traveling with Sarah is that she’s a cook, and it seems like she knows everything there is to know about food. After all, the dining in Tokyo is, like, 60% of its appeal. If the experience at Gonpachi taught me anything, it’s that the quality of a Japanese restaurant is usually inversely proportional to the percentage of white people inside. Roppongi is known as the “foreigner’s neighborhood,” so most of the spots are A) really expensive and B) crawling with rich people, jet-setters, and Japanese-American teens attending English speaking schools. That night at Muse nightclub, we drank cocktails while eavesdropping on two American college girls cry about their roommates. It was glamorous.

Day 7 – Delicious Mistakes
The next day started off pretty damn slowly. We knew we wanted to go to the Tsukiji fish market at some point, and this seemed like the best day, even though we woke up long after the infamous auction ended. Still, we figured the market would be operational all day, so we headed over there in the early afternoon. When we arrived it was a ghost town, and we could tell it would have been really amazing had we just gotten there a few hours earlier. Luckily we found a sushi restaurant right in the middle of the market that was just barely still open. Even though I could tell we were annoying them a little bit with our American straggler vibe, they still gave us the best sushi of our lives. Everyone was a happy camper.
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From there we headed back to Shibuya for more shopping. Most of the day was sucked away by a 7-story gift store called Loft, which has everything you ever wanted, a gift for everyone you know, and things you never even knew existed. Once we’d finally eased our guilt by finally buying gifts for all our loved ones, it was time for karaoke.

I honestly can’t even talk about karaoke night without getting a little sick, although the experience itself was amazing. We went to Karaoke-Kan, a tall building with floors upon floors of private rooms you can rent for your party that have microphones and little TVs with lyrics on them (and terrible accompanying video footage of American cities). You order your drinks when you rent your room. We started with 1 hour of singing and 2 whiskey highballs, which is like a whiskey ginger in a beer stein, I guess. Ten minutes before the end of your hour, they call up to your room and let you know its almost up. Of course, an hour of drunk karaoke with your best friend goes by pretty fast, so by that time we were just amped for more singing. We extended our stay by another hour and asked for more highballs and shots…and did this FOUR MORE TIMES before leaving Shibuya for the night, bringing our tab to $80 each. By now the subways were no longer running, and cabs didn’t want to pick us up. But I had us covered! I was drunk and I had a map on my data-less iPhone…I could definitely lead us home by foot! We walked for over an hour, in a direction that remains unclear, at 3 in the morning along Japan Rail tracks that were under construction. It wasn’t safe or remotely advisable, and my stubbornness was pissing Sarah off. We finally dove into a cab, and it took him more than 15 minutes to drive us home. To this day I have no idea what random part of Tokyo I so confidently led us into.
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Day 8 – Respite in Roppongi
The next morning is where the story gets dark. I awoke early with a splitting headache and what I can honestly claim as one of the worst hangovers of my entire life. My first thought – okay, third, behind barfing and crying – was to take a long shower to relieve some of the pain, so that I’d hopefully not have to run into traffic and kill myself. I’d been Whatsapp-ing James about how miserable I was, so I set my phone down by the toilet, stripped and stepped into the tiny tub. Like most Japanese shower heads, this one was detachable, so for about an hour I lay back with my knees bent aiming the hot water at the center of my forehead. By the end of it I didn’t feel much better, but I figured it was probably time to get the fuck out of the bathtub since I was as wrinkled as my vintage coach bag after a rainy Spring. When I pulled back the curtain, I lost my breath. I had flooded the entire bathroom in no less than two inches of water and completely submerged my iPhone for what had to have been at least thirty minutes. I tried my best to save it while my brain felt like it was bleeding out of my ears. The flashlight had turned off and for some reason I couldn’t shut off the phone, so it just sat there buzzing at its insides fried beyond repair. What was going to happen to all my photos? Would I even survive this hangover for long enough to figure this out? Was this the worst day of my life?

I strapped on my boots and forced myself out the door zombie-style to walk to every convenience store in Roppongi to look for rice. I finally found some (it came in a convenient 3 kilo bag!) and made my way back to the apartment, bent almost fully over at the waist, moaning and nearly puking on every tiny car and polite person I encountered. But first – I stopped in a Family Mart and spent $35 on prosciutto, croissants and assorted cheeses. I needed western food to get me through these times. To top it off, we also ordered a pepperoni pizza from a fucking Domino’s. Thank you based cheese god.

After that I slept until about 6 PM, and the only thing we did for the rest of the day was see Guardians of the Galaxy at the Roppongi Hills Movie Theater, which itself looks like a space station. I pretty much wanted to live there. Something about how miserable I felt made me homesick as fuck, and all I wanted to do was eat cheeseburgers in a strip mall and watch cable until I passed out in a California king. No such luck, but I was in fucking Japan, and I was kind of being a pussy.

Day 9 – Death by Shopping
Suddenly it was Saturday, and it was time to check out of our apartment. This meant packing our bags, putting the keys back in the mailbox and taking the train back to Tita Chu’s. We dropped off our stuff and hopped back on the subway to check out Akihabara, the neighborhood in Tokyo dedicated to all things Nerd – electronics, anime and video games. And hentai. Lots and lots of hentai. In fact, there was so much hentai that we were actually really uncomfortable, and had to leave the neighborhood for fear of seeing anymore cartoon semen. I did see some cool ass dolls though, and I finally found that stuffed Pikachu for James. We spent the rest of the day in Harajuku again, shopping until we couldn’t take it anymore. It got to a point where if I saw one more furry purse I was going to flip the fuck out. I really needed a nap.

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That night, Tita Chu made us two dinners. Beef curry and Filipino spaghetti. We ate so much that we couldn’t move, then somehow Facetimed everyone in Sarah’s family at once across in three separate countries (don’t ask me how), and watched youtube videos until we fell asleep.

Day 10 – Arigatou Gozaimasu
When it was time to leave neither of us could accept it, but we had reached tourism overload by that point and I think we really needed a return to our reality. It was tough, because back home the two of us weren’t exactly living perfect lives and had a lot of things to sort out when we got back. And, even though we’d been close friends for eight years, we’d hit that point where we just needed some time alone. As we packed our suitcases into the car, a minor spat drove us both into tears, and we rode the whole way to Narita airport without speaking. That is, until the lyrics to Tito’s new Chris Brown album had us laughing so hard that we had to make up.

Five in-flight movies later, one being the now underwhelming Lost in Translation, we arrived at the Atlanta airport. Sarah and I parted ways and I flew back to Newark, took NJ transit into the city and met James at Penn Station. I don’t think I’ve ever missed someone, or someplace, so much.

A week later, when I’d just settled back into my routine, I was laid off from my job. It came as a shock, but sometimes the universe does for you what you’re too afraid to do yourself. I have no idea where I’m headed next, but I have some idea of who I am and what I want. For now, I’m in New York, with 25 years behind me and 75 more to go. And really, there’s no place I’d rather be. (Wink)
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Virtual Reality

IMG_8220 I don’t talk to Alex enough. You know Alex, my long time friend, the third big brother I never had, the one who has lived in LA for a few years and has what I think is an assistant-ish super Hollywoody-type job? We sometimes write together. Mostly he writes without me. He is very productive. I am very, well, you read the blog. One of Alex’s major pastimes is cyber-bullying me. He does this because he knows I don’t take criticism very well and he likes to take his emotions out on the people who will react most strongly. I’m trying to learn not to take it personally. Usually it ends up okay if I can keep my cool long enough to get him to apologize. We tried talking about this through text recently, and it quickly spun into a different conversation.

Me: I’m stressing myself out. You’re a real ballbuster you know

Alex: Same. I was having really bad panic attacks so now I’m not drinking caffeine But that won’t solve everything What’s going on w you

Me: Last night I had a dream I was raped by two guys and then my teeth turned to sand dollars and crumbled out of my head

Alex: Oh my god

Me: I’m sure that has to do with some underlying psychological something

Alex: Yeah…

Me: But I actually feel pretty okay on the surface

Alex: I’ve been feeling mentally unstable the past month Like losing reality Idk why

Me: We should talk more

Alex: Probably I just don’t even know what the problem is.

Me: Things are definitely feeling unreal, but in a way that is almost too real.

Alex: Yes that’s a nice way to put it I just feel useless

Me: Essentially we’re all insane and nothing is really worth it, and all the things that seem good are bad and vice versa, happy people are actually sad, alcohol gets boring after a while, and you just find yourself asking, “what now?”

Alex: Seriously That’s why I’m like “going sober” I like weed and booze but it does nothing. Success is the only high I want.

Me: Truly I don’t really smoke weed ever. I find it upsets me often

Alex: AND a cute boy that is nice and loves me

Me: Unless I literally have nothing else that I should be doing

Alex: It fucks me UP

Me: Which is never

Alex: I can barely handle it Right! It just makes you anxious about doing things you need to do so you don’t and then you feel like shit

Me: I’m glad I have James. Things are going well, but I find myself a little too pleased with the habitual domestic things we do like make dinner, and I worry that my ambition is dwindling and that the sum of my accomplishments will be having kids and a yard and a husband and being normal, and that I’ll like that
But maybe the secret is to just get a Xanax addiction and become a Stepford wife
At least then there’d be hope for a reality show

Alex: I mean if you like that then who cares But kids KILL That’s my cynical wisdom

Me: I do love kids Maybe for my 25th birthday I’ll freeze an egg

Alex: You literally can’t do anything with kids I’m sure they are great! Lol It is the future

Me: I’m going to write a funny mom book

Alex: YEA but that’s not a reason to have kids

Me: It’ll be called “mommy why are you crying: stories of how my children ruined my life”

Alex: You have like 12 more years
My mom had me at 36 and I’m completely normal
….. Lolol ok

Me: Yeah but she had two kids before you

Alex: That’s true

Me: You’re supposed to have ur first like
Basically when ur my age

Alex: Does that make it better?
Wow
But it’s just biology!

Me: Yeah :/

Alex: Drink those voices away!

Me: But seriously I’m freezing my eggs

Alex: Might as well
Mary is already 26

Me: Turning 25 is like

Alex: Jesus
But you see these cool couples with their kids and it doesn’t seem so fun

Me: Oh hey next big bday I’m old as shit

Alex: It just seems like prison
Dude 25 SUCKS
26 is better
But ppl will say it’s the other way around

Me: Not depressing, I mean kind of nice and exciting. I don’t hate my life or anything so I’m not like disappointed in myself
You always disagree with me on this tho
Ages

Alex: Oh god I am.
On getting older??
I think I’ll be chill when I’m 35

Me: On which ages are the worst

Alex: Bahaha

Me: Idk if I’ll ever be chill? Let’s be honest

Alex: 20s are just hard. It’s just weird seeing all these people I know getting married
Hahahahah
I think so
You’re pretty cool

Me: Basically I just keep telling myself that every stupid failure and shitty experience will make a fun story someday
And at the very least maybe I’ll have a rich husband, if I’m lucky someone I love
Woo dream big
Thanks btw you too

Alex: Hahaha
Yames

Me: It’s not that I should suck less at life, it’s that I should be writing more about sucking at it

Alex: He seems great to me Mmmm yea

Me: He’s great in a lot of ways.
You’d like him
But he’s an easy target.
Sensitive

Alex: I think I probably would
He IS sensitive
I think he’s just Italian

Me: He’s a Capricorn
And he’s only half Italian
But I like that he’s traditionally masculine in a lot of ways. Plus he loves me. I guess that’s really the point here.
You wanna start a literary zine?

Alex: I like that And he’s sexy

Me: Yeah he is

Alex: To me
Lol In a platonic way

Me: And to me, obviously
His body is incredible it like sucks that he won’t dress for it
He buys his work shirts at Costco
Which is like hot in its own way

IMG_8251My boyfriend standing in front of his high school alma mater and doing some pose that I choose to pretend is tai chi

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A picture of Lindsay Lohan’s family’s house I took on a bike ride through Merrick, NY. Lindsay and James have the same hometown. This is relevant because it just is.

Alex: A zine sounds fun but I have a lot on my plate at the moment I can’t make a commitment
He is so normcore but not even bc I don’t think he’s post indie

Me: I was mostly joking

Alex: This is v funny

Me: I was going to toss out the potential title “are any of us doing anything”

Alex: Most frat guys are like that though. When he makes more money you can help him out.

Me: Yeah he’s not normcore he’s just norm, like I’m aware that he interacts with the world without quite as many levels of irony as me, and I’m fine with it, because it’s all bullshit anyway
The fact that I’m fine with it is what makes me scared I secretly wanna be norm
But I wanna be norm in this like fantasy sort of way, like only because New York is a dystopia in so many ways. Like I don’t even wanna be norm I wanna like actually live inside a sears catalog or something

Alex: Hahahahha Norm is the new weird tho
Weird as we know it is the new norm and it’s kinda tired
Like being OUT THERE AND WEIRD
Hahahah sears

Me: Yeah. Doesn’t it seem like society is tricking itself into believing homogeneity is a style choice when actually we are probably just giving in to the pointlessness of asserting individualism in the digital age

We might as well all turn into iPhones. That’d be phat

Alex: Cyborgs is the next thing

Me: Borgcore

Alex: It is pointless I’ve been saying it for years what’s next? Bc if you try to assert your individuality and everyone is trying to because that’s the norm, it’s impossible so the movement, it like collapses on itself
That’s why I think fashion will die eventually

Me: People just revert to indulging in the simple commercial pleasures of life

Alex: No one believes me

Me: Eventually our generation will give in and assimilate
People just get tired

Alex: We’re all going to wear government controlled silver jumpsuits

Me: Yeah but even without government control

Alex: That help us live in a harsh world where it’s too hot or too cold cuz we fucked everything up

Me: I have a theory that people will basically control themselves

Alex: Yeah I guess

Me: And trick themselves into thinking it’s individual expression

Alex: Government matters less than corporations

Me: Like social media, everyone was all worried back in the day the government was going to be spying on us, then we just willingly started putting every detail of our lives out in public. I agree with you, individuality is played out.

Alex: Hmmmmm
You just have to have fun with whatever you can
While you can

Me: In fact the millennial infatuation and ultimate disappointment with individuality may be the beginning of its death

Alex: Ugh on the plus side my apartment is nice

Me: Aw yay

Alex: Yeah let’s capitalize on the death of individuality

Me: A monopoly on identity If you can’t beat em join em. I’m sure that’s what Orwell was trying to say.

—-

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Life is plastic, it’s fantastic

We complain about being out of touch with reality as though there is any reality to speak of, and we know that’s not true. In June’s mercury retrograde I attempted to do a bit of soul searching, some personal and some societal, I guess. Whether intentional or not, I live on the line between high and low culture, shallow and meaningful, absorbed in such trivialities as my Internet stats while failing to ignore my yearn for meaning in my actual life. Just like everyone else, I can’t really decide what is “real” or what is “meaningful.” I’ll watch KUWTK in the suburbs with my boyfriend and enjoy it. I’ll go to an exhibition of artworks praising Kim Kardashian as a deity and agree with it. I’ll read an article about the OJ trial and the connection between the Kardashian family and other reality show stars, in which they are dubbed the murderers of popular culture, and I’ll agree with that too. I exist in two worlds; one is where instagram likes are currency, where Heidi Montag is a genius and looking good is the equivalent of reaching nirvana. In the other world, holy cow, I actually want to emotionally invest in substantial things.

IMG_8369Open bar selfie at art party called The Passion of Kim Kardashian

We are living in a world where the art, the consumption, the media, the criticism, the satire and the daily fucking struggle are so simultaneous that writing about this, even caring about it, feels redundant. It can sometimes feel like we have only three options. Lower our expectations and settle down, go to grad school so at least the conversations we have about relevant things will be somewhat intelligent, or act like a child forever. Who even has time to be a good person? Who has time to make themselves happy, or the world a better in a real way? If the struggle for substance and meaning is Sisyphean, then why even bother to stress? Might as well drink kool-aid with the Church of Kim K. If I’m ever nostalgic for the nineties it’s because the nineties were the time I had to do the least. While my social anxiety was at an all-time high, I was actually unironically enjoying the pleasures of suburbia and consumerism without asking any questions. Slip-n-slides and trampolines were making me happy, just like they were supposed to. I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t looking for beauty in truth, I just assumed this was the truth. I was privileged, and I may not have known it, but I wasn’t deluded into thinking I didn’t want to be. Reality TV is totally bullshit but nobody really cares, so maybe life can be like that. After all, whatever we accept as true becomes the reality. You might as well put on the costume. You might as well pretend. And at the end of the day, you might as well participate in the scam. It’s almost the same thing as having hope. Right? What’s so great about the truth anyway? When it comes to my future, I don’t want to know the odds. I’ll keep my blinders on for now, and when things get too rough, I’ll visit someone’s neighborhood pool. IMG_8462

A Queen and Her Asshole

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(Via Google Images)

A lot of you (and when I say I lot I mean, literally, tens of people) have been outraged by how busy I’ve been lately. Well, sorry readers. Sorry that my schedule is jam packed with glamorous daily activities like going to work, learning improv, shopping for pillows online, waiting for my cats to use their new litter box, and various luxuries of the sort. I haven’t been neglecting my fans, I’ve just been caught up in that infamous New York hustle! Distracted by the grandeur of scraping by! Basking in the opulence of barely achieving homeostasis! “The internet misses you!” they all say. “Write a new post!” Well, assholes, the hate mail has grown tiresome. So tonight, I’ve decided to take a break from these instant grits I’m eating for dinner to give you an inside look at some of the perks of my VIP lifestyle. Then maybe you all will shut up.

I guess the best week of my life all started when I got drunk after work on a Friday night, causing me to oversleep for a very coveted and very necessary gynecologist appointment the next morning. I gasped out of a deep slumber at 10:53 AM, mere minutes from the time I was expected to check in, and immediately called Bushwick car service for one of their signature wild goose chases into Manhattan. By the time we arrived in the financial district about 80 wrong turns later, I had paid 30 dollars for a cab just to avoid a 50 dollar cancellation fee, and was frazzled to boot. Luckily, the doctor was still able to inspect my lady parts, by “squeezing me in,” so to speak. I left without a prescription or a solution to my problem, but I did have a list of directions on how to create my own boric acid capsules with supplies I could buy on Amazon. Oh, and I had a purple vagina. Don’t ask. I mean, whatever, I guess you can ask….She dyed it.

Massively hungover and overcome with irritation, I wandered up Wall Street drinking coffee and glaring at tourists. How could I be depressed on a Saturday?  “Such a waste,” I thought. I pooped in a Korean restaurant.

After giving myself cornrows in the window of the Fulton Street subway station, I decided to go to brunch alone. I had a few hours to kill before improv, so I took the A up to Canal Street and got a table for one at Lupe’s. I ordered a taco salad. I watched my phone die, then left for class. I got caught in the rain. I bought a $5 umbrella identical to a $5 umbrella I had left at home that day. It immediately stopped raining. In class, my emotional slump, coupled with the digestive turmoil from the shrimp taco salad, left me powerless against my performance anxiety. That day at the UCB training center, I felt my soul leaving my body, I felt it watching my scenes, and I felt it heckling me. “Shut up!” my soul yelled at me during a game of Park Bench. “Sure, you’re being honest, ‘truth in comedy’ or whatever…but you might /honestly/ just be an asshole!” My soul is longwinded, and kind of a jerk.

I was in desperate need of some R&R, one of the R’s being Reid who, conveniently, was celebrating his birthday that very night. I walked home from the train with my new shitty umbrella and changed into a Very High Fashion halter top I’d bought the previous weekend at Forever 21. When we all convened at the Taco Factory, I poured my $12 champagne into little plastic cups, made a toast to my longtime friend, and finally unveiled the plans I’d been sitting on for a few weeks: For Reid’s birthday, that next day, I would take the two of us to Spa Castle, a 4 story spa in College Point, Queens with pools and saunas and hella other amenities, so I’d heard. We’d been talking it up for weeks as everyone around us raved about this mysterious palace. Coworkers’ relatives, friends of friends of friends who I’d heard had gone, they all said it was fantastic. I thought it the perfect gift for my friend and for myself, especially since the weather that day was going to be so nice. Sometimes being fabulous with a full-time job can feel like a square peg in a round hole, and I felt we were both due for some good old fashioned pampering.

The next morning, totally disregarding that it was Mother’s Day, I summoned Reid out of his hangover crypt (now available at Ikea!) to meet me at the intersection between our houses and call a cab to College Point. We met at Myrtle Wyckoff circa noon, when the sun was at its peak. I was wearing an American Apparel bargain bin skirt and my mother’s vintage Ralph Lauren one-piece bathing suit, because I’d never been to a spa before, and I felt like I should probably wear something Ralph Lauren. I also wasn’t feeling quite bikini-ready, physically or emotionally. (In fact, I’m still not. I’ve eaten so much junk since the last warm season that if you took a bite out of me I’m pretty sure I’d be filled with Boston Cream.) So there I was, in my Ralph Lauren, eating my usual cajun turkey, beef bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and colby jack cheese sandwich on a roll from the deli. The sun was singing my shoulders as I watched Reid “I Just Puked” Kutrow frown in a patch of shade, waiting for our cab to arrive. It had been 20 minutes since we called Bushwick Car Service. And then 10 more. And then 10 more since I’d called them again and they’d said “two minutes!” And then fifteen more since I’d called them and been like “UMM, hello??” and then ten more since I’d been on hold. There were people everywhere, scooting along with bouquets of carnations to take to their mother’s kitchens, and there we were, two sunburning dopes pacing and moaning in front of Duane Read for an hour now. I think I yelled “FUUUUCK” in front of at least 30 babies. I hate when I do that.

Eventually we ended up just hopping in an empty car that said Fenix on it. We were greeted with a laugh from the driver. “Ooh,” he chuckled, “you guys are lucky to find a cab today.” I love my mom, I mean really, really love her to the point that I wanna be her, and yet had no idea Mother’s Day was such a big deal.

Driving to College Point from Ridgewood was a much needed scenic adventure. The weather was perfect, and the prevalence of trees in Northern Queens made it easier and more enjoyable to breathe. I saw Citi Field. I saw the place where they print and ship out the New York Times (until then I had been operating under the assumption that the paper just somehow manifested out of the ether). The highways and gorgeous tree tops felt like I was fully leaving New York, and it only cost a $30 cab ride. Maybe it’s cliche, or maybe it isn’t, but my favorite thing about living in New York is leaving New York. And then, of course, coming back. Because nothing else is ever all that.

Pulling into College Point was a sight for the sorest of eyes. There were audible ooh’s and ah’s coming from the windows of our vehicle as we drove past a tricked out strip mall. They had a Target, a TJ Maxx, and an Offbrand Outback steakhouse in the parking lot called the something-something “Saloon.” If there’s one thing you know about me, readers, it’s that I am powerless to only two things: discount goods and bloomin’ onions. But those would have to wait.

We turned past my Middle American Mecca and ended up in College Point’s Korea Town. We pulled into a dead end driveway behind a large brick building, seemingly under some sort of construction. It didn’t look much like a castle, more of a Spa Best Western. But the sign hanging above us said we were in the right place, so we threw some money at the cab and walked around to the “front entrance.” The front entrance to spa castle is not unlike the bus loop at your local suburban high school, ie, it’s a driveway lined with townhouses and unfinished landscaping. Older overweight women exploded out of the entrance, many of them wearing identical yellow shirts, presumably signifying they were in some sort of church group. This was already looking amazingly unglamorous, but we didn’t really care. We were just happy to be out of Bushwick. To us, it looked like Versailles, if Versailles had signage written in Korean and a mandatory barefoot policy. After paying the $50 Weekend and Holiday entrance fee we were given wristbands that looked like watches in unimaginative colors indicating our gender (Reid’s was blue and mine was magenta) but instead of faces they had circular magnetic (or computery) sensors with 4 digit numbers on them. These were our locker numbers. The magnetic sensors would be used to open the lockers, and could also be scanned at service desks throughout the Castle in lieu of a credit card and our tabs would be settled at check out (purses, wallets and other such folly we’re not allowed past the locker rooms).

We passed through the rickety turnstile to the threshold of our respective locker rooms. “Bye!” We yelled to one another, not unafraid of what was to come. As soon as I entered I was hit in the face–BLAM–with the same old lady bodies as before, but this time completely nude. Naked women were everywhere, zipping in and out of rows of lockers like they owned the place. I just stood there, bamboozled and partly ashamed of my bashfulness and the naive concept of the female form I had once held in my mind. As per instruction of a sign in both English and Korean, and to my complete and utter chagrin, I took off my sandals immediately upon entering. I was barefoot on the same tile floor as hundreds of other ladies, who, pardon the assumption, did not seem to be hailing from the hygienic upper crust of society. Not that I’m a classist, I just think my mind would have been a little more at ease had I been in the presence of more pedicured toes and fewer ingrown toenails. I tried not to look at the feet. Or the fupas. And in the process didn’t figure out how to open my locker for about 15 minutes.

I kept my swimsuit on and left my iphone in the locker. All the women who weren’t stark raving naked were adorned in pink scrubs, the spa castle “uniform.” I tried to enter the bath section to sample the heated indoor pools and showers, but I was abruptly stopped. Apparently the low cut Ralph Lauren one-piece was far too much clothing for the bath area, as was any clothing at all. I was expected to share a jacuzzi tub with 5 other naked women, and not to shame any body of any form, but I just couldn’t stomach inhabiting the same body of water with a variety of strangers’ flappy unkempt pubic areas sans some physical barrier. I returned to my locker and put on my Uniform.

I walked up the stairs, barefoot and wide eyed, ready to see what the rest of the Castle had in store. I met Reid on the second level. His uniform, naturally, was baby blue. 

The second level of Spa Castle is mostly chairs and tables, small dining tables and large coffee tables surrounded by benches, and a huge buffet piled with food I wouldn’t dare touch with a ten-foot pole. Heaps of cold noodles, iodine soaked shrimp from god knows where, and mounds of vegetables gleamed under the neon heat lamp. We vowed not to partake…despite the uniformed castle-goers circling the buffet in a hungry mob, we were pretty sure it was a 12-dollar trap. The second floor also had massage chairs, which we attempted to use but learned we had to purchase a ticket in the Spa Castle Starbucks first. We decided to get some water. What could be weird or confusing about that?

The water coolers in the Spa Castle “food court,” for lack of a better term, are just like your water coolers at work. Except instead of cups, the Castle provides paper envelopes for your drinking pleasure. Yes, envelopes. Like the paper bags your happy meal french fries come in, but only about half as wide. They had Korean writing on them, so the only way we were able to discern at first if we were actually expected to drink out of these was by watching the other patrons. Ok…wait for it…yep these are to be used as cups. They are rendered ineffective after about one use, so we just stood there refilling tiny paper bag after paper bag, taking shots of water. Custodians swept dirt and discarded vegetables into piles and took their time dust-panning them up. After about the forth envelope and narrowly missing a green bean and dust pile with our feet, we decided to check out the saunas.

The saunas were by far my favorite part of the experience. I’m not usually a fan of hot things, but we were extremely hungover so I thought this the perfect detox. Each sauna had it’s own little theme. There was the Infrared Sauna, the Salt Sauna, the Jade Sauna, Some Other Type of Sauna, and even a cold sauna for when you get sick of choking to death on your own perspiration. 

After sufficiently sweating our asses off we were ready to move on to the pools. The rooftop pool situation was really what had attracted us to spa castle to begin with.

 

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Of course, it was completely crowded to the brim. The main hot tub couldn’t handle a single additional person, and the pools were just like every other pool in the summer–overrun with children. The best part was the array of different water massage sitting areas dotted around the edge of the pool. There was one area in particular where two extremely powerful jets would crisscross behind you and hit each of your shoulder blades, nearly knocking you the fuck out. It was the least relaxing sensation on the planet, and hilarious to observe, as each person winced while having their back muscles torn to shreds and over-chlorinated water shot into their nasal passage ways. So far, Spa Castle was hilarious, disgusting, and …kind of great?

In accordance with this theme, the indoor pool and jacuzzi area boasted a swim-up bar and tables where you could enjoy your beverages while sitting in waist-deep water. Of course, this too had its downside. We waited at the waterbar for 20 minutes for virgin piña coladas while aggressive, drunk women berated the bartenders with an assortment of inane comments. The rest of the waterbar customers, groups of ladies who at first glance might be mistaken (or correctly identified) as the cast of Bad Girl’s Club, guzzled their daiquiris and littered the pool with corn syrup drizzle and empty cups. It was around this point I began to refer to our surroundings as Spa Toilet. After finishing our mocktails, fitting in an ample amount of girl talk, and catching a glimpse of the mop water they were using to clean the tile around us, it was time to get the hell out.

But not, of course, before taking a shower. I decided to brave the “bare butts only” section, based on the theory that a little shame was worth returning without a fungus. I shared a shower stall with a Korean woman who was hunched over a bucket and elbow deep scrubbing up her own ass with borax from a gallon jug. I stood there, completely visible to the naked bachelorette parties and clap-exchanges in the Naked Lady Jacuzzis. I left Spa Castle feeling dirtier and less refreshed than when I came in. But at least I’d had some LOLs.

And I had something else to feel good about as well. Spa weirdness or not, I had a steak dinner from the Something Something Saloon and a trip to TJ Maxx with my name on it. We ordered a bloomin onion to share and a Saloon Special for each of us. In a Saloon Special you get two meat choices plus a side for 17 bucks. So naturally, we got a rib eye and a rack of ribs each, with sides of mashed potatoes, and thoroughly cleaned our plates. We sampled the wears at TJ Maxx and called our mothers while browsing bargain cutlery. I bought a massively discounted Ralph Lauren down feather pillow and peeped the inexplicable abundance of Carolina Panthers memorabilia in the College Point Target. For a minute we were sure we’d entered a wormhole and had actually been transported to NC, but I also don’t really know what a wormhole does and we were clearly just delirious from our active day. At 8PM a taxi picked us up from the Starbucks next door.

I spent the following day battling a stubborn gas bubble, that towards the end of the night got so painful I was hunched over in the fetal position trying to get myself to poop. If this were Sex and the City, we’d transition scenes here with a V.O.: and from fetal position, to fecal position…. Cut to: me buckled over on a toilet with a thermometer in my mouth. I called out of work and guzzled ginger ale and club soda until I passed out. The next day, while burning through old episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, it happened. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I, Kat St. Kat, pooped the hell out of my pants. Laugh it up. I certainly did.

After 24 hours of hell had passed, I forced myself to suck it up (literally) and brave a day at work. That night, in my sleep, it happened again. If you’re wondering what it’s like to shit yourself twice in one week, just know the second time is not nearly as amusing.

This all happened a month ago, and I’m still not sure whether to blame the bloomin’ onion or my dip in the probably virus-ridden Spa Toilet. Since then I’ve really been working to get my dignity back. I hit the club a couple times to show off my post-stomach flu body (pretty sure I lost 3 pounds and gained back 10), and I had my first improv show this past Saturday. It wasn’t the best show ever, but it wasn’t the worst. And if I’ve learned anything from improv, it’s that worrying about your dignity is a waste of time. Even if everything goes to shit, it can still be pretty fuckin’ funny.

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