HALLOWEEN HORROR: TRUE CRIME EDITION 

HALLOWEEN HORROR: TRUE CRIME EDITION 

Content warning: this post discusses murder, sexual assault and other violent crimes that may be disturbing or triggering to some. 

Listen up, noobs! While you’re busy watching Night of the Living Nightmare of the Lambs again this Halloween, you’re missing out on the real scary shit. I’m talkin about the stuff that gives me horrible, realistic nightmares about being kidnapped and murdered on an almost nightly basis and the reason I’m paranoid about living alone….say it with me—TRUE CRIME.

That’s right. The subgenre of documentary film and tv dedicated to kidnappings, murders, cults, and all the other fucked up shit that humans are capable of. But wait! If this stuff gives me nightmares, then why do I love it? Well, first of all, the nightmares can’t be blamed on true crime entirely—I’m sure the massive dog piles of food I eat at 11pm every night have something to do with that. Aside from that, I’m not really sure! But I figure it can be attributed to a few factors:

-I love solving mysteries. I dig logic puzzles, riddles and other trickery that require me to put pieces together in a productive way to find a solution. This is also why I make a great leader in an office setting and deserve a raise.

-Violent criminals scare me and I like to see them get caught. I am not a violent person. The only time I’ve ever really hit someone was when I headbutted a friend in the face during a really bad acid trip/drinking binge combo five years ago and I wanted to kill myself afterward. People who hurt other people fucking suck and I like to see that shit handled. 

-Violent criminals fascinate me because they are so wildly irrational and in addition to being an armchair investigator and armchair forensic scientist, I am also an armchair psychiatrist. One of my favorite pastimes is watching crime documentaries and guessing which personality disorders the perp is afflicted by. I have so many skills and I’m fun to hang out with. 

-I find it cathartic to externalize my anxieties about death, injury, loneliness, the dark and other people in general by observing my worst nightmares. It also puts my stupid, nonsense worries in perspective by reminding me that I’m living in an ocean of psychopaths so it might not be the worst thing in the WORLD that no one laughed at my joke earlier. 

-The justice system can’t be trusted either and I want to stay woke. A lot of the time these are stories where initial investigation was handled poorly, tainted or deeply biased in some way. And that’s not even mentioning the docs that surround a case where a specific person was unfairly targeted or even framed with no honor of presumed innocence to begin with.

Yes, true crime is ethically slippery. Some argue that it makes a spectacle of the victim and what happened to them. I can’t completely disagree with that. I do think, for what it’s worth, that most true crime fans watch out of concern, fascination and the desire to be in-the-know, and not as just superficial entertainment. Does that make it ok? I don’t know man I just live here!

For those who do choose to watch, I encourage you to think critically about the biases not only in the storytelling but also in the case itself. I never take a documentary’s conclusion at face value, and I don’t think you should either. No one ever knows for sure what really happened, and no one is qualified to make that decision except the jury. And even they get it wrong sometimes. So I’m just saying, maybe don’t start a Burke Ramsey Did It blog or become BFFs with Amanda Knox just because you saw some TV show. That’s all I’m saying! 

But by all means, watch the hell out of that shit. 

Anyway, without further ado…

ALL THE BEST TRUE CRIME I CAN THINK OF IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER 

Forensic Files


Aka the longest running true crime series of all time! At least they used to say that. I don’t know if it’s still true. I have seen almost every episode of Forensic Files. Peter Thomas the God narrates as experts in ballistics, DNA, blood spatter, and pretty much anything you can think of track down an obviously STUPID person who committed a heinous crime and left evidence behind. Because of the science, I feel confident they usually catch the right person, and that helps me sleep at night. The reenactments can be really fuckin bad but who doesn’t love that?

Making a Murderer


Almost every millennial alive has to have seen this by now, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. The Netflix original series follows the case against Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach, all the holes in the prosecutors’ argument and the fucked up police work of the Manitowoc County cops, and how that may have led to one (or more!) wrongful convictions. This documentary sheds light on the rampant abuse of power in our justice system and how folks of low income and poor education are disadvantaged and manipulated. Side note: What happened to Steven Avery happens to people of color every day so maybe Netflix can make a doc about that next #blacklivesmatter

The Jinx


Robert Durst! Now there’s a character for ya. Basically this series is about a (possible mentally ill) super super rich dude who may have killed his wife and two other people (or was it 3?) in the wild ride that’s been his life. This series is the flip side of Making a Murderer: when you’re rich, no matter how guilty, your lawyers can work all KINDS of magic. This show is riveting as hell and also happens to have one of the greatest television endings of…all time, probably. 

Cropsey


Legend has it a child killer named CROPSEY lived in the woods somewhere in New York and would take kids who were bad….it was essentially just boogeyman lore, but these documentarians wanted to see if it held any truth in its origins. In their investigation, they come across the story of Andre Rand, a convicted kidnapper. There’s a lot of fucked up details in this doc, the worst of which in my opinion is the archival footage of the deplorable mental asylum at which Rand was a patient. You remember in American Horror Story season 2 when Sara Paulson’s character tries to film an exposé of the conditions at Briarcliff? This footage is so much like that I believe they based the AHS storyline on it. I actually recommend fast forwarding through that part.

Killer Legends


When you’re done with Cropsey you can hop on this one by the same director. It tells the true stories that inspired famous urban legends. “The Hookman,” “The Candy Man,” “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs,” and “The Killer Clown.” Recognize any of these? This Halloween, the story of “The Candy Man” is especially relevant since, as you’ll find out, the urban legend of the poisoned Halloween candy went a little different IRL than we were told…

OJ Made in America


This colossal five-part 30 for 30 special has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And that’s because it’s got EVERYTHING. Not only is it chock full of the drama, gore and media frenzy the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman are infamous for, but it goes above and beyond to tell the story of OJ Before The Murders–a man my generation never really knew. It also explores in depth the social climate both nationally and in LA from when OJ was born all the way to the 90s, and how being black shaped, or didn’t shape, his identity as a celebrity. This context for the crimes is essential to put into perspective the divisive national reaction to the tragedies. I’m still in the middle of this one, but I can’t wait to finish it. (Note: This documentary contains disturbing crime scene photos and video footage of police brutality. All the docs on this list contain graphic images to a degree, but I felt the need to mention this one specifically because I was extra affected by it.)

30 for 30: The Price of Gold 


This one isn’t a murder, but it’s one of my favorite stories ever: Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan. This crime is pretty famous, so I think you know how it goes. But what I love about this documentary is its insight into Tonya’s childhood struggles, her abusive mom, the cycle of abuse that continued into her adult life, and the role it played in the crime itself. Y’all, I just love figure skating. The outfits are so good. And skaters are so god damn graceful. So you can imagine why the world couldn’t help but gawk when an ice princess basically turned into a mob boss before their eyes. Fascinating. Just fascinating. Oh, and just a reminder, this happened TWO WEEKS after the OJ murders. Which I’m pretty sure was the same month I fell and scraped my knee in the parking lot of my family’s town house. And I like, have a scar from that. The summer of ’94 was so crazy!

Team Foxcatcher


You tired of delusional athletes yet? No? Great! This one is about John du Pont, just your average kajillionnaire with a few mental illnesses. He was so obsessed with wrestling and other olympic sports that he decided to open a training center/compound dedicated to athletic training. Was he actually an athlete? Nope not really. He was just a rich guy with delusions of grandeur. Delusions that ended up driving him to…you guessed it…a murder. Of husband, father and actual athlete Dave Shultz. It’s a sad story that serves as a reminder that rich charming people are scary and can’t be trusted. At least that’s what I gathered from it. 

Crimes of the Century


The DC snipers, the Unabomber, Waco, Oklahoma City and more…this miniseries takes you back in time to the crimes that rocked the 20th Century. I was either not alive or in single digits when all of the occurred so it was good to get the details. These don’t follow the typical true crime model of the Sneaky Scary Mystery You’ve Never Heard Of. They’re more the Giant Crisis Covered Ceaselessly by the Media variety. Everyone should know about them, so worth a watch. 

Crazy Love


If you’re considering being in a relationship, this documentary will change your mind! It’s about a woman whose psycho boyfriend hired men to throw lye in her face when she least expected it, causing permanent scarring and blindness. Why would he do such a thing? Well, she didn’t want to be with him anymore. What was he supposed to do, just move on with his life like a normal person and not disfigure this poor woman? C’mon. The twist, of course, is that the two get back together. How, why, and the circumstances of which I will let you find out on your own. 

Amanda Knox


This documentary, released on Netflix last month, is more about the media sensationalism and unfair trial that led to Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollicito’s stints in Italian prison than it is about about the murder of Meredith Kercher. Maybe you remember this case – I was a freshman in college at the time when Amanda and Meredith, also in college, were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. When Meredith was murdered, all fingers pointed to Amanda as the killer. But why? Well, there were a lot of factors at play. An obsessed DA, shoddy police investigation, and some seriously irresponsible journalism…just to name a few. The documentary lets Amanda tell her story, from the time of the murder through her trial, jail time, acquittal, retrial and appeal, and shows just how terrifying and helpless it feels to be presumed guilty by the entire world. Was she completely innocent of any and all crimes relating to the murder of Meredith Kercher? I mean, who’s to say?! Like Making a Murderer, this documentary seems to be less about proving someone’s total innocence than it is about the fairness of the case, so don’t get too carried away. I will say, it sure is a lot scarier of a story if she didn’t do it. Because then it could happen to any of us.  

The Case of JonBenet Ramsey


The JonBenet case is one of the most famous cold cases certainly of my lifetime, but possibly of ALL time. You must remember her pretty face plastered on the cover of every National Enquirer in the late 90s and beyond, but if you don’t know what happened, 6 year old JonBenet was murdered under some seriously suspicious circumstances on the day after Christmas in 1996, and it really, really looked like the parents were involved. But they were never charged, and the case was never solved. By the end of Part 1 of this two-part CBS documentary, it’s clear who the producers believe is the murderer, and their argument is pretty convincing. Do I believe this documentary is the highest form of journalism? No. While it features no shortage of expert criminologists, it’s so heavily produced and often corny that at times I was embarrassed for the hosts. Aside from the wacky bullshit factor, this is still the best documentary I’ve seen on the case. This is one of the most interesting murders I know of, and I really want it to be solved. But after watching this, that feels like kind of a longshot. 

The Imposter


This is far and away one of my favorite true crime documentaries. The story is so crazy I don’t even want to tell you what happens. Without saying too much, a Texas family’s son goes missing, and years later he returns…but is it really him? This doc will give you chills at what people’s brains are capable of, and leave you speculating HARD on what really happened to poor Nicholas Barclay in 1994. I know I have a theory. Share yours with me when you’re done. 

If you’re not already too freaked out, you should have your Halloween weekend fully planned by now. Just add Chinese food, keep wikipedia open on your phone, and prepare to solve some freakin’ crimes. But beware, the true crime obsession is a slippery slope. And you may never sleep again. 

Advertisements

13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

13 Horror Movies to Watch and Talk Shit About This Halloween

Every October it’s tradition that I attempt to watch one horror movie for every night in the month. And every year, this one included, I make it about halfway down the list. I really tried to do better, but like most people I’m limited to after-work hours and weekends, and it turns out it’s pretty hard to watch a movie every single day. I did my best.

Because I was limited what I could stream on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, find on demand, or purchase using someone else’s itunes account, not every movie I watched had excellent ratings. In my house, we’ve established a general rule is that if the rating on Rotten Tomatoes is over 70%, then the movie is worth watching. If it’s free AND we’ve heard of it, you can’t really ask for much more than that.

Here are the 13 horror movies I watched this month. Some great, some not so great, all fun to talk during.

1. The Babadook, 2014 (Rating 98%) Ok, this one is kind of cheating because technically I watched it in September when James and I were in the Catskills. If you can find one, a log cabin in the woods is the perfect setting to watch this Australian movie about an exhausted single mother and her son who are both struggling emotionally to deal with their shitty lives (and each other) so much that they become haunted by a mysterious children’s book (or is it?) This movie is a nice combo of jump scares, suspense and psychological thrills. The scariest part, though, was after the movie ended, when James woke me up in the middle of the night by saying “Baba…dook…dook…dook” in his sleep. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen to you. The Babadook is currently on Netflix

2. 28 Days Later, 2003 (Rating 87%)I first saw 28 Days Later in ninth grade and proclaimed it “the scariest movie I’d ever seen.” This wasn’t saying much as I was only 14, but it wasn’t saying nothing either as at the time I was  very much horror-obsessed. I’d pretty much been raised on the John Carpenter Halloween films and had seen every installment of the Friday the 13th franchise by the time I was 8 years old. I was even familiar with zombie movies, but they were the slow, dragging Night of the Living Dead variety and not the animalistic, spitting/growling/running faster than humanly possible breed you see in this movie. Watching it now, I’m way more desensitized to the whole zombie thing (thanks, better part of the last decade) so it hardly feels as shocking as it did at the time. But it’s still pretty darn intense. And the whole Cillian Murphy bewitching eyes/luscious lips combo doesn’t hurt either. 28 Days Later is currently on Netflix.

3. Scream, 1996 (Rating 78%)This trilogy is classic as fuck, which is why they make up three of the movies on my list. Again, they were films I hadn’t seen since the days I used to crush Blockbuster VHS. Re-watching them today, I was legitimately confused that something with so many levels of irony could have ever been parodied as much as it was. But what do you expect from the Wayans brothers, I guess? Scream is so meta that of course it’s Wes Craven, although maybe you didn’t know he was the man behind it all (I didn’t either until recently). If you haven’t watched them recently, give them a revisit. At least the first one, if for no other reason than to watch Rose McGowan be perfect, even while being bisected. She should really be on this poster.

4. Scream 2, 1997 (81%)

 A killer is haunting your fav teens again, but this time – they’re in college! AND SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR IS HERE. And a movie called Stab just came out about the murders in the first Scream movie. And maybe that movie is inspiring the current murderer?! What do we do?? I guess we just lol in awe that Portia de Rossi is in this movie and we never knew!

5. Scream 3, 2000 (36%)
This one is shittier than the others, but is still fun and goofy. Plus, my all-time love Parker Posey has a main role as the actress that plays Gale Weathers in the on-screen movie version of the movie. How could I not at least give it a chance? That, and sometimes you just have to watch a movie to remember what the year 2000 looked like. Wow, and we thought we were so advanced.
All three Scream movies are currently on Netflix. 

6. Rob Zombie’s Halloween, 2007 (25%)

Fuck this movie. Obviously since it had terrible reviews anyway I shouldn’t have expected to enjoy it. But I was drinking and Hannah was bleaching Reid’s hair in the kitchen so it’s possible I was affected by the fumes. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a bastardization of the original that focuses more on grotesque, violent images, and fucked up drama than anything truly scary or even suspenseful. The whole time I was like “I just want everyone in this movie to die,” except during the painfully long, gratuitous rape scene, when I myself wanted to die. I think I watched this on Amazon Prime, but it doesn’t really matter.

7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare1994 (77%)
If you’ve already seen Scream and the original Nightmare on Elm Street, you know what Wes Craven is about. In the same vein, New Nightmare plays with the blurred lines between reality, fiction, and the world in our dreams. While this movie is hilariously dated and ridiculous, I could see how it may have been somewhat groundbreaking (no pun intended – there’s an earthquake in the film!) in pre-Scream days as a self-referential horror. Heather Langenkamp plays herself, as the actress who starred in the original Nightmare, trying to fight off Freddie Kruger – who’s escaped from the movie world and is haunting her and her son IN REAL LIFE! It’s definitely got some layers to it, and almost enough camp to excuse the melodrama/all the pickled oak in that damn house. New Nightmare is currently on Netflix.

8. It Follows, 2015 (96%)
Widely regarded the best horror movie of the year/in fucking ever, It Follows is the story of a teen who contracts a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED HAUNTING. It’s a pretty unique story, the actors are great, and it’s beautifully shot. The concept is so thrilling, in fact, that my brother and I stopped the movie halfway through to hypothesize on how the mystery would be solved. Without spoiling anything, the end didn’t exactly meet our expectations. Or the whole third act, really. But plot holes aside, I was legitimately terrified almost the entire time, and very visually stimulated. And that’s pretty much what makes a horror movie great. It Follows is on iTunes, aka you gotta pay. But it’s worth it.

9. The Nightmare, 2015 (71%)This “horror movie” is actually a documentary on night terrors (and the big, faceless monsters that attack you during them). It’s a concept that, even after watching the movie, I don’t really find all that scary. It kinda seemed like most of the people they interviewed were a little out of touch with reality to begin with, some positing that they were observing another dimension in their terrors or being actually visited by aliens – and the director, who suffers from these nightmares himself, validates these concerns. Cue a lot of eye-rolling on my part. One thing I found pretty strange/interesting though is how common these visions are, and how similar they are from person to person. Some of these hallucinations are even thought to have inspired horror movie conventions, like the mysterious scary man in a hat that comes out of the shadows (Freddie Kruger? The Babadook?) or the alien face (you know the one. It’s identical to a 90s temporary tattoo). The Nightmare is available on Netflix

10. Honeymoon, 2014 (70%)

I can’t tell you too much about what this is about without giving anything away. Suffice it to say, two newlyweds go on their honeymoon to a cabin in the woods, and one of them starts acting…real weird. It seems like an intense indie drama until towards the end, when you find yourself yelling “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!” I actually really liked this movie, and thought Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) was super captivating and great at being strange as hell. Watch this one, if just for the shock factor. Honeymoon is available on Netflix

11. Oculus, 2013 (73%)

This one is about two siblings seeking revenge on an antique mirror that possess people. The movie begins by unloading the backstory and exposition in a tangled mess, and flips between past and present so much that James and I kept calling it Oculus 2. I get what they were trying to do, and there’s a substantial amount of jump scares with a few solid mindfucks here and there, but they aren’t held together with enough logic for me to call the movie “good.” Still, I recommend watching it because it’s SO fun to make fun of (I mean, what’s up with the main characters’ hair?). Then afterward you can watch a very satisfying youtube video that lists all the things wrong with the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV4MnmOi5KI 

Oculus is available on Netflix

12. Let the Right One In, 2008 (98%)

Finally, something actually worth it’s weight in good reviews. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie partly about vampires and partly about young love, and somehow manages to handle these both in a non-corny way (can you believe it??) In some ways, it’s more of an indie drama/love story than a “scary” movie, however, it has some pretty badass attack scenes and one spontaneous combustion, so it served up the excitement I craved. Also, it’s just freakin’ gorgeous to look at. Best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine. Let the Right One In is currently on Netflix

13. We Are What We Are, 2013 (85%)

Ugh, gotta love a horror that centers around hyper religious psychos. As a fan of cult stories and talented young actresses, I loved this movie about two sisters trying to escape their family’s…unconventional…tradition of cannibalism. It was tough to watch at times, but I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. And I wasn’t disappointed. Also, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers are mesmerizing and I want them to be my new best friends. Hooray for human meat! 

~~~

So, tomorrow night after your Halloween party inevitably disappoints, take off your wig, plop down on the couch and queue up one of these spooky movies. Then call me up after so we can make fun of them! 

Happy Halloween!

Scare tactics

IMG_1114

Did you know that excessive stress can make your hormones to go off the rails, causing you to PMS for a whole month at a time , complete with aggression and bleeding and the obligatory teary-eyed question, “WHY AM I ACTING LIKE THIS?” According to my doctor, that’s what happened to me last month. At first I was relieved at the news. I was, after all, sitting half naked on a gynecologist’s table having just opened my legs for an emergency check up after spending the whole day in the fetal position from cramp pain. “Stress” was probably the tamest in the long list of horrifying answers I could have received as to why this was happening smack in the middle of a menstrual cycle. But then I was confused.

“I don’t feel particularly stressed,” I said to her. “or rather, any more stressed than usual.” Even though I’d been circling the drain in an identity crisis I figured that crisis had been going on long enough to not necessarily warrant a body apocalypse.

“Have you had any major changes in your life recently?”

“Well, I did lose my job.”

“That’s so stressful!”

Not really, I thought. I mean, I’ve been spending most of my days sleeping until ten, working out, writing, running errands and watching reality shows. I go to sketch class on Mondays and a few days a week maybe I’ll do some freelance work. Technically I should feel pretty relaxed. But she was a little bit right. There was this underlying fear in me that I wasn’t going to figure things out and I was at the beginning of a lifelong disappointment to myself and my family and everyone I know. I had even started taking some of those insecurities out on James.

“Hey babe! What did you do today?”

“What did I do today? Why? Because I’m unemployed? Are you calling me lazy?

I’ll just blame that on the hormones. That’s what they’re there for, right? Is that anti-feminist? Shh…

So maybe I was stressed. Maybe somehow pounding the treadmill and doing kickboxing workouts every day after months of using my Planet Fitness keychain as nothing more than an accessory was making my body do crazy shit. Maybe watching all those seasons of Flipping Out in succession on Hulu was giving me vicarious anger problems and OCD. And if  TV can cause you stress, then certainly all the horror movies and murder shows weren’t helping either.

I’m not just a sucker for a theme. It goes far beyond that. I live for a theme.I base my life around themes. So when Fall rolled around this year James and I decided to spend the entire month of October terrifying ourselves without any breaks. Like many people our age group, we are limited to what’s streaming and what we can get away with buying On Demand at our parent’s houses. In three weeks we watched You’re NextHouse of the Devil, The Blair Witch Project, The Pact, Insidious 2, V/H/S, Eraserhead, Silent HouseMama, American Psycho, and Single White Female (which is more of a thriller but spoiler alert: she kills the dog so we were horrified). Even though some of those totally sucked, it didn’t make all the murder/torture/abuse imagery any less disturbing. We also watched the documentaries Cropsey (about a child murder who lives in the woods on Staten Island), Crazy Love (a man throws acid in his girlfriend’s face so no one else will ever love her and it works), I Escaped a Cult (religious fervor is scarier than the devil) and of course, the classic Forensic Files, 40 episodes of which are streaming on Netflix. We’re still watching it almost every night and every night I have a nightmare that I’m being chased down by a stalker with a knife. But I’m not stressed.

Mama was the one we watched at James’ parents’ place in Long Island. We spent the night there one Friday because we had plans to borrow the car the next morning to drive to Six Flags. I’d always wanted to go, especially for Fright Fest. I guess I fancied myself a thrill seeker, even knowing full well I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in over 10 years and my fear of heights was growing with age. After the movie at about 1 AM I burst into tears – I was overcome with all these different types of terror. To my credit, I’d had two beers and I’d finished a movie that was just as much about love and motherhood as it was about ghosts, so I was feeling very sensitive. We were also home alone, and if I’d learned a single thing from any of these movies, it’s that “home alone in the suburbs” equals certain death. So I was anxious. I had left my cats at the apartment in Queens (with my good friend and roommate Austin, but still) – what if something happened to them? What’s more, I was suddenly feeling very nervous about this whole roller coaster thing. The craziest theme park I’d ever been to was Busch Gardens. They have lederhosen at Busch Gardens. I was going to die, and it was going to be in New Jersey.

The next day, I didn’t die. But I was pretty  much right about everything – Busch Gardens is to Six Flags as The Muppet Show is to Jurassic Park. I nutted up before my first coaster and was entirely unprepared for just how much of my life was about to flash before my eyes. I later found out that Nitro, the first roller coaster I went on that day, is about 60 feet higher than the tallest roller coaster I’d ever been on which, by the way, was in 2003. I quickly realized by the second ride that the people in charge of operating these machines were my age or younger, and that everyone in line with me must have some sort of invincibility complex (which I assume is a function of being a teenager, or being from New Jersey, or both). Suffering from a hyper-perception of my own mortality, I was very unsettled almost the entire time, made worse by the fact that it was one of the most popular days in Six Flags history and the lines were excruciatingly long. I think we went on almost every ride once, and by about 5 pm I was ready to go. We just had one more thing to cross off our list – Kingda Ka.

The roller coaster Kingda Ka is problematic for multiple reasons. The first is that is plays on an ambiguous jungle theme that I’m sure is offensive to people of certain ethnicities. The decor of that section of the park is described by Wikipedia as being Nepalese, but one of the rides, a free fall directly under Kingda Ka is called Zumanjaro which I guess is supposed to be African inspired. It’s basically a mishmash of cultural appropriation, but like I said, I’ve been to Busch Gardens. I expected this sort of thing. They even have wild animals on zoo-like display, which I abhorred with my entire being. No animal should have to deal with that many screaming Americans hopped up on sugar and, well, animal fat.

But the worst part of Kingda Ka, of course, is Kingda Ka itself. At 456 feet tall and with hydraulics that shoot you from zero to 128 MPH in 3.5 seconds, it’s the tallest and the second fastest roller coaster in the world. It looks like this.
kingda ka

That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a photoshop prank. The guy who designed Kingda Ka probably did it as a joke and then passed it around the office and got so many laughs they eventually decided, fuck it, why shouldn’t we do this? Why not give people the option to torture themselves in such a way? The best part is, sometimes it doesn’t go fast enough to get over the crest, so it ROLLS ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN to the starting point. I was overcome with a feeling of  “Nah.”

IMG_1141

I pretty much only went on the thing for street cred. I figured there was no point in spending all that money on a Six Flags ticket (they cost more than I care to admit) if I was going to let fear get the best of me. So we waited in line…and we waited…and after an hour and half we figured we might as well keep waiting. I must have watched the ride at least 50 times while waiting in that line, all the while sweating bullets and contemplating the best funeral arrangements for my soon to be mangled remains. By the time we got up to the loading area it had been three hours and it was pitch dark out. My heart was beating in my throat. James, who’d been on it before, was laughing at me. This was a metaphor, I told myself, for being brave in life and going for things that you want (even though I didn’t even want this). We rolled out to the launching area and I tried not to puke. Before I knew it my back was pushed against the seat and we were shooting up into the stars, and then shooting back down again, face first into the fucking parking lot. By the time it was over, in not more than fifteen seconds, I was completely in tears. I had cried the whole time, yet somehow I was smiling in the photo they took. Maybe it’s one of those phenomenons, like why people laugh when they’re being tickled, or maybe I was just so relieved to be alive by the time I got to the photo portion of the ride.

Afterwards, we pushed our way through the crowd of bored 20-year-old part-time zombies and drove home. That was the only thrill I needed for a while.

By the time actual Halloween came around, we decided to do something unrelated to horror entirely and go the cosplay route instead, dressing up as Sterling Archer and Lana Kane.IMG_1343When I was little, I used to love when the power would cut out or the fire alarm would ring or a hurricane would ravage the neighborhood. I considered the flu a luxury. At that age I would take anything that got me out of going to school. I guess that’s sort of the appeal of thrill seeking, that a momentary fear for your actual life is a welcome change from dealing with the mundanity of the every day. I get that. I had an invincibility complex once. I did drugs. I dated a guy with a motorcycle. But things are a little bit different now. I wear my seatbelt, I read the ingredients on the back of the box, and I don’t think I’ll be going skydiving any time soon. I’m too busy trying to make a safe, comfortable life for myself while kind of, maybe trying to be successful someday. Isn’t that scary enough?

SEXUAL ABDUCTION

xmas96
I may be a little late posting these, but seeing as I’m still fumbling around my apartment in a post-holiday haze singing “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas,” I figured the story of the BEST HOLIDAY PARTY OF 2013/EVER IN HISTORY was still appropriate to share.

For those of you who don’t know, I host an annual (two years & going strong!) XXXMAS party along with Jeffrey Scott, Sarah Sassafrass, Boy Reverend and Katy at their home in Raleigh. Last year we had SCURRY XXXMAS, a horror-meets-winter solstice theme that wasn’t really visually embodied beyond Christmas sweaters, sequins, and leaving our Halloween decorations up alongside snowflakes and disco balls. This year, we wanted to take things a bit further. While drunk at my brother’s Martha’s Vineyard home over Thanksgiving, I texted back and forth with Sass about themes, before finally making the Facebook event and broadcasting over Twitter. We decided on XXXMAS: ABDUCTION, where all things extraterrestrial would meet all things festive for a gigantic hometown holiday explosion.

I was certain it would be a great success, but not without some stress on my part. For an entire year after Scurry, I could not manage to live down the fact that I had fallen asleep early and missed most of my own soiree. People I didn’t even know were giving me shit about it well into the Fall of ’13, a humiliation that was only tempered when someone I’d never met before invited me to my own party this year (it was just like that episode of My So-Called Life where Rayanne used all her money to throw herself a birthday bash except I didn’t OD in the end). Although this year I would be arriving in Raleigh four days prior to the event with ample time to prepare, I had my plate pretty full with family issues and, you know, nail appointments and going to Dave & Busters. I had already purchased my look (on discount, with the help of Moe Dabbagh) and had it sent to my mother’s Cary residence, but I was unneccesarily worried about the decor. Two days before the event, I showed up to 3801 to find unassembled bubble wrap all over the floor, some kind of PVC archway in the hall, and paint and paper everywhere. Half finished gigantic alien head drawings were draped on the couch. I was eating a Cook Out corndog and spewing out complaints in my signature “I’m joking but not” tone, and I was pretty sure Sass was *this close* to blinding me with spray adhesive.

“IT WILL BE GREAT. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.”

Sarah and I, as distinctly nonverbal and verbal artists respectively, often have a hard time imagining the other’s vision.

“We’re going to use this paper to make a giant circle and be the space portal,” she half explained while stomping around the house draped in twinkly lights and waving scissors. Whatever you say, Sarah.

And damn if I didn’t underestimate her again. Let it be known that in the midst of a full time work schedule, not to mention her final exam week, Sass still managed to spend 2 days cleaning and crafting to make the house into a full-on art installation. The Reverend’s PVC and bubble wrap creation had fully transformed the hallway into a Cosmic Ice Tunnel, and with the help of a few extras from me (a fog machine, an outdoor set up, 150 autographed extra copies of my Christmas card, and colorful lightbulb replacements in every room) as well as a few extra hands (Katy and Sass’s bro included), we managed to complete the setup by 8 pm on the night of the party…just before the first guests started barreling through the doors in packs. With the halls fully decked and LuxePosh on her decks, we were ready to leave this planet behind. Photos by Sarah Sassafrass for your viewing pleasure.
(Warning: there are lots. When Sass’ website goes public I will just link to it, but for now, enjoy the mass)
xmas3
xmas4
xmas5xmas6xmas8
xmas12xmas14xmas15xmas20xmas21xmas23xmas24xmas25xmas28xmas29xmas30xmas31xmas32xmas33xmas34xmas35xmas38xmas39xmas40xmas41xmas43xmas45xmas49xmas52xmas54xmas56xmas58xmas60xmas61xmas65xmas67xmas71xmas72xmas75xmas65xmas77xmas78xmas79xmas84xmas89xmas90xmas91xmas95xmas97xmas102xmas104xmas105xmas106xmas110xmas114xmas117xmas120xmas125xmas126xmas127xmas129xmas130xmas131xmas133xmas137xmas143

I didn’t exactly take a census, but I want to say…everyone fabulous in the entire state was there? I think we stumbled into a time warp or something, because the clocks were saying 5 am but I felt like the party had just begun. The next morning, feeling unexpectedly spritely, Katy and I went to Chipotle, and then Bojangles, and back home to eat in the wreckage. Sass was nowhere to be found and there was trash and barf everywhere. I was using pieces of painted bubble wrap as mini surfborts to slide across the slimy floors. My body suit was in a tangled mess and my autographs were strewn across the muddy yard.

As the sun was beginning to set on the second shortest day of the year, we finally located Sass. To this day, though, she prefers she’d remained abducted.
IMG_4350

It’s The Little Swags

IMG_2086
When I feel like I haven’t done anything blog-worthy in recent history, I usually like to go through the photos on my phone and figure out what exactly I have been doing. According to the last month’s worth of jpegs, 98% of it has been taking pictures of my butt. The rest showed a series of small joys in a phase defined solely by my work schedule and my lack of energy to do anything else (not a great feeling).
IMG_1548_2IMG_1552_2

I wonder if 24 is the last acceptable year for one’s greatest pleasure to be trans fats before they’re to be held accountable for their assumed knowledge of basic health and dietary standards. Possibly. There’s some obvious irony in the fact that I was a vegetarian for 4 years and even worked at a health food store, and that now if it doesn’t come in a box with a side of ketchup I’m probably not that stoked to eat it. I have a lot of theories about the correlation between poor nutrition as a novelty and the listless anti-intellectualism in post-“yes we can” America but I won’t get into that. Maybe someday I’ll write a book called The Politics of Dietary Yoloing. Anyway, I eat Mcdonalds. And I recently had a Slim Jim for the first time since senior year of high school and I could swear I saw God’s vagina. My mother also sent me a gigantic box of Welch’s Fruit Snacks, something I used to refuse to eat due to their gelatin content, but it turns out they’re pretty delicious. What is wrong with me? Is out of sight, out of mind my new food philosophy? Have I become so distracted with the stresses of the workday that my only emotional release is in the consumption of animal byproduct and MSG? There’s a reason Meat Cat came to Liz Lemon in a dream.
IMG_1683

IMG_1949 IMG_1764

Since all my friends here have similar schedules, sometimes we don’t see each other for a while. The glory of social media has allowed many of my most treasured interactions to be with people hundreds of miles away, like writing with Alex over google hangout, texting Patrick about our post-ironic suburban ex-pat suicidal tendencies, or getting snapchats from my favorite friend I’ve never met Patrickthepuma (what’s his real name again?)

IMG_1775

IMG_1876

When I’m bored and alone and have no one to textflirt with (which hasn’t been the case for a few weeks now, in the interest of Minimum Disclosure) sometimes I check my Ok Cupid messages, but I rarely find anything more romantically viable than interactions like these.

IMG_1757

IMG_1782

If Dating Site Humor is something that strikes yer fancy, you should check out my cool friend Matt Starr’s Tinder Art. I actually met him on the app when he offered to make me a new profile picture for Facebook, that ended up looking like this.

IMG_1615

The art I’ve been working on has been a performance project called Morale and Survival, where I attempt to find a will to live in sporadic sobriety and mid-week overcaffeination. It’s hardly worked, so I’ve been finding external pleasures like this screenshot collage I made in the middle of the night of one of my depressing tweets, and ordering chicken and waffles at work.

IMG_1952 IMG_2034

IMG_2032

IMG_2058
Since I usually try to write about partying and how much fun I’m constantly having, we can’t forget about Halloween. As usual, I was unprepared for the celebration, sitting on a set of half-baked costume ideas. That was, until the day before when I was wandering through Party Fair at closing time and found this gem for 14.99. A sign from the pimp gods, just for me. I would greet the world on Hallow’s Eve as a manifestation of Swag (pictured at top). Timely, appropriate, and with much reusability. Hannah’s last minute idea was Xtina circa the Dirrrty video, and with the help of my bronzer and a Juicy Couture bathing suit skirt I got a Belk’s in 2008 (idkkkk??) I think she pulled it off quite nicely. As it was a weeknight, the plan was to be home before 2 am. I actually was, but because I hadn’t been drinking for a few weeks I was also blackout. Hannah had to tuck me in bed and set my alarms for me, and the following workday was not a pretty picture whatsoever.
IMG_2048IMG_2049

IMG_2063 IMG_2097IMG_2099
Perhaps it was my consistent high stress level or the unplanned drunkenness but the next week I was consumed with an ear ache and a high fever for three days. I went to an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist who removed hard rocks of wax from my ear and gave me a Nasonex prescription before sending me home with a fever of 101. There is nothing I hate more than trying to traverse this city alone with an illness, then returning home to work remotely while trying not to barf on my compy. My only pleasures that week were in the wonton soup delivery from Shen Zhou, and the Papa John’s pizza sent to me by my friend Sawyer, all the way from NC. In Grub We Trust, y’all.
IMG_2294IMG_2298

IMG_2311
Earlier this week, in celebration of the end of mercury retrograde and my dedication to spending the next year of my life in pursuit of my ~true passions~, I decided to get a pretty and kind of stupid tattoo (In the words of John Waters, sometimes stupid and cute /are/ enough). I went with Hannah to Morning Star tattoo on Wyckoff in Bushwick, where the metal is good (if you’re into that sort of thing) and the boys are rly rly cute. I got the letters “nsfw” for obvious reasons, and Hannah got some script in French that she has yet to instagram because idk y.
IMG_2653IMG_2657

IMG_2672IMG_2675

That brings me to a total of three tattoos: a cat, “whatever,” and “nsfw.” And sitting here typing this at my office desk, I don’t think they could be more accurate.

IMG_2207 IMG_2246

some the wiser

IMG_1719The morning after I turned 24 my extensions had turned against me.

Autumns are always a little rough for me. My birthday is in September, which never fails to put me in an existential haze. And no matter how many years I’ve been out of school (three) that feeling of starting a new grade never fully goes away. I start to feel the weight of a change beyond my control. Who was I, who am I, does it really matter… Everything Old starts to die to make room for something New. But that can be beautiful, or so they say.

The week of my 24th birthday was the usual mix of celebration and apprehension, with a short congratulatory period pancaking to an idle anxiety. Sure, I’d accomplished some things in the past year. But what would I do next? I was back on the job hunt, newly single, another year older and this was all sounding far too familiar…

The seasons were refusing to change. I was refusing to stop using my air conditioning. Other people’s lives were advancing all around me and the most exciting things that had happened in my life recently were that my mother had sent me a care package of Kraft mac n cheese and I got a membership at Planet Fitness (a contradiction not lost on me but in fact one that I find representative of my life philosophy. Everything in moderation, sure, but still everything I want). With more time to myself, that is, less time working, I started working out. I realized I was in better shape than I’d thought, and that running is a good way to take out aggression. Plus it burns off the booze! I guess I always knew these things, but if you remember me before I moved to NYC you know I couldn’t run a mile without my heart nearly exploding from my thoracic cavity (I found that word on wikipedia. Did I use it right? I’m not a scientist.) Now I can run like two miles while sexting and still have the energy to masturbate in the shower after. I’m a regular Florence Griffith Joyner.

 me rn

OK, so maybe not. But I still consider it an accomplishment. Let me have this, okay?

Somewhere around the end of last month, Alex and I fell into a lull on our Big Project, the ever-dreaded Writer’s Paralysis leading us both to send each other terribly transparent, self-deprecating gchats from our respective caves of neuroses. I had become pretty irritable by this point, but I think that had something to do with PMS, and as much as I love her, probably something to do with my mom coming to stay the weekend at the end of September. My lack of patience is still something I really need to work on, especially when it comes to someone who does so much for me. I mean, she birthed me, and even though I didn’t deserve it, she bought me these cool knock-off crocs.
IMG_2227

Susan Miller gave us fair warning that October would be rife with hurdles, disappointments, or possibly blessings disguised as the worst fucking thing that ever happened. The jury is still out on the blessings part, but I felt the tension in the air from the very beginning. Granted, I always feel tension at the first of the month because the words “rent day” and “freelancing” go together about as well as Virgo and Aries (that one’s for you, Susan). This time, I had a lot to look forward to, thus a lot of planning and stressing. With grand plans come great expectations and I have to be prepared for every possible outcome.

Every fall (as in twice so far), Sarah Sassafrass, Jeffrey Scott, and Justin aka Boy Reverend come visit me for a handful of days. They’re my fam away from fam, my Team outside of Big Things. When they visited last year, I had the cheapest mattress from Ikea lying directly on my floor, we made a huge mess, and because I started a new job that weekend we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I’d hoped. This time I had the Ikea mattress on an Ikea bed, fun things scheduled for every night of their visit, and I told them to bring they own damn towels. The Monday before they arrived I was feeling equipped for a houseful of guests, but I still didn’t have a job. So I looked on craigslist, found a post I liked for a development associate position at a production company, and applied. I interviewed Wednesday and I felt good about it, but hey, I’d been wrong before. I didn’t hear back the next day, so I decided to say “fucket yolo” and go to Hannah’s salon to get my hair texturized.

IMG_1047_2

It’s always a sight for sore eyes when I see those colorful heads of hair standing at the Starbucks across from the Megabus stop. I was feeling ready to party, we went home and changed for some party, prepared to deal with the continued hiatus of the L train. After drinking at Winston’s until about 1 am and getting a belated birthday present from Sass (a collar that says BITCH), we thought we’d finally hit the street. A walk, a wait, two trains, and another walk later, we arrived at the location of the party, only to see that…it wasn’t there. We had the address right. We were standing in front of it. But the doors were shut and there was no one inside, as far as we could tell. Bummed, drunk, and weirded out, we headed to The Woods to drown our defeat in pickleback shots, but not before seeing who I was pret-ty sure was Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development fame scurrying down the street ahead of us. Despite my confusion at how I always end up at this bar and that I was convinced something must be wrong with me, we actually had a pretty decent two hours. We closed the place down and it was the first time I publicly made out with a stranger since being single. It was not as fun as it sounds. But there was a dog in the bar, so it all came out in the wash, I guess.

IMG_1092_2

Hannah didn’t realize until much later that that was not her boyfriend.

That Friday was a huge milestone for the closet comedy nerd inside me. I had my first improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade, and at 400 bucks a course, this is no small feat. UCB has been a launch pad for many of your favs, and even though it may not be at the top of my Life Goals List to be on Saturday Night Live, I’d probably rank it somewhere in the top 100. But really, as a writer with a “performance background” it’s pretty much always been a dream of mine. So when I went to the training center at 3:30 for my three hour class, I was a little bit nervous. About as nervous as I was this time last year about my topless gogo dancing casting call, that is to say, I felt awkward for about five minutes before breaking the ice and flirting with all the girls. Of course, about halfway through the course I got a call back about that position I interviewed for. I had gotten the job. Yay! But there was just one catch. No! I’d have to be available every day until 6:30 and continuing the class at UCB at this time was a no-go. Fuuuuuck. Of course, I took the job with only slight hesitation, switched out of my UCB class and bore the fees I incurred with gritted teeth.

IMG_1195_2

That night, after buying some new accessories ^ at Patricia Field, I had Jeff dress me in my look for a night at Bossa Nova (the photos of which you will see next year sometime because it takes Sarah that long to edit them, ahem)

Every part of the weekend that I wasn’t in FULL LOOK from head to toe per Jeff’s insistence, I was lounging in bed, moaning off hangovers. We pretty much only got up to eat Popeye’s and go shopping on Knickerbocker, where I showed the gang what Bushwick life is really like, and where Sarah almost shat her pants. My favorite find of the day, and the only thing I could afford, was a teeny tiny “nurses outfit” in the Halloween costume sale section of Shopper’s World, that was really more like a nurse’s bra and slutty nurse’s mini skirt…they wear those in the ER, right? After getting drunk on Evan Williams and sending some of the best sexy photos I’ve ever taken of myself, we went to Passion Lounge for the marriage of Ultra Velvet and Shock Value.  Obviously the whole thing was great until the next morning, when our fish bowled brains had shriveled to raisins and I found a twitter mention from a hater calling me a whore. Sometimes it’s hard being a star.

IMG_1242_2

Because I had scurried over to my ex’s house that night (in a bikini top and socks with my shoes in hand…let’s not talk about it) I spent the next day blazed, walking around in an oversized boy’s t-shirt, a leather peplum, and arch-splitting heels that I couldn’t take off for the sake of The Look. The only saving grace of the entire day, besides waiting in line for 30 minutes to use a piss-stained Starbucks bathroom of course, was the kielbasa sandwich I devoured at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village. It made me glad to be an EX-vegetarian (a refreshing break from kinda feeling guilty all of the time), and made me miss the kolbász my Hungarian gramma used to put in our kapusta. I tried to make a vegan version of this once and it came out SO abominably terrible I felt I’d disgraced my ancestors and vowed never to try it again.

IMG_1260_2Stoner wear/boner wear

After not being able to sleep at all before my first day at work, I spent 8 hours staring into my computer screen like a fool and then scurried home for my last night with my visitors. I’d looked like a bucket of horse manure all fucking day but I had also promised myself that I’d have Sarah take my Christmas card pictures with Kos n Gon before she left (I plan on being an adult this year and letting other adults know, namely my family, that I am not an ungrateful, useless person that forgot about them when I moved to the Big City). After achieving some spectacular results that I wish I could show you but won’t, the four of us sat in bed with Gonny, ate two pizzas and watched Clueless. In typical fucking fashion.

IMG_1329_2

All that week it was work, work, work, dates, dates, dates. Including my first ever Tinder date, a concept that both excited and terrified me. I love sexxxting and meeting new people and talking about myself and eating fried chicken with strangers so you’d THINK dating would be my thing but truthfully, I’d only gone on one blind date in all my years of having Facebook, Twitter, OKcupid, and access to other people’s Grindr accounts. The first guy hit me up on Twitter, turned out to be a complete psycho and put me off the whole idea for a while. Until Tinder came along and I made it my personal mission to slide the entire city of New York to the left. The way I see it with these things, someone is only safe to approach if their profile appears self deprecating, effortlessly ironic, or no-fucks-given to a strong degree. I think it was Groucho Marx that said “I wouldn’t fuck anyone from a social network that would have someone like me for a member,” to paraphrase. Anyway, I had an amazing time. I got free Pies N Thighs, and shocked myself with my ability to have a great time while completely sober with a guy who doesn’t drink. Weird, right? (Yes)

By the weekend, I realized I’d spent all my free time in the last 7 days either naked or in belly shirts, so the stress must have been good for my figure. I’d been sustaining on dick pics and Miller High Life (cause that’s all I could afford) and I thought I looked just great, which is why I was AGHAST that PaperMag put up a picture of me from last Friday’s Ultra Velvet looking like a toothless hillbilly. IRL I looked spooky and swagadocious and the paparazzi just caught me at a bad time. The perils of fame, y’all.

IMG_1485_2

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 9.53.38 PMWho needs a jack o lantern?

That Saturday, after emptying my pockets on a prix fixe brunch, reeling off of one bong rip and watching straight boys play GTA,  I decided to get my look together for Kelela at 285. We pregamed at Moe’s and I ate free pizza while annoying, if cute, Australian boys argued with my concept of society. After trying to run away from them on the street, failing and feeling kinda bad afterward, we ended up at 285. The thing about 285 Kent: the inevitable sighting of the boy you do not want see, followed by the boy you kinda really wanna see. Both are disconcerting, and by 3:45 when Kelela left the stage I was overstimulated and ready to die.  But the night wasn’t a total loss. The music was amazing as expected, I spent the night in Reid’s bed after he paid for all my drinks, and at some point I took a selfie with a golden retriever.

IMG_1529_2The next morning, even though I found myself gnawing on slim jim and watching the Kardashians as usual, I felt like something had changed. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t really had that much to drink the night before. Maybe it was watching the leaves blow across the parking lot of the food bazaar. The air tasted different. Did I feel capable? Hopeful? Maybe I could act like a teenager and still get things done. Maybe I could be free but not lonely. Nope, as I walked down Irving avenue towards my apartment, I realized it was just autumn. I was still poor, I was still confused. I’d taken two steps forward and a five picklebacks. But hey, I was still alive. And idk, maybe I was ready to write again.

Frankenshit


Now usually I don’t do this but uh…(smoke inside, that is. but everyone else does it here and it’s THE WEEKEND and I’m by myself on my computer so…party. Also I spent the whole day doing yoga and looking at recipes on Pinterest I AM A DUAL PERSONALITY)

It’s been so long since I’ve been up front about my antics with you guys. As in, so long that I am about to tell you stories from October while currently planning my XXXmas party. Maybe I was sleeping on them because, well, October wasn’t the cutest of months and I am only now recovering. But I think…I think I’m ready.

It was the week of October Something, and Moe and Bradford, being the ONLY MEMBERS OF TEAM BIG THINGS THAT CARE ENOUGH, came up to visit me on their fall break. We kicked off the celebration by going to Wreck Room, a divey, Carrboro-esque bar with car seats as booths and graffiti scribbles everywhere and regular live noise-pop.
Reuniting feelz so good, y’all. Pretty sure this was a “pinkies out for Bernie Mac” moment. 
Of course I started the night a little overconfident and splashed a 4 dollar beer in my eye right of the bat. 
No night is complete without some casual adult breast feeding and a little street-anal.
The next day is when things started to get a little strange. By this point in the month I had somewhat successfully balanced my new job at the salon with drinking 40s at Winston’s and hosting visitors from home. I’d had the job for about two weeks, and although the ins and outs were still a little confusing I was getting the hang of it. I had almost forgotten that a few weeks before, in a frenzy to find fast cash, I answered a craigslist ad to be a bodypainted server/model at giant a masquerade Halloween warehouse party. I had sent them my picture because I thought it would be somewhat funny, and they were offering $1000 for one night of “work” which, let’s be honest, I’ve kind of done for free on multiple occasions. I’d be kidding myself to think I was above it, right?

By now they’d gotten back to me, “they” being this dude’s assistant (the guy owns a hotel or something and has had some small hollywood roles). They asked me to come by for an interview, which I had scheduled right after my interview at the hair salon (it ended up working out great because I wore a slutty black dress for “versatility” and it may have been the only reason I got the job at the salon. My boss is a straight man). The interview consisted of me waiting around for 20 minutes and then going up to the empty penthouse of this dude’s hotel and talking to him for five minutes about the size of my breasts and my level of comfort with toplessness. I thought it so was bizarre at the time, sitting on the patio of the 11th floor with the Empire State Building looming behind me and interviewing to be a go-go dancer. But I thought, “there’s a first time for everything” and “yolo” and “$$$$” and “who cares?” The man offered me drinks and food about 50 times to my decline. He told me about the different positions, one as a cocktail waitress that gets paid $500, and one as a “party masseuse,” which is a girl that walks around the party body-painted (with panties on!) and massaging people on ecstasy. Those are the girls that get paid $1000. That’s the one I said I wanted.

“We’re going to need a few photos of you,” he said. He meant topless photos. I gave him a nervous look at first and then shrugged. “I understand if you’re not comfortable,” he said. “But don’t worry, these pictures aren’t going anywhere. I have thousands of naked pictures on my laptop.” “So do I,” I said. What’s another person with a topless photo of me at this point? He departed and went downstairs, leaving me in the room with his assistant. She told me to strip down to my underwear, which was just a thong. I took my dress off while she checked her blackberry. Then, on the back of my application she wrote the number 27 in permanent marker. 27, my same number from the Miss National Pre-teen of North Carolina pageant I did when I was 11, where I won first place in sportswear modeling but fifth overall due to my “age inappropriate” glamour shot photos (I sat in fake sand with my legs open. I was wearing makeup and knee length shorts. I was 10. It shocked the southern masses). Having been made to feel like a slut for the last 12 years of my life, damned if I’m ever going to be ashamed of my body at this point. I held my number and did a series of poses for the assistant, slipped my dress back on and skipped out.

Now it was the “callback,” and I went back to the hotel to find the other girls, none of whom looked older than 19, waiting nervously by the elevator. I immediately became Stripper Mommy and tried to engage everyone in conversation to pump them up. “I heard there’s going to be an open bar!” It sort of worked. I made friends with a girl from the Philippines who didn’t speak much English which seems to be a running trend lately. Slowly more and more girls arrived, and before I knew it at least 100 of us were standing in a line, signing waivers and being forced to give up our cell phones. Here we go.

Once we got up to the penthouse we were all supposed to take off everything but our thongs to be bodypainted. All the girls were fun and hilarious, and most of them were comfortable with the idea. We undressed on the patio and went back to the main room where there was a DJ and the open bar I had hoped for. There were only four bodypainters and about a million of us, so for the first hour everyone was just standing around semi-awkwardly, chugging champagne and looking at each other’s tits. I was making jokes left and right and befriending this baby hippie who was telling me about her latest dubstep festival. I couldn’t stop laughing and staring at everything. It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen, by far. Sponsors from somewhere were walking around scouting who they wanted to represent their brands at the party. The owner of the hotel was walking around with his two tiny dogs and all white ensemble as if he does this every week, which he might. Photographers were snapping photos and one woman was making a video of the charade. A funky girl that looked like a thuggish Tila Tequila was getting a ravey blue Tarzan tanktop painted onto her perfect body by this sexy new-age black man with gauges. I never once saw the bottom of my glass.

As the girls and myself started getting drunker and drunker I started having more fun. I was surrounded by 100 friendly, super confident babes that loved their bodies. This never happens, and it was not what I had expected at all. The DJ was playing all the songs drunk girls love, from “Ur Luv is My Drug” to “Call Me Maybe.” Before I knew it all the ratchet girls had formed a giant krump circle, their asses never more than 6 inches off the ground at any given time. When “Single Ladies” came on, Baby Dubstep Hippie shocked everyone by jumping in the circle and doing the entire choreo start to finish. I have never seen a room full of women this excited in my life.

Finally I got painted, a bikini top in the shape of apples even though I never liked red on me much. We took group photos and I smoked cigarettes while looking around cautiously as the owner started taking girls aside to chat with them privately. “I’m not here to be anybody’s girlfriend,” I thought, and said, multiple times that night. I put my name on the list for the highest paying position and left. It was midnight on a Thursday and my friends were in town…hello…I’m going out.

Before I left I took a picture of my apple tits and instagrammed it. I won’t post the picture here. I like that it’s ungooglable for now and it’s a great reason for you to follow me @catdookie.

When I left the hotel I went to meet Bradford, Moe, Emma and Lamonday who were out for CMJ. I am lazy and bad at finding stuff like this to do because I don’t care enough, but when Moe’s in town I am always on the list for something. Tonight it was the Spin party, with AraabMuzik, Chromeo and MNDR, which, whatever. There was another open bar, which always earns points, and the douchey crowd made it easy for me to skip the line for the bathroom by showing them my apples. I won’t say this was a low point for me, because I’ve been really low before. It certainly wasn’t the best party either, but I was having a good time. Just your average night, I suppose.
Just to give you an idea of how thrilled I was by the atmosphere of this event. They were handing out promotional trucker hats made of paper.

Obviously I ended up having some fun that night.
The next day Hotel Dude’s assistant called me and told me I had to come for my second callback that night if I wanted the job. She told me the other girls and I would meet Dude at the hotel bar at 10 and then go to “the loft space,” which I thought meant the eventual location of the party. I said yes even though I had work the next morning at 9:30, because it sounded like this was “my only chance” and she said it would only take until 1 am. When I showed up at the hotel there was only one other girl waiting, an adorable Brooklyn native that barely grazed 5 ft. Dude was overseeing a nightclub act and had his bartender serve us unlimited beverages. I told myself I’d only have a few drinks, but we were waiting for a while and the drinks kept coming one after the other. The girl and I talked about our brothers and she showed me pictures on her blackberry of the food she’d eaten recently. I asked her how she found out about this job and what she thought the “second audition” was going to be like. She wasn’t sure, and we both started feeling a little off about the whole thing. Where were the other girls? Why were they taking us to a second location? Where even was this second location? We established our limits (no bottomless, no touching) and decided to ask Dude to his face what he had planned for us. He very candidly explained that the “audition” would consist of us going to go to his apartment, getting naked, and “massaging” him. Girl and I looked at each other. I’m no hooker, and if I was do you REALLY think I’d work for free? Heeeeeell nah. We walked.

I felt a little sordid for what was really the first time in this whole process. Partly because I was out 1000 bucks and the whole world had already pretty much seen me naked. But mostly because I was bummed that what I had approached as a fun, sexually freeing experience rejecting the stigma of nudity had ultimately turned into the run-of-the-mill exploitation anyone else would have assumed. I got free drinks out of it and had a lot of fun, so I don’t feel like I lost much. Hey, I’ll try almost anything once, but I drawing the line at prostitution. And, like, crystal meth.

“Come with me,” the girl said as she grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the hotel lounge. “I know some people.” Before I knew it, it was the hour I’d planned to go home and I was walking clear across town with a girl I’d just met to a club I’d just heard of for the first time. Maybe you know of Club Amnesia. It’s like the Pacha of hip hop, I guess, although I’ve obviously never been to Pacha. We get to the door at the front of a line that wraps around the block. My tiny friend gives the doorman a kiss on the cheek and we cross the velvet rope. Girl is actually Latina, but I could feel the piercing group side-eye at what must have looked like two little white girls cutting in line. “Miguel is supposed to be here tonight,” she says to me while the security guards search through our bags. I’m already wasted at this point, wide eyed and freaked out as a man twice my size metal detects between my legs.

My new best friend told me we were only drinking Hennessey and cranberry that night, and I was happy to oblige as I was not yet used to getting paid every week and temporarily thought I was rich. Because I’m a complete idiot I offered to buy the drinks. She gave me some money for tip, but I ended up spending $80 on four drinks. I was having fun for a few minutes, maybe even hours, and then everything went sour. I realized I had work in 6 hours at my brand new job and I was wasted and getting dry-raped in this intense-ass club. I think I tried to make out with Girl which was a no-go. Miguel very well could have been performing and I would not have realized. I was gone. I waved goodbye to my friend and darted out the front door, towards the street and into the back of a cab.

The thing is, when you catch a cab in Manhattan and tell them you live in Bushwick you ALWAYS need to be giving specific directions to the driver. CASE IN POINT my ass was so drunk that night I told homie to take the Williamsburg bridge, rattled off some cross streets and pretty much lost consciousness until I was in a part of Brooklyn I had never ever seen before and the driver was yelling at me to get out. Next thing I knew I was crying on a street corner at 4 am, drunk and exhausted, hooded strangers walking right by me without a glance. When I first moved to New York I thought it was only a “certain class of people” that you’d find rambling to themselves in a ball on the sidewalk. I quickly realized everyone that lives here takes turns playing the part of the destitute and clinically insane. That night it was me, and not for the first or last time.

The night ended with a kind stranger driving by and offering me a ride, the sort of thing any intelligent or non-desperate person would have turned down. But at this point I would have accepted anything, and having gained a little more control over my senses I was able to direct him to my apartment using the map on my phone. I was no less than a 15 minute drive away. He dropped me off and I thanked him sincerely without ever getting his name.

That night I slept for 3 hours before getting up for work, where I was to spill an entire large coffee all over myself and get called out by a coworker for smelling like alcohol. Luckily at the salon we just spritz each other with perfume and go about our day like nothing is wrong even when it really, really is.

The next week was Halloween Friday, the first in what was to be several consecutive celebrations of the same holiday. After work, Hannah and I went to Ricky’s to snag some children’s costumes and fake blood for our half-baked zombie hospital theme: “We’ll be the surgeons and Winston can be our escaped patient! We obviously need cleavers.” If you have “the body” for it, I highly HIGHLY suggest buying children’s costumes for your next Halloween extravaganza. They are usually pretty expandable, if the arms and legs are a little short, and you save like 50 bucks. I dressed my brother in our Great Grandmother’s old nightgown which I may or may not have ruined with fake blood that may or may not be machine washable. All in all I think we came out great.
That night we met up with two aliens, a dead fox and Tony and went to one of the infamous Bushwick mansion parties. I don’t remember much besides Tony spending 20 minutes pouring Joose into my face and getting chased for trying to steal the lightup statue.

And then Sandy happened. I don’t pay attention to the weather ever, but my parents started frantically texting me something the media dramatically named a “FRANKENSTORM.” I rolled my eyes at the phone all like, “Remember the Derecho last July? When everyone freaked out and the only thing that happened was a few cool instagrams of clouds? We’re gonna be fine.” Just in case, I bought some rad candles and an ample supply of Cap’n Crunch.

Natural disasters are about sharing! Sharing cereal with your cat, or a bottle of Jim Beam with that guy you always wanted to sleep with, or you know, electricity and hot water with your friends from Lower Manhattan.

So I was kind of wrong, but not quite. Much of New York, as you know, was super fucked by Sandy. But my neighborhood, being as far inland in Brooklyn as physically poss, was largely unaffected. The worst that happened to Bushwick was that the trains were shut down for like a week, and all the white kids with internships and retail jobs in Manhattan had to celebrate Halloween together five fucking days in a row.

That Tuesday I went to Tandem, probably my favorite bar in Bushwick as it is mostly queer and generally pretty dancey and fun. I wore a pair of fairy wings and did that thing I always do where I get drunk and come out as a full-on lesbian. The jury will always be out on my sexuality, though, as it fucking should be. Unsurprisingly, I saw a Sarah Cousler imposter. If you look hard enough you can find them in every cool city in the country, maybe even the world. They try their best, but they will never be quite as good.
By the time actual Halloween rolled around, I was almost completely over it.
Almost. I sent this picture to all my best friends as a kind of holiday ecard. 

Instead of going out again, I smoked two joints with Hannah and Winston and made them watch This Is It with me while I cried.

Tell me you can watch this with dry eyes.


That weekend we went back to the mansion and I spent most of the night doing mutual manual with some dude in the closet while trying not to vomit on him.


Someone at the party gave me this mixtape, pretty much making all the weirdness worthwhile. 

When October FINALLY ended, election day was upon us. A few days earlier I had mailed my absentee ballot into North Carolina like a GOOD CITIZEN. The state went red but I still felt actualized enough by the outcome of the election, and the fact that I got to take this instagram

On the night of the election I watched the returns at Winston’s with two forties of Ballantine and a box of off brand mac and cheese. As soon as Ohio went blue I was sucked into a vortex of mania that led me to watching the Crazytown “Butterfly” video 3 times, convincing everyone to huff dishwasher detergent and I think eating a little bit of old spice.
I helped pick your president!!!

Since then I’ve been living the broke life as usual and trying to get used to New York’s schizophrenic weather patterns. HURRICANE! SNOW! 65 AND SUNNY! I’ve been buying lots of clothes and household items I can’t afford. I’ve been staying out a lot and working a lot, all while planning my upcoming celebrations of DANKSGIVING and XXXMAS. Every week is another fucking holiday. With my personality and New York’s relentlessness, I’ll be lucky if I ever get the chance to have a normal life.

…why do I even have a Pinterest?