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

10 Little Decisions That Changed My Life in 2014

IMG_2991
December: a time for self reflection

A wise person once said, “You should only take advice from someone who has made plenty of mistakes.” Actually, I just made that up. But it sounds right, doesn’t it?

One weekend in November my dad came to town and I got to spend some much needed time reconnecting with him and with my brother, who, interestingly in its own right, had just returned from touring with Macy Gray. We mostly did a lot of talking – about art, about music, comedy, parenthood, love, work, and following our dreams. My father, who turned 66 in July, has certainly led a life not lacking in transformations. I feel like every time we see one another he’s reinventing himself in some way. It’s a comforting reminder that we’re not bound, at any age, to our bad habits, or to things that are familiar.

Most of us spend this last month of 2014 contemplating our own change. Our dissatisfaction flirts with our ambition and the result is a list of “do-betters” that we may or may not keep in mind for more than a day. Most of the time our desired transformations are too grand to distill down to a simple resolution we can actually keep. I’ve found it helps to start with the details, the things we can actually change, and then work backwards.

Because the hardest things for me lately have been the little things, I wanted to share some small changes I made in my daily life this year that brought me just a few steps closer to sanity. Even if they can’t fix any of your real problems, maybe they’ll help you along the way.

1. Buying a Professional Hair Dryer
Beauty isn’t everything. I think we can all agree on that. But I decided if I’m going to care at all about the way I look then I’m going to invest in it. Since I’ve been cursed (just kidding!) with having a lot of hairdresser friends, I never hear the end of their hair-related advice. I don’t trust everyone, but I do trust my bestie-in-law Hannah who basically forced me to drop my secondhand blow dryer and pick up a legitimate one. I have the Rusk CTC 7500 which costs about $100. It’s cut down my styling time substantially, and thus the amount of time I spend sitting in front of the mirror every morning hating my hair and willing it to speed-grow. Note: Rusk is not paying me to endorse their products, I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart. I’ve been trying to get Hannah to start a beauty blog so she can recommend all her favorite things. Everybody should post on her Facebook and convince her to do it. She’ll get more free products than she’ll know what to do with, and then maybe she’ll give some to me!

2. Making a Bedroom Embargo
You can always tell how I’m doing psychologically by what’s on top of or next to my bed. On any given day in 2012, for example, it was empty wine bottles, dirty plates, multiple kinds of hot sauce, and Lawry’s seasoning salt. I slept on unmade sheets and curved my body around my laptop, which almost never left my side. This was just how I lived, all throughout college and up until about six months ago, and I was low-key miserable the whole time. I loathed having crumbs in my bed, and staring at a computer screen until I couldn’t keep my eyes open made it harder to fall asleep – that is, if I even chose to try. More often than not I would slip into a social media k-hole until the wee hours of the night, and my sleepiness would be mistaken for depression and madness. I’d entertain my most insecure thoughts until 3 in the morning, and the next day I’d wake up in a pile of magazines and empty Dorito bags, just as tired as the night before. When I moved to my Ridgewood apartment in April of this year, I made a rule: no food and no computer in the bedroom, ever. It works because my bedroom is so far away from my Internet router that I barely even get wifi in there. And it’s made a huge difference. My mind has a chance to rest, and my eyes have a chance to adjust to darkness before I go to sleep so I’m not lying there for hours with the afterimage of my Twitter feed projected on my eyelids. And no food means no crumbs, no garbage, and no extreme self loathing after the fact. I also always wear slippers around the house now. If you have pets, it’s the only way to keep their nastiness out of your sheets. Bless their disgusting little hearts.

3. Forming a Cleaning Obsession

mesy roomMy bedroom in 2013

Unless yours is a neighborhood I could only afford in my wildest fever dreams,living in New York is pretty much disgusting. Gross strangers are everywhere and some of them will even touch you unprovoked. Every so often, rats will crawl over your feet to scurry towards their next meal, aka the lovely bags of garbage so adorably piled five feet high against the tree outside your building. Urine is on literally every surface. Any human that can operate in this world on a daily basis and then come home and be perfectly content with, I don’t know, a kitchen sink full of scraps of food and trash, has a tolerance for nastiness rivaling that of  the opossum itself. In the past, very regular drinking followed by depression had created a cycle of lethargy that had allowed me to live with messes. I would use my unmade bedsheets, sprinkles of kitty litter, and piles of clothes and books and dishes as the abstract expression of my psyche. I never felt comfort in this disarray, I just didn’t have the wherewithal to control it. I remember, even before I was  a hungover 20-something, I would stand in my teenage bedroom staring at my mess and end up feeling so overwhelmed by the wreckage that I’d just waste time whining uncontrollably. As a Virgo, I require organization in order to function. Perhaps it was my Pisces moon that would make me feel so sorry for myself that I couldn’t even address the problem at all. Well, such is no longer the case. It’s not perfect, but my house is set up so that everything has its own place. I bought all the necessary tools and devised a system. Dishes are done right after dinner, counters are cleaned once a day, sweeping is done as necessary in addition to a weekly full clean of the floors (sweep, swiffer, dust-bust, spot wipe). The bathroom gets a full wipe down once a week. I make my bed every single day. I Lysol wipe my trash can.Most importantly, I clean as I go. This is not a joke – this is what it takes for me to feel like a human being. And it works. If you value yourself, you should value the space you live in and treat it accordingly, don’t you think? It doesn’t have to look like Apartment Therapy is coming to take your picture any minute now, but like, don’t leave a banana peel in your bedroom trashcan for two weeks. Trust me, it makes a difference.

4. Giving Things Away
One of the things I had to learn in order to keep a clean house is how to part with the unnecessary items cluttering up my space. I live in an old apartment with exactly one closet. It’s in the kitchen. I keep my trash bins in there. I have quite a bit of space in comparison to many other New York apartments, it’s just that everything is out in the open. Add a live-in boo to the mix and I really had no excuse to hang on to those dresses I hadn’t worn in two summers, those purses I hadn’t carried since the second I got my hands on a vintage Coach, and that puffy vest from the 80s with the broken zipper that had a lot of sentimental value from the Winter of  ’07-’08 but is certainly well memorialized in pictures by now. Luckily, my friends over at North York Creative held a perfectly timed vintage bazaar of sorts last month, to which I donated a mountain of gently used items. Still, I barely even scratched the surface of my hoarding problem. I still have a long way to go, but I don’t want to throw away too much just yet. I recently figured out how to use Etsy so it’s really only a matter of time before I become the next Sophia Amoruso. Right?

5. One Word: Roku
Two words: Gilmore Girls. Three words: Man vs. Food. I could go on and on about this one. I’ve always been an avid Netflix and Hulu user, but take my dad’s old TV and a couch from my mom and the Roku Austin brought with him when he moved in and now I have a full-on common area and entertainment center where I can bask in the joys of early 2000s WB shows. Those of you who used to read this blog for the hilarious drug-fueled antics and are wondering what happened to my Crazy Clubbin’ Lifestyle, well, this is it. Also I had a full time job for a while and a boyfriend and…you know what, I don’t have to explain myself to you! This is just what I’m into now, okay? Grow up.

6. Getting a Desk
If you think you can lie completely horizontal on the couch with the TV on and a pillow behind your head and your laptop on your thighs and actually get shit done, you can’t. You are lying to yourself. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it does take a whooole lot longer. Case in point: I tried to address and personalize 75 Christmas cards last week while sitting at my coffee table watching Rory stumble through her first few weeks at Yale and it took me EIGHT HOURS to complete them. That doesn’t even make any sense! Except when you consider that I was paying probably 3/4 of my attention the show and 1/4 to the cards, and had I actually been focusing and sitting upright in a well lighted area I could have gotten them done in two hours, tops. This is what the desk is for. I can’t say I use it all the time (right now it’s covered in piles of wrapping paper and dollar store bags) but I will say, when I need to bang out a little something on the laptop it is absolutely essential to my workflow (and I just said “workflow,” so you know I mean business). This new desk was actually another hand-me-down from my brother Winston. I guess the moral of the story here, really, is stay in good with your family and eventually they will probably give you free stuff.

7. Cooking My Own Food
Let me start by saying that this is not a weight loss tip. It certainly can be – if I went to Trader Joe’s and only bought fruits and veggies and nuts and quinoa, never ordered takeout and brought my lunch to work every day I would be a skinny lady, although probably pissy and extremely bored. I envy anyone who can shove a handful of raisins in their mouth and be like “DAMN I am so full and satisfied! I’ll wait 4 hours until dinner, go home, steam some cauliflower and call it a day!” But nah. This is about being in control of what’s going in your body. I love comfort food of all types. Does it make me feel good to spend $20 and have some fried chicken with three sides delivered to my house sometimes? Yes. But it makes me (and my bank account) feel even better to figure out how fried chicken is made and to do it myself. Not every day, of course. That shit is time consuming! But there are plenty of simple ways to prepare hearty, dank-ass foods for yourself in a reasonable time frame. I haven’t had a microwave in three years, but once I learned how to use my oven, I didn’t even need or want one. Buy a couple decent pans at Deals for cheap. Go to the store and get $30 of basic groceries to last you about two weeks (veggies, a grain, some meat, garlic, olive oil, seasoning). It beats the hell out of spending $100 a week ordering food, and the act of preparing it can even help ease the stress of your day. Plus, cooking a delicious meal does incredible things for your ego. After some practice, you’ll be able to make from-scratch cookies that impress your boyfriend’s parents (“I’m domestic and creative! Approve of me!”) and maybe even come up with your own next-level recipes that put a takeout box to shame.

IMG_0522I really did make my own fried chicken

8. Drinking More Water
I was doing really well with this earlier in the year and it made a huge difference in my energy level, my mood, my skin,and my health in general. I’m currently recovering from a holiday week that consisted of mostly vodka, which is no doubt at least partly to blame for the cold/flu/bronchitis/sinus infection something-or-other I’ve been battling for the last five days. I’m feeling pretty fatigued and disgusting right now, and my vocal cords are in the morgue. So, I’m gonna drink about six glasses of water and see if it helps. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to sleep. Ok, let’s make this a two parter. Number 8. Water and Sleep.

9. Staying in Touch

IMG_2730A little holiday card goes a long way

This one is so, so important. In every facet of life – work, family or friends – just checking in from time to time will take you a long way. Parents deserve it because they raised you and you are an ungrateful little shit. Also, they give pretty good advice. The people you’ve worked with in the past have met new people who could give you a jumpstart on your career, but not if you never email them. And, sad to say it, but from the moment you graduate college, making friends only gets harder. Lives get more complicated, hanging out gets a little more difficult to arrange. But if someone is important to you, shouldn’t they know it? Even if it’s just a little text from time to time, or jesus, even a snapchat. If  you wanna feel really good about yourself, send a handwritten letter. When I was a little kid, my dad would point at my toothbrush every night and say “brush the ones you wanna keep!” I’ve decided to apply this logic to people in my life. “Call the ones you wanna keep.” Seems like a foolproof plan.

10. Following Those Dreams, One Step at a Time
Figuring out who you want to be is hard. When I started college, I knew I wanted to write. Having gotten some subpar grades my freshman year, I didn’t have a GPA quite high enough to be accepted into the Journalism school. I didn’t know I was interested in film or TV until my then-new friend Alex encouraged me to pursue the Media Studies major. Even after three years of study, I still didn’t know I was interested in comedy until after graduation, when I was lying depressed on the couch for the tenth day in a row and it dawned on me that I’d really enjoy making one of those shows I’d been binge watching. It took me more than six months after that to move to New York, almost a whole year after that to get my first paying job in TV, and another year after that to start taking improv and sketch writing classes in my spare time. It’s definitely been a push and pull. I hear the same thing from everyone I know who is an aspiring entertainment creative. Sometimes it feels like for every two steps forward you have to take three steps back. Trying to make a buck and follow your dreams at the same time can seem like an impossible feat. I know it feels that way for me right now. But I just have to keep going. If that means writing scripts on the weekend, blogging on the subway, taking improv classes at night and reading, watching and going to see new material and acts whenever I get a free moment, then that’s what I gotta do. 2014 wasn’t the best year ever, but it wasn’t a waste, either. Clearing the cobwebs from a lifestyle cluttered with irresponsible decisions and, well, physical mess, has helped me identify the bigger steps I need to take towards my goals and create a plan to do it. And in the process I learned some important lessons.

Believe in yourself. Respect your space. Invest in your happiness. And don’t underestimate the value of taking time to get your shit together.

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?

A Queen and Her Asshole

spa castle3

(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.

 

spa castle1

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.

target

Cheap Thrills

IMG_6087

This coming Saturday is my half birthday. Six months from that day I will turn 25, and though I see the flaws in weighing the value of my life in relationship to my age (“nothin but a number” and whatnot), I still allow my choices to be influenced by a timeline, however vague. Like, such as, my decision to not be poor anymore, leave thankless production grunt work behind, and take a full time job in the Hair and Beauty Industry. Along with that new job comes a higher budget, and higher standards for standards of living. On March 1 I put in my 30 days notice at The Chokey (my current place) and IF ALL GOES WELL I will find a studio in my area (that is, MY VERY OWN APARTMENT to share with Kos & Gon, of course) for the low low price of a lot of my money per month. A risk, I know, but one I am willing to take because I’m tired and I need my space, and in the words of Soo-Jin on Girls a couple episodes ago, “We’re old ladies. It’s gross.”

So far the search has been something of an emotional roller coaster. Starting last weekend I spent every minute of my free time (with the exception of some events you’ll hear about in a minute) scouring craigslist and various realty websites for the perfect property. And then…I found it. A studio in Ridgewood smack on the nose of my budget, totally renovated with a swaggy kitchen and brand new appliances, not too far from the trains or my current neighborhood on a quiet residential street. I was beyond excited. I could already see it: cute little dinner parties with my friends sitting on bar stools eating corn on the cob or some shit, Kos n Gonny basking in the sunlight from my gigantic bay windows, having enough space to put the litterbox more than 6 inches from where I sleep at night…It honestly seemed too good to be true. I spent the week frantically trying to get in touch with listing agents and brokers from the realty company so I could set an appointment to view the place, and even walked to the realty offices in Bed-Stuy in 25 degree weather one night after work to preemptively fill out an application, put down a (thankfully refundable) deposit, and take the studio off the market. On the Friday before my viewing I was on the verge of snapping Office Space style on the printer/scanner at work as I tried to copy and email the closing agent all my past rent check receipts, pay stubs, letters of employment and guarantor information. I wasn’t about to let this apartment slip between my fingers. If you’ve ever looked for a place to live in the New York area, you know how stressful the process can be. I’m not flat out admitting that I’ve even considered going all FoFiles Arsenic Style on lease holders in my area and then fully exercising my squatters rights…but I’m not denying it either.

IMG_6382

Then Saturday happened. It was the day I’d been waiting for. I had an appointment to visit the apartment at 1 that afternoon, so Hannah and Winston met me at my place at 12:40 to make the 20 minute walk up to Ridgewood and seal the deal. It was a beautiful day, 50 degrees and sunny, the first of its kind this season. And I had a spring in my step. As we walked up Bleecker Street and crossed from Brooklyn to Queens, the Bushwick noise just fell away. Suddenly I was in a quaint tree-lined neighborhood and my head was in the clouds. I could swear I heard birds chirping, “Welcome Kathryn! Welcome to your home!”

When the landlords, a nice couple and their two adorable youngsters, opened the front door to the building, I was like “This couldn’t possibly be more charming.” Then I saw the room. It was just like the pictures. Better, even. Everything was brand spanken new and clean. I’m pretty sure the tub was audibly beckoning me to sit in it, or maybe I was having auditory hallucinations brought on by overwhelming idealism. The nice man even said, “We’ll be painting before you move in so choose any color you like.” Say whaaat? Why do I have so many choices? Why doesn’t this feel seedy and dirty and rip-offy like every other time I’ve ever looked at an apartment in my life? Is this a trick?

That’s when I remembered I had one question left to ask.

“Oh yeah, I meant to mention, I have a cat.” (I didn’t say two cats because they are basically the same and I didn’t want to make this more difficult for myself).

Suddenly my ears were brought back to reality. The couple spoke my fate in unison.

“Oh no. No pets allowed. No exceptions.”

W-wha? My heart sank like the Tower of Terror ride at Disney World. No exceptions? What if I pay extra? What if I give you my first born?

Apparently the woman is deathly allergic, and though I had a hard time understanding her broken English, I could make out the word “hospital” in her explanation of dander-related symptoms. I was actually holding back tears. And then I got sassy.

“Well it didn’t say that on the website orrr I wouldn’t have come all the way out here [anxious laughter] [eye-roll].” I pursed my lips as my broker apologized, and hung my head all the way down Wyckoff to the taco factory to eat my feelings and guzzle a Mexican Coke or two. It helped.
IMG_6441

The worst part was breaking the news to all my friends to whom I’d prematurely bragged about my future digs. I should have known better.
IMG_6448So I’m back on the prowl. I have a showing of my second choice today at 6:30, which would still be pretty great. But I’m not getting my hopes up. We Virgos tend to lose our shit when things don’t go as planned (but my dreamy Pisces moon gets me in trouble every time…sigh).

The last few weeks haven’t been all work and no play. For instance, I found out how good the show Scandal is and promptly watched the whole first season on Netflix. I think subconsciously, or maybe consciously, I was looking for something to pick up where House of Cards left off, so I chose another drama about wack-ass politicians and the mistresses and journalists they victimize (and vice versa). If you’re late like me, the basic premise is Olivia Pope (played by the hypnotizing Kerry Washington) leads a group of renegade attorneys in solving/handling/covering up the District’s most salacious political scandals, blah blah blah, drama ensues. I wouldn’t go in expecting the sophisticated dialogue and plot intricacies of the Kevin Spacey vehicle, but if you’re looking for the compelling melodrama of Shonda Rhimes’ other hit Grey’s Anatomy with a dash of legal jargon spelled out for you in layperson’s terms, well hey! That’s what this is! (In the pilot one of the characters in the ensemble boldly declares to the team’s skittish newcomer  “Olivia Pope does not cry!” Olivia Pope then proceeds to cry in every following episode. That sort of thing.)

IMG_6312

Belting “Torn” with bestie Moe Dabbagh has been a major highlight of Pisces Season

As far as weekends go, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get out more despite the weather being mostly unfriendly these last few weeks and how sore my legs have been after 10 hour workdays. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my real life hang sesh and subsequent overdose of Twitterfriend young @J_Face. A few weekends ago I was bombarded by iMessages from J in a group chat imploring–nay–commanding us to hang out with them. Because I’d been waiting for this day since birth and I also hadn’t done anything fun outside the confines of my bedsheets in a week or so, I agreed to meet them for some day drinking and a some fun touristy activities. After we met up in south BedStuy, we hit up a Dunkin Donuts for some stealth mixers (“We’ll take a coke. No, not a bottle a fountain coke. Okay well can you give us a cup? No, a plastic cup. Fine, we’ll take a styrofoam coffee cup whatever thanks have a good day! Jesus.”) we managed to find our way to the Brooklyn Bridge right at sunset, something I think every New York resident is supposed to have done at some point. I hadn’t yet, as the BK Bridge is located between one neighborhood I never go to and another I’m only ever in to see my gynecologist.

IMG_6149

I find I appreciate my city more and have the most fun when visitors are in town. The daily grind can be pretty exhausting, and the romance of the city can be dampened by how stressful and loud it is to live here. Commutes, especially in the winter, are dealt with rather than enjoyed. If you’re pinching pennies like me, going out to eat can hardly be justified (unless you’re also delusional like me, and think to yourself  “I deserve a burrito today” about five times a week, just for getting out of bed). But when a guest is in town, I get an excuse to hit up a famous Chinatown restaurant while drunk at 7pm, so that’s what we did. But not before stumbling into a Joe’s Shanghai-adjacent cocktail bar and spending our weight in gold doubloons on two Pacificos and two shots of tequila. That night we went Bushwick barhopping, where we met up with Winston and Hannah who were drunk off their asses but displaying it in opposite ways: Winston fell asleep at Bizarre Bar. Hannah stayed out with us, heckling a shitty DJ at the afterhours spot until 6 am. We spent the next day eating Popeye’s, watching FoFiles, and sleeping on the couch.

IMG_6146

The following Tuesday, after wearing platforms to work like an idiot, I was somehow convinced to further destroy my feet by attending a Shaggy concert with Reid and Jesse at the Brooklyn Bowl. Reid and I waited in the frigid winds to buy door tickets while talking amongst ourselves about how much we hate the cold and waiting in lines and we didn’t even like Shaggy that much. But I was doing it for the story, and because I said I would, so we paid for our tickets and one single beer each that we nursed over the period of an hour and half. Then this moment happened, and we left. We were out by 11 pm. It felt like a success.

Later that week, having not yet gotten my first paycheck, I was relishing the freer things in life. Like getting my hair dyed black at work and drinking coworker-funded margaritas. Then Friday arrived, and I knew I had to go out even though I was scraping the bottom of my piggy bank. I knew it would be worth it, though. Tall Pat was having his birthday party in one of those rented karaoke rooms in Korea Town. I’d never been to one before and it turns out they are MEGA-KUSH. I guzzled a 7 dollar bottle of champagne, lost my earmuffs, found my earmuffs, lost my mind, then lost my phone…and didn’t notice until I made it home.

IMG_6288IMG_6291

Luckily Austin, a sweet new friend, found my phone and returned it to Reid who returned it to me a couple days later. In the meantime I sat in my room watching Scandal and talking to no one except my boyfriend on Facebook chat. It was kind of a luxury to be semi-disconnected. That is, until Oscar time rolled around and I was like, if I can’t livetweet this I will kill myself 100%. Part of growing up is getting your priorities straight, am I right?

Another week went by and I dragged myself out to the clurb to make an appearance out of what felt like necessity at the time. The event last Friday was *Shallow,* at Baby’s All Right, hosted by Ariel Max, Kelp Sea, Sarah Glenn and Bunny Von Lau. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to say hey to some babes I hadn’t seen in a while, and to see the homie Brian Whateverer aka Whatever 21 DJ, which was everything I anticipated. I even got to see Ms Fitz who greeted me with side-eye and a hug, saying “Are you wearing ugg boots in the club?” (I was, and shamelessly. Normcore may be dying but I’m just doing me. To be fair I was also wearing a Baby Phat bikini top, a mesh sweater, and a paisley scarf du-rag situation. I need to go shopping?). What I hadn’t anticipated was bumping into longtime homies Be Words and Megan McDearman, two lovely people I really don’t see enough. I had the unexpected pleasure of talking to Yung Be about my struggle to become more outgoing while she bought me beers and called me out for being a closet shy person. It was motivating. Of course, I still couldn’t manage to stay out all night, and I shared a cab with Reid back to Bushwick with heavy eyes around 2 am.

So maybe I’m contradicting myself. Trying to make more friends while also attempting to shut the world out and live alone in a studio apartment? Is that what I really want? Will that even work? There’s some Christian saying that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I don’t believe in God, but as I sit here before my next apartment showing, nervously sweating into my uggs, I realize, timeline or not, I’m basically just winging it. And yeah, I guess it is kinda funny.

Lazy Bitch Workout, part one.

I don’t know if you know this about me, or if you could have guessed, but I fucking HATE exercising. And I can honestly say that I am never genuinely motivated to do it. But every couple of weeks I’ll get a burst of manic energy or look at a picture of Beyonce’s legs and think “damn, if only I moved ever.” I start panicking about my “health” and the American Apparel riding pants I really want, and always come to the artificial conclusion that today I am going to start toning up my ass and pursuing my goal of not getting winded when walking up steps. Running is always out of the question. I hate running so much that if my life depended on it, if my speed was the only thing keeping me from getting eaten by a pack of rabid wolves, I would pour Lawry’s Seasoning Salt all over myself and say “fuck it. bon appetit.” I don’t hate the elliptical machine quite so much, mostly because I like looking at myself in the mirror at the gym, but I am also flat-ass broke. I don’t have money to spare on a membership to hell. What I do have, though, is a laptop with Google and Netflix and a bedroom where you can sometimes see the floor. So the other night I decided to try the first two workout videos I could find that didn’t involve free weights or being yelled at by a guido. The following is a review.

Jenny Ford: HI-LO cardio

If one of the speed-freak housewives from my parents’ neighborhood moved some of her furniture and made a workout video in her living room, I imagine it would look something like this. This is supposed to combine low- and high-impact moves for beginners. I can only assume this refers to me, since the only exercise I’ve gotten in the last month is trying not to fall over in 5 inch wedges after mainlining a bottle of coconut rum. While Jenny did a great job of confusing the hell out of me with her combos, I spent an awful lot of time strolling back and forth in my bedroom. Generally the only senseless lap I like to make around a room is when I’m looking for ding at a party, and even then that’s only after I’ve had my fist drink. Unless you’re a paraplegic or haven’t walked one cumulative mile in the last month I wouldn’t recommend doing this as your only workout for the day. But needless to say, I broke a sweat.

Crunch: CardioSalsa

This video, as seems to be the running trend with most of the Crunch videos on Netflix, almost doesn’t count as a workout unless you pair it with something else. But what it lacked in vigor it made up by facilitating a useful self-discovery: I look about as coordinated as a gummy worm when dancing to salsa. But hey, they have a guy with fun highlights playing the bongos and I’m pretty sure half of those extras were on the tv show Popular. Also, anything that allows me to act semi-slutty with a bun on top of my head is usually okay by me. I just wish it hadn’t taken so many sessions with my therapist to stop feeling like a dumb ass after this.

But I refuse to give up my search for the perfect in-home workout. At the moment I am lying on the couch, spooning chinese food into my face from the coffee table with one hand, so I’m a little busy. But I promise, as soon as I’m done, I will definitely consider thinking about exercising again. Eventually.