Riding in Cars With Phones

find my iphone pls

As New Yorkers, how we talk to cab drivers depends on our mood. One day you could be in a hurry, staring at Google maps obsessing over your estimated arrival time, and nothing but a “take the bridge–no! The tunnel!” is shared between you. Other days you might be chatty, in a good mood with time to kill. You offer up a nugget of information about yourself, where you’re going or how your day was, and the driver does the same. Next thing you know, you’re having a conversation, for better or for worse. Much of the time, you find yourself silent in the backseat, as though no one is even driving you at all. Frequently I have found myself at my destination, tequila on my breath, mascara running down my face, only to realize I cried the whole way there. Cabs should add a crying fee. I’d feel a lot less guilty that way.

This particular morning – at 8:15am, hungover in a Dodge Caravan and on my way to far-out Queens – I was quite verbal. Charming, really. I had information to glean.

“So, what would you do if you found someone’s cell phone in here?” I asked my driver, Javier, whose broad shoulders and buzzed head peeked around the seat-back. He seemed to be in a cheerful mood, and it was a good thing, because I was about to take him on a little adventure.

“When riders forget stuff I let them call me. They have my number because of the app, ya know. You lose your phone?”

“Yep, that’s why the request said ‘James’ when you picked me up. Had to order this car from my boyfriend’s phone.”

I laughed. The delirium from my hangover had the pleasant side effect of a sense of humor during my time of stress. It was that part of the morning-after where you don’t know if you’re still drunk or losing your mind from withdrawal symptoms. On the one hand, I wanted nothing more than to take off the ratty hoodie I was sweating in, sleep for 14 hours then shower a few times, but on the other hand, I had to track down this phone to survive. I was on a mini-mission.

“Left it in a yellow cab, though.” I leaned my head on the glass.

“Oh, a yellow cab. Well those are a different story,” Javier said in his gravelly voice. “When I used to drive cabs I’d find things all the time. We take ‘em back to the dispatch. Did you get the medallion number?”

He looked at me in the rearview as he merged onto the BQE. I shook my head.

“Young people never pay attention. Always get the medallion number,” he scolded me. I felt like he was my uncle doing me a favor, picking me up from a high school party, giving me a talking-to while still helping me cover my ass.

Instead, I was leading him on a potential wild goose chase to Flushing, where according to GPS my iphone 7+ I loved so dearly was sitting in the driveway of a single family home with 3% battery life.

“Do you remember the driver at least? What race was he? How old?”

“I can’t remember. I was pretty tipsy.” I racked my brain. “He might have been a young.”

“All right, all right. We’ll get your phone back, don’t worry.”

I cracked the window and took a deep breath of polluted air to calm my nausea. I tend to get carsick, and if given the option I’d rather take the subway. But I was racing the clock here. If my phone was really at the cab driver’s house, I had to get there before he went back out to work for the day. If he left, my phone would die shortly after. If my phone died, I might never be able to track it down.

“You said you got home late last night. What time?”

“Around midnight I think?”

“Yeah, you were probably his last ride for the night. He probably just went home. He probably drives twelve to twelve, or two to twelve. Probably owns his own cab. If you had the medallion number this would be easy.”

There was, statistically speaking, absolutely no chance of me having caught the medallion number the night before. The evening had begun, like so many of them do, as a Friday night happy hour between fed-up coworkers. One of those nights where with every glass of wine a new grievance was aired about our employer. New dirt was dug up. So while I’d intended to leave the outing before dinner and take myself home to Chinese takeout, I’d sort of forgotten that intention by drink number four, and decided to have 3 more glasses as my dinner instead.

I’ve since been told that as my colleagues and I were rounding our fourth bottle of wine, someone made a joke so uproarious that I dramatically threw my head back in laughter. I did this with such force that I fell backwards out of my chair, hitting my leg on the table and the back of my head on the concrete floor. I was kindly escorted out, and tossed in a cab with, I could only assume, my belongings in tow. Unfortunately, I was blacked out for the portion of the evening between the fall and reaching my apartment door. I blame good sauvignon blanc, a corporate credit card and/or a possible concussion.

I was able to pay for my cab with no problems, but forgot to put my giant phone, in its bright pink phone case, back into my fucking purse. When I reached my apartment, I had a moment of panic. A panic I’ve had hundreds of times before where it turned out my phone was just in the sheets or in my coat pocket or in my hand the whole time. Except this time it was not. So I got a stomach flip. A bad one. 16 ounces of sauvignon blanc and stomach acid came up right on my living room floor. I wiped up the puke, ran outside, and jumped in a cab to my boyfriend’s house. I mean, ALONE without a PHONE? I wasn’t safe.

“You young people just haven’t seen enough to really be responsible. Once you get to be my age…” Javier trailed off. There was considerable traffic on the BQE for a Saturday morning, and the sun was beating down hard for mid-February. I coughed. I could feel my throat burning still from acid reflux. My headache was ramping up, too. Javier took an exit. I don’t remember which one.

“You’re right,” I said, ashamed. “I should have known better.” And I really, really should have. I had destroyed my first iPhone three years earlier, on a vacation to Tokyo when, after a night of karaoke and highballs, I’d attempted to wash away my hangover in the tub of our Airbnb. I’d then unknowingly proceeded to flood the bathroom in 3 inches of water, where my iPhone lay drowning. I spent the rest of that vacation pissed at myself, no way to contact friends or family. I’d learned what it was like to lose my pictures, my alarm clock, a thing I’d spent hundreds on, my mode of communication, a part of me. I had mourned.

And that wasn’t the first time, either. I’d had blackberries get rained on, spilled coffee on flip phones, had more than one phone get run over by a car. I’d vowed Tokyo would be the last time I broke a phone doing something stupid, but here I was, a whole decade after my first Sanyo was crushed by the wheel of a mini-van, doing the same damn thing. Humiliation is such insult to injury when you’re already hungover.

“My stepdaughter doesn’t even have a phone right now,” Javier shared, turning on the radio to some station playing Metallica. “She’s your age.”

“No? How does she survive?” I fake chuckled, annoyed at my tone deaf attempts to make small-talk.

“Well, I bought her one and she lost it. And it’s happened to her before. So that’s it. She has to accept the consequences for now.”

“Maybe she will appreciate a phone when she buys it herself.” There I go again, feigning wisdom.

“She can’t afford one.”

I felt like a douche, and I felt for his step-daughter. And I also knew my advice probably wasn’t so true anyway. I’d spent money on my phone and still fucked up. Maybe young people just fuck up, maybe it’s what we do. Then again, I wasn’t that young anymore. I wondered how old I’d have to be before I stopped making that excuse for myself. 30?

We started up a main road, first passing big warehouses then winding up side streets between old brick high rises with teeny tiny windows. Elderly women bustled around the neighborhood with carts full of laundry and groceries, taking advantage of the beautiful morning. I’d always love going out to Queens, with its wide streets and strip malls – you can see more of the sky there. It’s an unfamiliar place, different but only slightly. Like taking a field trip off-campus.

Javier and I struck a deal that once we reached my destination, he’d keep my Lyft “meter” running and wait for me while I rang the doorbell. If, say, no one answered and he drove away, I’d have to find a ride home with no phone in the middle of random Flushing. Or worse, what if someone did answer the door but he was a MURDERER? I wouldn’t be able to evade him, not in this physical state. Javier agreed. We pulled up to the house where, sure enough, there was a cab parked right out front. Javier stood guard outside the Dodge while I approached on foot.

I rang the doorbell. I rang it a couple times. It was evil of me, honestly. If some stranger rang my doorbell at 9am on a Saturday because of some dumb mistake they made, I’d…well I’d probably be nice to their face because confrontation is intimidating, but I would be very much nonplussed under the surface.

An old woman opened the door, just a crack at first, and I explained my situation. She went upstairs to get her husband, who she said was still sleeping (I’m an asshole!) and he came downstairs in his pajamas and slippers. He was not young, but in his 60s or 70s, and white, with an accent. Maybe Russian. I’d might as well never seen him in my life.

“Yeah, I’ve got your phone here,” he said, shuffling past me and down the front walkway to his cab. He reached in, opened the glove compartment, and there it was. My beautiful iPhone 7+. Unscathed but for battery life and a few minor scratches. I thanked him, probably should have tipped him a little extra but it didn’t occur to me at the time, and then turned back to Javier.

“I GOT IT!” I cheered, waving my phone. I skipped back to the Dodge where we exchanged high-fives, and then slumped into the backseat again, relieved.

As we drove off, I could feel my body submitting to the pain of the hangover. I could finally relax now and let it take me.

“So,” Javier peered at me in the rearview again. “Did you catch his medallion number?”

“Uh-uh,” I mumbled, barely listening, my head now buried in my notifications. “You wouldn’t happen to have an iPhone charger, would you?”

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#WHOLE30 WEEK 2: JUST CHECKIN IN


It’s day 11 on my Whole 30 journey, and first things first: I’m ok! It’s not too bad. Yes, I’ve had a few dozen moments where I wanted to bury my feelings about the state of the world and the weather in a mountain of that really cheesy melty delicious mac n cheese mush they sell at the Gourmet Garage hot bar BUT I’ve persevered, and have yet to veer off course. 

Just a reminder that this means I have not had added sugar, diary, legumes, grains or alcohol of any kind in 11 days. 

Am I hungry? Lil bit. But my stomach is getting used to eating real food and knowing when I’ve had enough. Did I go through a fatigue stage? Yeah, around day 8. But my body is adjusting to burning protein and fat now instead of carbs n sugars and I feel more clear-minded and upbeat, with no afternoon slump. Have I stopped freaking out when my coworkers bring in donuts and leave them on the edge of my desk, or order themselves personal pizzas to eat in front of me? No. And I will not. That is rude. Please stop.

Some discoveries from this past week: 

-Whole Foods is one of the only places you can count on finding a Whole 30 meal on the go, and even then many of the hot bar meats and veggies are cooked with sugar or honey, so you’ll likely end up with a box of roasted chicken and steamed zucchini that runs you about $17.

-The macha at Starbucks has sugar in it, but it doesn’t even matter anyway bc even if you order a non-dairy macha latte, it’s tough to verify whether the brands of almond or coconut milk they’re using are unsweetened/naturally sweetened, and whether or not they have carageenan in them (carageenan is an additive used as a thickening agent found in a TON of foods and beverages that is not digestible and harmful to the digestive system). So I didn’t order the macha latte. The conversation I had to have with the Starbucks barista to come to this conclusion was the single most White Lady thing I’ve ever done. 

-When you eat beets they not only turn your poop red, which I knew, but your pee red too!

-Bone broth, as in nutrient-rich broth made using the bones from a healthy, humanely raised animal, is kind of hard to make without a slow cooker. I left mine on the stove overnight, and my gas burner was so hot it steamed out all the water and left me with a pot of ash. 


Eternally thankful this didn’t catch on fire while I was sleeping…Jesus fucking Christ.

So what have I been eating? A LOT of vegetables and a little bit of meat. I’ve been going apeshit over coconut covered dates, tuna, avocados, and plantain chips, which are better than regular chips!!! I know, just shoot me in the face!!!! 

Yesterday as a snack I had fucking cucumber slices with salt on them and loved it, which sent me into a full-on identity spiral. I recalled my first summer in New York when I interned at a fashion magazine and how I used to make fun of the girls who ate veggie slices for lunch. I was strictly a Five Dollar Footlong Bitch then. An Italian Herbs and Cheese Hoe. Now I’m eatin’ seaweed snacks and getting full before the pack is through. Whom have I become!?! Am I some Park Slope Food Bloggin’ Green Juice Drinkin’ Yoga Posin’ Instagram Mom Lady????? 

Whatever, y’all. You’re just mad because I’m losing weight and getting healthier and vocally judging you for the monosodium glutamate that’s totally in those martini olives you’re eating and I bet you didn’t even know!!!!!!

I am still cool, ok? YOU CAN EAT CLEAN AND STILL BE COOL.

Shout Out To Resilience —Just Some Thoughts From a Whiny New Yorker

It was a typical September night in New York, chilly-ish and humid as hell, and I was returning home around 11:30. I’d spent my evening making notes on a pilot, practicing improv and eating a large pile of greasy onion rings my body hardly even craved, let alone needed in the slightest. I was tired, and I had to get up in just a few hours for an early meeting at work.

I was already in NO MOOD to take bullshit from anyone. And then, not five feet from my doorway, a figure scurried quickly across my shoes and brushed against my bare ankles. That’s right. A rat. A rat touched my skin. Before I could realize what I was doing, I jumped in the air and yelped like a Looney Tune who’d be stuck with a hot poker. A parody of a Woman In New York.

Perhaps it was my exhaustion or the onion rings flaring up, but as I was washing the possible (likely) plague off my skin, all the drawbacks of the city started getting to me. For most of my time here, though it’s been stressful, I’ve shrugged off things like insane rents, rodent corpses and #commuterproblems as merely a price to pay for living in such an exciting place. I figured soon enough the stress would pay off and it would all be worth it. Typical transplant delusion.

Now I’m in year five, working a day job and several unpaid side hustles, sometimes wondering if the other shoe is ever going to drop. I know it will, I tell myself, if I just keep working hard and don’t quit. Eventually I’ll succeed, and get to be one of those happy New Yorkers (they exist, right?) who don’t have to run into a random man on their block holding a giant pet snake, or worry about getting crickets thrown on them on the D train. Maybe things like this and this will stop happening, and I won’t be so angry at this place and everyone in it. Maybe, in the meantime, I should stop reading Gothamist (but I can’t. I can’t stop.)

I know, I know. I complain about my life as a ~creative in NY~…but I’m aware I don’t have it that bad. I’m a white girl with a job, her own apartment, two cats and a few friends. I eat, like, 4 meals a day. And I have cable, for Christ’s sake! It’s not convenient, but no one is making me live here. I made a choice. Maybe it’ll pay off, maybe it won’t. The grass is always greener, ain’t it?

But I sure do love this place. I love the diversity, the skyline, the opportunity. The feeling that your life could change with the turn of a street corner. The people. Our spirit and resilience when we are targeted by terror and face that risk every day. The people.

I also love North Carolina, where I’m from. I love it in spite of Pat McCrory’s hateful ass and HB2 and the oh-so-many laws against queer rights and black rights and reproductive rights. In spite of the ignorance and anger and violence towards protestors in the wake of the murder of Keith Scott.

I have family there. I have friends there. I grew up there.

But injustice, well, that’s everywhere in this country. Even your so-called “blue state” is full of “blue lives” who will murder someone for being black. It’s really happening. And it’s happening over and over and over again. I count my privileges every day.

I stand in solidarity with black people in my home state and everywhere fighting for their right to live. I stand in solidarity with New York as we continue grinding in the face of the threat of violence toward our city.

I left North Carolina, and I may even leave New York someday. But both places are forever dear to my heart. I even think I love America, as hard as it is to do. It just has so much potential, you know? Like an absent father who keeps promising to show up. And I’ll keep coming out to the doorstep, hoping for things to turn around. It’s why I’m not writing in “Beyoncé” on the presidential ballot. That, and I’m not a fucking idiot.

I admire those who continue to show up, who aren’t just waiting but speaking out, sharing their influence, shouting in the streets and refusing to take shit from this broken system. I admire those who thrive on ambition, who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams, even when it seems like the world is set up to make them fail. I also admire those who have failed, those who are tired, those who don’t know where they’re going or can’t take anymore. We are only human.

I respect you and I am here for you if you ever need.

To all my friends, everywhere, look out for one another and take care of yourselves.

The Pains and Pleasures of Moving, Moving On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So get a Tinder.”

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

…or maybe not.

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s on.”

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

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

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

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

“Because…I’m married.”

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the trainwreck here!

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

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

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

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

It was 10:30.

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

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

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

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

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

I finally had a reason to stop listening to Anti.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinda funny: This map proves we still don’t know wtf East Williamsburg is

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I work in admin at a design studio, and from time to time people will share interesting interactives on Slack. Today, someone shared this map that shows neighborhood borders in NYC based on where readers think they are.

Of course, my first idea was to check out the mythical “East Williamsburg.” Just as I thought, the guesses span from my current neighborhood (Greenpoint) all the way to Evergreen Freakin’ Cemetery (so totally not Kansas anymore). The general consensus seems to be that East Williamsburg is somewhere around the Grand L stop, which I would tend to agree with, but for a long time I was very confused.

Those of us who live or have ever considering living off the L train have probably experienced being misled by the overuse of the term “East Williamsburg” to describe a broad range of locations in North Brooklyn, with a clear intent to raise the property value in the eyes of the buyer. Sometimes the apartments were reasonably close to Actual Williamsburg, the veritable real estate Mecca of NY (for now). Other times, they were located in less trendy (read: less gentrified) areas more than a stone’s throw away — God forbid, somewhere only accessible by the JMZ!

My experience with this tactic took place mostly in 2012, my first year in New York and still a somewhat early stage in Bushwick’s now fully developed trendiness. Just a few years ago, Bushwick was considered the lower-rent alternative to the first few stops on the L, and though I was naive, that appeared to be true at the time. You could get a room on the Jefferson stop for around $700 a month and have a reasonable commute to the city, but it was clear there were fewer “hipster” amenities and upscale establishments than its counterpart further west, and certainly many more locals remained.

Depending on who you ask, by 2012 the glory days of Bushwick as an artist community were already over. However, it wasn’t quite considered “coveted” real estate. Which, I assume, is how the term “East Williamsburg” began to magically encompass those less attractive areas and fill real estate broker’s pockets everywhere. That is, unless the buyers decided to look at a map.
Now, of course, you can actually see tourist groups (with a guide and everything!) wandering up and down Wyckoff Ave, and the Jefferson stop is one of the highest in demand of the whole L train. People are happy to tell the truth about where Bushwick ends and begins, because living there is now a point of pride, and thereby a whole lot more sellable. I haven’t lived there in almost 2 years — hopefully the rat population has improved since then.
But no matter how much things have changed, it seems like us North Brooklyners have been so thoroughly duped that we may never know what East Williamsburg actually is. To be honest, as long as I can afford it and it’s not an hour away from work, I don’t really care what my neighborhood is called. Any way you slice it – Greenpoint, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick – we’re lucky if we fit on the train in the morning.

A good thing I ate this week: Fried Chicken Burrito

A good thing I ate this week: Fried Chicken Burrito

 Monday night, while waiting at my office for an improv show to start and NOT getting any writing done like I had told myself I would, I decided to use the promo code I’d received in the mail to try Caviar (the service, trycaviar.com)

I had been briefly introduced to the concept of Caviar when trying to order catering for a workshop I organized two weeks ago. It’s essentially the same thing as Doordash and UberEats, whereby a delivery service brings you delicious food from places that wouldn’t otherwise deliver. Since Ubereats still doesn’t deliver below 14th street (so then what is the point, exactly?) I’ve never tried it. Caviar, on the other hand does deliver downtown, so I decided to take advantage. 

I couldn’t decide what I wanted at first, so I searched for “fried chicken.” The usual options came up, things I was familiar with that for some reason didn’t look satisfying. I was hongry. I’m always hungry, but there’s something about being at work after hours that just makes you want to stuff your face like no one is watching. It’s like a free zone, a time warp where anything is possible. It would be a waste not to order something messy, fattening and delicious. Plus, I had salad for lunch.

So I searched for “burrito.” That’s when I discovered something I’d never known existed or it would have been over a looong time ago: the Fried Chicken Burrito from Mission Cantina. 

Mission Cantina has a solid three-star Yelp review. That is to say, almost all of their ratings have been really good, or really bad. Most of the bad reviews I read were just that the food was “weird” and the staff are “hipstery,” so I found them pretty easy to ignore. But I’ve had a string of mediocre takeout incidents recently, causing me to retreat into a sad, scary state where I struggle to silence the voice that says “Don’t order from there! You’ve never had that before! What if it SUCKS??!” 

I hate this feeling. I can’t stand people who always order the same thing out of fear of being disappointed, even if I did know that dissatisfaction all too well. So I took a chance, I put in code for $10 off, paid the extra 7 dollars (including tax & service fee), and waited, watching my delivery man on a GPS tracker as he traveled to my office.

I don’t remember them asking for a tip at checkout, so I assumed it was taken care of by the service fee. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure that I shouldn’t have slipped the delivery guy a few extra bucks. But I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I was thinking about this:   

Behold, a terrible picture of one of the juiciest, dankest, most filling (in both stomach and arteries) fusion burritos OF MY LIFE. 

So, there you have it. That’s it guys. Maybe since it’s raining this week you can try Caviar yourselves (full disclosure: this post was not sponsored by Caviar but I would not turn down money or food if they offered).

…I was going to write a much longer post this week about embarrassment and getting older and like “truth” in “comedy,” but, meh, I felt much more inclined to talk about a burrito instead. 

Have a great weekend!

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

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

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

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

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

8. Trying to Grow My Own Vegetables

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