The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

catdookie
You may find yourself hiding in the bathroom around Stage 6.  (Art by Thrashley!)

New York apartments are tiny. Everyone knows this. But because we live in the greatest city ever (objectively — no input required, thanks!) people from our hometowns always want to come stay with us. As transplants, we were in their shoes once. We probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the couch-lenders of our pasts. And so we pay it forward. It’s just what you do. Hotels cost too much.

There are several stages to every guest visit you will experience as a New York host. It is important to be aware of them so that when they occur, you know you are not a bad friend, cousin, daughter, or ex-coworker. Before we get started, you must remember: no matter how close you are with someone, all people have the capacity to be annoying. There are no exceptions.

Let’s begin.

The Stages of Hosting Tourists in Your New York Apartment

Stage 1: The Guilty Acquiescence

Your friend has just texted “Hey I’m coming up in 2 weeks! Can I stay with you?” and while that may be enough time to physically prepare, it is not enough to prepare emotionally for the amount of energy this is going to suck out of you. You miss your friend very much, but you remember the last time you had long-term visitors…that stain in the rug never did come out. Your first instinct is to say no. You want to tell them if they can’t afford to stay in a hotel then they just shouldn’t come to New York, but you know that is heartless and unreasonable, so you say yes. You begin resenting them prematurely for their week of free lodging, in your home for which you pay $60/day.

Stage 2: The Planning Stage

You’re starting to get excited about your friend’s visit. It’s been a while since you’ve seen them, or any friends for that matter, since you spend all your time working to afford to live here and “make your dreams come true,” whatever that means anymore. And when you’re not doing that, you’re sleeping. It’s not the City That Never Sleeps for the people who live here, ok? We have jobs. Anyway, in anticipation of your annual social interaction you start picking out the best restaurants, stores, sights, and activities you would never do with your city friends because no one’s schedule matches up, but that you want to make it seem like you do all the time. You start frantically googling “best rooftop pools” and pumping air into your bike tires. This is gonna be really fun!

Stage 3: The Prepping Stage

Not to be confused with the planning stage, the prepping stage is when you attempt to get your life together at the very last minute so that somehow, some way, you can find room for another person in it. You vacuum the rug, you wash your sheets (even though you’re just going to have to wash them again in a few days), and play Tetris with your furniture to figure out where the hell you’re going to put an air mattress. All miscellaneous items get stuffed into the back of your closet, if you’re lucky enough to have one. The OCD you’ve developed from living in tiny, mess-prone apartments starts to flare up, and you have to remind yourself that it’s only temporary, that you will only be without a walking path between the kitchen and the bathroom for a few days, and that most likely no one is going to step on your cat when they get up to pee in the night. At the very least, you reassure yourself, you will only have to tell your guest once that there are NO shoes allowed in the house, and that won’t be a problem because surely your friends are adults who don’t lose all sense of social norms the second they go on vacation. Right? You spend two whole days debating which would be less stress-inducing: giving your guest a key and trusting them to lock up your place which will definitely get robbed if they forget, OR waking up at dawn to let them in after nights of partying and forcing them to leave the house when you go to work. Speaking of work, you’re still trying to figure out what exactly they should do with themselves when their plane arrives smack in the middle of a workday. “Take a Lyft to my house. Not a cab, a Lyft. I will meet you there.” You request to leave work a few hours early.

Stage 4: The Party Stage

Your guest will be so excited to arrive that they won’t unpack any of their things at first, much to your relief. You set their suitcase in the corner of the room and let them gush about how cute your apartment is while you over-apologize for its small size and lack of amenities. They think you’re crazy because you have a decent apartment in — again­­­­ — the greatest city literally ever, so you have nothing to be sorry for! You start to feel pretty good about yourself, and realize yeah, you are kind of living the dream. You have something to offer! You crack open the bottle of vodka you purchased just for this moment, and drink cocktails while catching up in your fabulous home. You have dinner at the trendy restaurant you reserved, then go out for more drinks and maybe hit a club or two. You hardly even go to clubs anymore because those got old really fast, but all the stereotypical, silly BS about your city has just become interesting and fun again. Your guest’s innocence has already rubbed off on you and you make some ill-advised decisions. Why are you on the subway with a group of strangers at 4AM heading the opposite direction of your apartment? It feels like that first month after you moved here all over again, when anything was possible. But you already know how that story ends, which brings us to our next stage.

Stage 5: Pushing Your Physical Limits

Now comes the hangover, but it’s not the kind where you can stay in and watch cable and order Chinese. Nope! Your guest doesn’t want to waste their precious vacation time. You’ve got sights to see and desserts to wait on line for, and more shopping and museums than you thought one person could absorb in a matter of days. You’re suddenly regretting all those attractions you bragged about over the phone but you know it would be wrong to try and talk them out of it, so you take one for the team. On less than 5 hours of sleep, you put on your best outfit and a full face of makeup, because “sightseeing” is just a another word for “photoshoot on location.” You then walk no less than 14 miles around the city you claim to love so much while trying not to complain. In truth, you’re seeing parts of town you wouldn’t otherwise, and you feel good about not wasting your weekend inside on your couch. You just wish you didn’t feel so shitty for all of it.

Stage 6: Wits End

By this point you’re personally done with drinking. You’ll have to go back to work soon if you haven’t already and this lifestyle is not going to cut it. Your guest has totally abandoned the façade of politeness they presented when they first got here, and now their shit is absolutely everywhere. God forbid the visitor is your sister or best friend, or they’ve been rummaging through your stuff too, and now there’s no telling where theirs ends and yours begins. You’re going to have a rage stroke if someone uses another one of your god damn towels. The garbage is overflowing and everything smells like cigarette smoke (they can afford to still be smokers because the packs in their town cost less than $14). You’re exhausted and they’ve been here a while, so you ask as politely as possible if they might want to do their own thing for the last day. But it comes out more like, “I honestly don’t have time for this, or for that matter, any money left. So how about you do you and just buzz me when you need to get in, ok? Oh and for the 50th time, can you PLEASE take your shoes off? I’m sorry I’m just so tired.

Stage 7: The Goodbye Stage

Somehow, after spending what felt like months overrunning your personal space, your guest is able to fit their belongings back into their bags. You didn’t even notice them packing because you were still asleep. For some reason, every time anyone visits New York they leave on an 8AM flight, which means they have to leave your house, that is, wake you up, at the ass-crack of dawn to say goodbye. You put on your slippers, walk their suitcases down the stairs, and wait with them in the vestibule for their Lyft which will take 15 minutes or some equally ungodly amount of time to arrive. You hug your guest and wish them safe travels. You tell them you hope they had a wonderful visit and to “come back any time, really” though that last part doesn’t sound very convincing through your yawn. You go back to bed, and when you wake up they’re gone. It’s like they were never here, except that they used all your fucking toilet paper. And then you miss them. You realize how much having them here really grounded you and reminded you of your past. You feel a little empty inside without them.

Stage 8: Recovery

As you slide back into your daily routine and stretch out into your personal space again, you can finally breathe and reflect on all the fun you’ve had. You post pictures on social media to show everyone how effortless and carefree it all was. You do your laundry, clean your floors, ignore your bank account. Finally, you text your guest that you miss them already. “Next time,” you say, “I’ll come to you.”

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?”

#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

IMG_1009

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

East Williamsburg

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!