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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Fab Disaster – The Audio Version!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the rest of your week! 

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.

Scare tactics

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

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

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

“Well, I did lose my job.”

“That’s so stressful!”

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

“Hey babe! What did you do today?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the worst part of Kingda Ka, of course, is Kingda Ka itself. At 456 feet tall and with hydraulics that shoot you from zero to 128 MPH in 3.5 seconds, it’s the tallest and the second fastest roller coaster in the world. It looks like this.
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That doesn’t even look real. It looks like a photoshop prank. The guy who designed Kingda Ka probably did it as a joke and then passed it around the office and got so many laughs they eventually decided, fuck it, why shouldn’t we do this? Why not give people the option to torture themselves in such a way? The best part is, sometimes it doesn’t go fast enough to get over the crest, so it ROLLS ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN to the starting point. I was overcome with a feeling of  “Nah.”

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

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

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

“Scorpio and the City” & “Cray Gardens”

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By the time Alex arrived at my apartment from LA – 5 in the morning on Friday August 29, to be exact – I had been looking forward to it for at least a month. In the days prior, I had done laundry, I had cleaned every inch of my house, I had hung the paintings and mirrors that had been leaning against my walls since I moved to Ridgewood. It was of utmost importance that I make a good impression.

See, Alex and I have been close friends since 2008 when we lived together, along with two of our girlfriends, in a wooded neighborhood on the outer edge of Chapel Hill. I was 19 at the time, and thus a charming combination of messy, lethargic, drunk, manic and depressive, incidentally making me the perfect creative inspiration for Alex given his penchant for Dark Fantasies with a Strong Female Lead, though a not so perfect roommate. By this time in his life (age 21), or perhaps from the very beginning, Alex was a certified neat freak with an impressive work ethic, and with regard to his own life, he took pleasure in the simple things. The only decoration I remember seeing in his spotless room was a red silk Versace robe he hung as a curtain in the window above his desk (a desk, by the way, he used regularly, which is in and of itself a feat) that only made it off the hanger on Holidays and other special occasions. Let’s put it this way: He was the only college junior I knew who owned a Dustbuster.

It should come as no surprise then that we weren’t the best domestic match, seeing as my time at 151B Windsor Circle coincided with the height of Nu Rave (two words I am lucky to have never tattooed on my ass cheeks) as well as an era I now refer to as my “Opium Phase.” Let’s put it this way: When I ran into a good friend of mine from high school, Caroline, on the quad of UNC’s campus in the Fall of 2008, I told her I was spending my food money for the month to fly out to Las Vegas for a rave, to which she replied “Do you even go to this school?” I scraped by that semester with a grade point average that could be described as just barely mediocre.

To this day Alex likes to joke both in person and on the Internet that I continue to be one of the worst influences in his life,complete with assumptions that I remain as messy and disaffected as I was as a teen. He tends to fully disregard that while my blog is called The Fab Disaster, the whole premise is that, over the years, I have made great strides of improvement. I happen to be in the midst of an ascent towards a responsible, productive lifestyle!

I’d set out to prove this to him by scrubbing the grout in my shower.

Upon Alex’s arrival, I answered the door frowning and puffy-faced in pink Crocs and my late Grandmother’s bathrobe. I barely had time to give him half a grand tour before he passed out on my couch.

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California has really made this one more laid back.

Later that morning, as I had to work at 10 AM, I wrangled him along with James to take the train with me into Manhattan. Alex had plans to spend the day wandering the city, visiting Central Park and the Met then making his way down to Soho and Chinatown for a bit of a shopping spree. One of our many plans for the weekend included KUNST!, the monthly party at Verboten thrown by nightlife mogul and club kid once-upon-a-time, Susanne Bartsch. Having only seen the Facebook invite, Alex was already fully aware that he would need some very gay and very costumey accoutrements for the event, namely a collar to go with the leash (a purse strap) he brought with him from home. This wouldn’t have been an accessory of the Alex I knew in 2008, nor the current L.A. Alex I follow on Instragram, but when in Rome, dress as gay as the Romans do. I pointed him in the direction of Patricia Field’s on Bowery.

Another thing we’d been planning for weeks was our dinner that night. Alex called way ahead to reserve a table for two at Maysville NYC, a fancy pants whiskey bar and restaurant in the Flatiron district that would have been totally out of my budget were it not such a special occasion. The occasion, of course, was that Alex would be writing about the experience for his hilarious food blog, Eat Pray Shit. I brought the Vera Wang dress I got 90% off at Century 21 to work, planning to change and hop in a cab right after closing up shop to make our 8:30 reservation. I felt the outfit needed a little something, though, so while Alex was at Topshop with his friend Christine and our friend Moe, I had him look for hats that might go with the dress. He sent me a total of 7 pictures of hats that Christine enthusiastically modeled. When I found one I liked, I stressed that he try it on his head first. Most ladies’ hats do not fit my head, I’m guessing because clothing companies are sexist and thus unequipped for the amount of brain that this lady is carrying around. The hat I wanted was $70, so Alex made an executive decision to go for the slightly more affordable $48 option with a narrower brim.

At 8 PM sharp I darted into the bathroom to squeeze into my Wang – apparently my ass had gotten larger since I bought the dress back in February. I changed my shoes, had my coworker Steph zip me up, and stumbled down the front steps into a cab to the Flatiron district. I put my lipstick on in the dim reflection in the taxi window. Upon arriving at an unmarked entrance on 26th street, I hopped out, but not before my cab driver offered some sage, unsolicited wisdom: that I seemed like a strong woman who knows how to get what she wants, and I would live a happy life. Apparently cabs are the new fortune cookies!

Though I had been so worried about being late to the reservation Alex committed perjury to get, I miraculously made it there not only on time, but 15 minutes before him! It was home field advantage – my friend had misjudged his walk from the East Village. Again, this doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, just in the context of my constant battle not to even slightly disappoint Alex Rose. My not wholly irrational fear was that he’d show up a mere 2 minutes before me, have to wait, and say something along the lines of “you know you’re never going to be successful if you can’t even show up to dinner on time. Hahaha!” If Alex sounds like an asshole to you, well, it’s because he is. But we love him anyway.

He arrived in a Hawaiian print tank top and shorts, an outfit I loved simply because of how LA it was. I love anything LA. In fact, I love anything not New York, in New York. If only he’d have worn a sombrero.

Alas, we had a different conversation headpiece for the evening: the topshop hat. As I said, I’d had my doubts about sizing in the beginning, but my hopes were high. After all, the best hat I ever had in my life was a porkpie I accidentally walked out of Topshop wearing in the winter of 2011. It was tragically destroyed when I lent it to the alcoholic I was sleeping with that month and I would never be the same. Not until the new hat. This new hat could change everything.

When he pulled the hat out of the bag my heart sank a little. Sure, the brim was wide-ish and the top had a cute shape, but I could already tell at a glance it was too small for my head. It was due to blind optimism that I tried it on at all.

“It looks like it fits!”
“It doesn’t though.”
“Shake your head around and see if it flies off.”
“[shakes head] yeah but that’s because I’ve pulled it snug onto my skull. It doesn’t go over my ears.”
“No hat goes over ears, Kathryn”
“You can see my head bulging out the sides of the top. God damn it.”

This was no sisterhood of the porkpie hat. I felt like Danny Devito in Matilda, super glued to the rim of his fedora. What’s more, the porkpie of 2011 was free, and this one cost $50, which was as much as I’d budgeted for this whole dinner. It also turned out I had severely undershot that estimate, making it all the more necessary to return the hat and put the money back on Alex’s card before he headed back out west. We’d just have to zip down to Soho the next morning before heading up to 40th street to catch our Jitney to the Hamptons. Oh right, in all the fuss over the hat and the dinner, I forgot to mention that this whole weekend was planned around a Labor Day trip to visit our friend Kalee in her Southampton share.

We finished dinner at about 11 PM, and despite being able to count the hours of sleep I’d had on one hand (in Alex’s case, on one finger), we headed home to change into some goth stripper outfits for the club. I had no idea what I was going to wear, but I figured I’d throw some fishnet over a bathing suit and call it a day, per usual.Also per usual, I decided to go with the high maintenance hair option and have Hannah put in clip-in extensions all over my head. After about an hour of pulling and tugging at my skull as I wined like Quinn Morgendorffer and chugged Stellas, we were ready.

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Around 1 AM we clomped out of the house (I mistakenly wore heels) took the subway two neighborhoods over, and spent the next 4 hours standing in the middle of the pride party that never ends, overspending on shitty alcohol. Around 6 AM, we somersaulted out of a cab into bed and slept in our clothes.

I woke up 3 hours later according to plan. Jumped in the shower, packed my backpack full of Hamptons gear (a white dress? Cut offs? A turban? That should do it) and shook Alex out of bed.

It was 10:30 am. We only had an hour and half to go to the Good Deli, grab sandwiches, grab the L to the R, run into topshop, return the hat, get on the 6 train, and get to the jitney 5 minutes early before they gave away our reservation. Also, we’d had 3 hours of sleep and were feeling so sick we thought we’d die. Yaaaay!

Cut to: two hungover 20 somethings sweating and panting, jogging down broadway in, well, actually pretty nice weather. We got to Topshop by 11:20 and I waited for Alex on the front steps to return the hat inside.

And I waited
And waited

“Excuse me, where do you make a return in this store?” I asked the greeter
“On the third floor.”

Fuck. FUCK. We were gonna miss the bus. Just then I saw Alex sans topshop shopping bag darting through mannequins and overpriced accessories towards me at the exit-

“TAXI!” I yelled into the street as we both flailed desperately at the traffic. Remarkably, we snagged one. If my cab driver from that morning is reading this, wherever you are, know that I am sorry for emphatically screaming at you to re-route about 8 times because “first avenue will be faster, no third avenue! Noo you can’t make a left turn here GOD DAMN IT.” I really am a nice, polite girl usually.

We jogged up to the 40th street Jitney stop at 11:59. I tossed the keys to James (did I mention he’d been waiting there since 11:15 to get my keys?) greeted him with a huge kiss and and a self deprecating joke he probably rolled his eyes at, and boarded the Hampton jitney. That is, the bus that takes new york’s wealthy but not wealthiest, sometimes the not wealthy at all, the guests of guests of guests of guests, to a very expensive beach.

It was on this bus that, in the middle of an indigestion paralleled by none, I was informed that we may not have a place to put our things, much less a way to get to a place, when we arrived.

See, we were visiting a friend of ours who was in the Hamptons for the summer to work for a high-end boutique. The residence, which she shared with 4? 5 other ladies? was paid for by that company. Therefore we needed special permission to visit the house, and were expressly prohibited from being there unsupervised, ever, no matter what.

Conveniently, while our boarding approval was still TBD, we arrived at the Southampton jitney station at 2 pm, 6 hours before our host would get off work, and 3 miles from her residence. We were nowhere near the beach. This was gonna be fun.

First we checked with the Enterprise rental car people. I, being two weeks away from turning 25, was still too young to rent a car (though strangely, not too young to do any of the other age-restricted activities in America besides collect social security benefits or run for president) but Alex had us covered. That is, if we could find a car in our budget.

“We’ll take the cheapest car you have!”

“That’d be…an Escalade for 650 dollars a day.”

“No thank you!”

So we decided to walk the three miles up County Road 39 in the heat of the day, luggage in tow, for the sake of “adventure.” Also due to complete necessity, but adventure sounds so much cuter.

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“I think we’re the most interesting people in the Hamptons right now.”

IMG_9534 IMG_9535 IMG_9547We were covered in scratches (pictured above) from climbing down a hillside of thorn bushes to avoid being killed by traffic on a road with no sidewalk.

When we finally arrived at the house, there was no one to be found. Word on the street (literally Kalee texted us when we were on the streets) was that we still weren’t exactly allowed to be there…but we had beers to drink and selfies to take.

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Eventually, after relaxing for much too short of a time, we decided to go on a hike through a tick infested area as per Alex’s suggestion. Apparently everything in the Hamptons is infested with ticks. They did not mention this in Sex and the City. Alex used his powers of persuasion aka name-calling to bully me onto the trail. Luckily neither of us got bitten, because it would have ruined the gorgeous experience those trails were providing us. While exploring, we got the bright idea to follow the railroad tracks into town so we could eat at Public House restaurant.

On the way, we noticed something odd.

“Cool! Animal bones!”

We kept walking. We started noticing more and more bones, everywhere

“…cool?”

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As we continued,we saw and smelled about 10 decomposing deer carcasses,not to mention two live deer. It was disturbing, to say the least, but at least we made it to the restaurant in ONLY a 45 minute walk.

By the time we got to the restaurant it was dark. Apparently late enough for every female in the establishment to be a little fucked up…or are Hamptons girls just crazy? The lines were starting to blur. Just as we sat down two blondes girls at the table next to us just GAVE us their shrimp cocktail because they were “SO STUFFED,” then read us page after page of sexts from okcupid dates they’d had recently. Most importantly, we finally got to see Kalee and eat tons of bread before going back to the house and falling asleep to the Anaconda Fart Remix.

The next morning we hitched a ride with Kalee’s roommate out to East Hampton, where upon arrival – get this – we WALKED to the beach. Even though the water was freezing cold and it was a little bit overcast, I still got a little tan. And in any case, trudging through the Hamptons struggle is worth it just to be a spectator in the Horrible Parenting Olympics that seems to happen there all season long. Mothers lose their kids on the beach and don’t bat a single botoxed eyelid (presumably because they can’t), little kids FAR ABOVE the acceptable age of playing naked roam around with privates out. At the lobster rack, I watched a 4 year old almost jump out of a window while the mother studied the cole slaw menu. It was truly amazing.

But nothing says Hamptons Shame quite like Grey Gardens, the estate once belonging to Jackie O’s eccentric relatives. These days, it’s a lovely cottage with overgrown shrubberies out front and blue shutters. On the way back to Southampton, we googled the address and made a little detour so we could stomp around in the mulch and take a picture of the renovated property. But honestly, you couldn’t see a damn thing.

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On the jitney ride back the next morning, Alex and I barely spoke.Our feet hurt, we hadn’t slept, we’d spent every last cent of our money on lobster rolls. But I had just spent three whole days with my best friend talking shit, walking in nature, and laughing at farts, so it had been the perfect weekend. What more was there to say?

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Virtual Reality

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

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

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

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

Alex: Oh my god

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

Alex: Yeah…

Me: But I actually feel pretty okay on the surface

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

Me: We should talk more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex: It fucks me UP

Me: Which is never

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Yeah but she had two kids before you

Alex: That’s true

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

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

Me: Yeah :/

Alex: Drink those voices away!

Me: But seriously I’m freezing my eggs

Alex: Might as well
Mary is already 26

Me: Turning 25 is like

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

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

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

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

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

Me: On which ages are the worst

Alex: Bahaha

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

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

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

Alex: Hahaha
Yames

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

Alex: He seems great to me Mmmm yea

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

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

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

Alex: I like that And he’s sexy

Me: Yeah he is

Alex: To me
Lol In a platonic way

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

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

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

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

Me: I was mostly joking

Alex: This is v funny

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex: Cyborgs is the next thing

Me: Borgcore

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

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

Alex: No one believes me

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

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

Me: Yeah but even without government control

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

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

Alex: Yeah I guess

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

Alex: Government matters less than corporations

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

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

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

Alex: Ugh on the plus side my apartment is nice

Me: Aw yay

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

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

—-

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Life is plastic, it’s fantastic

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

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

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

A Queen and Her Asshole

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(Via Google Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

spa castle1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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