Tokyo Story

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By my 25th birthday on September 15, 2014, I had been working hard at a job that wasn’t right–right for my career trajectory or right for me emotionally–for about seven months. But on that day it didn’t bother me, because I was 7,000 miles away.

For what was, I believe, a much deserved paid vacation, I decided to visit the city that I had always considered most exciting. Similar to the way nearly every American white girl puts Paris on a pedestal, I have always adored Tokyo and thought of it as a place where I might “find myself.” I had a little money saved, just enough to buy the tickets and still maybe have some spending money at the bottom of the barrel. So one day in late summer, via iMessage of course, I proposed to my long time friend Sarah aka Cousler aka Cousler8 that we visit together over my birthday week. I hadn’t really spent much quality time with Sarah in the last five years, but I knew that she loved the city and when I say I always wanted to visit, I mean I always wanted to visit with her. She was thrilled at the idea, as I’d hoped.

So we put in our requests for days off. I bought a the Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo and highlighted the shit out of it. Even though we could barely get in touch with one another to buy the tickets with our completely opposite work schedules (and Sarah’s signature unreachability) we somehow managed to snag two round trip seats to Tokyo Narita Airport on Delta airlines, for $1,000 each. It was the exact amount we could afford, and the lowest price we’d seen in about a month of lurking Kayak.

Although no stranger to air travel, I had only been out of the country once before. Having failed to locate my passport (did I lose it in the fire that burnt down my college residence in 2010? Is it buried somewhere beneath a heap of Lifetouch photos in the back of my childhood closet? I’ve resigned myself to ignorance) I rushed around town on my days off, procuring the necessary forms of identification, while astonishing and dismaying myself with my inability to master the basic functions of a photocopier. I didn’t believe this was all really happening until I received my passport in the mail. I take that back – to this day I am not 100% certain any of this really happened. It’s now been a month since I returned from the trip, and some details are hazy, like trying to recall a dream, so to make it easier for me and for you I will tell the story of my journey one day at a time. For more photos (many, many more) peep the links to my Flickr and Instagram in the sidebar.

Day 1: #TokyoForever #ByeUSA
In an effort to not spend the nearly 24 hours door to door by our lonesome, Sarah flew to meet me in NY the day before departure. She arrived while I was still at work, and still unpacked for that matter, so we only had time for a few hugs that evening before she fell asleep on my couch watching The Killing and I piled my life into a TJ Maxx suitcase (it’s amazing) in a full-on state of panic. I packed every colorful item I owned, every bold patterned anything. I was prepared to serve a NYC meets Harajuku look every day I was to be there. I packed my big ass camera that I never use into my Victoria’s Secret backpack, put my pink Sharper Image luggage tags on my two bags and slept for five hours. The next morning I said goodbye to James, who’d be staying in Ridgewood that week to take care of the cats for me. Sarah and I ate sandwiches in the $80 cab ride to Newark Airport.

As soon as we got there, I spent $40 more on a memory foam neck pillow. I’m telling you this because it ended up being the best $40 I ever spent. I suggest you all buy one, even if you’re not traveling. My greatest aspiration is that one day everything I own will be memory foam. My clothing, my TV, my refrigerator. My car. Cutlery. Ah, that’s when I’ll know I’ve made it. Anyway-

Our first flight was no big deal. We had a short layover in the very sexy (no sarcasm) Minneapolis/St.Paul airport, then boarded a for the 10 hour haul to Tokyo. I was mentally prepared because I had flown Delta recently, and I knew there would be S-I-C-K entertainment options in the back of the seat in front of me. The main problem was I already had a post-nasal drip that would not quit, and it was soon to be exacerbated. On that flight, I probably watched 5 movies and slept for a total of 20 minutes. Sarah was out for a good bit and I would have been very jealous were it not for the KUSH-ASS memory foam supporting my lower back, and the unlimited beverage service that kept me pretty much wasted the entire time.

Day 2 – Tita Chu and Her Generous Boo
After walking through the bizarrely deserted customs area, and waiting by the wrong baggage claim for about a half hour, we met Sarah’s Aunt, Tita Chu and her husband, whose name I do not remember, so I will call him Tito. He and I didn’t communicate much other than nods and smiles, since the only language he speaks is Japanese. Did I mention I don’t know any Japanese? Doesn’t matter. I should still know his name.

How do I describe Tita Chu? Tita Chu is a hilarious Filipino woman, about 5’2″ and gorgeous with a shoulder length haircut. Tita Chu has the cackle of a witch, if that witch was also your favorite friend to take to the mall. She has the greatest and most effective side-eye I have ever seen. Tita Chu tells it like it is. She wears 4 inch heels 24/7, except in the apartment, when we all wear slippers. God I love slippers. I never realized how gross bare feet were until I was exposed to slipper culture.

What I also didn’t realize until I actually arrived in Japan is that I am far too big for everything in the country. Immediately upon entering Tita Chu’s minimalist apartment in Ryogoku, my arms were hitting Sarah’s family members in the face and knocking over Charmmy Kitty figurines. My suitcase was the size of Tita Chu herself. It took an unreasonable amount of generosity from her, then, to let us stay at her apartment for our first night in the city. It worked out pretty well since we immediately collapsed into Sarah’s cousin’s bed of stuffed animals and slept for 11 hours. It was 7 PM.

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Day 3 – Culture Shock or Cold Medicine?
The next morning I awoke at the crack of dawn with a terrible sinus headache. Luckily Tita Chu wakes up as early as we do when we’re 13 hours ahead of schedule, and she gave me a packet of Japanese cold medicine. I have no idea what was in it, but I do know that it worked. That plus a humongous Filipino breakfast and I was feeling high as hell. I don’t think it was even 8 AM by the time we decided to go explore the neighborhood, and being that it was a Sunday morning, we were told nothing would be open. But it was a beautiful day, and we were antsy, so we set out on our first adventure.

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The view from Tita Chu’s apartment

One of the first things I noticed about Tokyo was, despite crowded streets and sidewalks, how quiet everything is. I’m used to being one of the loudest people everywhere I go, but this was different. No horns were honking, no sirens blaring. And there was no litter anywhere. This was especially confusing since there didn’t seem to be any public trash receptacles anywhere either. We quickly realized that in Japan, you own your garbage. People just abide by the social contract there. You also very seldom see homeless people. It makes NYC look like a war zone.

Down the street from Tita Chu’s, we found a mall that was set to open at 10 AM. In the hour before, teens crowded around the entrance and waited for the doors to open. Waiting in line for things to open is another thing I saw a lot in Tokyo that I don’t really see here that often. I guess people just wake up on the weekends with a plan to hit the arcade, and they are so serious about it that they will literally sit on the sidewalk for an hour to be one of the first inside. I personally hate to wait for anything. This is one of my most American qualities.

We waited at the Starbucks next to the mall. If you’re wondering, Starbucks in Japan is exactly like Starbucks in America, except the menu is in both Japanese and English, the “small” size is really, really small, and there is no free wifi. I know because I figured out very quickly how to ask for a “wifi password” using my own fucked up version of sign language. When the mall opened, I was surprised at how much it looked exactly like an American mall. A lot of the clothes, though Japanese labels, were imitations of distinctly American and British styles. Burgundy plaid skirts and creeper-style loafers were in about half the stores we saw. I would quickly come to learn that the most common looks for girls in Tokyo under 30 are: Punk, Ivy League, Barbie Doll, and American Early 90s. What I’m trying to say is that everyone and everything looked great. But if I wanted to buy a pair of shoes, I was shit out of luck. When I tried on a pair of sky-high wedges and I could barely squeeze my feet in them, I motioned to the sales girl for a bigger size. She covered her mouth and giggled. I’d just tried on their biggest size.

Then it was time for our first Japanese bite. It was a little hard to choose where to go because everything looked so delicious and we had no idea what any of it was. We settled for a little ramen spot where you order from a touch screen vending machine, which then prints you a ticket to hand to your server. It was kind of brilliant, since we knew the only way we could order anything was by pointing at pictures anyway.

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Later that day, while still cracked out on cold medicine and feeling like I was in an alternate universe, Tita Chu and Tito took us to the Edo-Tokyo museum. The Edo period in Japanese history is between 1603 and 1868, which I already knew a little bit about from Ninja Turtles III. The museum tells the history of the Geisha and the tradition of Kabuki, and had original paintings by iconic Japanese artists like Hokusai.

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Afterwards, we traveled to our apartment in Roppongi, which we’d conveniently reserved on Airbnb a week prior for 65 dollars a night. On the way, we watched music videos on an iPhone propped to the dashboard of Tito’s car. Sarah and I had been talking about how much we love that catchy song “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit.  It wasn’t until the music video came on during our drive through the city that we realized it’s actually about Japan. I pretty much get goosebumps and cry every time I hear it now, officially making me the cheesiest person that’s ever lived.

That night, we bought bottles of sake and Japanese whiskey and tried to turn up. So far we’d been too weak to do it, and I really wanted that to change. But jet lag is no joke – I fell asleep in a plate of overpriced dumplings that night while ringing in my birthday at a restaurant in Roppongi Hills.

Day 4 – Kawaii Overload
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The next morning it was officially my birthday in Japan, so I set out to do all the things I’d always dreamed of, like going to a sushi bar, a cat cafe and shopping in Shibuya. Unfortunately I woke up at 6 AM again, this time with screaming back pain, and felt compelled to do two hours of yoga in the middle of our tiny apartment, next to a kitchenette sink that smelled a little (a lot) like poo. I had time to contemplate age and what it meant to be another year older and where I wanted to go in life. September 15 in Japan is actually Respect for the Aged Day, funny enough. So I tried to show myself some of that respect.

That afternoon, after dressing myself up like an adult child, we walked from a sushi bar in Roppongi Hills through Ebisu to Nyafe Melange, a cat cafe. I will let the following photos speak for themselves.

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When you arrive at the cat cafe, the girls at the front desk ask you to wash your hands and then you pay the entry fee. Admission comes with a drink, and is charged by the half hour with the option to purchase a “snack” for the cats. The snack is a small tupperware filled with katsuobushi, or bonito flakes, which are dried fermented fish flakes used in Japanese cuisine. The cats go NUTS over these, and it’s good that we bought them because they pretty much just sleep and ignore you unless you have food (same). I also noticed that most of the patrons were petting the cats in a way I had never seen before. Instead of dragging the palm of their hand across the back or rubbing the butt, they were patting the butt at the base of the tail over and over. I came home and tried the butt-pat with Kosmo and it was a major hit. Try it on your cat!

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From there we walked up Meiji-Dori to Shibuya crossing. Again, the sheer number of people that manage to coexist in one space blows my mind. Maybe it was because I was a tourist, but this equivalent of Times Square in Tokyo was nowhere near as repulsive and unwelcoming as its New York counterpart. I think it’s just because foot traffic in Japan is so cooperative. In NYC people just stand around clogging up sidewalks and waiting to get hit by cabs. Oh, America.

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That’s when we entered Shibuya 109. It’s basically a friggin skyscraper full of fashion stores for Japanese babes, and we were in shock. I wanted to buy everything and take pictures of everyone. I’m kicking myself now because I was so distracted I barely took any photos while I was inside. While the target market for many of the stores was a slightly younger girl, I did find a pretty awesome store with over the top hip hop gear called Baby Shoop. The mascot of Baby Shoop is the silhouette of a woman with an afro, and their slogan is “Black for Life.” A little cultural appropriation is tolerated in Tokyo, from what I could tell. I found a huge fuzzy sweater and the woman who checked me out had a deep tan, a grill and door-knocker earrings, not unlike a Japanese Kreayshawn. When I told her I was from New York she broke into a grin of familiarity. Fashion girls in Tokyo fucking love Brooklyn. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I technically live in Queens.

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That evening we ate at a three story hot dog stand in the middle of Shibuya, essentially a Japanese Crif Dogs, while watching a video performance by the Black Eyed Peas from 2005. Somehow Tokyo manages to be simultaneously futuristic, traditional, and just barely irrelevant.

When we got home, Sarah went out for snacks and came back with bags full of goodies, including a potato cake that she put a candle in, and sang me happy birthday.

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Day 5 – Adventures in Harajuku
The next day we had a breakfast of Curry Cup o’ Noodles before taking the train to Harajuku, because we hadn’t shopped enough already. There we found more eye-popping street cuties and a store called Spinns, which pretty much had everything we could ever want – including an adorable sales girl Yuming, who we wanted as a best friend. There is an obsession in Harajuku with American vintage clothes and toys from the 80s and 90s, and Spinns is very much on this tip. Almost every item was pastel and covered in faux fur or feathers. The walls were lined in unpackaged Malibu Barbies I recognized from my childhood. Another store called Wego decorated with spray painted old TVs and troll dolls. I was right at home…more than I even realized. This store, like many others, had racks upon racks of vintage clothing imported from the United States. I even found old UNC and NC State sweatshirts in the men’s section. It was too weird.

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After spending half our money and wearing our feet to the bone, we hit up a place called Kiddyland. It’s a four-story toy store with a Star Wars section, a Studio Ghibli section, a Nintendo section, and entire floors dedicated to Snoopy and Hello Kitty. I was in heaven, although I’d already learned by now that toys are EXPENSIVE in Tokyo (and everywhere. Being a mom must be so annoying) All I wanted was a reasonably priced Pikachu, and for some reason that was very hard to find. But I had already found some adorable socks, so I was pretty happy.

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We comforted ourselves with some Thai curry, then stopped by the weird beauty garage on our way out of Harajuku to pick up some hair dye. Sarah had been talking about going purple, and because I was an expert (i.e – a receptionist at a hair salon) I offered to do it for her. We used Quis Quis Devil’s Trick hair color in lavender, because that’s all we could find. When we got back to the apartment, flavored Asahis in hand, we put the color on the blonde ends of Sarah’s hair and left it on for 30 minutes. Because Devil’s Trick is essentially just a temporary gloss, all it did was cancel out the yellow tones and make her hair look normal. She was not particularly fond of that.
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Day 6 – Temples, Towers and Being Tourists

Being on foot in one of the biggest cities in the world can take a lot out of you, so we took it slow on Wednesday and decided to keep it local for the day. Luckily there are plenty of things to do and see in Roppongi and the surrounding areas. It was a cloudy day, and we appreciated this. The weather in mid-September Tokyo is much like the weather in mid-September New York: beautiful by night, and just a little hotter than you might prefer by day.

After guzzling our carton of iced coffee that we bought at the corner store and washing our clothes in the tiny, microwave sized washing machine (why aren’t these popular in the US? I could fit it in my bedroom and do my laundry every day instead of once a stinky month), we marched up the hill to Chinese Cafe 8 for some greasy cashew chicken. Upon arrival we were more than a little bit confused by the decor, but we took it with a grain of salt (and lots of MSG…mmm)

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Zojo-ji is a Buddhist temple located in Shiba, which is just a short walk from Roppongi. The grounds are lush and mystical, even if they do partially overlap with a hotel and golf course. On the steps of the temple we could hear people chanting inside. The most amazing moment, though, was when the only stray cat I’d seen in Tokyo emerged from the bushes and sat next to me on the temple steps. I felt like I was in a Murakami novel.
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Just across the street from Zojo-ji is the Tokyo Tower, the iconic Eiffel Tower-inspired observation tower that’s nearly 1,100 feet high. I have a pretty serious fear of heights so I got a little freaked out in the elevator (I’m a loser, I know) but I will say it was the smoothest ride up I’d ever felt. The view from the top is breathtaking and doesn’t even feel real.
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On our way back to Roppongi we walked through Roppongi Hills, a gigantic skyscraping complex with luxury retail, condos, offices, restaurants, BMW dealerships…basically everything rich people need to survive without leaving their neighborhood. We’d walked through it almost every day so far, but this time we stumbled into a record release concert for a boy band called 2 PM, complete with thousands of screaming teenagers. I thought Directioners were serious, but the teens are not kidding about their boybands in Tokyo.
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The inside of Gonpachi

“Legend” has it that Quentin Tarantino got his inspiration for the set of the Crazy 88 fight scene in Kill Bill Vol.1 from the layout of a Roppongi restaurant called Gonpachi, so naturally it is a major tourist attraction, and naturally we succumbed. The inside of the restaurant was similar to the movie, although not nearly as grand or badass. And the food could be described as “aight.” Still, it was fun to overhear dumb conversations between other tourists and get to peep the open kitchen, complete with a yakitori grill. The best thing about traveling with Sarah is that she’s a cook, and it seems like she knows everything there is to know about food. After all, the dining in Tokyo is, like, 60% of its appeal. If the experience at Gonpachi taught me anything, it’s that the quality of a Japanese restaurant is usually inversely proportional to the percentage of white people inside. Roppongi is known as the “foreigner’s neighborhood,” so most of the spots are A) really expensive and B) crawling with rich people, jet-setters, and Japanese-American teens attending English speaking schools. That night at Muse nightclub, we drank cocktails while eavesdropping on two American college girls cry about their roommates. It was glamorous.

Day 7 – Delicious Mistakes
The next day started off pretty damn slowly. We knew we wanted to go to the Tsukiji fish market at some point, and this seemed like the best day, even though we woke up long after the infamous auction ended. Still, we figured the market would be operational all day, so we headed over there in the early afternoon. When we arrived it was a ghost town, and we could tell it would have been really amazing had we just gotten there a few hours earlier. Luckily we found a sushi restaurant right in the middle of the market that was just barely still open. Even though I could tell we were annoying them a little bit with our American straggler vibe, they still gave us the best sushi of our lives. Everyone was a happy camper.
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From there we headed back to Shibuya for more shopping. Most of the day was sucked away by a 7-story gift store called Loft, which has everything you ever wanted, a gift for everyone you know, and things you never even knew existed. Once we’d finally eased our guilt by finally buying gifts for all our loved ones, it was time for karaoke.

I honestly can’t even talk about karaoke night without getting a little sick, although the experience itself was amazing. We went to Karaoke-Kan, a tall building with floors upon floors of private rooms you can rent for your party that have microphones and little TVs with lyrics on them (and terrible accompanying video footage of American cities). You order your drinks when you rent your room. We started with 1 hour of singing and 2 whiskey highballs, which is like a whiskey ginger in a beer stein, I guess. Ten minutes before the end of your hour, they call up to your room and let you know its almost up. Of course, an hour of drunk karaoke with your best friend goes by pretty fast, so by that time we were just amped for more singing. We extended our stay by another hour and asked for more highballs and shots…and did this FOUR MORE TIMES before leaving Shibuya for the night, bringing our tab to $80 each. By now the subways were no longer running, and cabs didn’t want to pick us up. But I had us covered! I was drunk and I had a map on my data-less iPhone…I could definitely lead us home by foot! We walked for over an hour, in a direction that remains unclear, at 3 in the morning along Japan Rail tracks that were under construction. It wasn’t safe or remotely advisable, and my stubbornness was pissing Sarah off. We finally dove into a cab, and it took him more than 15 minutes to drive us home. To this day I have no idea what random part of Tokyo I so confidently led us into.
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Day 8 – Respite in Roppongi
The next morning is where the story gets dark. I awoke early with a splitting headache and what I can honestly claim as one of the worst hangovers of my entire life. My first thought – okay, third, behind barfing and crying – was to take a long shower to relieve some of the pain, so that I’d hopefully not have to run into traffic and kill myself. I’d been Whatsapp-ing James about how miserable I was, so I set my phone down by the toilet, stripped and stepped into the tiny tub. Like most Japanese shower heads, this one was detachable, so for about an hour I lay back with my knees bent aiming the hot water at the center of my forehead. By the end of it I didn’t feel much better, but I figured it was probably time to get the fuck out of the bathtub since I was as wrinkled as my vintage coach bag after a rainy Spring. When I pulled back the curtain, I lost my breath. I had flooded the entire bathroom in no less than two inches of water and completely submerged my iPhone for what had to have been at least thirty minutes. I tried my best to save it while my brain felt like it was bleeding out of my ears. The flashlight had turned off and for some reason I couldn’t shut off the phone, so it just sat there buzzing at its insides fried beyond repair. What was going to happen to all my photos? Would I even survive this hangover for long enough to figure this out? Was this the worst day of my life?

I strapped on my boots and forced myself out the door zombie-style to walk to every convenience store in Roppongi to look for rice. I finally found some (it came in a convenient 3 kilo bag!) and made my way back to the apartment, bent almost fully over at the waist, moaning and nearly puking on every tiny car and polite person I encountered. But first – I stopped in a Family Mart and spent $35 on prosciutto, croissants and assorted cheeses. I needed western food to get me through these times. To top it off, we also ordered a pepperoni pizza from a fucking Domino’s. Thank you based cheese god.

After that I slept until about 6 PM, and the only thing we did for the rest of the day was see Guardians of the Galaxy at the Roppongi Hills Movie Theater, which itself looks like a space station. I pretty much wanted to live there. Something about how miserable I felt made me homesick as fuck, and all I wanted to do was eat cheeseburgers in a strip mall and watch cable until I passed out in a California king. No such luck, but I was in fucking Japan, and I was kind of being a pussy.

Day 9 – Death by Shopping
Suddenly it was Saturday, and it was time to check out of our apartment. This meant packing our bags, putting the keys back in the mailbox and taking the train back to Tita Chu’s. We dropped off our stuff and hopped back on the subway to check out Akihabara, the neighborhood in Tokyo dedicated to all things Nerd – electronics, anime and video games. And hentai. Lots and lots of hentai. In fact, there was so much hentai that we were actually really uncomfortable, and had to leave the neighborhood for fear of seeing anymore cartoon semen. I did see some cool ass dolls though, and I finally found that stuffed Pikachu for James. We spent the rest of the day in Harajuku again, shopping until we couldn’t take it anymore. It got to a point where if I saw one more furry purse I was going to flip the fuck out. I really needed a nap.

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That night, Tita Chu made us two dinners. Beef curry and Filipino spaghetti. We ate so much that we couldn’t move, then somehow Facetimed everyone in Sarah’s family at once across in three separate countries (don’t ask me how), and watched youtube videos until we fell asleep.

Day 10 – Arigatou Gozaimasu
When it was time to leave neither of us could accept it, but we had reached tourism overload by that point and I think we really needed a return to our reality. It was tough, because back home the two of us weren’t exactly living perfect lives and had a lot of things to sort out when we got back. And, even though we’d been close friends for eight years, we’d hit that point where we just needed some time alone. As we packed our suitcases into the car, a minor spat drove us both into tears, and we rode the whole way to Narita airport without speaking. That is, until the lyrics to Tito’s new Chris Brown album had us laughing so hard that we had to make up.

Five in-flight movies later, one being the now underwhelming Lost in Translation, we arrived at the Atlanta airport. Sarah and I parted ways and I flew back to Newark, took NJ transit into the city and met James at Penn Station. I don’t think I’ve ever missed someone, or someplace, so much.

A week later, when I’d just settled back into my routine, I was laid off from my job. It came as a shock, but sometimes the universe does for you what you’re too afraid to do yourself. I have no idea where I’m headed next, but I have some idea of who I am and what I want. For now, I’m in New York, with 25 years behind me and 75 more to go. And really, there’s no place I’d rather be. (Wink)
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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.

 

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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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Freeze No More

IMG_5732Everyone has their limits. As you know, I reached mine with winter about a month ago. Shortly after, from eating nothing but pasta and living off couch cushion change for weeks, I surpassed my limit with the “between job” lifestyle. Three sentences in, I am already pushing my limit for this blog post, because I’d rather be watching House of Cards. Seriously, am I the only person on earth who didn’t watch the second season in a single day? To be fair, there have been a few other things (and a few other shows) on my plate.
IMG_5561When I last Blobbed (I sometimes affectionately refer to this thing you’re reading as my Blob), I was sunning in the frozen tundra that is Martha’s Vineyard. That is, lying prostrate on a sofa and delighting my older brother with this year’s version of My Plans to Change My Life as he administered vodka cranberries into my system via central line. What in the summer is a bustling a tourist community is for all intents and purposes shut down this time of year, although we did hit up a bar on the first night complete with live island jams and some seriously drunk moms and dads. Since I majored in Drunk Senior Citizens in college they are a bit of my expertise, and I felt right at home, closing my eyes and vibing to the serious saxophone tunage. Truthfully, I was just wasted, and a weekend with a bunch of old irrelevant beach strangers was just what I’d needed after being trapped in my house for the whole month of January. That, and unlimited hot baths and sandwiches and sexting and episodes of Forensic Files. And that’s exactly what I got, plus six inches of snow, House Hunters on demand, solicited and unsolicited relationship advice, endless shit talk, and 10 hours of sleep a night. We even got a nice hike in there, which for Nate means literally running uphill through the woods. But hey, I had some calories to kill. Plus, winter in the vineyard might be the most beautifully spooky thing I’ve ever seen.
IMG_5522 IMG_5513 IMG_5540 IMG_5527 Venus went direct just in time for Mercury to slide into retrograde, so after I rode the megabus back to New York and successfully repressed the entire experience, I was prepared for things to be a little fucked up. And I was right. My computer was suddenly on the fritz, not holding a charge, shutting off in the middle of things. I was terrified and frantically backing things up when I could, certain that this was the end for my best friend. Meanwhile, servers were down all over the place. I couldn’t get burritos on Grubhub when I wanted them. The people at Chipotle were forgetting to add cheese. Okay, so most of my problems were Mexican food related, but I’m sure Susan Miller will tell you it was all fucking Mercury’s fault.

The day after I returned, I met up with Reid and a few others for a “night on the town,” which according my version of Winter Nightlife meant drinking at my apartment until 1, stumbling and grumbling over snow piles on the way to the bar where I’d nurse a cocktail for 2 hours and do a bunch of poppers, before hopping in a cab home that was clearly out of my budget. On this particular night, I calculated that I would need four 24 ounce Coronas to get the party started, so by the end I was a complete and total mess in the head a la 2011-2012 (without the assaults, arrests or afterhours). I was asleep by 3:30 and spent the rest of the next 24 hours shivering and shitting and feeling sorry for myself. Was nearly 100 ounces of beer, two double gin and tonics and a bottle of poppers suddenly TOO MUCH for me to handle? Had I gone soft in my old age? Or had I simply been putting up with hangovers of this magnitude for the last five-plus years of my life and could no longer choose to accept it? This is why I can really only fuck with Tito’s vodka. I don’t even think it gets you drunk I mean it’s basically Evian. 5 out of 5 doctor’s recommend it! Or was that judges and rehab? Gotcha.


In a spectacularly romantic gesture a few weeks prior, my significant other had bought me a plane ticket to come spend Valentine’s weekend with him before I started my new job. Because I hadn’t quite been sufficiently depressed and sex deprived enough in the frigid weeks since I’d last seen him, mother nature decided to bring another fuckface of a blizzard our way just before my departure. What would I do if this flight was cancelled? I missed him so much. And I thought about it and I’d tried but I just could not masturbate anymore. I called JetBlue to take proactive measures at switching to better flight times, asking all kinds of questions and begging for advice and using words like “tarmac.” Ultimately I decided to take a gamble and keep my original flight for the morning after the last day of snow, and somehow managed to depart and arrive on time. 

In Chapel Hill I encountered the expected level of collective dismay when my crop of local bff’s all realized my time was spoken for by the boy who’d brought me there, and every moment that I was not [insert disgusting sex act here] I felt really bad about not being able to see them. That being said, I also had delicious meals, intimate moments, eye contact and body contact with the person I love, so I wasn’t exactly overcome with sadness. That Saturday, in accordance with my NormCore boyfriend’s plans, I got to see a side of Chapel Hill I’d never seen before, one that is familiar to almost all of its other students and alumn: Frat Life. I even saw a sport on TV. I won’t say they were the highlights of my weekend, but they certainly made me feel one with the people. I was like Frank Underwood at that Civil War reenactment. I wasn’t really about it, but I admired their conviction.
IMG_5913By Sunday the bae and I had to say our goodbyes. I was headed back to Brooklyn once again, this time to do actual “work” and make “money” so I could “live.” What a total drag. Before my flight my mother met us at the Starbucks in the lobby of the airport to say hello and goodbye to me and be introduced to my new partner for the first time. First we had the pleasure of telling her we met on fucking Twitter. Then she asked him how he was doing handling “all of this,” and pointed at me. “She can be kind of a lot.” I would have been upset had I not known her for 24 years and thus been absolutely certain she was complimenting me in her own way.

As I walked through security in mismatched socks covered in my boyfriend’s roommate’s dog’s hair, I dreaded going back to New York. I knew I’d miss my boyfriend, but was it more than that? I hadn’t wanted to be there for a while, but I didn’t know what I was running from either. Responsibility? Chasing the dream? Watching Forensic Files alone?

As I stepped into my snow-stained uggs at the end of the TSA line, I was not a sorority girl, not yet a woman. But I was glad that, at the very least, I had someone to eat burritos with on Skype.

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

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

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

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

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

Somewhere around the end of last month, Alex and I fell into a lull on our Big Project, the ever-dreaded Writer’s Paralysis leading us both to send each other terribly transparent, self-deprecating gchats from our respective caves of neuroses. I had become pretty irritable by this point, but I think that had something to do with PMS, and as much as I love her, probably something to do with my mom coming to stay the weekend at the end of September. My lack of patience is still something I really need to work on, especially when it comes to someone who does so much for me. I mean, she birthed me, and even though I didn’t deserve it, she bought me these cool knock-off crocs.
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Susan Miller gave us fair warning that October would be rife with hurdles, disappointments, or possibly blessings disguised as the worst fucking thing that ever happened. The jury is still out on the blessings part, but I felt the tension in the air from the very beginning. Granted, I always feel tension at the first of the month because the words “rent day” and “freelancing” go together about as well as Virgo and Aries (that one’s for you, Susan). This time, I had a lot to look forward to, thus a lot of planning and stressing. With grand plans come great expectations and I have to be prepared for every possible outcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1260_2Stoner wear/boner wear

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

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

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

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

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

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