Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pins & Needles

My limbs fall asleep a lot.

I am not sure if this is a result of poor circulation or the fact that I am always trying to prop myself up in weird ways while I'm on my computer so as to keep the laptop off my thighs (it gets so HOT), but no matter the reason, I stand up and grimace while the pins and needles stick and unstick themselves into my nerve endings.

You know this feeling. There is always this sort of momentary shock, and then the dawning horror that the leg, or foot, is asleep and that there is a hard part to come. That trying to put pressure on the extremity will hurt, and the uncontrollable vascular missiles will fire and explode all up and down the appendage and all you can do is wait until it stops, when it is done.
But you can't just sit there, either: you have to get the blood flowing, the miracle blood that will fill all those barren capillaries, and there are things to do and no slumbering leg will impede your progress to stand up to get that power cord, or answer the phone, or whatever urgent call has drawn you from your awkward crouching position.

To move will hurt, and as you stand, it might kind of tickle, and then in a rush the wave of pain and anxiety burst at the apex. There is a blossoming ripple, a submission to the inevitable, and then, it sort of slowly ebbs to a trickle down one of your shins.
You shudder once as the last of the weirdness escapes through your minor phalanges, and then it's done. You straighten your leg to walk and you put the foot on the floor and follow with the other, and you leave the place where it happened.

That's basically how I feel right now.

I am rising from my cumbersome perch, a position I willingly entered to alleviate another problem-area in my life, and as I am rising to answer this new call, the tingling and the anxiety floor me. The idea that the next step will bring pain, before it is washed away by a pride in trying, scares me and I wait for that climax of a loss of control with dread: I will never find a normal roommate on Craigslist, I will never sell my car, I will never be able to afford an apartment here, no one will hire me. I will have to turn tail and start over.

And I take another step, and all of a sudden, I'm on the other side of it.
There are some loose ends not yet tied up, but there's a beginning to the end of the discomfort: I got a job offer yesterday, and found a place to sublet for the month of October for a VERY good price with a VERY nice girl.

The best news? The job is in an event planning division of an information technology consulting firm: I GET TO KEEP THE BLOG TITLE! Just kidding. Kind of.

I'm waiting to hear a few details, yet, and the living situation could burst at the end of October, but the first wave of terror has passed and I'm standing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And if you get into a bad situation, lie your way out

Part of the process of moving away from a city is a series of mini-breakups, I've learned. You leave your hairstylist, you bid adieu to your drycleaner, you abandon your piano teacher.
I mean, I know not every 24 year old has a piano teacher, but, that means my peers have been missing out on some serious life-advice. Here is an unedited 6 minute clip of wisdom that Diana bestowed upon me in our last session.

“Do you have any New York advice for me?” I asked, and inconspicuously clicked "Record" on my phone.

“Uhhhh I know...I was always very cynical, even as a kid, because I left at 13. And when I went to boarding school I met a boy who was 13 or 14 and he was from Connecticut, (and I learned later very rich) and so I, of course, fell immediately for him. And there was a Leap Year dance, and I went dancing, and I was NOT good looking at the time. I had a very good figure but, I had long legs- sexy, you know, but not good looking - and he was very good looking. So I asked him to go with me, and he agreed, and we went to the dance and we started to go out. And then one day he came up to me and he said, 'I would like to have my ring back. Because I now like Bobbi.'
So I went outside and it was raining- pouring rain- and it was a big drama.
And all of a sudden I stopped, and said 'I'm getting wet' and that's what I have to tell ya. That's what you have to do. Because they're very smooth operators. Extreeemely smooth operators- not like here."

I am a little confused by this explanation of her epiphany, but part of me gets it. Part of me perfectly understands what she's saying, in that you have to assess your situation and react according to the facts - according to self-preservation.
She didn't talk anymore about that boy, she just knew what she had to do to get herself out of the rain. It's taken me a few weeks to be able to pull that apart and put it back together again, but I am fairly certain that was her intent.

She continues, almost seamlessly, from one thought to the next:
"Here, the difference between - and I don't know if it's this way or not anymore- but, here in Portland the men are very insecure and they're awkward in their approach. You're not going to get that in New York. They're smooth. Very very slick. Got a whole routine. They're still using it on my friend, and she's 70!
The other thing, and it depends who you meet- what class of people- is that the men don't like to pay for the woman.
If you don't put your foot down, you're going to be paying all over the place. Just say 'I'm not used to it' and say that you can't. Because when you first go out with them, I did that, I thought, 'I'm not gonna pay my money for them. Too bad! You're gonna go on a date, you're gonna pay for it!' and sooo... well, of course if you go out with an older man he'll give you all his money- period, he'll sign it over to you, you know, but someone else, your age, that you're going out on a date with, I know that for a fact, a lot of people are complaining. But not in the high society. Don't let him. Say 'I can't go. I don't have any money.'
So watch out for that, too. I mean, this is what I hear. I'm not sure what goes on.
Oh, and if you get stuck in a bad situation, lie your way out.
I once was at a party, or out with some friends and a young man says to me, 'Would you like to come see my etchings?' Which is so stupid of me, because men have used that one from the beginning of time! What was I thinking?
And so I went with him to his apartment and he locked the door. And I was in there, and I always get out of these things (I'm a great liar) and so I said to him, 'You can do anything you want, but, I just had an abortion. So, I'd bleed to death right now.' And you know what he did?
He accompanied me all the way to the subway! Would have walked me right to my front door, if I'd let him. That kinda thing I used a coupla times there. If you get in a situation where you don't want to be...it works.
You don't want to say anything tacky, like I would, like, 'I have herpes, mister. Thats why.' but you could, if you're really in a mess.
I've been in a coupla situations like that, so, yeah...you just have to warn them what the disadvantages would be."

Thanks, Diana. Will do.
That goes for all of you ladies out there, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


"Can I just ask you one thing?"
"What are you passionate about?"

I anticipate that I will be speechless, but before I am silenced, I am interrupted by the sound of my own voice:

"Figuring out what I'm passionate about."
He smiles (sadly?) and says,
"Well, that's my hope for you, then. That you figure that out."


This song is haunting me. It's a conversation, too.

"Conversation 16" - The National

The National - Conversation 16 from Andrew Lawandus on Vimeo.


At a bar in Hoboken, NJ on Friday night, we were out for our friend's engagement party. She works with only guys, who call her "The Big Show", and they were all out with us. So when my feet hurt, I posted up at a table underneath the AC unit, and The Big Show and I chatted over the music while our friends danced, brought us drinks, came to talk to us, put their bags down, pick up their own drinks, etc.
Apparently all of this activity REALLY bothered an outspoken flamboyant young man who approached The Big Show and myself, looked us up and down and said,
"Why is there a rotating line of guys coming up to talk to you? Neither of you are THAT cute."
"EXCUSE ME?!" I shrieked.

My finger went a-pointing and a-waving in his smug face as I very calmly informed him how the gentlemen were with us, they were friends of ours, and what's more, he needed to turn around and walk away and that his unkindness was not welcome anywhere in my vicinity. I think I was too surprised to be anything other than totally honest and taken aback, so nothing clever was spit at him.

I felt very New Jersey, however, telling him to "Walk away. Seriously. Just walk away. You don't know me. Turn around, and walk away."

Another girlfriend had some words with him at the bar, I guess, because within minutes he delivered apology shots to the table. He still wasn't nice, but, a shot's a shot, so I took it.

Lessons learned in New Jersey:

1. Twisted Tea gives you a hangover before a buzz.

2. Hoboken bar life is a lot like Eugene. I felt like I was at Taylor's.
3. No one cares about the Mariner game on in the corner of the bar, even when you excitedly rejoice that they (shockingly) won.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Everyone is Grumpy

New Yorkers have been living up to their reputation as grumpy jerks.

At first, I thought, "Oh, everyone is much nicer than in the movies and in 80's cop shows!" but then I actually started interacting with people and have started to feel like Will Ferrell in the movie Elf (a likeness that is developing at a rapid rate. I am positive it will only be a matter of days before I break into the guys' locker room and sing a duet with someone who is in the shower).

It started the other day when I made a stop at the New York Public Library. It was after an interview, and I was wandering around taking in the beautiful beaux-arts architecture half expecting to see an incensed Carrie Bradshaw fleeing from the building with a bird on her head.

First, I stupidly asked a library lady about the requirements for procuring a library card, there.
"You can't." She said shortly.
"I'm sorry?"
"You can't check out books here. It's a RESEARCH library."
"Oh." I smiled and forced a giggle to cover my embarrassment. And it wasn't until I apologized for my error that she FINALLY cracked a smile.

And then, I reluctantly realized I had to use the ladies' room, because it being a public building and all, it means you're sharing a restroom with the craziest of the NYCrazy.
The other library lady I asked for directions was similarly stoic, until I broke into a saccharine smile and thanked her profusely. She visibly softened. I was starting to feel like a Care Bear, distributing joy and smiles wherever I happened to break into a dopey grin.

I was washing my hands in the restroom when a young woman stalked in, muttering about how some "white b*tch needta KEEP WALKIN." I thought she was on a hands-free phone device, talking to a friend, so I didn't pay her much attention (at least, not conspicuously - you better believe I was trying to remember every word, though).

The tirade continued in low tones, occasionally punctuated with a loud "WALKIN'!" even as she entered a stall.
Then, and bear with me, but this is funny, a second woman, already in a stall, belched loudly.
The following conversation occurred, with each participant in her own stall, while I pretended to keep washing my hands.

Lady 2: *BELLLLCH* "Excuse me."
Lady 1: "UGH. Who DID that?!"
Lady 2: "I did."
Lady 1: "DAMN. That's NASTY."
Lady 2: "It's a restroom. It's allowed. Plus it's a medical condition, don't be ignorant."
Lady 1: "I don't care WHAT you say, thass GROSS. UnLADYlike."
Lady 2: "If you have a problem, you can leave." *BELLLLCH*
Lady 1: "EEEW! What the f$@! is WRONG WITCHU?"

This continued until I left. I almost opened my mouth to spread some more Care Bear joy, as instructed as a child of the '80s, but I decided I wanted to live to see another day in this fine city. So I kept it shut, and will continue to smile brightly at only people I don't suspect harbor a desire to kill me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I am Mr. Adolf Kerber

It is a cold December morning in Portland, Oregon.

Lu is in town from New York for the holidays. We attended a sorority alumnae Christmas party last night, and are curled up in my queen sized bed, nursing cups of coffee to calm our vodka-soda induced headaches.

The floor-to-ceiling mirrors reflect and amplify the crisp gray light that floods in from the panoramic window, framing the skeletons of winter trees, buildings and river beyond.

She opens her Christmas gift from me- a mustard colored, alligator textured belt from Nordstrom.

"Ohh, I love it, it's perfect. Thank you!" she says sincerely. "But hurry up and open mine- I am too excited. It's so good." She shakes her head, smiling. "So good."

The first gift is a pair of stud earrings - little nude pink rosettes.
"Ahhh! I love them!" I gush.
"I found them at the Chelsea craft fair," she says excitedly. "You would love it. You could totally sell your jewelry there. But I saw these and thought they were so you - let me see. Yes. They go PERFECTLY with your hair and skin tone. Okay. Open the other one."

She hands me a yellowed envelope, brittle with the years it has weathered.

It is addressed, in simple courier typeface, to a Mr. Adolf Kerber, who appears to have resided in Louisville, Kentucky.
I glance at the postmark: 1945.

The envelope is torn neatly along one end, and the edges of a letter are visible. I pull it out, unfold it, and read it:

November 26, 1945

Dear Adolf Kerber:

I have your letter and note all you say. I am mindful of what Mr. Berkowitz asked me to do for you. To try to advise you is almost impossible. It is strictly a gamble and you have to come prepared to take the good with the bad. You might be lucky and get a job right away and you might have to wait for months. However, I will give you every assistance that I can, if you decide to come on to New York.

Every best wish.

Kindest regards and best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

(unintelligible man's signature here)

I have to read the last few lines a few times before I can finish, as I've gotten choked up and my vision is swimming.

I look at Lu, pull a face, and reach for her in a hug.

And now, here I am. In her apartment on E 53rd and 3rd Ave in New York City, using her bathroom, refrigerator, 2 dresser drawers, pantry shelf, and house keys. I have two suitcases with me that we've artfully squashed into two corners of the apartment (which, I should add, she shares with two other girls), and she took the day off on Thursday to spend time with me as I acclimated and caught my breath.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Coming Out Party

First thing's first: I have arrived in New York City.

I came to the conclusion tonight that writing about New York is probably one of the more daunting tasks one can undertake. It has just been done, and done, and DONE by so many authors, screenwriters, playwrights, poets, graffiti-artists, graphic designers, copyrighters, et al that I wonder whether there is really anything left to be said.

But places are always changing, and the permutations of people at any one place at a given time are infinite, and so I suppose the experiences are also infinite - just as they are in any other city.

I am staying with Lu on E 53rd St, between 2nd and 3rd Ave. This meant nothing to me yesterday, and already it makes a lot more sense.

This morning, we wandered around SoHo (which means "South of Houston", which is a street that runs East/West and is pronounced, "house-tin", I was graciously reminded in a text from the Dancefighter) for a few hours, mostly window shopping and allowing me to get my bearings. We ate brunch at a little place called Boom, which was reasonable and tasty, and then walked to the Trader Joe's in Union Square, on E 14th. From there, we took the subway back up to her apartment, where we promptly collapsed on the couch and watched two episodes of Mad Men.
This was my big debut in the city. Watch out, world. I am here, I am fierce, and I am wearing sweatpants.

From my absence here, you can probably surmise that the last few weeks have been brutally busy and I have been running around like Usain Bolt on crack.

The first week of unemployment was spent prepping for the end of summer bash I hosted. 12 acres, 120 hamburgers, 40 hot dogs, 18 Garden Burgers, 4 kegs of Natural Light (only the finest for my guests), 100 lbs of ice, 6 folding tables, one pop up canopy, two strands of Christmas lights, a stereo, and 500 ft of acquired extension cords later, I had myself a party.

Around 60-70 of my most beloved ones showed up to celebrate and send me off into the great big world, which was a joyful and humbling gift. I appreciated the presence of each guest, and my killer friends who were kind enough to provide the entertainment-
Goodbye Harrison and DJ Yo Huckleberry, as well as Mr.Dancefighter, who was a clutch friend and took about 471 pictures for me. A sampling:

And the second week of unemployment was spent recovering from all of that. And packing all my most important possessions (clothes, jewels, boots, and bags- duh) into two suitcases. And saying farewell/see you soons/see you laters/see you probably nevers to a lot of people.

But you know, people move every day. They make bigger moves than this, and they move farther and with less encouragement pushing and pulling them than I have, so there's no need for melodrama. This is just another day, except now, I'm just kickin it' in a bigger city.

With seriously huge cockroaches.