Category Archives: New York

Hell Is A Forever 21

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Hell Is A Forever 21

Your time has come. You head on up to those pearly gates to meet good ole Peter. You boldly state your name, he looks through his list, and examines you gravely.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t come in. I’m afraid you have to go to…the other place.”

Being the gentleman that he is, he gives you directions. On your journey, you begin to imagine the terrors of the potential scenarios that await you: the classic hellfire, or perhaps an eternity of hard labor? You envision desolation, unimaginable heat, a jail cell. But as you round the corner and meet your fate, you see that it is even worse than you could’ve possibly imagined.

Before you looms a massive Forever 21.

As you enter, for a moment you are fooled.
You think, “I guess I haven’t been so bad! I get to shop the latest trends and pay next to nothing for them! This might be fun!”

You wander into the first cavernous room. It is “festival” themed, with racks of flower prints, fringe, and tie dye surrounding you. It’s not exactly your style, but you think you might find something you like.

But then you take a closer look. The racks have no organization; random clothes are all mixed together. You find a shirt you might like, but alas: XXL. You glance around, thinking there MUST be a rack containing your shirt. You carefully begin to dig and sift, like an archaeologist trying to preserve a bone (because surely there’s an order to this madness, right?? Someone must have a plan here….right?)

You search and search, but it seems that is the ONLY shirt of its kind in this god-forsaken room, despite the fact that the room is enormous. You begin to grow weary. You’ve exhausted this room’s many racks so you wander into the next space: club themed.

Somehow, despite the fact that club attire is not at ALL your style, the devilish pull of the store takes over your body and you find yourself once again desperately sifting through racks, shelves, and corners. You begin to succumb to the feeling that surely there must be something in this room for you to try on. I mean it’s so BIG! There are so many options! In your sheer desperation to get to the dressing room, you grab several items in varying sizes close to yours, thinking “Well, I don’t really like this on the hanger, but maybe it’ll look really great on!”

This happens in room after room. Your arm grows weary from carrying so many items, at which point you get excited all over again. You think you MUST have something you’ll love in there, simply because there are SO many pieces! You begin to search for a dressing room. At this point, you are shaken from your concentrated stupor enough to notice the music: thumping, mind-crushingly repetitive pop music. Each song sounds exactly like the last, except that each NEW song is somehow WORSE than the last. You start to get a throbbing headache, both from the horrendous sounds you’re being forced to listen to and the sheer weight of the clothes you’re carrying.

You round the corner and FINALLY: you see a dressing room sign. You gleefully rush towards it and BAM, you get smacked in the face with the sight of a line so long it makes Disney World on spring break look like amateur hour. You hold back and join the end of the line.

Approximately 3,892 incredibly painful seconds go by as you stand there like a pack mule with your load. You have time to think about each minute of your life, each choice you have made, and wonder how you ended up in a place like this. Your head throbs, your feet ache. And just when you’re about to give up, you get a dressing room.

You walk down a dirty, dingy hallway and go into a small, cramped dressing room. The door’s lock is broken. Fluorescent lighting causes you to jump when you see yourself in the mirror: you look like an evil witch who did meth for 6 years. You take a deep breath and try on the first item. It fits terribly, with itchy fabric that somehow highlights all your worst qualities. Great. So now you’re a FAT evil meth witch. You try on item after item, each piece (like the music) worse than the last, until you’re utterly convinced that you were the most heinous creature to walk the face of the planet. The mirror becomes your biggest enemy.

And then: a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. An item that you normally wouldn’t think twice about: it’s plain, boring even. But it doesn’t make you look as bad as the others! Comparatively, you’ve never looked better and…look at that! Only $6.49, what a steal! Relieved your efforts were not for naught and energized by your “find”, you dump all of the other clothes with the pained woman manning the dressing room and find your way back through the maze of the store to the checkout. Hardly believing your bleary eyes, you are stopped in your tracks at the sight of (you guessed it!) another line longer than the Amazon river.

Brain about to pulse out of your head, with no self esteem left to give this terrible place, you decide maybe you should look around at the rooms you missed until the line dies down. You wander aimlessly into a room with western attire. And then one with workout clothes. And one with bathing suits.

…And you do this for the rest of eternity. Because hell is a Forever 21.

Stirring the Pot…A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships

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10 PM Easter Sunday, I’m lying in bed with a book on my chest.  My mind about to punch out for the evening jars when the phone rings.

“Hello”

“Hhhhhhi Daddy”

“What’s the matter kid?”  I know when my daughter says the word “Hi” in just that way, that Mission Control has to come up to high alert; fast.

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“My Toilet is backed up and when I flush the water is coming right to the top of the bowl and I am scared it is going to overflow.”

And all I can think of is the old cliché, “A rising tide lifts all shits.”

Being as she is on the top floor walk up of her building and it is Sunday night, I can’t help but think how I might feel, were I her neighbor in the apartment below and knew a real nasty storm was a brewin’ above.

“You need to get a plunger, NOW.”

“What’s a plunger?”

Whilst never setting the phone down, she finds the plunger.  Plunger in hand and on the ready, I give her the three step plan for maximum impact with minimal splash.

As she is attempting to thread the gauntlet I hear sounds of howling laughter, utter horror, and  reflexive gagging.  After a minute or so of running commentary, it becomes clear she’s accomplishing little but stirring the pot.  I should have realized earlier that trying to plunge a toilet while talking with a phone to one’s ear increases drag and reduces the plunging coefficient by at least 50%.

In my calmest voice I say, “Kid, hang up the phone, use both hands, and txt. me after the deal goes down.  We hang up.

Problem solved within 30 seconds.

Upon receipt of the txt three things occurred to me

  1. Funny how the phone always seems to get in the way of getting things done.
  2. The greatest gifts a father can give to his children are, time, knowledge, and a sturdy plunger.
  3. For once I wasn’t the guy with the plunger.

God, thank you for your son, my children and for letting me be a dad.

The Uptight Citizen

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Last Friday night, I made some plans with friends on mine to go see a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade. If you are not familiar, this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall theatre hosts open mic nights, stand-up comedians, and celebrity guests. In Manhattan, they have two locations, the original residing in Chelsea as well as one in the East Village.

Looking forward to a night of laughter and frivolity, I let the other girls choose which show they wanted to see. I finally got the confirmation text around noon: 9:30 show at UCB Chelsea. Got it, perfect.

Enjoying a quiet Friday at work with plenty of time to think, I realized all my roommates had vacated the apartment for the weekend and asked my friend Mady if she’d like to take a break from her insane roommates and come stay the night with me. “THAT WOULD BE AMAZING YOU ARE MY SAVING GRACE” was the reply I received. Wonderful.

All of a sudden, things got stressful at work. Right as the day was drawing to a close, I was given an incredibly bizarre mission: Go to the grocery store! Pick up the CEO’s favorite snacks from this list! Take them to his apartment! Set them up in bowls! Step lively now! Chop chop!

In a confused frenzy, I grabbed my things and rushed out the door (the rest of that strange mission’s tale is another story for another day.) Somewhere in the midst of my panic, I saw my phone light up with a long text message from Mady. Glancing at it, I saw that they had now decided to go to a 9:00 show rather than the 9:30. Just my luck.

Horribly sweaty but safely snuggled back in a cab with my mission complete, I headed to UCB for the show. This was just what I needed: some laughs, some friends, some laid-back time with no snacking CEOs.

I was running ridiculously late (as I usually am) and was very eager to get there on time, not only because I was excited for the show, but also because I now had an incredibly and impossibly full bladder. Mady informed me that the show was now standing room only and I probably wouldn’t be able to sit with them. I groaned inwardly and urged my cab driver to speed with even more reckless abandon.

Finally FINALLY arriving at the theatre, I rushed in, purchased my ticket, and found the nearest bathroom. Since they had already turned down the lights and I was blinded by an exploding bladder, I rushed without inhibition into the first door I saw. The Men’s Room. Naturally. A guy turned and gave me a nasty look. Oops.

I barreled back out the door and into another, at least taking care of THAT pain. Now for the pain of standing through an hour-and-a-half long show.

I found a nice, cozy spot in the back, where I could see almost all the action. I figured I’d find my friends at intermission and possibly steal a seat or stand close by. I soon lost myself in the comedy and merely enjoyed the show.

Seemingly seconds later, the lights come up. Intermission already. I sent Mady a quick text:

Me: Where are you???

Mady: On the back right, by the booth

Me: I don’t see you anywhere…stand up!

Mady: I’m standing….I don’t see you either

Me: I swear I’m looking at the back right by the booth though!!

Mady: Wait…you’re at UCB East right?

Inwardly, I exploded into a steam of expletives. That couldn’t be right! I saw her text that said 9:00 instead of 9:30! Scrolling back through my messages, I saw indeed she had included “9:00 at UCB East,” and in my haste I had seen only numbers. BRILLIANT. Stupid CEO and his stupid snacks!!!!!!!!

I went back to my spot and stood, friendless and alone through the rest of the show. Somehow, it was less funny now that I knew no one I knew was nearby.

The show concluded and I walked, pitifully, out into the street where, YOU GUESSED IT, it was raining. To add insult to injury, the proper trains weren’t running and it took me an hour and a half to get home rather than my usual 30 minutes.

At this point, I was beginning to feel as though some higher power had taken my night, stomped on it, and was now proceeding to run it through a shredder, laughing gleefully all the way. HA, HA HA!

When I finally arrived home, somehow sweaty AND wet from the rain at the same time, I was emotionally and physically spent. And yet, I knew I had to wait for sweet Mady to arrive for her much needed time away from home. So I kept myself busy, cleaning my bathroom, taking a shower, and having a snack. Finally, too exhausted to stand any longer, I sat down on my bed and pulled up an old episode of The Office to watch.

The next thing I knew, I was jolting awake. What day was it?? What YEAR was it?? Where was I?? I snatched my phone to see the time, only to find 6 missed calls and texts from Mady. She had made the same hour and a half long journey, through the rain, and sweat only to discover that I lacked the ability to answer my phone. After 15 long minutes of standing outside, the poor thing had gone all the way home to Brooklyn.

Behold, the shredded, mangled pieces of my Friday night. Brought to you by the Uptight Citizen of New York City.

Train Pain

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Sometimes taking the subway is just part of an average Tuesday. Today it was herculean struggle for survival.

I get on the train at my usual stop. Slightly more crowded than usual, but nothing I haven’t seen before.

Unfortunately, I am standing VERY close to a man with very bad breath. My fl, what did you eat for breakfast….LAST TUESDAY?  His hand, which is above mine on the steadying pole, keeps accidentally touching mine. I’m sure you’re a nice dude, but that coffee mug (filled with vomit) you’re holding says it all.

I begin to become woozy from the scent that surely would chase the flies off Mt. Fecal.  Trying to steady myself, we reach our next stop and a DELUGE of people get on.

Suddenly, I feel as though I’ve fallen prey to a boa constrictor.  The people around me have wrapped me in their clutches and are squeezing me tighter and tighter until I run out of already fouled air and die.

I am now wedged in the dead center of the train. On the left, we have my pal with Nightmare on Elm Street breath. To the right, I have been pressed against a man who is James Browning through his salmon-pink button down shirt. Sweat which I can feel on my bare arm.

In front of me, is the tallest woman I have ever seen; clad in an all-black, floor length ensemble as though she is about to strut down a Gothic runway. Her pasty lobes and dainty wrists are adorned with large, silver bangles, which blind all around her except for herself.  Naturally, she has on sunglasses.

Why does anyone would wear sunglasses on the subway. I’m always oddly tempted to cry out, “Honey! Don’t you realize we are under the ground?! You don’t look cool, you look like the animated version of a mole!”

(…See below for reference)

Anyhow, this incredibly tall woman is leering down at me like the angel of death come to end my life on this crowded, suffocatingly hot subway. I am growing more woozy and trying not to panic. MUST NOT BE GIRL WHO PASSES OUT ON TRAIN.  I feel short of breath.

But as I’m attempting to calm myself down, the door opens and even MORE people shove their way on. A small Asian woman is crammed in behind me and acts very irritated by the enormity of my purse.  She punishes me for it by elbowing me in the ribs and nudging me even closer to Mr. Sweatstorm, who at this point is simply going to look like a piece of slimy sushi by the time he arrives to work.

Inexplicably, the N train then slows to an absolute crawl, and I legitimately start to visualize my death. I attempt to breathe deeply, but no matter how hard I try, I inevitably get a whiff of the noxious odor coming from Barf Breath’s mouth. When I breathe deeply, my lungs expand, causing my purse to shift and Small Asian Woman to elbow me in the ribs. This in turn pushes me to the right and leaves my arm slickened from Mr. Sweaty McSweatface.

Finally, FINALLY my stop arrives, and I practically shove my way out of the car. I feel some small sense of triumph for having survived, as though I have just single-handedly fought my way out of a burning building (the fumes, heat, and lack of oxygen are certainly comparable.)

And yet, all I have done is succeeded to make it to work. I have fought an unspoken battle  my coworkers will never know of. To them, it is merely Tuesday morning, and I am just the receptionist. But to me, I am the doomsday survivor.

Super Hero or Villain? Please, Please, Please.

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Seems like every summer we catch a wave of jacked up comic books at our local theaters where, for about $60, two people can explode, chase, battle, scheme, swing, launch, fly, blast, swim their way through nearly 120 minutes of saturated popcorn and a bladder expanding soda.  Heck, for $2.50 I practically get that riding the subway to work each day, plus, for no extra charge, it comes in odorama, which, thankfully is hard to duplicate on the big screen.

But what of these “super” heroes and villains?  It’s got me to thinking…

A man who is a spider.  Does he take all his meals through a straw?

A man who is a bat? Lazy bum sleeps all day.

A girl who is a bat?  Seriously, how does one tell the difference?  Boobs?

A man who is made of Iron.  Now that’s just absurd.  He’d be house bound like those with morbid eating disorders.

A man who is an ant.  Wouldn’t think twice about stepping on him.

Captains Marvel, Universe,  America, Planet, etc., etc., etc.  Why just Captains?  Why never promoted?

And what about the Doctor’s?

Dr. Strange.   “Yes, I’d like to make appointment with my gynecologist…Dr. Strange.”

“I’m sorry, Dr. Octopus is unavailable.  He’s in surgeries right now…”

“Yes, I need to get my Prozac refilled, could you please ask Dr. Doom to call that in for me?”

Dr. Manhattan. What, is his specialty, Mixology or something?

A man made of plastic.  Perhaps he could be sent to do something about the Pacific Ocean’s Trash Vortex?

The Flash.  Why am I seeing all of those black spots?

Robin. Poor fella.

A man who is Super.  Popular on Pride Day no doubt.

Man of steel (see man made of Iron above).

Two-Face.  Yep, knew him in high school.

A woman who is a Wonder.  Now that is one I completely get.

Hey, as far as I am concerned, the only Caped Crusader I care about is:

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Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please… Rinse, lather repeat.

It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  Good God. it’s Soul Brother #1, the Godfather of soul, Mr. Dynamite, Mr. Please, Please, Please. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown.  Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown.  Superhero of Soul, Funk, Rock and Roll.

Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers of New York City

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It’s time to address what I feel is a very serious problem in New York City: The Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers.

Never heard of them? Allow me to raise your awareness.

A Wandering Sidewalk Meanderer comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all have one defining quality: slowly walking in the middle of the sidewalk, occasionally veering to one side or another, usually just as you’ve increased your speed of walking in hopes of passing them.

These Meanderers will keep you trapped in their wake for blocks on end, seemingly knowing exactly which side you’re going to attempt to pass on and when you’re going to do it. They keep their leisurely pace, not considering the fact that perhaps the people stuck behind them are late for work, hurrying to brunch, or trying to catch a movie. No no, these Wanderers are quite determined to single-handedly slow the pace of New York City, one harried walker at a time.

Generally, they take the form of old people, which is almost excusable. As you approach one such Wanderer, you momentarily slow down on your own accord, taking the care not to interrupt their calculated steps or accidentally knock them off balance. You briefly marvel at their gumption and strength to continue living in such a busy city at such an age, much less to keep on walkin’ along instead of succumbing to easier modes of transportation. But beware, unsuspecting sidewalkers. These little old people are devils in disguise, for I believe they think that if THEY have to slow down, the whole world must slow down with them. It’s as though their age has ripened their intuition, and they make a game out of blocking your way, knowing full well you’re too conscientious to barrel right past them. They gracefully shift back and forth, confusing and frustrating you until you give up and feel like a horrible human being for getting annoyed with a sweet old lady in the first place.

Another majority is tourists. You know the ones. Hoards of school groups on walking tours, families with cameras and maps in hand, couples madly in love on vacation. Even tourists by themselves. You can always spot a tourist because they are either:

  1. Not dressed appropriately for the climate. At all.
  2. Proudly and smugly sporting NYC apparel as though all New Yorkers proclaim their New York-ness to the masses
  3. Looking up at the buildings, mouths agape like some sort of trout.
  4. Wandering around the Sidewalk

Now usually, the final factor is the product of a combination of the first three. They are overwhelmed by the sweltering heat and sweating through their jeans, so they can’t walk quickly. They’ve never been here before, so they don’t know where they’re going or how to get there. They’re in awe of their surroundings (which is cute, but frustrating all the same) so they stroll like it’s Sunday in the park. NO, TOURISTS. You are the reason why New Yorkers hate Times Square. Honestly, the tourists are even worse than the little old perpetrators, because they usually walk 3 or 4 across, further inhibiting your ability to scoot around them. And they don’t have the added benefit of being cute and wrinkly.

And sometimes, it’s simply random: a housewife on her phone, a dejected college student who had a hard day. I understand the need to walk slow, but don’t weave about! We CANT HAVE THIS, people! Imagine the havoc that be wreaked if people in cars did this as well, driving slower than the speed limit and weaving all around the road. Horns would be blared, wrecks would be caused, thousands of dollars in damages would be accrued. It’s too bad we don’t have little sidewalk horns we can honk…perhaps we should make sidewalk rules and regulations! Or perhaps I’m just becoming just another impatient New Yorker.

The Top 7 Strangest Things About Living in NYC That No One Ever Mentions

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Dear friends, I have been living in New York City for quite some time now. And as you can probably guess, it is a strange and wonderful place. What I personally find most amusing are the daily occurrences that nobody ever seems to talk, write, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, or otherwise let you know about. My dear friends, I would like to share them with you now.

1. I’m going to try to say this as delicately as I possibly can. When walking around the streets of New York, occasionally (read: all the freaking time) one’s undergarments choose to slowly (or sometimes swiftly) shift themselves from their comfortable and well-adjusted positions and decide to enthusiastically lodge themselves in places they should never EVER be. In a normal situation, you would be able to find a discrete location in order to quickly and assertively put them in their place. NOT IN NEW YORK. Here, everyone can see everyone else during seemingly ALL moments of one’s walk to the subway/work/food/home, and there is NERE a moment to adjust, leaving instead a bunch of people who all look as though they’re about to murder someone. New Yorkers are not mean, they just have colossal wedgies.

2. People handing out flyers have all made it their PASSIONATE life’s mission for YOU PERSONALLY to take their flyer. I’m talking about physically blocking you from progressing on your journey, following you several feet while manically waving their flyer about, and putting said flyer RIGHT in your line of vision so you are quite literally blinded and can walk no further. Sir, if I did not care to take your flyer for the creepy Chinese massage parlor of terror in the past 93 days, I most certainly will NOT be taking one now!

3. People stare at you. All the time. Not in a “Oh wow, look at that beautiful (or HIDEOUS) girl walking by!” kind of way. No no, dear friends, they stare at you as though they have never in their lives seen a blonde-haired creature before in their lives. It’s as though you are a fairy or unicorn or perhaps extinct dodo bird strutting down the street like it ain’t no thang. People look at you in shock and amazement.

4. No matter what you do, you will inadvertantly touch approximately 6.7 people’s butts on the subway whilst you ride to work. There’s nothing to be done. All the car jostling and people moving and ranges of human size make it physically impossible to avoid them. It does not matter how diligently you attempt to keep your hands away from butts of all shapes and sizes-as SOON as you step into a subway car, your hand becomes a magnet for random strangers’ rear ends.

5. Similarly, if you manage to get a coveted seat on the subway where your innocent hands are FAR away from anyone else’s butts, you are suddenly struck by the horrifying view of a stranger’s crotch. Or even worse, you find yourself sitting underneath someone’s outstretched arm. This person thinks they are merely holding on to a pole above your head. Not so. All of a sudden you are in the splash zone of an exposed armpit, begging yourself not to think of what lurks above.

6. Gym snobbery. What’s up with that? It seems as though 90% of Manhattan goes to a mind-blowingly fancy gym where they “work out” with other perfect looking people in their fancy lulu lemon yoga pants. Why does your hair look perfect AT THE GYM?! This is not a runway show! What are you doing in there?! A photo shoot for the rich and fabulous?! And why do you come out looking even more put together and perfect than you did when you went in?! When I go to the gym, I immediately turn into the most horribly awkward and unattractive version of myself, embarrassingly trying to use machines and muscles I’ve never even heard of. Go away, gym snobs! I’m no match for you. You somehow look like a majestic and graceful stallion while working out, and I look like disgruntled platypus trying to waddle her way over a block of slick ice!

7. Buildings without air conditioning EXIST here. Honey baby sugar child, I am from the SOUTH. When I walk out out of the humid, horrible, hair-deflating heat, I want to feel like I’ve found my own personal igloo oasis, a place where I can sit down, have a nice tall glass of iced tea, and freshen up my lipstick y’all. I most certainly do NOT want to walk out of the humid, horrible, hair-deflating heat into a fiery sauna building from HELL in which the air is somehow MORE dense and MORE mind-meltingly hot than it was outside! I don’t care how you do it, New York, but get that AC going.

While there are many glorious and wonderful things about living in this great city, those, my friends, are the most horribly (albeit amusingly) terrible occurrences and quirks about residing here.