Thursday, February 28, 2008

An info bomb for your Thursday

I work with an engineer and our interactions go like this:

Hey, [engineer].
Blondie! What’s up, blondie?
So, I have a question for you.
Why aren’t you smiling, blondie? You never smile. What’s your problem, huh?
You know those water towers on top of buildings?
Are those actually used, still?
Yeah, they are. See, water pressure in the city naturally only goes up about five stories. So buildings that are higher than that, they’ll have a pump that pumps the water directly to the roof. That's their internal water supply.
So, the people in the building, all their water comes from the tank?
That's right. But lemme tell you something, that is why you never drink out of a water fountain in a building with a water tank.
Because, you ever looked in ona those things? You know how many dead pigeons there are floating around in there?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A little give and go

I heart New York. But I've been here for a year and a half now which is time enough for things to happen and now, oh, there are little pieces of it that make my stomach flop. Places that I avoid, at least when I am not trying to write them over with new occasions and even when I do I sit there with a little taste of cancer in my mouth. And there are little petards sewn into my week: Tuesday, Wednesday, sometimes Thursday. They don't always go off, but that just makes them all the more effective, right? This is not the forum for this? Someone take the keyboard away from me?

Anyway, the city sustains. A guy on the subway gives me his seat and I come home at midnight to find that some neighbour has carried my package up four flights of stairs and left it on my doorstep.

Monday, February 25, 2008

It is funny because it is true

I never had a laugh-out-loud appreciation for those Flight of the Conchord guys, until last week when twice I saw hobos laying on the ground perhaps dead. One was flat out on his back in Union Square station, a chubby cop standing over him awkwardly, holding a radio, waiting for backup. The other was on the sidewalk at Union Square West, in a fetal position, with several people standing nearby, waiting for something to happen. Now I can't stop thinking about that lyric.

And yes, I will see you in hell.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mouse update

Those fucking mouses came back the very first night Kate and Charlotte were here. They kept me up all night and several times I got up to chase them away, all of which the girls slept right through. Anyway, it was a good thing I got so annoyed, because that gave me the bloodthirsty impetus I needed to buy a bunch of goddam traps and fill them with goddam organic 365 creamy all natural peanut butter and put them under the goddam sink. Of course, there has been no sign of mice since.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm an idiot

I always buy a montly metro pass, and the way the MTA prevents scams is that once you swipe it, it won't work again for 18 minutes. Which is why the scammers trying to ride for free always ask the people exiting the subway for a swipe. I always do it, and I'm not entirely sure how verboten it really is (there are warnings on the train not to sell a swipe, but nothing about giving one away for free). Anyway, it happened again this morning as I was arriving for work, this young guy (hot) asked, and as usual I looked all around to make sure there were no MTA employees watching, and then let him in. And as I headed on my way, a woman said, "Ma'am, you dropped something"—a post-it with an address on it had fallen out when I had taken my metro card out. The woman was dressed in a maroon MTA uniform.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The girls are here, and ain't they clever.

He's apparently not even allowed to walk for two weeks.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why is everyone in New York this week French?

French people on the 1 train headed uptown, French people on Rector street reading a map, French people in Union Square commenting on how the Empire State building was lit up like the "tricolore" (no, fools, it's Presidents' Day), French people entering the bar where I was playing pool (I mean putting on a clinic) in Tribeca, French people in line in front of us for the Abyssinian Baptist Church, wanting me to translate for them what people were yelling at us, and some guy outside of the record store who actually just started hitting on me in French.

guy: [bla]
me: "What?"
guy: "Ça va?"
me: "Euh, oui ça va. Et toi?"
guy: "Bien. Quel est ton nom?"


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The best goddam dirty bird I have ever had

Friend lives in New York for free in exchange for being a den mother in the dorm I used to live at. I still can't decide whether this is the best or worst idea ever. At any rate, he has to organize little trips and activities for the kids from time to time, and this past weekend he decided to take them to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, famous for its gospel choir, and I tagged along.

We spent about an hour waiting in line (or as people here say, "waiting on line," hee) in our Sunday best before realizing there was no way we were getting in, so we went for food instead.

Ladies and gentlement, the "Reverend Al Sharpton" at Amy Ruth's.

I was full for 12 hours.

We took the bus all the way home - you know, to make a day of it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Watch my mom rage on me in the comments section

I remember once in high school hearing a story about a woman in New York - a friend of a friend of the woman who wrote Gogglebox or something - who found an intruder in her place and just yelled incredulously at him: "Get the fuck outta my house!" And he did. I fully believed it at the time, and now I understand why. I am a coward, including being afraid of the dark and, I don't know, there being a face in the window IF I LOOK AT IT or someone breaking in or that spider crawling on me as soon as I fall asleep or whatever else I could come up with. But not so much anymore. I am so comfortable in, and territorial about this ridonculously cute $5/sq ft studio that I work so hard to pay for, that when a coat slides off a chair on the other side of the room, or some random buzzes my apartment trying to get into the building, or I hear fighting outside my window, my immediate reaction is just: "THA FUCK?"

Yesterday, by some miracle I was at home all day. And when someone knocked on my door at noon, my only thought was "You have to show up when I'm wearing a housecoat and a towel turban?" I open the door, there's some 6'2" mid-50s guy standing there with a clipboard and he says,
"I'm from buildings. You got heat and hot water?"
"Yes.. Are you from the landlord or the city?"
"The city, ma'am."
He gets out his ID to show me, and for the first time it occurs to me maybe I am not supposed to open the door to strange men.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't die coffee guy!

The other day my bodega guy was kind of a jerk to me, and a few days after that he apparently felt the need to make it up to me. I had just bought ciggies and was leaving the store when he yelled "Miss!" I turned around, and he was holding out a little candy heart-on-a-stick and said "Happy Valentine."

Another day I was running past my coffee guy on a work errand, not having bought coffee that morning because I was hung over and so got a Jamba Juice instead, and he saw me passing and yelled "Hello!" and grabbed a cup, and I told him, "Hi - no, I'm not getting coffee today" and he filled it anyway and handed it to me and said, "For you, friend, there is no charge."

I somewhat didn't expect his truck to be there this morning since, as the wicked cool weather man on the local CBS affiliate says, there's been a lot of "precip," but it was. Except that it was staffed with a different coffee guy! I asked where "my friend" was and he said "Oh, Sameer [I think]? He has a problem with his heart. He'll be back tomorrow."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Hey Phil,
I so know - you have to snap those vantages you spend so much time looking at. Here is my own occasional study spot. 6th floor NYU library: I look through my reflection onto Washington Square Park, mostly fixating beyond that on the Empire State Building in the distance (that's it in blue).


New York is wet

I'm sorry, babies - I'd blog all the time but the Monday-Tuesday one-two punch kind of takes it out of me. Today was already going to be a 12-hour drama, and that was before I woke up to the sound of a faint tapping on the hardwood, made by drops of water falling from the ceiling. I called the landlord and they called the super - note: my building only hires crazy useless old drunk Russian men (how many pleonasms can you fit in a description?) as supers. Did I tell you about the time he came over to fix my stove cuz the ignition was shot, and he drilled a hole into it, to "make spark closer to gas"?

Today he shows up, looks at the ceiling and says [Russian for "Uh oh"], then goes up on the roof for a few minutes, then comes back and suggests that maybe it's a pipe leaking (note to those not in NY: the city is a mess of snow, ice and rain, a lot of which has presumably accumulated on the roof of my 100-year-old building, right above my apartment), and that it's best to "wait five ten minutes see if stops."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New York is cold

It just took me almost an hour to get home from the Lower East Side, less than 2 miles away. It took friend, who I was with, an hour and a half to get back to Harlem. Fucking weekend trains. We were so pissed she later said she thought about jumping on the track. I thought about smashing things. It's gotta be -20 right now, by the way.

Why do I even leave the house? (Because otherwise I get no reading done.) It is so cosy in here. Okay, I wish I had a bathtub, but when I crank on the gas stove it gets nice and toasty. And it's clean, because I had people over for brunch. And there is leftover bacon in the fridge.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Kate, Charlotte

Hm - didn't know about the Carnegie Deli. Katz's is good too (the place where Meg Ryan faked her orgasm - it's still there, and a rather down-to-earth, real place). You also need to:

- get your nails done at some quintessential Asian lady nails place (there are $7 places in the village and many places in my hood)
- go clothes shopping in SoHo
- walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and have pizza at Grimaldi's at the other end
- have dinner or drinks at some ridonculously cute bistro on Bleecker in the West Village
- rifle through the vintage clothing stores in uber-hipster Williamsburg
- get lost in Central Park, or maybe take a carriage ride through it
- eat at at least one celebrity hangout/celebrity chef restaurant (Nobu in Tribeca, the Spotted Pig in the W Village, Les Halles in Grammercy, Bar Americain in Midtown) - do this at lunch because it's cheaper and you're more likely to get a table
- stroll through Chinatown and Little Italy (basically, just walk up Mulberry street)
- go clubbing in the meatpacking district (dress sexy)
- walk down Park/Madison on the UES and look in the windows of Gucci, Prada, etc. and then have a cappucino and people-watch the rich weirdos
- have dinner in Tribeca (we can all go to the nice Belgor-ian place Mom and I went to when she was here)
- have soul food in Harlem (chicken and waffles MMM!)
- do a walking tour of the Lower East Side or Harlem
- get drunk on the Lower East Side, or at secret bar PDT in the E Village (behind a fake wall in a phone booth inside a hot dog place)
- go up to 34th and see the Empire State Building (from the outside) and Macy's (from the inside)
- go to a museum party night (art! booze!) - generally Friday nights - and flirt with the hot artsy types.

Holy shit. That is a good list, both for what it leaves in, and what it leaves out.

I won't be seeing much of you guys since my schedule is pretty wall-to-wall, but when I get home every night at 11:00 I expect there to be Trader Joe's 3-buck-chuck in the fridge (I prefer the Sauvignon Blanc). I will give you a set of keys, and you can buy a walking map and a 1-week metro card. Bring your cellamaphones and chargers so that you can text each other when you get lost, or me when you need to be bailed out of jail.

Don't forget you're going to need a bag big enough to fit claussen's pickles and cheeze whiz on the way down, and fabulous shoes on the way back.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

SMS highlight reel, vol. 9

Hey do you think that guy I like is gay or no?

It's not too exciting. Just me and my chicken sandwich.

What the eff?! Im drunk and wanna talk!

I found something that will make you laugh and scream and cringe all at once.

Where are you living out your present confusion?

oh please come! Didnt you already write that paper? Come! I am baking!

Just so you know you're still looking like a big ol WHORE!

football super game bowl at toms tonight. Bring snacks & drinks & violent enthusiasm.

Nope! you know i dont do haters of the vag and neither do you! i mean that in any way you may interpret it. ok so lets shoot for friday- any preferences?

Which activity is it possible to fail more profoundly: cooking or life?

Since I rarely pass up (a longshot at) romance, I propose you bring wine, I make dinner. I promise nothing else, but dress sexy.

Im so excited that i made the reel. I think this is my first appearance.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

And for a brief moment, the impostor syndrome relinquished her brain

I nevvvver sleep. Today this fact hit me like a brick at about one o'clock. I was at work, and I just initialed my timesheet and left. I still hadn't finished preparing my lecture, so I went across the hall to the computer lab. I scraped together some examples and made a handout, and then my conscience gave me permission to just leave it at that, and I called Grace and went for a coffee instead.

I have to tell you, I have sat through a lot of lectures in my life. And I am really very good at what I do. Every one of my students looks me in the face for two whole hours, even the shiftless attitudinal ones. When I ask a question, more than half of them offer an answer. And when the clock hits 5:50 (or :54, as it did today), no one even gestures at packing up until I stop talking.

I've done a shitty job at lecturing in the past, and there are always ups and downs, but I need to underprepare more often, because I can do this.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ticker tape parade

This morning I went and watched the ticker tape parade for the Giants (Kate, Mom, k-star, they are a "football team" and on Sunday they won the "Superbowl"). Actually, that game was pretty exciting, even though I watched it with a bunch of philosophers.

Anyway, my strip of Broadway - I just told you about this - packed with Giants fans and blizzarding with paper - not ticker tape, mind you. Confetti collected and donated by the city, and then the contents of the office recycling bins, followed by toilet paper, 8 1/2 x 11 printer paper, then whatever the suits could get their hands on. I picked up one of these. I think it's for buying stock.

I was standing next to a bunch of guidos and a bunch of black dudes. They didn't know each other, but they were basically the exact same group of people. The black dudes smoked a blunt, while the guidos killed 2-litre a bottle of port. Here are some excerpts from their conversation:

BDs: "Brookyn represent! Yaaaa! What's the matter, you guys don't like Brooklyn? Where you from?"
Gs: "Valley Stream."
BDs: "Valley Stream represent! Yaaaa!"
Gs: "Go Giants!"
BDs: "Yaaa!"
Gs: "Yaaa!"
BDs: "New York yaaa!"
Gs: "Yaaa!"
BDs: "Yaaa!"
Gs: "Terrorists yaaa!"
BDs: "Yaaa! Haha!"
Gs: "Giuliani yaaa!"
BDs: "Boo."
Gs: "Haha. Boo."

I had to go and pay my rent, on Fulton, but all the streets were closed down, so I got a cop to escort me to the landlord's office.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Last night we was drunk with an o, so this morning called for breakfast out, what I haven't done in ages, at Kitchenette in Tribeca. It's the kind of cramped place where you may end up seated inappropriately close to some other party, which we were, and so you know your entire conversation is being absorbed. Which just makes you want to be funny, which you think you are, because you are still drunk. Friend says he used to have the body of a heavy lifter, now he has the body of a heavy reader. When he started telling me what movies to see, the guy next to us finally interrupted (the charade) and asked whether There Will Be Blood felt too claustrophobic.

Theater e r

So I saw Beckett's Happy Days yesterday at BAM in Brooklyn. I'll admit, it was hard. During intermission I debated going into the ladies' to cry but composed myself and went downstairs for a coffee instead. I could go on and on just about the set, about Fiona Shaw and how incredibly funny she is, about the theatre itself... but Winnie. She is so heartbreakingly beautiful. I searched for reviews to commiserate with others about this. You can tell the misogynists, the untrustworthy types, by how they receive her character. She is so easily dismissable as a hysteric, "babbling away" to the man "compelled to remain in her presence," but that precisely misses the point. It's disingenuous anyway - the kind of thing that could only be said behind her back - because for an hour and a half we were all fixed on her words and on her face just like she was fixed in the earth.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Neighbors sans u

I've told you about the constant talkety talk talk talk. People talk to you, you talk to people (except your neighbours you don't talk to those fucking strangers). Sometimes people turn out to be crazy and all you can do is keep smiling and nodding until it is your stop. Yesterday I was standing on E 16th St with a carton of half and half (yes, I was) and this passing delivery guy informed me "Milk - it does the body good!" Today I tried to leave my umbrella on the 4 train and two huge dudes started yelling "Miss!" "Ma'am!" "Miss!" until it broke through my consciousness and I turned around.

That's not true - I did actually talk to one of my neighbours today. I was walking slowly up the stairs, scrutinizing my paycheque and reading the deductions out loud, and he said

"[something] scary [something]"
"What's that? You're scary?"
"No, I said I didn't want to scare you."
"Oh. Thanks."
"Can you figure out where that beeping is coming from?"
"I'd say definitely the second floor and not the third. Can you hear it in your apartment?"
"Yes. I mean, it's not terrible, but... I just wanted to locate it before I call the landlord or the fire department."
"Yes, it's a smoke detector whose batteries are dying."
"I'm so-and-so, by the way. I live in 5."
"I'm Marianne. I live in [nb]."

He was hot.

When I was younger my mom always made me go to the neighbours' and borrow a cup of sugar/ egg/ teaspoon of paprika and I hated doing it because I felt self-conscious or something. Not any more. But when I have tried to do this with neighbours in my adult life it doesn't work because nobody cooks. Now I only borrow objects. Last night it was my neighbour's corkscrew. He took about 20 seconds (count it out that's a long time) to shift a bunch of things, stare through the peephole and finally answer the door.

One time my other neighbour witnessed a pretty messy altercation I had with someone while my door was open. And the night I was assembling all my furniture and needed a hammer he was the only neigbour home for me to borrow one from. He was pretty hesitant to hand it over.