Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Shittiest Apartment Ever

August, 2010. There I was, back in New York City after living at home for the better part of my first year of postgrad. I had convinced a crazy artist lady to let me sublet her $700 per-month studio apartment. No way! WAY. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. No roommates! Freedom to walk around in the nude! Loud sex! Eating hot pockets on the couch while watching Sex and the City free of judgement! I was "living the dream." I thought that this was pretty much the best apartment situation I could ever hope to have in New York.

Except it wasn't. The price was right, but everything else was wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! Let me lay it all out for you:

("you live where?")
The apartment was at the very bottom of Crown Heights, so far at the bottom that it wasn't even Crown Heights anymore and I had to tell people it was Crown Heights just so they would know what the fuck I was talking about. (The neighborhood is actually called Wingate.) A few days after I arrived back in the city, I told one of my friends where I was living, which was a ten minute walk from the Sterling Street 2/5 and the Kingston Avenue 3.

She took a long, bored drag of her cigarette. "I don't know what those things are," she said.

As you all know, I love to walk. but when that walk entails me trying to get to the subway in a timely manner so I can avoid getting fired from the Strand for lateness because I haven't been inducted into the gosh-dang union yet, it's not fun. You know what else isn't fun? Carrying Trader Joe's bags for that long in 90 degree heat. Or opening the door to find that it snowed three feet while you were asleep and having absolutely no choice but go to work (once again: still not in the union). At least I was "feeling the burn" from trudging through all that snow. Tres inconvenient.

 illeana douglas has nothing on this woman
First, there was really bad "art" all over the walls. It was all like, "cool-looking" sticks that were painted and tacked above the couch, above the bed... Wherever. In the bathroom there was a "cool-looking" stick "statue" sitting on the back of the toilet. IT WAS A FUCKING STICK STUCK IN A BLOCK OF PLASTER. My friend came over one night and accidentally broke the statue. It was hilarious. What was not so hilarious, however, was when I finally moved out and she came home and discovered the broken statue (which i had neglected to tell her about) and threatened to charge me SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS for that piece of crap because that's how she makes her living, by selling sticks encased in plaster to discerning patrons of the arts. I said no way, Jose and got away with only paying for some teflon pans that I "scratched up and destroyed." (As if!)

She didn't have a vacuum but wanted me to sweep her carpeted floor. It was absurd. Obviously, like any sane person would do (or in this case, would not do), I did not sweep the carpet.  When she came back she said that the carpet looked like "it hadn't been swept in months." Also she said that if the drain in the bathroom ever got clogged I could just pour a can of coke down there and it would solve the problem because obviously coke is the same thing as acid. Well, I didn't sweep the carpet and I gleefully bought Drano to take care of the clog. 

Needless to say, she screamed at me about all of this shit over the phone when I finally moved out. 

(an example of what i was dealing with)
This was the cherry on top of the fucking cake. I feel like this woman knew that she had a mouse problem but didn't tell me about it. Why, why, why??? I struggle with this question to this very day.

It all started one evening in the early fall when I was watching tv and drinking a beer and having a grand old time. Then I saw the mouse. Whatever, I thought. I've lived places where there's a mouse or two afoot, and as long as we mind one another's business then I really don't care that they're there. But then something awful happened: the mouse ran into a glue trap that the crazy art lady had placed underneath the radiator. I didn't know what to do. I was horrified. I called my mom and had a nervous breakdown. That poor little mousey, I thought. I could hear my stepfather making fun of me in the background and my mom put the phone down and said, "this is not funny! there is a dying animal in her apartment!" In the end, the mouse ended up getting itself out of the trap, which was a relief. That sense of relief, however, was to be short-lived.

I saw that mouse running around on a daily basis. But then there was another mouse. Then there was a third mouse. There would be, like, two mice (haha I almost wrote "mouses" LOL) running around the living room at the same damn time. Oh, did I mention that my bed was one of those beds where you sleep on THE FLOOR??? I went insane. I bought it all: steel wool, snap traps, glue traps... They were all over my apartment. These mice were diabolical. They ate the peanut butter off the snap traps. They pulled themselves out of the glue traps with their incredible strength. Eventually, I killed two of them. Now there was only one left. the worst one. The most evil mouse of all.

I was trying to sleep. It was going NUTS all over my apartment. Sleep evaded me, despite the fact that I'd taken, oh, I don't know, three xanax pills? The clock struck three. I prayed to god to let sleep come to me and turned off the light. I lay there, frozen, listening to every little rustling noise that may or may not have been caused by a mouse. Then, I heard that dreaded sound coming from behind my pillow. I sighed. The inevitable was finally happening.

That is a fucking mouse, I thought.

It sure was! It crawled across my neck (okay so it wasn't my face- sorry). I screamed and flung the covers off me, sending the mouse flying across the room. It ran into the closet and I leapt out of bed, filled with murderous rage. I rearranged every single trap in my apartment around the closet so that the little bastard would finally meet his maker. Then I got back into bed and waited.

And then do you know what happened? I got it. I heard it run out of the closet and then stop abruptly. I threw on the light and there it was, mired in a glue trap. Halle-fuckin'-lujah! But now what? I wasn't about to put it out of it's misery (or, more appropriately, MY misery)  by hitting it with a frying pan or something. I decided the best course of action would be to use one of the "cool-looking" sticks to place the glue trap in a large saucepan. I carried the pan downstairs and out of the building. The neighbors' trash can was missing its lid so without thinking I just flung the mouse into it. Only it didn't quite make it: the glue trap ended up getting stuck to the rim of the trash can. By that point, I'd had quite enough and went upstairs. I went to bed and never saw another mouse at that apartment ever again.
Well, that's it. My worst apartment ever. I've had a few years to think about this, and I realize now that though the apartment had treated me badly, I had also been bad to the apartment. I let things fall into disrepair: the wardrobe rack that collapsed under the weight of all my clothes, the filthy carpet, the clog in the drain. I sucked at paying the bills on time. The ghosts of all my rebound fucks and almost-boyfriends filled the place with a distinct sadness that I felt awful leaving behind- out of everything I did, this, I think, is what I feel the worst about.

Sometimes I wonder if the apartment would have been better if I hadn't been so angry and sad about what was going on in my life at the time. Had I not experienced my first catastrophic break-up days before I was scheduled to fly back to new york, I would have been better to my body and better to my home- thus, everything might have been not-so-terrible, right?

Then I remember the mice. And then I say, "oh, right. nevermind."

At least I got to walk by this everyday:




Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Would Do Anything for Love, But I Won't Do That: My Beef with Brooklyn Boys

(image via the l magazine)
I've dated/"hung out with" my share of jerks here in the borough of Brooklyn. However, I do not feel jaded or cynical about the whole dating/"hanging out" situation that exists here. "You'll never find love here," my friends say. "They're all insane."

I do not believe this! Yes, the amount of insane men that live here is...well, insane. But I think that maybe we've been going about this thing the wrong way. Maybe we need to redraw our boundaries, to make a new set of rules for ourselves. In order to distinguish the winners from the lunatics, we should take into account the area-specific things in addition to the usual things. Thus, I have come up with a list of things that I absolutely refuse to do for a brooklyn boy, no matter how cute/smokin' hot he may be.

I'm sorry, but this is not my problem. I came to watch you play at Death by Audio and your set was good and all but in the end it's your gear and I'm your lady friend, NOT your groupie-mule. A real man will haul that shit himself because he has sexy muscles with which to lift heavy things. I don't mind stopping at the rehearsal space with you, but from now on? I'm waiting in the car and I'm not lifting a finger.

Umm, this is really boring. Can we please have sex now?

(no offense, d)
What the fuck is going on with everybody doing the big H again? I guess it has something to do with the whole early-nineties thing being back in vogue? Well, guys, while your self-destructive tendencies are unfortunately kind of sexy, in the end I'm not going to waste my time with any dude who "only does it once a month." You know why? Because once a month turns into once a week and once a week turns into once a day and before you know it you're at a shady pawn shop in the shittiest part of bushwick arguing with the employees to give you back your camera that your stupid ex-boyfriend pawned for 100 measly bucks.* I hope those drugs were worth it, asshole. 

Also, if you're going to break up with me, please do not do heroin beforehand. K THNX BYE

(*this is a true story- though it's not my story to tell.)

Going into Manhattan sucks, even if I'm not leaving whatever subway station I need to walk through in order to transfer to whatever train I need to take to get to your house. I also don't like going to Broadway Junction to transfer because you know why? I've OD'd on it. I've had to use it SO MANY TIMES in order to hang out with you. How about you come up here once in a while? Do you understand the trials I go through to spend time with you? If we live in completely different neighborhoods off of completely different train lines, It is inevitable that somebody must be inconvenienced. It's not right that the inconvenience should always fall on me.

Also, I do not roll out of bed magically looking fly. Sometimes I need access to the following things: my shampoo, my conditioner, the stuff I put in my hair while it's drying, my blow dryer, my flat iron (for my bangs), my face wash, my moisturizer, and my makeup. As you can imagine, this is too much shit to put into my bag. I'm fine with staying with you and throwing some bare essentials in there so I can look presentable at work the next day, but it would be nice to stay at my house every once in a while and shower in the comfort of my own home.

You know what, forget it. This wasn't meant to be. Next!

...when there is so much cool shit to do here.


Let's be real here: Brooklyn chicks are some of the most beautiful, smart, and hilarious women in the world. We are adventurous, ridiculous, and fucking FUN. Guys, you are a bunch of spoiled brats. Perhaps you think that you can pay no mind to how you treat the fabulous women you are surrounded by on a daily basis because hey, if you get bored of one of them, there's always another equally-hot one to be found, right? Well, here's a news flash: we're onto you, and you're not as smooth as you think. 

As for you awesome brooklyn guys who I'm SURE are out there: give your not-so-awesome friends a talking-to! You all are too cute to be assholes.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Whose Bar Is It, Anyway?

I've only had one person ever tell me to "stay out of my bar." The bar was Harefield Road, and the person who told me this was a girl who was upset over the fact that I'd gone on one (1) (uno) (terrible) date with her ex-boyfriend. What's even lamer is that she didn't even say it to my face. She had a mutual friend forward this brand-new information along to me. I was also informed by said friend that this woman would fight me if she ever saw me in person. Well, none of those things happened: I love Harefield Road and I go there most weekends for brunch. I was never attacked by this woman, either.

"My bar." What makes a bar "yours"? It's silly, and we know it's silly, yet we say it, or at least think it, anyway. There are two ways to delude oneself into believing that a bar is "yours":


You stop in after work and stay for a couple beers. You get to know the regulars and you are on first name basis with the bartenders. It feels just like a big living room filled with a bunch of friendly semi-toasted people with whom you'd never associate outside of this setting. If you're there often enough, people will know where to find you. They'll know that you're at "your" bar. Except, as I've stated before, it's not your bar. All you're doing is sitting there getting loaded! The worst thing is running into somebody who really doesn't like you in "their" bar. You know what, I don't care if I come into "your" bar and you're there giving me the death stare and thinking that you're really teaching me a lesson by not talking to me. Chill, bro.

A few years ago I dated a guy who was a bar regular- and a full-blown alcoholic. It was bad news. I knew that I shouldn't be hanging around him, but he was an ex-model and oh-so handsome and I just couldn't tear myself away from him. Soon I became a regular in the bar, too, and shit hit the fan. We were wasted all the time. We had a horrible fight when we broke up. He said mean things to me and I slapped him. "Get out of here, Randall," he said. "Just go, get out!" I was devastated and I felt like a monster. I pleaded with him to stop saying the things he was saying and to not tell the bouncer to kick me out but then he said, "fine, I'll leave." and he was gone. It was awful. That's when I realized: you should never be in a bar all the time. Once a bar becomes "yours" in this way, it's time to get the fuck out of the bar. At that point, the bar doesn't belong to you: you belong to the bar.

From that incident forth, whenever I went to that bar with my friends, all of the regulars would glare at me. At first I felt very uncomfortable, but as I started getting closer with my current group of friends, the regulars receded from my life and their presence stopped mattering. The regulars have since disbanded. The man I dated is sober now, I think. Once in a while I'll drop in to unwind from work and write in my journal. When I do, I sit in the seat I used to sit in when we were together. It makes me sad to think about everything that happened, but it feels satisfying to think that I'm a little wiser than I was back then.

Ah, romantic entanglements. Once you throw a bar into the mix, anything can happen! This brings me to the next rationalization of bar ownership:


Okay, so you went on a date. It doesn't even have to be a romantic date. It could be a friend date. You and the other person perhaps frequented this bar on a regular basis once your relationship began to flourish. But then it all went to shit, and now you are both wondering: who gets to keep the bar? 

I ran into a guy I just broke up with at a bar this past weekend. I knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later because that little strip on Wyckoff Avenue off of the Jefferson stop is TINY and there are only so many neighborhood bars to go to. (Plus a friend of his is a bartender there and if there's one thing that friends of bartenders love, it's free drinks.) We only live two stops apart, but the bar is definitely more in his neck of the woods than mine. We both party in Bushwick, so shouldn't any bar around here be fair game? But then again, we went on our first date at this bar. I'd never been there before. Should I stop going there just because he started going there first? Then there's the whole bartender friend thing. I like the bartender friend. I do not feel awkward seeing him. But does he feel awkward seeing me? Does he think I'm stalking my ex? Does he think to himself, what is she doing here? 

All of these things were on my mind upon going back to the bar for the first time since we broke up. I was having a cocktail with my girl Kelly, and we thought we were home free. But then he appeared. Out of fucking NOWHERE. Seeing him for the first time since it ended was awkward as fuck and it made me sad. It was a night-ruiner, but I steeled myself and resolved that I would not lose this bar in the divorce! Those margaritas? That rad mac and cheese dish? Yeah, I don't think so. Get used to it, yo. Move over, I'm not going anywhere. I do suppose that the laws of bar ownership dictate that this bar is his for the keeping, but, like I've been saying, the laws of bar ownership are bullshit. This is a public space, y'all!

I guess running into somebody you don't really want to run into is part of the risk you take when you refuse to relinquish a bar you once shared. However, we are all adults, and as time goes on things gradually get less awkward. One day maybe you won't even care or notice that the other person is there. Maybe you'll even have a drink and shoot the shit with them for a while. But there is a more complicated element to sharing a bar with someone, and that is the memory of you being there with that person. Maybe you made out all night at the dark end of the bar or played drunk scrabble or crammed into the photobooth to take stupid pictures, or maybe you had a horrible fight at that table right over there, the table you will never ever ever sit at again because of all the awful vibes emanating from it. These kinds of things make me very wistful. Returning to the bar sometimes feels like returning to a crime scene. Some of these memories always make me want to come back to the scene. At times, some of them also make me want to run away.


In the end, nothing good can really come of claiming a bar as one's territory. It only makes things weird and awful. Instead of "owning" a bar, we should just love it. It's nobody's bar but it's here for everyone, and aren't we all just trying to have a good time? Cheers to that! Now drink up, fools.