Bah humbug

It’s early. It’s Thanksgiving. Not my favorite holiday. For one, i hate poultry. I’m not too fond of stuffing either. Also, i haven’t been in the same 2000 mile area as my family during TDay since high school, and in those times, we never really did anything right anyway. There was a chicken one year, nothing the next, a few functions put on by mom’s office, and several free turkeys that sat in the freezer for longer than they’d ever been alive. In short, no one ever wanted to make or eat turkey. In a burst of assimilation i once made cranberry sauce, it went untouched. So anyway, Thanksgiving – ehhh. And not that i want to be all snotty and political, but there’s something distasteful about a holiday of pure glut that celebrates (directly or indirectly) the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Native Americans.

Nevertheless, i’m about to go to the Pathmark to buy ingredients for an apple rasberry crisp i’m baking to take to a friend’s dinner. His dinner usually has a southern bent (gravy, biscuits, greens), a television featuring football, and lots and lots of budweiser. One day the scene will be perfectly completed and we’ll all be on an old couch outside an RV on blocks. God, let me erase that thought right now. And this whole, “time to be thankful for you have” coming from every network television station is about as sincere as rocks. So bah humbug from me.

Yesterday i met darleen for coffee in Manhattan for once, at The City Bakery. It was there i realized that many people living in new York City still have money and still have jobs. On either side of me were Sex In The City wannabe’s surrounded by shopping bags. (You mean people can still afford to shop?) The City Bakery was clean, high ceilinged and bustling in a way that reminded me of Dean & Deluca before Dean & Deluca became a tourist destination that bears a closer resemblance to a train station than an eating place. Anyway the coffee was slightly burnt but the double chocolate chip cookie was delicious. In any case i’m staying put at The Flying Saucer from now on. Trustworthy, within walking distance, and decidedly poor.

The other thing about thanksiving is that it stands as the big marker for Christmas, aka Christmas shopping. Let’s just say a lot of people will be getting cuttings of fresh basil this year. Or maybe handmade cards, or maybe mix CDs, like in high school. Which reminds me to tell you to check out This nice little article on the death of the cassette tape.

Happy Thanksgiving.


I’m now the number one result for “turkducken” on the google/yahoo search results. This might not be as impressive as it sounds cause i realized the correct spelling (if there is such a thing) is actually turducken. So i’m getting a lot of traffic from folks who are wondering about a slightly skewed version of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. Not bad for, one, totally missing Saturday’s pre-Thaksgiving feast, and two, having a decided dislike of foul as a whole. I did want to see what this turducken thing was all about though. For someone who doesn’t like to eat birds, one can only be completely repulsed or completely intrigued, and i was the latter. My dislike of foul is not due to vegetarianism or fondness for the animal, but because there’s something about the texture of birds that’s nasty. All stringiness and rubberlike. I actually can’t stand most birds when they’re alive and near me either. So unless it’s chopped up, and smothered in sauce, or otherwise completely disguised from the creature it originally was, i just can’t hang.

So it’s too bad that all these avian inclined folks have ended up here and i have pretty much nothing worthy to say about the tur(k)ducken. Secondhand, i heard it was both “amazing” and “i dunno a little dry for me”. So there you have it. Conflicting reports, as with most everything.

On Saturday nothing happened according to plan except for that i did go and see The Deer Hunter, which to my surprise, only eeked out out one or two tears from me. I liked it ok, but i wasn’t as blown away as i expected (err no pun intended). The most impressive thing was that Christopher Walken wasn’t at all scary when he was young, and actually was kinda hot. Who’d a thunk it? But otherwise, i was a jonesing for a little more editing during the hour long wedding segment, and a little more dialogue during most everything else. But i did like it ok. It was probably just a victim of high expectations.


Yesterday was grey and foggy and i decided to don my headphones and take a walk in Fort Greene Park. It’s really nice this time of year. The ground was covered with red and yellow leaves, and just a little mushy from the morning rains. There weren’t any dogs or kids or any people really. I lingered around the big Prison Ships Martyrs Monument, which houses the bones (twice moved) of American POWs from the Revolutionary War. Pretty creepy i guess. But it seems ok when it’s gloomy and wet out. I was listening to the new Missy Elliott which i seriously dig. I’ve been listening to it for three days straight. Luckily i don’t have roommates or they’d have killed me by now.

I treated myself to a chocolate ice cream too. I love eating ice cream outside in the winter. There’s something decadent about it. And also forbidden. It’s something you’d never be allowed to do as a kid. I still delight in those small advantages that come with being an adult, cause, as we all know, the lion’s share of this adult business suzucks. I walked by the wet tennis courts and my spirits were dashed a bit. Soggy tennis courts make me sad. Especially when i haven’t played in almost a month. I haven’t had any exercise in that time actually. Naturally it’s bumming me out. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a bike fanatic, and i was wondering to him what exactly it was about the bike that was so great. Is it the freedom, the danger, the communing with smog? Me, i know exactly what it is about tennis. It makes me feel really powerful. Especially when i’m playing well, it’s like i’m the absolute master of my little green half of the court. I hit really hard, and sometimes and i’m loud, and i just feel like the queen of the universe. Lately i’m in dire need of that power feeling.

Today is cold and sunny, and i’ve got a strange melange of a day ahead of me. Firstly, i *think* i’m going to go see The Deer Hunter at BAM. I’ve never seen the three-hour tear-fest. But i want to. I remember my roommate in college borrowing the double VHS cassette from one of our friends and locking herself in her room for the evening. She would come out in her pyjamas, tear-stained, sniffling, clutching snotty tissue, shuffle into the bathroom, do her business, and sniffly walk back into her room and close the door. “I gotta see that” i said to myself. There have already been a couple failed attempts. When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t take much to bail on a three hour descent into depression: “These dishes really do need to be washed..” I may bail on this one too. But you never know.

Then there’s a something at my friend at Eric’s called a turkducken. It’s a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. I know, irresistible. Except that then there’s this party which i am still undecided on an outfit for. I’m being a greeter for an hour so i can get out of the door charge. Anyone who knows me, knows i so don’t have the personality to be a greeter. I’d have to exclaim (yes exclaim) things like ‘Welcome Home!” with spunk and enthusiasm. (Is there a pill for that? I think there is.) But i’m a touch too shy and cynical to welcome the masses to a brooklyn warehouse party as if it’s the inebriated version of heaven. Even if it really is, which it’s not. But i think it’ll be a good party. Point is, my outfit is slow in coming together, and the turkducken might have to fall by the wayside. Maybe three hours of Vietnam will inspire me.


Voila voila. I’m back in New York, and it’s pretty much like i never left. Paying work is sparse, with a social life like spilled marbles. Can’t complain. Paris was a blur. The night i got in was clear and mild, and Nils and i took a walk down rue Montorgueil. We drank delicious cheap wine outside facing the open air cheese and vegetable shops. And instantly i kicked myself for planning the trip for only four days, for fleeing the place after a piddling 10 months, for not trying more cheeses. But by day four my tongue was stained purple, i was in perpetual dehydration, and my brain hurt from concentrating hard every time someone spoke to me in french. And i was ready to get the hell out.

I took many pictures and i’m hoping to put them up on the site, depending on motivation. I sat next to a Jesus freak with horrible breath on the airplane home. He kept saying, “God bless you” and “Jesus loves you” with this beatific open mouthed smile. And i would shrink down into my sweater and towards the window trying to escape his dank breath. If Jesus really were up there in the firmament trying to convert me he’d be smart enough to send a lamb in the form a hot guy with lots of funny jokes and an unlimited supply of Tic Tacs. Until then i remain an nonbeliever.

I also am convinced i came home carrying an extra 5 lbs on my person, specifically on the hippy region. When you only have 2 weeks of decent chocolate though, there’s no holding back. And decent wine, and decent cream sauce, and pastries, and those nuts they serve with cocktails…

Otherwise i’m a little bit blocked about what else to say about the trip. It was fun. It was also weird to be vacationing in a city in which i once lived. When i met new people i vacillated between making sure they knew that i had lived here for the better part of last year, or just letting them think i was a tourist with surprisingly decent french. Mostly i explained that i had lived there, if only to justify why my trip was so short. At Nils’ house we listened to cassette tapes of James Taylor and Janis Joplin which reminded me of sleep-away camp when i was 11 (minus the booze and cigarettes). In keeping with old times, there was a night of questionable art and even more questionable champagne. I woke up late everyday. My aunt taught me how to make a frittata French/Turkish style. And i spent plenty of time trying to give a coherent explanation of my current professional life to various befuddled family members. I should have used the line i kept saying to my dad: I’m just going through an unambitious phase right now. And then a bit mystically: But don’t worry everything in life passes. As you can imagine, that works really well on the over 40 crowd.

de train de train

Transcribed from 5 days ago…

Sitting around observing the strange ways of the natives in Europe is just like putting on my oldest pjs. It may seem old to you, but always feels just right to me. So here i am on the Eurostar from London Waterloo to Paris Nord. I am sitting directly behind a boy band. I swear they are. There are four of them and all hipped out to the nines, Americans. Each has a different hip-look (and a different hair color/texture). All young white kids with some form of bedhead calling eachother nigger, and throwing in references to “Manhattan” every 10 seconds leading me to believe that they are so far from being new yorkers, new jersey’d be a hell of a complement. It’s clear they are also loaded. One of them is fiddling with a small swank DV camera, the one accross from him is spinning his IPod on the table with his index finger, another one i can’t get a good look at, and the fourth one just came back from the bar car with four little bottles of Smirnoff and tomato juice. It should come as no surprise that i support both a love of gadgetry and a healthy thirst, but shit they kill you at the bar car, and an IPod is meant to be loved not spun. They also have expensive socks on. I can tell.

Apart from the unfortunate boy band right now, London was surprisingly pleasant. It rained every day of course, but stopped around noon. Luckily I wasn’t opening my eyes before 1pm mostly so by the time i dragged myself out of the apartment it was actually sort of sunny. And i never realized what a pretty city it is until i saw it under a few hours of sunshine. It could almost be called cute. I’ve been hanging out with my oldest best friend from LA who’s living here now with her man. They’ve carved out a pretty sweet life, even if it is damp all the time. In any case everyone’s managed to keep me fed, drunk, and entertained during most of my waking hours, and that’s what counts.

The train gets in in an hour, and Nils is meeting me at the station. I’m nervous about the whole Paris part. For starters i’m scared to replay any of my protracted misery from my last year there. Cinematic as being unhappy in Paris is, it fucking really sucked. Downing a cheap Cote de Rhone along with 2 packs of cigarettes a day doesn’t seem cool anymore. It seems gross. But after a few seconds of thought, i admit it’s still strangely appealing. And so, we find ze problem.

On a positive note i am easily understanding the hostesses french announcements over the PA, and spoke briefly with the train agent in London in French. He started it and i went with it. Then he saw my US passport, switched to english and asked me about my long-stay visa which is still in there. So i casually explained about my jet-set lifestyle. [Note to readers: Any mention of my jet-set lifestyle is dripping with sarcasm. Jet setters do things like buy little bottles of Smirnoff at the bar car and use their IPods as coasters.] So we’ll see how my riduculously short stay here will treat me. I made it four days on purpose, and I’m having a hard time explaining that to people. “All zee vay from new york for four dayzz??? But vhy?” But vhy indeed. I dunno, cause i’m retarded that way. On to the cheese, mes amis.

So here i am in my oldest friend’s London flat, blinking away the glaring sun. You heard that right. It’s sunny and then some here. You can imagine my amazement when i woke up reaching for my sunglasses. I guess the whole trip’s been that way so far. I never usually like London. It always seems dreary and wet and cold, and just blah. Blah to everything, to the people, to the food, to the architecture. But this time around, it’s been not too wet, and besides for that everything’s just been really fun.

Last night i accidentally found myself on the Waterloo bridge and then lost in Soho and Chinatown, all little neighborhoods with people everywhere and outdoor tables, and generally just lots of life. It had rained in the morning but lucky for me i haven’t been able to drag my jet-lagged/hungover/lazy butt out of bed before noon and missed it. It cleared up later though and the light outside was amazing. Naturally i forgot my camera. Because i can’t change too much, i did make time for some sub-standard art in the form of short film. It was free and very loud. By someone named Steve McQueen, not the dead actor but the British film maker (?). At the end i was not so impressed. It was about gold mines in South Africa. Did i mention that it was really really loud?

Today i’m up at a decent hour and i’m travelling to the north to see a man i’m doing some work for. It’s fun to have “clients” all over. It makes me feel like a real jet setter (except for the poverty part). The other thing about London that always bugged me that hasn’t changed this time around is how friggin expensive everything is. It’s like $3 for a subway ride that takes you four stops! And speaking of the Tube, i was waiting in this insane line, err qeue, the other day to buy a ticket, the machines were broken and the guy at the window was like 200 years old. It took me 30 minutes to buy my train ticket, and i really wish i were exaggerating. I was all fidgety and pissed off and i kept looking down the line (out the door by this point) to see when someone was going to start causing a scene, but everyone was just very politely waiting. I couldn’t hold it in after 20 minutes and finally turned to the man behind me and cried, “This is craaaaaazy! Is this normal?” He explained that the 30 minute line was very abnormal and that he was not happy either, in a very subdued and polite manner of course.

I could just imagine anything like that in a nyc subway station. They’d have to call the police. In riot gear. People would be sooo angry. I’ve seen insults hurled because someone isn’t finding their wallet speedily enough. I won’t even get into how often my dreamy california driving style gets honked at when i’m not 10 miles down the road the second the light goes green. Anyway, moral of the story, carry enough coins to use the ticket machines.

A Return of Sorts

Gads. I’m off to London and then Paris tomorrow night. It’s a trip i planned months ago, and if it were to have been planned closer to now, in my jobless, moneyless, nearly hopeless state, would not have happened. But who cares anyway? I’m set on making it perhaps the cheapest European tour on record, with the exception of bringing back several large bottles of this one mustard whose absence in my fridge is killing me. I left a barbie-pink suitcase full of books and other impossibly heavy items at my friend Nils’ apartment in Paris. I just couldn’t fit one more bobby pin into my exploding three bags on the final flight home from my 10 month sojourn among the Parisians. It’s funny because i left with not so much more than i came with, which is a testament to my thrift and to my utter disappointment with French shoes. Lucky for me, because all those pinched Euros are now feeding me eggs and rice and Swiss cheese.

I’m worried about emptying my bank account and forgetting to get online to file for unemployment on Sundays because i’ll be nursing several cafe cremes as an antidote to my red wine hangover (coincidentally, it’s the Beaujolais festival when i go). But alternately, i’ll be nursing delicious cafe cremes as an antidote to all the delicious cheap red wine i’ve been drinking. To every silver lining there’s a cloud, no? And i’ll be able to end half my sentences with “no?” again. And so draw what conclusions you will, but i just love ending my sentences with, “no?”

Otherwise it’s been an emotionally exhausting few weeks, as they all are if we’re present enough, no? Speaking of obtuse new-agey thoughts, I wonder how i’ll meditate during my time in The Old World. I may have to work extra hard to get a few seconds of empty mind on the train, or get my chi flowing in a squatter restroom where, don’t laugh, all but one of my Paris key life realizations happened. All in all, i’m at a loss as to how i’ll handle it all. I was unequivocally miserable when i was living there. Elated, I boarded my very last CDG to JFK flight in May. But these days the travel bug seems to be sneaking up on me in odd and rare moments when i’m swiping my metrocard and jonesing for a solitary glass of red wine while watching the rain settle in on a smokey window pane. It’s a little cliche, but Paris is the most faithful cliche out there. So you kind of have to hate it and love it for that at the same time.

Bisses, and i’ll be reporting from the field for the next two weeks…

Birthplace of the Disco Skate

So when i was telling John and Erickson about my trip to the the roller skating rink last Tuesday night, i started out this one sentence with, “So this guy was hitting on me at the snack bar..” And then i started cracking up. When was the last time you told a story where anything happened at a snack bar? Cause when was the last time you were anywhere that had a snack bar? And damn, i wish had been taking notes because everything at the roller skating rink was kind of like that. The reason i went skating was that i had these brand new black roller skates for my Halloween costume that a lovely soul named Trixie just gave me. After trying them on in her apartment i realized quick that i needed some practice if i was going to survive the night without a trip to the emergency room. I remembered that someone somewhere had mentioned to me that there was a rink in Brooklyn, and when i googled it, i found United Skates of America Empire Skating Center. Birthplace of the Disco Skate was spray painted on the back wall. But wait i’m already getting ahead of myself.

So it was a dark and rainy night and darleen had bailed on me, but i was intent on checking this thing out. And it was only three train stops from my house so what did i have to lose anyway? But as i emerged from the Prospect Park Q station i could already tell things were different in these parts. There was a drive-through Wendy’s and across the street from that a drive-through McDonalds. Next to that was a “Meat Warehouse” ringed by a pretty sizable parking lot. It was the suburbs to the City of Park Slope.

After four very long blocks and a query to the guy in the little hut at the Arco station, i finally found the big low building. At the door were two very large bouncers, one of whom held the door open for me. And then in the vestibule were a woman and two men wearing bright orange “Security” vests and i was asked to open my bag which was searched thoroughly. And i mean thoroughly, not these wussy searches you usually get. I felt kinda cool opening my backpack to reveal my oh-so-professional very own roller skates. I didn’t feel that cool when the woman frisked my body equally as thoroughly. It was odd to have so much roller skating security i thought at first. But then i remembered that one by one all the skating rinks in LA became off limits due to gang violence. What’s up with that anyway? Why you wanna mess with a bunch of litle kids birthday parties and disco skaters?

When i walked in the place was nearly empty, and it brought back loads of childhood memories. The rink was huge, and lit with at least a half a dozen disco balls, and a bunch of other colored lights. In the center of the rink was a little island ringed with benches. The groove area, i remarked to myself. Up above the rink was a dj booth. Now i don’t remember dj booths at my childhood rinks, but maybe i just hadn’t started noticing those things yet. The walls were lined with lockers. There was a snack bar at the back left, and arcade area at the back right. Just as i remembered. And the best part was those big circle things that are covered with carpet where you can sit to put your skates on or just take a breather. I think i might have gasped.

Slowly i started to get my skates on. More people started coming in. There wasn’t anyone skating when i first walked in, now there were three or four, and they were all really good. I was starting to get a little anxious, cause i already knew sucked. I already knew i sucked a lot. I had some trouble with my locker which required a trip to security where a little man who had a striking resemblance to Danny DeVito’s character on Taxi held my hand as we rolled back to where my stuff was.

“I’m not a very good skater,” i yelled over the music.

“I just don’t want you to get away from me is all,” he smirked.

That got sorted out easily and i made my way to the rink. I was wobbly and by this time there were lots of people skating, and they were all really really good. Like crazy good. I had to stop to lean against the railing and just stare several times. The music was mostly dependable R&B like Mary J Blige and Aaliyah. People were whooshing by me, backwards, in pairs, in triples. They were lifting their feet to the music for a half length down the floor, or swaying their hips in time to the beats. Really, it was as much dancing as it was skating, and suddenly i started to feel like a prisoner in my own body. I just couldn’t do it. This is what it must feel like to not be able to dance, i thought. How awful. I could feel the rhythm, but my body was just not cooperating. It was painful. I almost wanted to take off my skates and just dance a little bit, just to prove to somebody, to myself, that i wasn’t really this lame.

But i pressed on. After a half hour or so my legs started to hurt, my right leg especially because i only could turn using the small quick movements of one leg. Everyone else was turning with long graceful strides where the one leg crossed way over the other one. The kind of move that would have led to an ugly face plant had i attempted it. There was a sort of “mini rink” where people were practicing new moves, and i alternated between the two. I wanted to spread my badness around so no one would get too irritated with me. And this guy who had been hitting on me at the snack bar earlier, who i thought was super cheese, who had like seven gold teeth, was one of the best people out there. I kicked myself for not chatting with him more. Cause i needed a lesson, a nice long lesson.

So the crowd. What kind of people stay out late on Tuesday night to get their groove on with the aid of eight wheels? All sorts it turns out. It was certainly an all ages affair. There were plenty of teenagers and kids in their early twenties, dressed to the nines in hop hip gear. Then there were plenty of people in their 30s and 40s that looked like they worked in real estate, or something equally practical. Nearly everyone was black, with the exception of a small contingent of older white women in their 40s and 50s. I reckoned they were the hot young skating things in the 70s, and just kept at it. I was the youngest white person there by at least 20 years. The common thread, of course, was that everyone was really good. It almost made me wince, because there wasn’t anyone who looked like they were learning or just starting out. I mean, were all these people just born with skates on? Anyway, let me stop whining.

So people would whoosh around and find a partner to skate with for a few laps around the rink, and it wasn’t unusual to see one of the older white women in bike shorts with a matching sports bra disco skating with a 20 year-old black kid with a do-rag on, both sporting giant grins. Talk about racial harmony. There were tough looking young men, disco skating with each other. And yes, as the entry fee suggested ($5 for women, $8 for men), men outnumbered the ladies by like five to one. The rink guy was in a referee’s outfit, looking really cool and really in charge. There was a whistle permanently inserted in his mouth. He’d skate along a group of cute women, whistle on alert, and bounce his head up and down, nodding at them approvingly. Then he’d take off and join another group. There was this funny group of like four “bad boys” who kept whooshing by everyone dangerously close and very fast. They freaked me out a half a dozen times at least. Did i mention i don’t have health insurance?

It was so cool, i could have died. And i wanted desperately to be good. I may get into roller skating. I can’t promise, but I think i know where i’m going next Tuesday night. I just need a lesson, a really long lesson.

Halloween 02

It was the perfect day to spend recovering from a night of city debauchery. I laid around staring out the window at the yellow leaves blowing around in the fall half-sunshine, reading stray “The Critics” sections of old New Yorkers, and burrowing through a pound bag of Halloween M&Ms. (And yes, i’m a little nauseated now.) Last night was one of those nights when your eye wanders over to the window and you notice the sun’s been coming up for like an hour already.

I had this big realization walking back to the train station last night: It doesn’t seem to matter what i’m doing or whom i’m doing it with, lately i always seem to have fun. It’s kind of odd because i’ve always considered myself sort of a finicky and hard to please person. I don’t know if this is just a phase, but it feels like i’ve undergone a radical change in how i relate to the world in the last few months. As radical changes go, it’s a pretty functional one too. It keeps a broke girl in the city from being constantly bored and pissed off.

Last night the little crew i was trying to organize to get to Opaline just did not happen. One by one everyone bailed for various reasons: getting sick, have to work tomorrow, mom coming into town, haven’t slept in two days. Yeah yeah, i’ve heard it all before but it all seemed sincere individually. So instead i was ready to hit this old standby party in the Burg where a few good friends were definitely going to be. Just as i was putting the finishing touches on my eye makeup Ethan calls from outside the building to let me know the thing’s been broken up by the cops and he’s going to mill around bars in the burg instead.

But screw it i thought. I was all dressed up, and i wanted to dance. Badly. So it was an easy decision to hit the Opaline thing on my own. After all i’d been there before to see some of the same djs and i had such a good time dancing with random folks that i stayed well after my friends whom i came with left, and closed out the party. I used to always be slightly envious that guys could do anything on their own, but i guess i learned last year, finally, that i can do anything on my own too. And well, if i comb my hair and put on some lipstick, i can pretty well get my drinks bought for me as well.

So off i went , and of course i had a fabulous time, and met a medley of interesting people, and a few really good dancers to boot. At the end of it all there was a bench of us at the 1st Ave F train station who had all missed the train by 30 seconds. We traded Halloween candy and commiserated on our terrible 4am train karma. Turns out everyone on the bench (besides me) was fresh off the boat from somewhere, and it was everyone’s first NYC Halloween, which was really cute. Finally 4 of us bit the bullet and shared a cab home. Sometimes you just have to. And then i ran upstairs. And then things just got better from there.

Then there was Tuesday night when i headed off to the skating rink all on my own, and could have died it was so cool. But that warrants it’s own entry, which it will have.