Broke and Basic

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I squatted awkwardly under the bathtub faucet, waiting for the icy water to trickle out into my cupped palms. I collected water, I splashed it about my body. It went on like this for several minutes until I felt clean. The cold and hot water didn’t mix in my apartment and all that could be endured was a frigid little stream. Shivering and crying I did my best to keep it together. There I was, on the edge of absolute failure. It was one of the most real moments of my young life – and all I could think was, I’m a rich girl from the suburbs, how did I get here?

There is nothing glamorous about New York. I am not Taylor Swift, and it had not been waiting for me. I fought my way here above all odds and everyone’s better judgement (including my own). But damn it, I was here. Even if I was hating every minute of it. Since my arrival in January,  I have changed apartments twice. Once because our landlord simply never returned from Israel to let us move in, apparently that’s more common then you’d think. The second because our “Beautiful Bedstuy Apartment” was deemed unlivable by the New York City Housing Authority. We needed to vacate, fast. It was decided to be un livable due to roaches, broken windows that were never going to be fixed, a diseased stray cat named Tiger living in our hallway, and of course the scalding water that rained down upon us from the shower head like hellfire. Of course, my roommate Kelly, who I and my friends lovingly renamed Smelly Kelly, contributed to the apartment’s foul conditions. She was the type of girl who saved everything – even old milk. She would leave glasses of it inside the fridge or under her bed for days. She smelled of sour cream as if she was actually bathing in it. She was every Texas stereotype I could dream up rolled into one larger than life human being. She was a gun toting, Jesus loving, racist who didn’t recycle. She was truly the embodiment of my every nightmare.

Then there are the boys. Oh, New York boys! They come in every size, shape, color, and background but they all lie the same way. There was one I liked. He was Dominican with dark, smooth skin, and had a smile that could make me weak in the knees. Amy Schumer once made the comment that every time Latinos speak it sounds like they’re cumming. Now, I understand what she means. He could make the Pledge of Alliance sound like the dirtiest thing you’d ever heard. He was filled with passion and oozed sexuality. I thought I was in heaven until I realized that I wasn’t the only object of his affection. He loved his best friend. And not in a BFF, get a tattoo, and give a speech at each other’s wedding kind of way. My internal alarm went off until when he invited his friend on our date. He friend sat back in his chair and he asked me what it was like for us to kiss and whether I work out, and what my favorite position was. They were close – very close. The two of them might as well have been holding hands under the table. Needless to say, I left before the proposition could even be made.

Worse even so than my two spanish papis, my foul roommate and the broken down roach motel we shared, was the job. Sweet Jesus did I fuck up the day I accepted that job. Now, hear me out. I had just moved to NYC and I had been burning my way through all of my savings (my credit card). My other prospects had fallen through and I was desperate for anything when I decided to suck up my pride and enter the cruel world of customer service. I just really didn’t realize how cruel it would actually be. My boss, a plain looking English woman from the dodgy end of London looked innocent enough. She was kind and warm in our interview. She regaled me with tales of her company’s success and the devotion of her loving staff, and honestly, I should have seen through the bullshit. At this point, after being in New York for a few long months I should have known that nothing is what it seems and everything is shit. But, I am 25 and naive with no sense and stars in my eyes so I took the bate. Her favorite term of endearment for us is “pathetic” and I and the other brainwashed twenty-somethings spend our days being screamed at by wealthy designers for being physically unable to overnight their fabric from Thailand. All the money in the world and they still can’t figure out geography. But, I am sure the globes in their studies are for looking, not for learning. So I spend 9 hours a day sitting at my desk awaiting my 30 minute lunch so I can step into the Chelsea streets and be free to chain smoke and eat my sad banana lunch. 

My life is changing, so naturally my blog has to do the same. I have decided that I can no longer use the bulk of my posts to discuss my unsuccessful dating life. Because well, I may never have a date again. So instead I’ll focus on my current love-hate relationship with the city that never sleeps. 

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Breakfast of Champions

Woman Eating Stacks of Donuts

I passed by him on the street on the way to the bar where we were set to meet. I looked at him, made eye contact, and continued walking completely unaware that the tiny man who brushed passed me was the same one I had been messaging with. I sat down at the bar and ordered a drink, I checked my phone, and began to anxiously slurp down my beer. When I saw him walk towards me again, I thought seriously about pretending I didn’t speak English. Unfortunately, I am defined by my basic whiteness and couldn’t fake another language if my life depended on it. So instead I stood up from the bar stool and said hello. He pressed my face unapologetically into his small, bony chest. He smelled so strongly of stale cigarettes that I gagged a little.

He didn’t look much like his pictures. He was much smaller and worn looking and if there was ever any light behind his deep brown eyes, it was gone now. He stumbled a bit before he sat down and explained that he had, had a few beers before leaving his apartment. It was 5:00PM. I had always heard that Australians drink to excess but it was clear by his fifth vodka tonic that he had a real problem. He kept the bartender close, snapping at her and demanding service every time she tried to stray from his eye site. He became increasingly loud and brash as he gulped drink after drink–grabbing my inner thighs, making fun of homeless people sleeping in subway cars, and proudly telling stories of how he almost died three times but always came back. I wondered if he had left the bridge he was guarding in order to go out with me that night. He was so crude and unwashed that he could have been a character from a Brother’s Grimm fable.

At one point he alerted me that he needed to “drop a load” and I thanked God silently as I finally had time to escape. “You should really get out of here. He’s getting pretty aggressive.” The bartender looked at me seriously. “Did you meet on Tinder? I’ve seen this a lot. It’s not going to get better from here.” I nodded, jumped off of my stool, and ran out onto the street. Even after he informed me that his goal in life was to be able to sit on his ass all day and drink and asked me if I like giving blow jobs in the same breath, I still needed reassurance from a stranger to be able to get up and run for my life. I swear, my midwestern politeness will absolutely be my downfall.

Later that week he texted me. “What happened? I really liked you, I thought things were going well.” At first, I thought he was the med student I went out with a week earlier. I walked out on him too, shortly after he ordered me a vodka Redbull and pulled up pornographic images on his phone and slid them across the table for me to see. Okay, bro you might as well have just put roofies in my drink too. I felt genuinely sorry for Aussie but at the same time I knew that anyone who would seriously suggest feeding LSD to homeless people for sport was not the sort of person who warranted my sympathy.

I didn’t think about him again until he was standing over me, ready to take my order. My friend was in town and her, my roommate, and I all traveled into the city for a day of brunch and museums. We stopped off at a beautiful restaurant close to our destination. Excited to be out of the cold we all shuffled into a booth and dusted the fallen snow from our hats and shoulders. “Hi, welcome. Can I get you ladies something to drink?” Oh fuck. He didn’t recognize me at first, and I wondered if he would at all considering how completely belligerent he was throughout our date. He took our drink order and left the table.

“No, oh my God, no. We are in New York City. There are MILLIONS of people in this city…how is this happening?” My friends looked up at me, alarmed. “That’s him…that’s the guy I went out with.” Neither of them could believe it. Honestly, neither could I. You could really see how filthy he was in the light of day and it made my stomach sink and my skin crawl.

He finally recognized me when he placed my mimosa in front of me. His face became bright red and he walked straight into the kitchen without dropping the rest of our drinks. Needless to say, the service wasn’t very good after that. Some poor, half asleep bus boy was forced to bring us our food and refill our coffees. It didn’t occur to me until after I finished my $17.00 meal that he could have easily spit on it without me noticing. Welcome to my dating life, even in the most amazing city on earth, it is still so awkward and pathetic.

We begged the bus boy to bring us our bill but my Tinder date had already grabbed it and was moving from table to table with it in his pocket, making us wait 30 minutes before finally dropping it. He was helping the table next to us when he tried to nonchalantly hand it to me without making eye contact. He sort of handed to us behind his back while still chatting with the other table and spilled my roommates mimosa all over her in the process.

The entire meal, much like our three hour date was painful. It was like watching a car crash. You squirm and turn in your seat and hold your breath until it’s over. We walked out onto 6th avenue and continued our journey to the Upper West Side. I vowed I would never log onto Tinder or another dating app again as long as I lived, and I didn’t–for an entire two weeks.

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Welcome to New York

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I sit down at my desk to write, as I’ve done millions of times before. But today is different; I am different. No longer am I stuck in the grey stillness of my hometown, a town that is unsettling silent and slow. I left that place six weeks ago and already it’s hard for me to remember it. Since arriving in New York I’ve conquered the bustling subway commutes to and from work, I’ve learned how to be patient with people even when I find them intolerable, and I’ve lost love—although it was probably never mine to have. I didn’t step into the city and automatically feel at home or even that I had made the right decision by moving here. Rather, I felt afraid and overwhelmed and about a million other emotions connected to fear and regret.

I was welcomed to New York in a number of ways by many different people. I was greeted by my best friend and her bright smile, by my cousin with a loud laugh and long drag from a shared cigarette, by a broken window and a hole in my wall, a blizzard and frozen pipes, and finally with a whisper between the sheets in broken English. I never made any big declarative statement congratulating myself on stampeding towards my dreams—because that’s not what it feels like. It feels more like moving from a passionate affair right into a marriage. You’re in love, but you also had no idea what you were getting yourself into.

Sometimes in Brooklyn you can see the stars, they begin to show themselves just after 7:30PM and hang low over the park that sits caddy corner to my building. Sometimes at night I would stand on my back porch in Columbus and count them. Too often the trees or the orange glow of the city would block my view, but on a clear winter night I could still see them. It’s these little pieces that help keep me connected to my old life and give me comfort when I’m feeling lost or alone. It’s easy to feel that way here, regardless of the fact that I am usually actually lost.

The people are different too. They shuffle into the subways in herds with their headphones in and heads down. They all stand in close union with one another but are still alone in a world all their own. I watch them, and they watch me. We study each other silently as if there were glass in between us. The people move fast here. They push, run, and shove to get where they’re going, but they’ll also stop everything to answer a question or to point a stranger in the right direction. This is a characteristic of New Yorkers that I find particularly endearing.

The boys here are different too, I won’t call them men because most of them haven’t gotten that far. You have your wealthy ones, the son or grandson of someone who once mattered, but now all that is left is a handsome trust fund and a few entitled brats nursing from it. You have your poor ones; the ones who know how to work but grew up in a place so different from yours it might as well have been another world entirely. There are some that are fast and aggressive, born and raised in Queens or Staten Island or Harlem. They’ll kiss you hard, in the middle of a sentence without questioning it. Or, there are transplants who make jokes across the table in English so broken you can’t help but kiss them back, because you’re different too and you know what it feels like to be homesick.

I feel like I’ve brought little with me that was mine. One thing I made sure to bring was a portrait of my grandmother. I made my dad claim it for me in those few strange months between the death of my grandfather and selling his house. In the portrait, my grandmother is wearing a pale pink sweater with a white collared shirt underneath. In small letters in the lower left corner it reads, Captuto, Italia 1965. I assume she must have been in Italy when it was painted, but I don’t know and I never felt the need to ask. I like keeping her a mystery. Once when the howling winds slammed so hard into my building that my window broke I cried to her and asked for help. I knew she couldn’t here me but I figured it was worth a try, at least until my landlord could come and fix it.

Sometimes I yearn for the quiet stillness of home, or the small luxury of a personal washing machine, a car, or a bedroom wall without a gapping hole in it, plugged up carelessly with pink insulation and Styrofoam. But I also know that by spring I will have forgotten what easy living was like. The biggest change has been within myself. Looking in the mirror, my mirror, in a room that I recently inhabited, with things that are mine or aren’t mine, wearing clothes that are new, and thinking with a mind that is constantly changing makes it difficult to recognize myself. I like the girl looking back, I just don’t really know her yet—but I will in time.

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Zombies, Witches, and Blackface

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Oh, white people. We’re in charge, we’re on top, and we relish in creating offensive situations and then deny our racist behavior. There is no greater example of this then on Halloween, where people young and old can be found donning Geisha makeup, “terrorist” turbans, and the ever popular and always horrifying; blackface. I love Halloween. I love hearing the crisp fall leaves crunch under children’s feet as they run door to door collecting candy, I love the spooky movies playing on cable TV and in theaters, I love dressing up in funny costumes and getting absolutely plastered—but I don’t love racism and sexism. Making a joke at the expense of others takes all of the fun out of the season. If you wear blackface or dress up as a “Mexican” (yeah, most Mexicans don’t just walk around in sombreros drinking tequila, but cool bro) then you’re essentially the guy who brings rufies to the party. You are the fun ruiner, the party pooper, the ignorant twat that no one wants to sit with.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty pissed. Moments ago I stumbled upon an article which included Instagram photos of adults and children dressed as Ray and Janay Rice for Halloween. As if blackface wasn’t already tremendously offensive, let’s just go ahead and poke fun at the very serious issue of domestic violence while we’re at it—in fact, let’s just add our children into the mix, because they’ll in no way absorb this experience and grow up to think it’s okay or even laughable to hit a woman.

What kills me about offensive Halloween costumes is that they’re meant to be funny. Most people don’t put on a headdress to be mean, they instead fail to see the pain it causes. This is because white people fall outside of the minority experience. We have never been made to feel less than, or even obsolete because of the color of our skin. White women can understand this a little more because living inside of a woman’s body means that we will experience different treatment based on our bodies, how we dress, etc. What I’m trying to say is that minorities wear their experience. They cannot hide from it. Therefore they cannot escape the oppression. As a privileged race, we get to live in a bubble wear the color of our skin does not determine our worth. White people don’t always agree with this phenomenon but it’s because we’ve never felt it. Let me give you an example; two African American teenagers bullied me on the Cota bus once. I will call them teenagers to make myself feel better but I honestly think they were just gigantic middle schoolers. Anyway, one of them threw a pencil at my head and called me a pasty cracker. Hearing that didn’t hurt. I felt confused because I had just gone tanning and therefore couldn’t have been pasty, I also didn’t know what a cracker meant, but it didn’t stick with me. What stuck with me was the look on his face when he realized that I was trying not to laugh. That boy probably thought of the one thing that hurts him the most and tried to use it on me and it fell flat. Race can’t hurt me because everything in my world has been socially constructed to favor whiteness.

If those boys had called me a “slut” or a “bitch” I would’ve had a different reaction. My stomach would have turned; I would have felt unsafe, and probably ashamed. I know how powerful sexism can be, I learned it the hard way. So when I see women dressing up as Janay Rice or even worse, men dressed as Ray Rice, carrying lifeless African American dolls behind them, I get angry. I get angry out of powerful mixture of disgust and fear. Disgust, because if these people could see the crushing effects of domestic violence on women, if they could sit next to a survivor and hear her chilling testimony of living with a monster, they would never dream of making light of it. Fear, because the more we get comfortable with domestic violence and rape—the harder it will be to fight it.

There is no room for cultural appropriation and sexism in Halloween festivities. Nobody wants to see privileged bodies dance around in cultural staples that others have been oppressed for. It’s not a good look for anyone. So please, this year when you’re choosing your costume—choose carefully. Pass over the sexy Nava Hoe’s, the Osama Bin Laden’s, and for the love of God lose the blackface. Remember that there are literally millions of other options that won’t offend women and minorities. So if you’re sitting at the computer still thinking, “well what else is there?” just stay in this weekend.

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Love & Loss: How to Survive a Breakup

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Lean in ladies, we’re talking breakups. Yes—the inevitable endings that we cry over, break our phones over, and swear off the entire male gender over. I’ve been through it. I’ve been dumped in just about every way a person can be dumped. Whether it was through a text, email, or even simply being blocked on Facebook (yes, that really happened), I’ve finally learned that there was one consistency in each of these situations—I survived it and I moved on.

My latest relationship has taught me a lot about well, being in a relationship with myself. It took a slew of unsuccessful, regrettable dating experiences to finally realize that at the end of the day, the only one who really matters is me. As women, I think we tend to place too much emphasis on our romantic relationships. This happens for a variety of reasons but the most glaring of all is that we have been conditioned to seek out and obtain a prince charming and if we don’t, we’re made to feel as though we have somehow failed. I see this phenomenon all the time in both the media and in my social circles.

Last Friday afternoon I was struggling through a gruesome mixture of flu and hangover. I flopped lazily on the couch and flipped through channels looking for something mindlessly entertaining to watch. I stopped at Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Let me first begin by saying that Bridget Jones is a sad, hot-mess and a horrible portrayal of a single woman. Her character’s only objective throughout the entire movie is to obtain and keep a boyfriend. I’m sorry, excuse me? She is a thirty-something journalist with a promising career but the only way she finds any value in herself is through the eyes of Colin Firth. Um, sure that’s an awesome way to teach little girls how to become powerful, independent women—not.

This sub-par film from the early 2000’s is just one of thousands of examples of how main stream media manipulates us into believing that happiness can only be found in the arms of a man. Listen, I love, love. Relationships can be beautiful and uplifting but they will never complete you—you have to do that for yourself.

Every time I get dumped I cry. My life is over, I’m unloved, it’s my fault—woe is me. This is my initial reaction, but it shouldn’t be. Breaking up is bound to be painful but that doesn’t mean we need to stoop to self-loathing. Blaming oneself also comes with being broken up with for someone else or being cheated on. Listen; there is never a good reason to cheat. I have heard every excuse in the book but what it comes down to is if you don’t want to be monogamous then you can’t be in a monogamous relationship. Being left for another is a definite blow to the ego, but it’s worth remembering that, that is a reflection on their indecisiveness and not on you as a person.

When undergoing a break up you have to be tough. By no means am I advising you to ignore your emotions. If you have to cry, then cry—but avoid falling into negative patterns. When something is over, let it be over. Take all of the love you had for that person and focus it on yourself. Become your own greatest love and nurture your dreams and goals the way you would have nurtured your budding romance. The harsh reality of life is that human beings aren’t always reliable—we are an ever changing fickle minded species. However, you can control your own life and can therefore create your own stability.

Friends are also very important. They’re the ones we cry with, they wipe away our tears while filling us with tequila and pizza. They are our support system and invaluable after a breakup. Our support system can often determine whether we grow positively or shrink back into toxic cycles. In other words, although your best friend took away your phone so you couldn’t drunk dial anyone, encouraging you to hate-fuck the skeezy guy at the end of the bar is probably a bad idea. Even though she tells you it will take your mind off of your ex, it will probably just leave you reeling and craving more attention from him than before.

Remember, it isn’t over just because your relationship is. Sometimes being alone is the best thing for us. When we’re alone and away from the dizziness of love and romance we are able to clearly see the most important things in our lives—ourselves.

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O-H-I Can’t Even

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I don’t understand football—I never have. It’s not because it’s above me, or overly complicated, but really because I think it’s ridiculous. I know I’m going to lose half my readers with that sentence alone, but hear me out. I see men navigate more emotional highs and lows during one football game than I have during the duration of any of my relationships. Maybe, I’m just bitter because football gets more male attention than I do, or perhaps I just think it’s absurd to allow oneself to act completely belligerent over a game. As a child I’d run to my father’s arms after watching a terrifying episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, and he would hold me and say, “Lizzy, why do you watch these things if it upsets you?” The only response I ever uttered was, “Well you watch football….?”

On Saturday I, along with several other miserable servers, catered a tailgate party during Ohio State’s homecoming. If you aren’t from Ohio than I’m sure you believe your hometown has the most ardent and true football fans this great country has ever seen—but you’re wrong. You are so wrong. Ohio State fans are some of the most blood-thirsty, emotionally unstable people you will ever meet, and they take intoxication to an entire new level. The thing is Ohioans, along with most mid-western people, are actually really kind. Ohio has more colleges and universities per capita than any other state. We are extremely intelligent, modest people—until you bring up football—and then everything goes to hell. Individually, fans are helpful and cheery, as a group they bleed scarlet and grey—which is a horribly disturbing motto. Once during an OSU-Michigan game tailgate, I watched a man drive up to a group of fans with a stuffed dummy in a make-shift Michigan football helmet strapped to the hood of his car. The man then proceeded to turn off his engine, get out of the car, and hand bats to the people in the group. All together they joined in beating the dummy with bats as they sang “Oh, How Firm Thy Friendship”. There was a car under that dummy. I’m going to bet that Allstate didn’t cover the damage.

Luckily, the group we were catering for was pretty tame. By tame I mean they were all doctors, aged fifty and over. My gynecologist was there. As uncomfortable as that hello was, if I’m at a party chances are good I’ll run into at least one person who has seen my vagina. She asked me how my boyfriend was—the only thing that all women of a certain age are interested in. I explained that he was fine and gave her my best fake smile. Really, I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure how we were doing—or if we were even still together. We had been fighting the night before but I was working through a powerful cocktail of Nyquil and champagne and couldn’t remember where we had left things.

The buffet lines grew longer as I moved effortlessly through the cramped tent, between tables and chairs, clearing the plastic plates and empty bottles as I went. The DJ was playing classics from the OSU marching band. Big brass and powerful base filled the air as I tried desperately to maneuver around wheel chairs and walkers. I hit a snag in the midst of clearing tables. I found myself completely surrounded by elderly doctors singing Hang on Sloopy loudly and proudly. My tray was too full and my arm began to shake under its weight. I tried to make a quick retreat but everyone was moving too slowly and couldn’t hear me trying to clear a path. I, along with the tray was going down, and it was not going to be pretty. Everything slowed, and the second act of Ride of the Valkyries began to play in my head. I crumbed, with a sort of floppy awkwardness to the floor, bringing with me beer, wine, and sticky globs of pulled pork. I was covered from head to toe in grease and backwash. For the rest of my shift I smelled like a hangover. No one noticed—they were too busy chanting along with the shrill cries of the Medical Director as she shouted, “O-H” the elderly crowd retorted “I-O” and everyone cheered.

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Spilled Milk

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I quit my job. I spent the last two years working my ass off for something that literally didn’t pay off. It wasn’t a smooth departure either. I’m not saying I flipped my desk or punched my boss—just imagined it. It was messy but so is everything I do. Now, I’m back in food service. Catering for a large local company. Serving shrimp skewers and steak to the Columbus elite. I hate rich people. Standing against the high top tables, spilling scotch as they wave their hands around—congratulating themselves for being better than everyone else. It’s not ideal but it pays the bills, while I’m waiting to hear back about a job in the city.

Catering isn’t ideal and neither is he. He’s waiting for me there—in the city. By waiting for me, I really mean ignoring me. We never talk anymore, and even when we do it usually ends in an argument. I’m all alone in another non-relationship. Needless to say, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine in my world. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a hamster cage. Endlessly climbing through the tunnels and up the latters, only to fall back down into a pile of my own shit and wood shavings. Lately, I’ve just been sticking to the wheel, running to nowhere, too proud to give up, but too tired to try harder.

I’m itching to leave but I’m also terrified. I don’t think him and I will make it so I’m trying my best not to add him into the equation. It’s really just about the money. At the end of the day, it’s always a numbers game. Unfortunately my skill set doesn’t guarantee me a livable wage. I know you don’t get into non-profit work for the money, but how awkward would be to stand in line for food stamps with the clients you serve?

I catered a business school reunion last night, it was terrible. Some man old enough to be my grandfather with the libido a frat boy told me I was pretty and placed his clammy wrinkled hand on my low back. I cringed, he smiled, and I refilled the water.

I walked into the venue with my hair knotted on top of my head—wiggling uncomfortably inside my oversized shirt. I almost threw up when I saw him. Tattooed from head to toe, slouching by the computer. The last time I saw him I was getting money from my ex for an abortion. There was fighting and screaming and his face had gotten in the way of a shoe I was throwing. When I saw him last night—we didn’t exchange hellos. He took one look at me, pulled out his phone and began to text furiously. Great—now my ex knows that I serve mini quiches to wealthy bigots for a living.

Life isn’t great—but I’m getting by the best way I can. I no longer have to deal with coworkers who are a dangerous combination of bold and stupid, I have time to write, and even though I spilled tomato jam all over a woman wearing a dress that probably cost more than the down payment on my car—I still have my dignity, for now at least.

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