Thursday, January 30, 2014


About six months ago I bought tickets to a Tuesday night concert (Neutral Milk Hotel) that started at 10pm. Six months ago it was sunny and warm and most things seemed possible, nay desirable. I desired to trek into Manhattan on a weeknight and stand for hours, likely with the tallest man in the room right in front of me, periodically being shoved aside so a tipsy 20 something girl can squeeze her tiny hips into the crowd. I wanted to do it because I love the band and they reunited for a tour, the first one since the 90s when they were still a thing. So I paid a shitload of money back in the halcyon days of summer, before my new found frugality, before the term polar vortex entered my lexicon and during what was probably a twelve hour span of time when I forgot that I am 37 (that sometimes happens to me.)

Anyway, I refuse to complain because, ultimately, it was a great show. All of the following bullet points could never negate that it has been added to my pantheon of live rock shows that are worth the price, the time, the sledgehammer to my lower back feeling because of standing/rocking out (which I got even when I was 19), the fatigue and the minor annoyances. Still, I think I want to share some random thoughts from last night because why not?

  • This one has been expressed ad infinitum but it was really fucking cold in NYC last night. I was wearing three layers and a hat and nothing could stop the cold from stabbing inside me like a jagged icicle. I drove in from the island but had to get the subway to Manhattan and the walk from where I parked was a tundra of winter darkness. It did help when I passed other, amorphous and frozen blobs, buried under their wool coats and scarf masks,getting to where they were going via many layered legs and feet. To know that I was not stranded in Antarctica but still in NYC and that yes, everyone was feeling it too, didn't make me warm but it didn't add to the cold which is all one can really ask of winter. The tickets for the show were sold out but I suppose the way things run at stupid Webster Hall (I have had a personal vendetta against Webster Hall since I was 17 1/2 years old...more on that later) necessitate a slowed down entry so all ticket holders had to wait on a long ass line outside on the glacier of Manhattan for about 15 minutes. Or 4 hours, same thing.
  • Because I'm totally bridge and tunnel and marooned 50 miles away from my heart, I experience a combination of quick emotions whenever I first get on the subway and that combination is not too much unlike when I'm in the vicinity of someone I'm attracted to, but don't know very well. I'm surprised by how familiar it feels yet there is always something slightly different that reminds me that I don't know it very well anymore. (Last night it was the "M" train that now runs in Astoria. What? M train? I'm sorry but I don't understand that.) I get annoyed and impatient at an alarming rate when nothing happens, a train hasn't arrived and I look forward to sitting and having silent conversations with fellow commuters with our eyes. I become infatuated with the notion of being sandwiched among total strangers who could live in the same building but never run into each again after this train ride and disgusted by the possibility of someone breathing on my neck or rubbing their sweaty back along the hand rests. So, to recap, I get nervous, elated, fascinated, annoyed with, impatient for and disgusted by NYC. Basically, I have a crush on NYC.
  • I was meeting my sister at her office and she happens to work on 53rd and Lex. Her subway stop entrance is a sunken plaza and when you are exiting the stairs from the subway, you gradually move up levels until you are on a street surrounded by skyscrapers. Every single time I meet her there I feel there should be an inspirational song playing that makes reference to a young woman making her dreams come true in the big city. And it cracks me up. My friend Nancy only yesterday made reference to the Laverne and Shirley theme song and that was what popped into my head last night.

 I need to re-watch this show. 

  • For dinner we went here, a place I haven't been to since it opened a few years ago. The seating is still for the birds but the macaroni and cheese? Dear God, it might serve as a hint that you maybe really do exist.
  • Webster Hall and I are only even on speaking terms because awesome bands play there and I have a love/hate relationship with the venue. When I was 17 1/2, the night after my senior prom, which I did not attend, I had tickets to see Nine Inch Nails, my favorite band at the time. I was with a group of friends and friends of friends and we were young and it was the 90s and Trent Reznor. Anyway, the show was 18 and over. I repeat, I was 17 1/2. The bouncer was a drag queen in a white dress who looked at my ID and said "So sorry, honey." And then s/he DID NOT LET ME IN. The entire group I was with did not go in either but I am pretty sure I wasn't the only underage one. We all ended up walking through Washington Square Park and buying acid which I did not take. I have a feeling I would have hallucinated something angry and stabbed someone. It turns out I didn't need to drop acid to get flashbacks of that night; it happens every time I've been to Webster Hall in the ensuing 20 years, which has been probably five or six times. The urge to stab has disappeared but I usually kick a wall lightly with my foot, for good measure.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel is still awesome. Before they took the stage, an announcement came on that said the band requested that no one take recordings or photographs. Later, during the show, Jeff Mangum asked again and said it was because he wanted everyone in the room to be present, right now. I really just appreciated the hell out of that and you know what? Everyone complied and everyone went to a concert and actually watched the concert without the filter of a camera. It was like 1994 up in that piece! Probably exactly like it was during that NIN show that I didn't get to attend.

  • Last winter, my sister and I saw Jeff Mangum play a solo show and one of his band mates from NMH opened. Both gentlemen were wearing the exact same things at this show that they wore 8 months ago. Their status as indie rock musicians affords them some leeway but I sent out a wish that they had laundry access.
  • There were, of course, some annoyances in the audience. One man who was probably 60 and looked exactly like a completely grey haired John Travolta, was so drunk that he kept touching everyone, including my sister. He reeked of vodka and I overheard another audience member, after being leaned on by Drunk John Travolta (DJT) say to him calmly, "You need to take yourself home, dude." DJT did not listen but instead had to be escorted out by a bouncer. I was very confused by his attendance, but mostly because he really had to be at least 60. I'm not saying 60 is old but why are you at Webster Hall on a Tuesday night, half in the bag? It makes no sense!
  • The show ended around 11:30 and we took a cab back to my sister's apartment. I was convinced we would perish in that cab but that's only because he was driving like a fucking maniac, even for a cab driver. He was speeding up as he rounded corners. I didn't realize that every muscle in my body was tensed up until I got out of the cab and patted myself, making sure I hadn't crossed over into the afterlife. Breaking news: NYC taxi drivers are insane.
  • I decided to drive home that same night to avoid having to wake up early and drive in rush hour traffic. I decided that I could learn to love night driving but only if the rest of the world of drivers and cars disappeared for the exact amount of time it would take me to get home. Then all the drivers of every kind of car, be it SUV, obnoxious black Sierra pick ups or NYC taxi could take to the road to crash into each other. Do you think we could make this happen?
And that's about all for today folks. The next planned concert I have in my schedule is not until August and that will be in Brooklyn to see Arcade Fire so I am guaranteed to have an incredible time. Never during my 20s, when I was living in NYC and going to three and four concerts a week, getting hammered and stumbling home at 2am only to get to work by 9am the next day did I ever think I'd have gap of SEVEN MONTHS between live shows. I participated in at least three consecutive "Rocktobers" where we went to 15 shows in a month. Ah well. At least I have my ticket stubs to hold on to. And this picture.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Bit of a Quiet Thrill

It has been awhile, it's true. At this moment, at most recent moments, my brain is in what I like to call "muted panic mode". Actually "panic" seems too dramatic a word for it. What would be a good word for "panic minus drama"? I always crave change in January and I've gotten it. For better or worse, I've gotten it.

In short, I quit one of my jobs to take a less demanding part time job. It is something I have long daydreamed about, usually around hour 9 of the 13 hour days that were my reality for the past five and a half  years. Like almost everything in life that has a huge buildup in my brain (first kiss, first sex, first speech in front of an audience), the actuality of it was more of a "Oh. Ok I guess that's it then" than a firework-laden screamfest. I suppose that was always going to be the case because when you spend five and a half years of your life in a job and four of those years actively looking for something else, the burn is slow and when it finally gets down to the ash, it can be nothing but a light fluttering away. I've spent a lot of time earning a (comparatively) lot of money and being almost wholly miserable because I felt like a half empty hourglass, no matter what day of the week or what time of day it was. Not to mention that I was still, alarmingly, accruing debt! I am godawful at money. Working a lot of hours, even if it is at an "easy" set of jobs will drain you and all the novelty of having a bit of extra money (at least on paper) will wear off eventually. Or, you know, it will wear off almost immediately and it will take you four years to do something about it.

For whatever it's worth, I did just get a bit of a quiet thrill thinking about having some free time. Even if the plan is to fill up all of my new found free time with work. I mean it will be work that matters to me, but work nonetheless. I think this should be my first tattoo:

That's me on the right.
I'm going to be focusing all available free time on writing, both my own work and trying to build contacts and connections as a freelance writer and copyeditor. I have come to terms with the fact that writing is the only thing I want to do and I'll take it in any capacity. I'm only happy when I'm writing. I'm also truly miserable, excited, sad, nauseated, nervous, ecstatic,  horny, full of dread and angst and joy when I'm writing and I can only deduce that if something makes you feel all of that, you should spend most of your time in its pursuit, no? Anything is preferable to numbness or indifference. I would rather feel disappointment than numb. I would rather care than not care. This might be old hat to many of you but not to me. This is a dang sea change.

I'm excited. Who's excited?

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The start of the new year always picks me up and flings me high into the air with thoughts of "more exercise, less spending, more confidence, less complaining and change change change, damnit". This year is no different. I have been extremely busy the past eleven days (it seems almost a lie that we are already eleven days in) with so many fingers in so many pots. I am setting up my life and my time to actually be different rather than moping around pining for things and people that are closed to me. Instead of talking about and dreaming things, I'm taking decisive action and it really feels good. And exhausting. I still have two jobs so I'm still wedging everything I possibly can into the tiny spaces in between my obligations of work and chores and errands and day to day necessities. I'm still testing time like a rubber band; it hasn't snapped back just yet and believe me, I am using all my arm muscles this time. I have hope.

In keeping with the theme of changing my life, I've decided to tackle my debt in earnest for the sheer fact that I need the freedom being debt free will give me. It is a means to an end. Debt doesn't really bother me if only it didn't affect every single other aspect of my life. As such, I have to deal with it. I never learned how to take control of my finances, even when I paid everything off four years ago. I mean, clearly. I'm back to square one here. However, I've decided to just take the lesson and learn what I can from it, namely, stop buying shit I don't need. The world's landfills don't need another supplier. Yeah, that's right. I'm doing this for the WORLD. You're welcome.

I feel good. Honestly, I do. My dreams are still going to happen, however they will be on hiatus until I get all my debt cleared away. Why can't 2014 be the year I do it? I read this article recently and it inspired me. I have spent a few days looking for ways to make extra money (even more than my two jobs already affords me) and I ended up signing up to become a mystery shopper. (Ooooo what could it be???)

I am under no delusions that such a venture will net me any kind of real profit; I'm approaching it as more of a "that's $15 I didn't have before and now I can get two beers at the bar instead crying at home in a corner because I'm not spending money." And it is basically not a lot of work for that money so why not, right? I found this website (through that article) and signed up and just like that, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime....

Not really. However, I did find an assignment within a couple of days that was minutes from my house and I agreed to do it yesterday afternoon. Before this, I knew nothing whatsoever about mystery shopping, assuming as one does, that there was shady dealing and costumed role play with large hats involved.

Me as a mystery shopper at the self portrait store.

Sadly, there is no costuming. In fact, you have to be completely inconspicuous. And you have to pretend you are an actual customer. I am a really terrible actress. I'm one of those types of actresses who has to believe what I'm saying so if I were a good actress, I'd follow the method school and have to "live" the part. However, despite the fact that I'm a bad one, I still need to live the part. I know this because in order to prepare for the part of "customer"I had a lot of difficulty coming up with a believable scenario to give to the store employee in order to evaluate their performance. Sincerely, I came up with about a dozen ideas and rejected them all as being 'too fake' when in reality, they were all totally believable. At one point, very shortly after taking the assignment, I thought about cancelling, convincing myself that I was going to give myself away and have to run out of the store in embarrassment. This is why I can only ever go out for the parts they give to extras in the background; I'm an overthinker and an exaggerated situation my head-er.

The actual shopping went relatively smoothly. I notice everything anyway so it is kind of natural to me to describe people's demeanor and physical attributes. I'm not good at a lot of things but I can read people and evaluate situations pretty well. It was just the lying. O the humanity! I finally settled on a few scenarios to give to the employees and they all performed in stellar ways. Well, stellar is a strong word. They all performed in satisfactory ways. And my story held up. I had even invented a character in my mind, never realizing that I'd need to use my debit card to pay so I'm glad I never had to fake a name. It would have been P.J. O'Pootertoot, or something equally believable. Today, mystery shopping a Walgreens. Next stop, espionage school.

What should I do with the $15 they are sending me?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Blather, or is that you Pip?

I'm a little cabin fevered. I've been inside my apartment for a few days with a handful of hours spent at work. The recent blizzard has exacerbated my down time to somewhat unpleasant status, though to complain about that would be slightly egregious, particularly because I know a lot of people who actually did have to go to work today. Days like this when I've run out of busy work and I am encapsulated inside I go on tangents. Maybe I say them out loud but I'll never tell. Let me share one just because I have a blog and isn't that what blogs are for? Ish?

There are a variety of pages that I have "liked" on Facebook and most of them I truly enjoy getting updates from, in particular two. Those two are Humans of New York, for its sheer, simple brilliance, effortless charm and profundity and the second one is called "Word Porn" which is a page that features lesser known words and their definitions and is updated almost daily. I am an unabashed lover of words and definitions and this particular page is right up my alley. Often they will post inspirational quotes or concepts and I usually always appreciate it and even when I don't, it sets me to thinking. For example, a recent post on there read this:

According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves. 

As of this writing, that particular post has received 47,692 "likes". Granted there are thousands of comments, a lot of which are negative but for the most part, people read that and think "wow, that idea is so wonderful and beautiful and amazing." And because I tend to get sucked inside the vortex of my own navel at least, like, fifteen times a day for hours at a time, reading that did not make me think "wow, that idea is so wonderful and beautiful and amazing" but rather "wow, people have been emotionally dysfunctional and lacking in self esteem since Plato's time and likely before then." It is not the first time I've heard that particular concept but when I first read it I was in college and as such, was likely drunk when I read it. I just don't think I gave it much thought.

But this morning, it gave me pause. Putting aside the very disturbing visuals I get of these four armed, four legged creatures of the ancient world, the notion that we spend our existence in search of some other half of ourselves, that we were born half a person to begin with grinds my gears in the exact same way that Christianity purports that we are born with Original Sin and have to be forgiven through baptism. I realize I am prone to cynicism in matters of romantic love (Romantic Cynic since 1988, y'all! I should have gotten a pen or something in the 25th year) but when you start out thinking that someone else is going to "complete" you...despite the fact that most people call me negative, I see that as a 100% doomed idea. People spend so little time cultivating themselves into complete people and instead focus so much of their precious time and energy on finding "the one" who is going to "make them complete" that by the time they find someone who calls them back, they have nothing to say. By the time someone calls them back, they are so busy trying to fill up all the empty spaces left behind by doing no introspection whatsoever that they fill their lives with disposable throwaway stuff, meaningless experiences and they never really get to know each other because they don't know themselves. And then the relationship fails and they are left sad and feeling like they failed somehow because they couldn't find their "other half" and they are left depressed because instead of seeing it for what it really is/was. They see it once again as "I am only half myself." I call bullshit.

So, what's wrong with becoming a complete person on your own, growing and learning and developing your own self, interests, desires, world views and opinions? Being, in fact, a whole person. And then running into someone else who is also a whole person and instead of asking for things from that person (almost immediately...COMPLETE ME PLEASE), sharing what you have already with each other? Why do so few people do this? I think relationships would have a better shot at the outset if you start out not wanting someone to complete you but rather wanting to add more to yourself and give some to someone else not because they need you to do it but because they want to.

What the hell do I know though? I'm still single. And now I'm off to perform a task that makes me feel the most single I ever feel, and I include getting a drink alone at a bar: shoveling my own car out of the snow. In fact, I think if I ever did meet someone to marry (not that there's anything wrong with that), I'd skip a wedding and just have a ceremonial shoveling of my car out of the snow.

And it is sentences like that last one that necessitate me be invited to go to a party or any other social gathering because I"m not saying I resemble Miss Havisham yet, but I'm starting to resemble Miss Havisham.

Is that you Pip?