Friday, March 11, 2011

Life Lesson #59: Just 'cuz she dances go-go, it don't make her a ho, no!

In the spirit of adventure and constantly trying to get in a workout while avoiding the gym, I decided to try a pole dancing class. Why not, right? Great for my self esteem and my abs? Sounds fantastic!

Now, getting overly enthusiastic about trying new things is one of my fortes. Everything - from new restaurants to As Seen on TV gadgets - gets me excited. Sign me up! Write me down for ten! Who’s with me?! There isn’t an exclamation mark big enough to express how much I want to do it all.

Follow-through, on the other hand; not so much. I still haven’t made it to Minetta Tavern and I probably haven’t used my Toaster ‘N’ Egg Poacher in over a year. So when I signed up to take this pole dancing course, it was with the faintest of beliefs that I’d actually go.

But when the day rolled around and going home to my over-heated apartment or even hotter gym was all I had to look forward to, I figured it was time to step it up. And for that rare moment of intent, I will truly be grateful.

For without it, I would have never met Jody.

I’m going to guess Jody was just added to the daytime roster at Sapphire’s. Eh. I take that back. What’s the strip club not too far from Yankee’s Stadium, nicknamed The Dirty Triangle? That’s the one I can really see her working at. Still, during the day.

She looked no more than 18. But the resemblance to a 10 year old boy was striking, just with a Barbie-sized bikini and fantastic, hot pink hooker-heels (Please note everyone was in gym clothes. You are NOT encouraged to dress like you are auditioning for Showgirls).

The class started off with the instructor asking if anyone had taken an intro class before – and while Jody had in fact not, she did reveal she recently got hired as a “dancer” and was instructed to take some classes to improve her skills. One point for me.

The instructor made it clear that, while we were allowed to embellish on any of the moves, we were not allowed to do any tricks beyond what was being taught, nor could we climb the pole more than one tier (more on that later). But let’s be honest – “we” weren’t going to be attempting any of that; she was directly speaking to Jody on these points.

All right ladies; shake off the awkwardness and let the games begin!

Jody’s first strike – dry humping.

The beginning of class started like any of its kind that requires you to move your body: basic stretching. Nothing special here, just good old get down on the floor and stretch before you dance for an hour. Well, Jody must have missed that basic principal of any gym class and started pounding the mat with her pelvis when we were supposed to be loosening up our backs.

Instructor: Jody, no need for that, please. We don’t want to get injured five minutes in.

Jody’s second strike – gyrating like a demon child.

On to the next phase of class – the actual pole dancing lesson. The routine consisted of a lot of slow walking/moving/dancing – whatever you want to call it – around the pole. Granted, there was nothing particularly hard or challenging here. It was more about being ok with your inner sexy lady, which to be quite honest, didn’t seem to be anyone’s thing in this particular class.

Except for Jody. I swear she had a total outer-body experience, resulting in extremely dangerous body flailing, bizarre gymnastic moves on speed, and some overall unhygienic positions in a group atmosphere. Remember – her bikini was very, very tiny.

Instructor: Jody, I said embellishing is allowed. Grinding the pole when other people have to use it is not embellishing. Please, stop.

Jody’s third and final strike – pole climbing like a monkey.

For the last part of the routine, we tackled the hardest challenge: the pole climb. Since we were all beginners, we just focused on the bottom tier of the pole, or the part you can easily reach when lifting up your arms. Basically, you use one leg to “gracefully” get your body about 3 feet up the pole, do a weird back bendy thing, and then slither down with the ease of a fireman.

For all the basic motor skills Jody clearly lacked, climbing that pole was certainly not one of them. To be totally honest, I have no idea how she got up there, but next thing you know, she is at the TOP of the pole – touching the ceiling, about 12 feet off the ground – and somehow managed to once again hump the damn thing. It was kind of like she was riding a bull, if it were 4 inches wide and made of metal. Oh, and again, 12 feet in the air.

I have to admit, I was kind of in awe.


That my friends, was my intro to pole dancing and the decision to officially start follow through on things.

Life Lesson #59: Enough saying I’ll do something, then conveniently not remembering about it until after the fact. Just the possibility of being exposed to more people like Jody is enough incentive. I’m not just going to make a plan; I’m going to keep it! Sign me up for a class – I’m going to show up! Find my comfort zone and push me out of it! Because I’ll never know what I’m missing unless I show up and strut my stuff.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life Lessons 48 - 58: Back in the Saddle

It’s never easy getting back in a saddle. I say “a saddle” because I mean pretty much any of the saddles of life – dating, working, engaging in a particular hobby, exercising, drinking. I guess the last isn’t a saddle so much as a wagon, which everyone delights in saying they’ve fallen off of, but you get my point. Saddle, wagon, rickshaw, whatever – basically, all those silly little things we do that make us who we are.

As the way most stuff in my life goes, I’m currently attempting two saddles. The results could be disastrous, like a circus trick gone freakishly wrong, but so be it. It’s usually more fun that way. And luckily, I’ve never attempted taking a ride on that wagon of sobriety, so I’m going to assume that drinking will provide the usual lubrication I need to make the inevitable falls a little less painful.

Not too long ago, I had the strong desire to start writing again. I attempted here and there to jot some thoughts down, find a funny story to tell, that sort of thing. But I would get distracted or find other ways to fill the time, or not have the time in the first place. Then even less long ago, I lost my job. Like what seems to be the trend of most companies struggling these days, the doors were shut and I suddenly found myself with a hell of a lot more time on my hands.

And so, here I am, trying to find a job while also trying to write again. In a way, where do I even begin? Finding the most recent copy of my resume was a nightmare in itself – and then I realized, ironically enough, the latest copy was probably written around the last time I posted a life lesson. There have been four jobs at two companies, two different apartments, that many boyfriends, countless dates with names I can’t remember, two in particular with a partially deaf kid I will never forget, the marriage of a best friend, the babies of many others, a triathlon, a gym boycott, a reluctant gym return, a new family dog, the death of my grandpa, great dance parties, horrible decisions, horrible one night stands, horrible, horrible hangovers, Beer Olympics, vacations in California, amazing concerts, and even a Sloshball weekend. I mean, a lot of shit has happened. I thought tackling the resume update was going to be rough. I might actually be wrong by comparison.

Because I like lists (which really means I’m a little rusty and fear jumping right into a coherent story that will make sense), I think my foray back into this will begin with a few of the life lessons I would have written about if I hadn’t been so damn lazy the past few years.

Life Lessons 48 through 58 (in no particular order of importance):

48. I’ve rarely regretted the things that I’ve done. It’s always the stuff that I didn’t do that creeps in and lets me down.
49. Sickness and death are two of the most humbling things that have made me realize just how quickly everything can change, and how important health really is.
50. If I have given up something for New Year’s, it’s with very good reason. I should definitely try and stick to those resolutions, whether it be to avoid vices or those places (and by that I mean one bar in particular) in which to indulge in said vices.
51. Getting dumped in a foreign country still counts.
52. There is a time and a place for a phony smile, shoddy words of wisdom, even a fake orgasm. But it doesn’t do me any good to fake real happiness, encouragement or love.
53. There is nothing more humiliating than falling out of bed during sex. Trust me.
54. I have to accept the fact that sometimes shit happens for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
55. Sometimes, the man will let you down.
56. When things have gotten really, really bad, I’ve learned who the important people in my life are. It hurts when it isn’t who I sometimes thought it would be, but in the end, I’ll take that over being without my best friends any day.
57. A vodka-soda still cures most ailments.
58. When that doesn’t work, a dirty martini will.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Life Lesson #47: Para el español, permanezca por favor en la línea.

Music that, unbeknownst me, I like enough to pay two bucks a pop for:

Atrevete, by Winsin Y Yandel
Sola, by Hector El Father
Ya No Es Igual, by Frankie J
Igual Quw Ayer, by Ken-Y
Mayor Que Yo (parte 2, no parte 1), also by Winsin Y Yandel

But my taste is not just caliente-flavored. I also seem to be into mainstream rap these days:

Shortie Like Mine, by Bow Wow
Money Maker, by Ludacris
Smack That (Remix), by Akon
I Luv It, by Young Jeezy

Oh, and I might be a lesbian with a fondness for the white stuff. Because I really can’t get enough of GuyStuff wallpaper and Maxim Girls screensavers, which I’m willing to pay up to nine bucks an image for, and I downloaded Scarface in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. Twice.

According to my most recent phone bill, I’m a tortillera chica de compania. Ole!

Well, sorry Verizon, but contrary to the above, I am not a partying, Latin lesbian. But trying to get these assholes to believe me was like trying to get an apology from the White House.

Oh – and if you talked to my gym, I go so much, they thought that debiting my account three times in one month seemed about right. Which is really funny, because anyone that knows me can tell my ass is not one that spends massive amounts of time at the gym.

Trying to clear that mess up was quite the adventure. No one at an actual club can help you. Their 800 Member number? Does not exist. And I’m pretty sure that when you send them an email, they take your address and sell it to other companies who in turn flood your inbox with crappy advertisements. It got to the point where I thought maybe I’d spend a night or two at the gym. I figured I might as well use their facilities to the max if they were just going to rape me with charges anyway. But then the idea of spending a night in those creepy bathrooms kind of weirded me out. So I’ve been stealing towels instead. And a box of tissue now and then. Tit for tat, I say.

When I finally got a human being on the line after a week of calling, I was glad I don’t possess the power to travel through telephone cords. Because I most certainly would have used my powers to kill the woman on the other end.

Of course, it’s not just me who deals with life’s irritations. We all do. But doesn’t it seem, just like every other time when it rains, all these annoyances come pouring down at once? Suddenly your bank account goes from cushy to negative because three different automatic debits go haywire. Your patience for human beings tumbles from slim to nonexistent.

What’s really driving me nuts this week, though, is that I’m dealing with all of this type of stuff for my boss as well. While I’m his assistant (four more days, four more days!), I handle some personal stuff as well. Which means more wrong numbers, recorded messages, and people who claim it’s their first day and they have no idea what they’re doing.

So what’s the deal here? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we’ve reached the end of the Customer Service Age. People may still get paid to answer your calls of frustration, but they are far and few between. The problem really lies in that those real, breathing, eating, teeth-sucking employees, whose main job focus is CUSTOMER SERVICE, generally act like helping you is a total, inconvenient, above-and-beyond task.

Well, I’m sorry, but it is not. It is, however, what you are paid to do.

Listen, I know it’s not a great paying job. And they probably deal with a lot of angry, bitchy people, not unlike me. But you know what? There are tons of other jobs out there that require one to deal with other human beings on a minimum level. Like street cleaners, zoo keepers, subway drivers, morticians, bookkeepers, mail deliverers, truck drivers, dog walkers, or medical examiners, just to name a few.

Life Lesson #47: After many, many wasted hours trying to resolve these issues, I was able to. And to my satisfaction. Verizon dropped the charges after they realized a technical glitch on their part and NYSC finally gave me my money back. I even made headway in regards to my boss’s matters. So I guess the way to go is by starting off calm, rational, even sympathetic. Stick with it ‘til you think you can’t do it anymore. Then change your tactic. Demand a supervisor, refuse to get off unless something is done, and ultimately, don’t back down (all pending you’re in the right, of course).

Oh, and when you need a moment to regroup, put them on hold for a bit. Let me tell you, it feels good!

Life Lesson #46: Sticks and Stones May Break Penny’s Bones, But Momments Will Never Hurt Me. Part 2

I got a lot of great feedback from last week’s Life Lesson #46. I didn’t realize so many people get the same sort of crap from their moms. Leads me to believe that the honing of bitchy, below-the-belt guidance is part of the Secret Rites of Motherhood. So I thought I’d share another gem from yesterday, via her new favorite mode of communication, email (“Oh, I didn’t mean for it to sound like that! That’s just how you read it!):

My email to my mom:
Thanks again for last night – dinner was delicious as always! I’m still full…

Her lovely response:
Glad you guys had a good time. Grandpa really likes Hansel, he can understand him when he speaks as
he talks SLOWLY AND LOUDLY! Hint.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Life Lesson #46: Sticks and Stones May Break Penny’s Bones, But Momments Will Never Hurt Me.

“Just make sure you don’t get pregnant.”

Um, thanks Mom.

This is the type of thing that all mothers say to their daughters on a pretty regular basis. Maybe not about getting knocked up exactly. The above is merely a specific example of those back-handed Mom Comments, or what I like to call Momments, which are thinly veiled as advice. In actuality, their just nasty little ways to really get under our skin and suck the wind out from under us.

The funny thing is you probably think the remark seems so ridiculous because it’s just a lone sentence floating with no other dialogue to steer it in any one direction. Out of context, it sounds pretty awful. You guess the actual conversation it popped up in would make it seem not nearly as bad as it reads alone at the top of the page.

Honestly, the rest of the conversation doesn’t provide any sort of absorption. If anything, it makes it worse. Because I had just told my mom that I had been promoted at work.

“I’m so excited! I just found out that I got that job I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I think it was down to someone else and they turned it down – but still! I’ll be starting in two weeks…” I babbled to my mom on the phone as I left work at the end of the day.

“Oh great! This really sounds like a good opportunity. Now what exactly is it again?” she asked.

“Well, the title is Associate Product Manager, but it’s within the merchandising department.”

“That is wonderful. And the new apartment; how is that going?” she asked. I just moved last week.

“Really good! The week was crazy and I totally hurt my back from lugging everything. But we unpacked most of the stuff and are just trying to organize and get settled,” I said as I tried to hail a cab home. “I can’t wait for you and dad to see it.”

“I’m glad to hear that! A new apartment, living with your boyfriend, a promotion: these are all great things,” she said.

“I know! I feel like things are really going well,” I said, hopping into the cab.

Then, the Momment.

“Just make sure you don’t get pregnant.”

Thank baby Jesus I was sitting down. I blanked for a few seconds before the weight of the Momment actually pushed down on my chest. When it finally did, I could barely find words.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m just saying; mother to daughter. Woman to woman. Things are going very well for you right now. So make sure you don’t get pregnant.”


If you’re a dude, chances are you don’t think this is particularly mean. Or a reason to get all worked up. And, well, maybe some sound advice, all things considered. But let me explain something to you: Momments are not directed at us out of love or guidance. What they are directed out of is spite and the smallest bit of jealousy. Momments are hurtful remarks that are out of place, unnecessary, and sound much meaner opposed to how they read.

Some examples of the difference between Advice and Momments:

1. Joe is taking me out to dinner tonight for our anniversary!
Advice would be:
“Order the dessert; you only live once!”
Momments would be:
“Don’t eat too much; you don’t want to get fat.”

2. I was thinking about coloring my hair.
Advice would be:
“You should try something that complements your coloring.”
Momments would be:
“Try not to go so blonde this time.”

3. I took off work yesterday. I had the worst chest cold and could barely get out of bed.

Advice would be:
“Try to rest up the next few days; you don’t want to get more sick.”
Momments would be:
“You know, I never used to get as sick as you do when I was younger. Probably because I didn’t go out nearly as much as you do.”

And my own dear mother's personal zinger:
4. I got a promotion at work and the new apartment is looking good.
Advice would be:
“Congratulations! And enjoy this; it’s a great time in your life.”
Momments would be:
“Just make sure you don’t get pregnant.”

Imagine someone punching you in the gut as you celebrate your team’s victory. Or getting a brick tossed at your head as you walk down the street, enjoying your tunes and the nice weather. Or a friend running by and kicking you in the nuts as you talk to a hot girl at a bar. It’s kind of like that. Except unlike physical wounds that in time heal, Momments cut much deeper and are crystallized in our memories for what I’m guessing is a very, very long time.

Life Lesson #46: Momments are the worst. They can completely change your mood in half a second flat. And not in a positive way. But I’m a big girl now. I can’t let these things bother me anymore. If I did, I’d not talk to the woman for ten days straight and dye my hair purple (which I have done). Clearly, I don’t want to be bothered by Momments any more then the next gal, but they're to stay. So the best I can do is brush them off and come up with a witty comeback.

“Just make sure you don’t get pregnant.”

“Oh, definitely not. Look how that turned out for you!”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Life Lesson #45: She Works Hard for the Money. So You Better Treat Me Right.

So as you probably know by now, I work two jobs.

My day job is for a textile manufacturer that produces bedding and bath products. Towels, sheets, comforters, pillows, curtains – all that sort of stuff. Specifically, I play the part of Assistant to the CEO.

My night job is for a restaurant-turned-bar once 11 pm rolls around. Beer, well drinks, shots, top shelf – all that sort of stuff. During this show, I play the role of Bartender.

On the surface, these two roles are worlds apart. When I’m part of what people like to refer to as the Professional World, I try and look the part. Never jeans, usually heels, and a generally respectable shirt. At this particular moment, completely alone and not having said a word for the past two hours as my boss is out for the morning, the phone has yet to ring and I am in what seems like an isolated igloo, I realize my day job is one of much (if not just shy of complete) down time. I do little beyond make appointments, answer the phones and create reports. I try to keep myself from passing out with boredom by writing, reading any article I can find on the internet, and emailing furiously with any of my friends who will give me the time of day.

With my space heater blasting on my legs and my eyelids half closed, I count the minutes ‘til five pm comes.

On Friday nights, my appearance and duties take a dramatic turn. I’m usually surrounded by people, and as the night progresses, to an almost claustrophobic amount. The music is loud, people are yelling, and it always seems as if the temperature is at a steady 101 degrees Fahrenheit. I make drinks, try to keep the bar clean, and chat it up with everyone around me. I know that if I don’t show some cleavage and try to make my often exhausted-looking face somewhat respectable, my tips will be compromised.

But as different as these two jobs seem to be – and I thought always were – something happened this morning at my 8:30 to 5 that, well, is making me think that these two might be a little more similar than I give them credit for.

First, let me tell you a little bit about my Arch-Nemesis.

When I first started working here, I was genuinely nice to A.N. and tried to bother him as little as I could. When I started realizing he didn’t have any answers for the few things I asked him, I thought maybe I wasn’t being clear enough. When he patted me on the shoulder and gave me that oh-aren’t-you-the-cutest-even-though-you-are-retarded look, I started getting a little ticked. But I kept it to myself. When he started raving to me about the diet drink he takes and how I should think about trying it, I bit my tongue. Hard. Even when he didn’t get a signature I needed because he threw out the document, blaming it on me not being clear enough (because putting it in his inbox in a folder titled SIGNATURES with a post-it on top: PLEASE GET SIGNATURE AND SEND BACK TO MY DESK BY THE END OF TODAY was obviously confusing), I stayed mum.

Well, I just can’t take it anymore.

A.N. is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most annoying, egocentric, horribly dressed individuals I’ve had to work with. Some things he does that drive me to the breaking point:

He smacks his lips when he eats. And he will do so when on the phone with people.

He tries to make his voice sound all professional on his voicemail. He comes off sounding like a stupid game show host. Almost like Guy Smiley.
Oh, and he requests that when you leave a message, you “speak clearly and be sure to repeat your number at least once so it can be written down”. Um, okay. Because I’ve never left someone a message before. Asshole.
Instead of walking directly to the men’s room, he always takes the long way by my desk to see what I’m doing. “Keeping busy?” F off.
He calls me Kid. I’m twenty-five years old. He’s thirty-one.
He calls me to ask if I just called him. Which I never do. This would be somewhat tolerable if we didn’t have caller id on our phones. We do.
He wears those heinous mustard or purple colored suits with matching shoes. And will usually top it off with an obnoxiously loud tie.
He’ll take that stupid tie and put it over his shoulder when he’s sitting at his desk. I have no idea why.
He tells me I look tired about three times a week. Which, p.s. to any of you that do tell someone that: it’s rude. Do I tell you your hair looks bad or you look like you gained a few pounds? No. So don’t tell me I look tired.
No matter how many times I show him how to transfer a call, set up a meeting in Outlook, or scan something into the copy machine, he will inevitably ask me a few days later. Because he doesn’t listen to a damn word anyone says.
I could probably go on but I think you get my drift. Basically, he sucks. And because he acts like he’s better than everyone else and pretends to know so much more since he started two weeks before I did, it makes me want to strangle him by his butt ugly tie and throw paint on his puce hued suit.

The ironic thing, though, is that he acts all smart and sophisticated because he is scared shitless. Of being found out. Of being fired. Of his boss (He is the assistant to the CFO). Of my boss. And in turn, of me.

See, with my role comes a certain amount of respect, even a little fear, from the rest of the company. Not because of what I do or who I am or anything like that. They could put a monkey in my chair and he’d get the same amount of esteem (and probably more visitors because who doesn’t love a monkey dressed up like a person). The truth of the matter is I’m the gatekeeper for the CEO of a billion dollar company. And while I think he is a generally nice and funny guy, he freaks a lot of people out. And sometimes yells. Loud.
So I am his screen. You have to email me in order to get to him. You don’t get to talk to my boss unless I decide he wants to take your call. And you certainly don’t get to see my boss unless I say it’s okay.

It may have taken me a little while to understand that my lame job actually does give me some power, but trust me, I got it now.

Rewind to earlier today. As usual, Arch-Nemesis strolls by my desk at about 8:40.

“Hey kid, how’s it going?” he asked as he sauntered by.

“Fine, thanks,” I mumbled in return.

“Looking a little tired today, hu?” he said.

“Hm, really? Didn’t notice.”

“Well, Tom [his boss’s name] was looking to meet with him later to go over some budget stuff. Can you fit us in?” he asked as he hunched over me, probably trying to get a look at my boss’s calendar.

“There is some time,” I responded vaguely.

“Well, I think Tom wants me in their as well to take notes, but I’m going to lunch at 1. Let’s schedule it for after 2,” he said.

Now I know completely well that any time after noon today will work for my boss. And I know he could care less when I schedule a meeting with his CFO. But Arch-Nemesis doesn’t know that. And I’d rather be stuck listening to his voicemail on repeat than give him the benefit of telling me what time to make an appointment.

“Listen, I’ll schedule when it works for us, not you, okay? When you get back to your desk, send an email request and I’ll see what I can do.”

I know. Totally bitchy. Unbelievably passive aggressive. But you need to understand. I am a very nice person if I like you, if you treat me like an equal, and if you’re honest with yourself. But once you start treating me like I’m less than you, or giving me unnecessary attitude, or act condescending, I will lose all respect and tolerance for you.

Which is the same exact thing I do when I’m at the bar.

There are all sorts of people out on a Friday night. First daters having a drink to loosen up before dinner. To get through dinner. To get the other in bed at night. Couples that have been together forever that sit there, not speaking. That hit on other people to piss each other off. To turn each other on. Small groups of friends. Large groups of coworkers. Old college buddies. People who’ve just met. My friends. The friends of the other bartender. Both our friends. People we know but could do without. Quiet. Loud. Funny. Drunk. Sad. Sober. Silly.

No matter what, when one of these people approaches me, I start by giving them the same warm greeting. I don’t care if they have a hundred dollar bill in their hand or smell like they just pissed themselves. Who am I to judge?

But once someone starts acting like a dick, everything changes. Because again, being behind the bar, I get to be the one in charge. I can serve you. Or not. I can serve you promptly. Or not. I can charge you the actual price. Or not. I can buy you back some drinks. Or not.

You can go complain to the manager that you’re not being served fast enough or getting attitude, but nine times out of ten, they’re going to side with their employees. Because they know you probably did something to piss us off.

Life Lesson #45: I know that in some situations in life, being a hard-ass is called for. No one wants to be the chump who gets walked all over. On the other hand, there are ways to go about life to get what you want. And more often than not, it’s by being courteous and respectful. And what I think is maybe the most important aspect of all this ranting and raving is that it’s not necessarily the CEOs and owners and managers of the world who are going to get you what you want. It’s the people trying to make a living, just like you and me.

I’m going to tell that to A.N. in a moment. I can hear his footsteps creeping up for what has got to be the fourth time today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Life Lesson #44: Chinese Proverb: “Pleasure for one hour, a bottle of wine. Pleasure for one year a marriage; but pleasure for a lifetime, a garden.”

I’m sure everyone is ready to give up on me over here. And I apologize. Things have been a little nutty. Not nearly crazy enough for me to say Oh my god I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a second to write. That would be total bull. Or Every time I think I have a moment to sit and type something, seven other things pop up for me to do. That would be even more crap.

While I have been relatively busy in regards to job movement, finding a new apartment, and the acquisition of a new fur ball on my parents behalf (don’t worry, I’ll get to everything in a second), there has been an undercurrent of laziness that has crept in in ’07. To be perfectly honest, I think I’ve allowed the accomplishment of a few large things to justify the wayward fall of the smaller stuff. Like writing. Going to the gym. Watching what I eat. And drink. You know - the stuff that defines me as a person and not a drunken slob. Because I think the somewhat big stuff allows for a little slack.

Or maybe a better way to put it: I am experiencing my very own Yin-Yang Struggle.

According to my personal bible, Wikipedia, there are six main concepts that define this Chinese philosophy. I'd always thought it was a simple good-evil, wrong-right sort of thing. Apparently, I was mistaken. It’s a little more grey than that. And it seems, without one side, there can’t be the other.

Summary of Yin and Yang Concepts

1. Yin and Yang do not exclude each other. Everything has its opposite: although this is never absolute, only relative.

Well, let’s see. This kind of confused me a bit, until Wiki was so kind as to provide the “what goes up must come down” analogy. That got me thinking about my job. Which has gotten so miserable and boring, I was forced to do something to make it better.

It took all the courage in the world to talk to my boss. First, because as you all know, I hate confrontation. To the point that it makes me violently nauseas and causes self-inflicted migraines. Second, because my direct boss is the CEO of a billion dollar company. Third, because I was about to tell this man that I do nothing, all day, and feel as if I might actually be getting dumber by the minute. Fourth, he could very easily just fire me.

It took me getting to this Yin point, where I wanted to staple my eyes closed and build a fort around my desk, to take a step in the Yang direction. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm meeting with some people in another department over the next few days in the hopes to be promoted to a much more exciting position.

And on a totally unrelated path, my parents got a new bulldog. He’s incredible. He’s all white with a brown spot on one eye and on part of his tiny little butt. He loves to sleep on our laps and eat plastic seltzer bottles. I am totally in love.

Oh, and his name? Pompeii.

But see, without the sad death of our old pooch Brutus, there wouldn’t be room for the new little guy in our lives. One had to leave in order for the other to enter.

2. Yin and Yang are interdependent. One cannot exist without the other.

Obviously! I mean, how can I practice self restraint during happy hour unless I go out in the first place? Spending too much on a pair of shoes makes me want to volunteer a little more over the next few weeks. Running around all day trying to make appointments with real estate brokers allows me to not have to go to the gym and actually run. Eating copious amounts of food between the hours to 7 pm and 4 am since I don’t really during the day.

I think you get my drift.

3. Yin and Yang can be further subdivided into Yin and Yang.

I’d like to apply this directly to the dump I'm living in for only a few more weeks (yea!). Clearly, I have very little love for the apartment overall. If you asked me right now, “Penny, do you like your apartment?”, I would immediately respond with “Hell no!”.

A few moments later, I’d still be thinking about just how much I can't stand the place. I really hate all the hot water problems over the past few months. And the lack of heat right now. And the stupid closet that isn’t deep enough for hangers. And the fact the hallway has smelled like mothballs the past few days. Or that the bed and the television never seems big enough. Although, I do enjoy wheeling my TV stand into my room and curling up in that too-small bed on a Sunday afternoon. Oh, and all the great places right by the apartment for Sunday brunch? They’re pretty awesome.

See where I’m going with this?

There are varying degrees of animosity towards my place. Some great big irritations, all the way down to the stuff that is such a little bothersome in comparison, I’ve actually managed to make it seem enjoyable.

So overall, I CANNOT wait to be out of there by the end of this month. There are things I will never, ever miss. But there are a few things I learned to live with. And some stuff that I have to admit, I will miss a little bit.

But trust me, I’ll get over them very quickly.

4. Yin and Yang consume and support each other. Yin and Yang are usually held in balance: as one increases, the other decreases. However, imbalances can occur.

This is pretty evident when I’m on the ball. The more Yang I’m feeling, the more stuff gets done. I’m productive from head to toe: cleaning my apartment, taking a spin class, reading a book, getting to bed at a decent hour. The more I’m on that path, the less likely I am to let the Yin in and say fuck it, today I’m throwing in the towel.

I guess you can say the last few weeks, though; I’ve been a bit more imbalanced than usual. The grand Yang and the sneaky Yin have been back and forth from day to day: I’ll find a new apartment by day while wasting hours watching television at night; I’ll sit at my desk all day with nothing to do, but still have no motivation to write; I’ll drag my ass to the gym and get Cold Stone on the way home.

5. Yin and Yang can transform into one another.

I don’t have to look much further than myself for this one. My bright, proactive Yang self tends to shine during the day. I try to keep busy, read the news, help my coworkers out, have a salad, drink lots of water, and wait for the crosswalk sign to turn before darting across the street.

But as the sun goes down, shady, lazy Yin starts to creep up. As it gets darker and colder out, I start thinking Screw the gym. I want a burrito for dinner. With a glass of wine. Maybe I’ll even go out for a little bit. Next thing you know, I’m cabbing it from bar to bar, flipping the bird to complete strangers as I demand another shot of Stoli-O.

I’m kind of like The Hulk (a Chinese philosophizing one). While I spend most of my days well-behaved and with generally intelligent thoughts, I can easily transform into a destructive monster with little more brains than a child.

6. Part of Yin is in Yang and part of Yang is in Yin.

This is oh-so-artistically demonstrated by the dot of opposite color within each sphere of the Yin Yang sign. I never knew this. But it definitely makes sense. My job is dark and dreary, but there are some bright spots: my boss is really nice to me, I met a few fun people here, and I get free beverages all day long. I’m generally a happy, upbeat person, but there are a few stormy clouds always floating around in my head. I have a comfy bed in the midst of a falling-apart apartment.

And as I wrote earlier: all of this big Yang stuff, like finding a new home and working at a promotion, has been spotted with bits on Yin - little dots of rebellion in the form of slacking.

Life Lesson #44: Nothing is ever all good, but never is it all bad. What it does seem to be is a giant balancing act. Trying to keep myself status quo, and more important, at harmony with everything around me. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of quiet, a regrouping of thoughts. Sometimes it takes bigger acts. The swallowing of pride and admitting defeat.

As for the Chinese proverb I found; who knows how true it is? I sure don't know a thing about marriage or how the hell to care for a garden. But whether I'm Ying-ing it or Yang-ing it, I'll make sure to remember that a bottle of wine just might help.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life Lesson #43: Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good holiday break!

As I sit here typing, I’m filled with the warm sensation that is very often associated with the holiday season. It could be the space heater I have blasting under my desk. Or the fact that I just scored not one, but two umbrellas from my company’s holiday luncheon (Note that I’m pretty sure the umbrellas are supposed to be our Christmas bonuses). Or the dramatic increase of sugar in my bloodstream.

I’m going to go ahead and bet my holiday fuzziness on the insulin spike; a direct result of eating my weight in cookies. Well, maybe not every single pound, since I also hit the hot buffet at our lunch as if it was my last meal of the year. But pretty damn close.

I’m also a teeny, tiny bit hung over.

Last night, I dragged myself to a very different kind of holiday fiesta (as in drunk versus sober). The bar where I work on the weekends threw their employee party. I was hesitant as I don’t necessarily love the place and often feel as if I’m trapped in a cage with rabid monkeys. Not to mention the manager and his friend (who likes to think he’s a manager, but I know the deal) who give me a hard time no matter how many people I get to come or how many times I hit the register.

But in the spirit of being good natured and giving people another shot, I decided what the hell? Oh; and it was free. I arrived at about nine, an hour into the four hour open bar and food spread.

Mayhem had already spread in just sixty minutes. While this should come as no surprise to me, given the usual Animal House the place seems to turn into on a Friday night, I was taken aback regardless.

The crew of young, cute, and usually ugly-uniform-clad waitresses had taken this opportunity to dress in their best Slutty Mrs. Claus costumes. I’m not gonna lie: I kind of liked it. There were a few versions of mini capes and skewed hats, as well as five-inch red heels and serious spandex. But similar to the conforming affect their all-black work attire gives, there variations of holiday cheer were too indistinguishable for me to tell one apart from the other.

Good thing they were too drunk to notice.

“Hi Pennyyyyy! Yeaaaa, you’re here! Merry Christmas,” one girl cooed as she wrapped her cape around me to give me a hug. I think her name is Jen. Or maybe Christine?

“Oh yea, Penny’s hereeeee! Come do a shot with us from this side of the bar,” Mary (or maybe the other Jen) squealed.

“Oh my GOD, you are not going to believeeee how many shots we’ve done already,” Julia (?) gushed.

Um, you’d be surprised.

For these blissfully wasted ladies, attempting to hold on to drinks while shaking their butts to a horrible mix of carols and contemporary music led to several glasses crashing on the dance floor. Each drop was met with giggles and a very tall Santa’s Helper tottering over on her heels with a broom in hand.

“Woops. Here we go againnn,” she managed in-between hiccupping, holding on to her beer, and brushing the broken glass under the buffet table.

Around this time, I decided I needed a quick shot and a large vodka.

The manager, best known as The Champion of Car Bombs, had on a ridiculous red pimp-like cowboy hat with white trim and Elvis sunglasses. I was greeted by him, or should I say his thighs, as he came up and humped me as I stood at the bar.

“Yea baby, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” he yelled before lifting me in the air.

“Um, Merry Christmas? What’s up with the cowboy hat?!” I asked in bewilderment.

“Its Christmas baby, broke-back mountain style!” he answered before galloping off to hump his next innocent victim. He was quickly distracted by Santa’s Helper as she bent over to pick up a large chunk of glass.

“Hey, let me get another shot,” I asked.

Suddenly, I was face-to-face with the prize winner. The dude with the Nacho Libre stomach, who manages to get drunker and drunker every time I see him, was clad in a Mrs. Clause mini-dress.

To be honest with you, I don’t really even know how he got the thing to fit. All I know is that he didn’t leave much to the imagination when he got up on the bar and did his rendition of Santa Baby for us.

“Penny! Merry Christmas! Come give Mrs. Claus a hug,” he said, wrapping his fur trimmed gloves around my back.

“Wow, you are in some serious need of stuffage,” I managed as I laughed at the perverseness of it all.

“Yea, well unless you let me borrow some of yours, this is all I got. Let’s do a shot,” he said as he grabbed me back to the bar.

And you know what? I did.

Life Lesson #43: During the holiday season, I think we all get a little nutsy with buying gifts for our families, friends, loved ones, co-workers, the dog walker, guy who we buy our coffee from each morning, the mailman, the cousins you see every other holiday season, and that guy you pass on the street every morning but never say hi to. Well, I say this year, I’m going to slow down. Feel free to join me as I take a deep breath, bite into a free cookie (or glass of eggnog, whichever floats your boat), and enjoy the merry atmosphere. Soon enough, the festivities will be over, the decorations will come down, and we’ll be facing a few miserable months of harsh weather and no holidays in sight.

Side note: As a gift to myself, I’m going to be taking a blog vaca. I’ll be back on January 2nd, a full year after this all began! Who knows; maybe a blow-out anniversary edition in store? Although, I suggest you don’t get your hopes up. I’m slightly dizzy from this food coma and not really thinking straight.

Happy holidays everyone – and of course, thanks for the love!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Life Lesson #42: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me six times, shame on me.

I believe the clichéd phrase that means to inadvertently cause a problem for one’s self is to shoot yourself in the foot, no?

I think I might have done just that.

Not too long ago, I wrote how things were going well. And while they still are, generally speaking, I might have thrown caution to the wind with my number one thing to be excited about: getting an apartment.

Now, I’ve lived in some ridiculous places. I think the worst, hands down, was my first apartment out of college, down on Madison Street. No, not Avenue; Street. Never heard of it? Yea, neither had I. Wedged in between Chinatown and a giant low-income housing project, it wasn’t the classiest, safest, or prettiest of joints. But being fresh out of school, money was tight and standards were low.

Liberace, our other roommate (another friend from college) and I managed to ignore the blaring yellow BEWARE signs from the start, beginning with the sketchy guy who showed us the place. A mix between Kramer and an aging porn star, he didn’t even give us an actual lease to sign. Instead, he went to Staples and got one of those one page things meant to be nothing more than a contract for a doll house or something. To make it ‘official’, we all signed it in a bank. Although I’m still not sure how that made it official; maybe because they have security cameras?

Anyway, we moved in to our three bedroom digs that was actually documented as a one bedroom. The management company got away with this by leaving giant cut out squares on the wall between my room and the living room and Liberace’s room and our third roommate. Who, by the way, lived in a makeshift square that was simply built into Liberace’s room. I could imagine this is hard to visualize. So just believe me when I say it was totally illegal and very non-private.

Besides us three very poor and naïve tenants, we had what I believe to be ten or so furry rodents residing with us. Let me tell you; the set of balls on these guys were enormous! No matter the time of day, people in the apartment, whatever, these little bastards would come sauntering through the place. They moved so slow, we could actually catch them ourselves. On more than one occasion, someone would be cooking in the kitchen, a mouse would come out to check what was for dinner, and with the simple toss of a pot or bowl, we’d catch the little sucker.

Oh – and our neighbors! Besides the single mom and stripper next door, whom Third Roomie tried to get in the g-string of on a regular basis, we had the drug-dealing dude downstairs who had an alligator that sketchy Porn Star Kramer suggested we borrow when we complained to him about our mouse problem. And then there was the weird I-hate-the-world chick who hung – as in suicide style – a giant fuzzy Hello Kitty doll off the fire escape a floor above us. She actually put black ‘X’s on the poor thing’s eyes. Talk about freak.
I think the icing on the cake, when we really knew we were in No Man's Land, occurred during the Black Out of ’03. We were literarily the last neighborhood in all of New York to get our power back. The first night was spent on our roof with the cast of characters we called neighbors and my poor dad who got stuck downtown after work with no way up to Westchester. As blunts and forties were passed around, we made a vow to never speak to mom about that night. The second night was spent at South Street Seaport, where full power and air conditioning had been restored in order to keep tourists at bay. We drank ourselves into semi-comas and stumbled back to our bleak apartment, only to pass out in ninety-plus degree rooms lit by Santa Maria candles we bought at the Dominican deli on the corner.

Liberace and I sat on our fire escape for the third hot, sweaty, and eerily dark night in a row, listening to a tiny battery-powered radio. When the disc jockey from one of the local stations congratulated the mayor and local Con Edison crews for restoring power in all of Manhattan, we realized we had been completely forgotten. As garbage cans were lit on fire and riot like behavior rumbled in the projects across the street, I made a silent prayer that I had all my affairs in order and a nice pair of underwear on.

But that was years ago. And while each consecutive apartment has had its glitches (including a bar across the street with patrons who loved to have bar-stool fights in the street, a medicine-cabinet-turned-dirty-sex-motel for cockroaches, a Spanish restaurant below that played I’m Too Sexy at one in the morning, and a fire escape that, similar to the x-rated medicine cabinet, hosted a constant pigeon orgy), I feel that with each move came a slightly better environment. I mean, this is Manhattan, and problems are to be expected.

Nevertheless, things have gone too far at the current abode. A brief list as to not bore you with mundane details:

1. No hot water for, as of last night, the fifth time since I moved in. This most recent incident was met with the following comment from the super: You know, it’s winter time. This happens. To which I respond: Bull shit.
2. An attempt to fix the boiler that led to it smoking, the fire department coming and trampling through the apartment, and coming home to what I thought was a robbed apartment. Once I noticed the computer and television were still there, my next assumption was someone had to be hiding in the bathroom ready to kill me. When I called the woman I lease from, her response: Oh, I didn’t want to alarm you by telling you the fire department had to come. To which I respond: Because thinking I’m about to get raped is a better way to go about this?
3. We lost heat in the apartment because something happened to the chimney. Then the hot water became non-existent. Again. The super explained the situation as follows: Well, when the heat went out they realized the building needs a new chimney, but the workers tripped the wires to the boiler while they were installing it. So we have to fix both. To which I respond: The chimney is on the roof. The boiler; in the basement. Separated by five stories. Did a giant come to fix the chimney?
4. Centipedes. Seriously. I have giant, fuzzy, slow moving centipedes that come from god-knows-where and crawl on my ceiling. I notice them in bed at night. It’s almost like the ceiling is moving. Hansel will look at me and ask: What are you looking at? To which I respond with: The fucking biggest centipede in the world is about to crawl into bed with us.
5. The toilet is much like a rocking chair. At one point, the super must have tried to fix it by wedging a giant, now dislodged piece of marble underneath the base. A good friend from college who has been living in Amsterdam the past few years came to visit last week. After she came out of the bathroom she noted: You know your toilet is really shaky? It moves back and forth when you sit on it. To which I respond: Yep.
6. The brick wall behind my bed was wet last week. I have no further comment. But trust me; touch it and your hand will get wet.

Life Lesson #42: I know there could be worse things with the apartment, but I feel as if I might as well throw my rent money into a bonfire. There is just one too many problems for me to be okay with actually paying someone to live here. So while the place has its endearing qualities and I will miss my miniature size dwellings, it’s time to throw in the towel and start the search again. Because staying any longer would make me an asshole.

And even if I get the sickest place ever next time around, I’m staying mum. I don’t need it to come back and bite me in the ass three months later.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Life Lesson #41: Auld Lang Syne: When New Year's Eve Was Fun!

There are certain times when expectation far exceeds reality. And there are those moments that no matter how many times we are presented with the same set of circumstances, our hopes and impending disappointment are the same.

I’d like to throw New Year’s Eve into this bag of heartache.

I used to love this holiday. Probably because Grandpa Al set the bar way too high.

My first midnight-madness memory goes back to before my little brother was born. I had to be around four or five years old. My grandparents had been given babysitting duties of my older brother and me. Our fun little fiesta also included my Great Grandmother Marie, who had just come over from Italy to have hip replacement surgery.

Earlier that day, as we often did with Grandpa Al, we put on a play. He was The Detective, my brother The Burglar, and I, The Damsel in Distress. Because I was The Damsel, Grandma would paint my eyelids the most beautiful shade of blue I had ever seen, my cheeks an almost fluorescent pink, and my lips the brightest red imaginable. Because it was a special day, Grandma promised me I could keep my makeup on ‘til I went to bed. Hours later, as midnight approached, I still felt gorgeous. I probably looked more like a little white girl that had been sold into the sex slave industry.

I remember wearing a hot pink cone-shaped party hat with glitter all over it and hopping around with a long piece of silver streamer. Grandpa Al was wearing a complementary hat in green and dancing along to some band Dick Clark had just introduced. Grandma was passed out on the couch, her head bouncing up every few minutes, only to nod back down again.

I was too young to understand what the whole shebang was about, but that didn’t stop me from having a grand old time. I found great enjoyment in wrapping my Great Grandmother up in the giant silver streamer; running ‘round and ‘round her wheelchair as she clapped and blew on her noise maker. My brother was making snow angels on the rug, singing a ditty we wrote especially for her:

Noni Marie from Ital-y!

That’s pretty much the only line, come to think of it. But we were young. And its four more words than Paris ever wrote, and she’s on the radio! So whatever, we liked it.

When midnight passed and Grandpa Al made giant banana-split Sundays for us, I figured this was standard NYE tradition. My mom must have been diving into a giant scoop of strawberry ice cream covered in hot fudge too, as well as little boys and girls and everyone else all over the world.

I don’t really remember the next few years, but middle school and early high school meant spending my (then) favorite holiday with my ‘family’. I was not, in fact, related to these people. Instead, my fake ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’, aka faunts and funcles, consisting of my parents’ friends from high school and college. My fousins were their children, although closer in age and relationship to me than any of my real ones.

My godparents often threw these parties, and it was perfect. All the parents would hang out to eat and drink for hours in the dining room. We kids would basically do whatever the hell we wanted. Which included such memorable moments as:

1. Getting one fousin to eat all my godfather’s live goldfish.

2. Watching What About Bob? three times in one night.

3. Stealing a bottle of champagne and not being able to do anything with it since no one
knew how the hell to open the damn thing.

4. Getting my dad to do an impression of Rick James.

The next great - and probably last - New Year’s Eve was spent in a bunch of hotel suites in White Plains. It was also the big 99 to 00 switch. No one knew what to do, and last minute, a bunch of us decided to just get some hotel rooms. It was freshman year of college, and since we were all used to enjoying the generally unsupervised high life on our parents’ dollar for the past four months, having to worry about house parties or not getting into bars seemed ridiculous. This was the next best thing.

We were all there; Madonna, Westchester, H.F.T., The One, Mico and Flower, as well as thirty or so other friends from high school. Other kids had the same idea, and the place was basically transformed into a dorm for the night. If the world was going to come to an end, at least I’d be going down with people who knew me best.

I think that was kind of the high point. The next few years are relatively unmemorable. Then just plain bad.

First year out of college, my boyfriend at the time passed out before midnight. I was so pissed I almost broke up with him right then and there.

By the next year we were broken up, and being it was a relatively fresh wound, I spent it hysterical and not nearly intoxicated enough.

Last year, a huge party led to a possible roofies incident, a massive couple’s fight, and several falls on the cold marble floor of a giant church that was rented out for the night. I put myself to bed by 1 am.

Which brings us to this year. And the inevitable, oh my god, what are we going to do, it’s going to be soooo fun has turned into, seriously, what couch can I park myself on, drink straight from the bottle, and wear my favorite sweatpants?. And it’s not just me having these sentiments. It seems to be pretty much everyone has had one too many NYE let downs and wants to just throw in the towel.
Life Lesson #41: I used to love New Year’s Eve. Because it was impromptu, silly, no unnecessary need to make sure everything turned out awesome. Huge plans weren’t made and massive parties were not orchestrated. It was just people getting together to have a good time, enjoy each other’s company, and maybe pull some pranks on one another.

So this year, I think I’m going to join Liberace at a low key party. No expectations for a brilliant evening or the best night of the year. What I might do, however, is put on a hot pink cone-shaped party hat with glitter all over it and tie Liberace up in a long piece of silver streamer. That just might ensure a successful evening.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Life Lesson #40: Dear Abby...

Things have been a little crazy over here. This is due to the office move of my (relatively) new place of employment. We’ve abandoned the hell that is Midtown West to calmer grounds east, just above Gramercy. And so a late entry, for which I apologize.

The New Digs are actually quite a big deal for me. They are, as some would call, the Make or Break point. Which is why I’d like to write them, as in The New Digs, a letter, just say they understand how important this change is to me.

Now, before proceeding, I need to pay homage to a man I’ve never met but would like to shake the hand of: Timothy McSweeny. I’m not really sure who he is, but to be honest, I’m tired and not really in a research-y kind of mood. I’ve been unpacking boxes, recording voicemail messages and trying to get my freakin’ printer to work for three days now. Cut me a little slack.

What I can say, however, is that McSweeny has a great website, and even further, an amazing section called
Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond. If you’re too lazy to click on the link I so nicely attached, the title pretty much sums it up. Basically, people write letters to other people, places, inanimate objects, whatever, that will never get read. It’s a little mental release if you will. Most of them are hilarious. Some kind of sad. Others, totally creepy.

On that note, here it goes.

Dear New Digs,

First and foremost, I’d like to formally introduce myself. I get the feeling that since the company has come and completely occupied your Eight Floor (and the Concourse in a few weeks, if you hadn’t already heard); you can’t remember one name from another. No worries. I was the New Girl just shy of two months ago, so I know how it is. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all wore name tags to help you out? While that was tough to ask for, I was able to go around and put up signs with everyone’s name in each section. Hope it helps.

As I was saying, I’m Penny. I work all the way at the end of your Hall, to the right of the Pantry and Bathrooms but before you hit the huge Palm Tree. I anticipate killing the poor plant pretty soon, not because I’m malicious or anything, but because I suck at taking care of living, breathing things, so you might want to warn it. If it doesn’t make noise, I forget it's there. Just ask the Plants in my Apartment.

Next, I’d like to thank you for opening up your Elevators to us. I know I speak for more than just myself when I say we are very excited for the opportunities you present to us. I would like to emphasize that I’m probably the most little-kid-on-Christmas-morning-eager to be here. You see, the Old Office and I did not get along so well. A brief outline of why:

1. It bore a striking resemblance to Fort Knox. I had to use a swipe card just to move ten feet. And the Executive
Area that I was in was so paranoid; I was one of only four people that could even gain access to it! Four people out of over one hundred!

2. Given the prison-like nature of The Old Office, it goes without saying that my area was pretty damn quiet. And very depressing. Whether or not there were even other people in the company was impossible for me to decipher since I was locked behind glass doors, only to mingle with others when I went to use the bathroom. I became that weird girl that would strike up a convo with the woman in the stall next to her just because I hadn’t had human contact for over four hours.

3. The Old Office neighborhood was pretty crappy. Wedged in between Rockefeller Center and Times Square, I felt like I was constantly in the middle of a National Lampoon New York Adventure gone horribly wrong. I got side swiped with subway maps and fanny packs on a daily basis. Food was terribly expensive. And the blaring horns and screaming street vendors made me want to gouge my eyes out.

4. Apparently heat was not an option for The Old Office. I was always freezing. I’d wear three layers, wrap a scarf around my legs, and still be chattering away. Now, you were pretty frigid too the past two days. But a call to your Maintenance Room, and I think the problem is solved. Well done.

As you might gather, you pose much promise for me. A chance to meet co-workers in you kick-ass Coffee Bar just around the hall from me; an great view out my Giant Window that overlooks Madison Square Park; a Television in my boss’s office that I will most certainly abuse when he is not here; what seems to be a working Heating System – something which my apartment is severely lacking and thus much appreciated when I’m here eight-thirty to five; a chance to eat at a restaurant that isn’t a giant chain or tourist trap; and a fifteen minute door-to-door commute.

So here is to what I hope is a great, new friendship, within the confines of a Work Environment, of course. I hope to be able to learn all you have to offer in the next few weeks. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to stop by. You know where I am.

Best wishes,


PS – An Appendix to The Keyboard Shelf Attached to the Desk

Dear Keyboard Shelf,

I know you’re here to make my life easier, with your smooth ability to glide under the desk when I don’t need to type and, well, that’s it I guess. I gather you mean to make my life easier. But honestly, if you don’t stop falling of your tracks and slamming into my lap at the lightest of touches, I’m going to have to throw you out the window.

Seriously. This is just plain ridiculous! It’s not like I have heavy fingers or a tendency to throw my full body weight into my wrists. So back off my lap already. You’re hurting me. Just quit it already.

Life Lesson #40: Work is work. It sucks. But unless I win the Mega Millions or find me some Sugar Daddy on the side, I have little choice but to show up Monday thru Friday. So I might as well try to make the best ofThe New Digs and this whole working-for-the-man thing. It’s all about looking at the bright side: enough free coffee to send me into cardiac arrest, some natural sunlight to glare up my computer monitor and a paycheck that comes, guaranteed, every other week. The Old Office was horrible, but here, there is a chance to make it all better. Fingers crossed everybody. We all know how crazy Penny gets when unemployed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Life Lesson #39: Tis the Season to be Jolly...and quiet, relaxed, maybe even well rested...

Every weekday morning when the alarm rudely awakens me from what is never enough sleep, the first thought to pop into my head (after the sweet jesus I have to pee) is, yes only ____ more mornings to get up early!. I fill in the blank depending on the day of the week. Obviously, when I wake up on Thursday and think, yes, only one more morning to get up early!, I’m much happier than on Monday, when six hellish mornings still loom ahead.

A few hours ago, my usual groan wasn’t so loud when I realized that the Thanksgiving holiday was cutting my work week drastically. And all I can think about is how much sleep I’m going to try and cram in on those extra days off. Probably because this past weekend kicked my ass. And after some thought, I realize that the same exact weekend last year also handed it to me.

Some of you may (or if you were in any shape like me, may not) remember the UES bar crawl for City Harvest last fall. Two cans of food and ten bucks got you admission to drink at practically any local watering hole for very cheap. By nine pm, I had enough two dollar draft beers to land myself sideways, passed out on my bed. When I woke up fully dressed and totally blurred, I stumbled into the living room to find a bunch of our friends watching football.

“Ok, who wants to order breakfast? I’m starving,” I said, looking around in disgust as everyone seemed to be drinking before noon.

“Um, what?” someone asked.

“I’m starving. Let’s order breakfast,” I said.

“Penny, get a slice or something,” someone else mumbled.

“Ew, that’s gross. I don’t eat pizza for breakfast,” I answered. What the hell is wrong with people?

“What? Penny, it’s almost midnight. Why the hell do you want breakfast?”

“What? You’re kidding me?! It’s not Sunday?!” I asked, in complete shock. While I was under the impression I passed out for the night, I had really only knocked myself down for three hours. I still had a whole night of drinking ahead of me!

“Oh. Well, in that case, I’m going to go to The Bone. Anyone wanna come with?” I asked. The Bone being a bar. Might as well not waste a perfectly good night of drinking, especially since I got some unexpected z-s under my belt.

This year, I didn't even make it to the pub crawl. Why? Because I had gotten sufficiently snookered while bartending on Friday night. I’ve been working at another UES bar; this one being relatively new and [attempting to be] slightly nicer than its neighbors, hence I’m forced to wear white button downs and black pants.

I usually don’t go on ‘til eleven, giving me enough time to squeeze in a much needed nap before standing on my feet for seven or so hours. Friday, I got there at 10:30 so as to get settled before getting started.

I walked into a free-for-all that left me wondering if I stumbled into the wrong place. There was a dude on the bar, his drenched shirt exposing his Nacho Libre size stomach. Another guy behind the bar in a wife beater, pounding a car bomb at lightening speed. People everywhere, yelling, screaming, music so loud I thought my eardrums would bleed.

But when I looked closer, I realized I had in fact walked into the right place. And when I looked even closer still, I started to recognize everyone acting like a complete animal: these were the owners and other bartenders! The shirtless fattie? One of the investors. The beater pounding bombs? My manager.

Apparently, everyone had gotten sloshed ridiculously early and were giving the bar away to anyone they pleased.

As I looked around, I thought, when in Rome….

Several hours and numerous shots later, I realized I hadn’t hit the cash register in quite some time, nor did I really care. There were so many people behind the bar; there was no way I’d make any money anyway. So I might as well join in the giveaway.

When five am rolled around and I was finally able to go home, I felt the familiar inability to walk in a straight line and the distinct craving for chicken cutlet pizza. Yum.

Four hours later, my cell phone started SCREAMING at me. Holy crap, is it Monday?

“Hello,” I managed.

“Hey, I’ve landed!”

Oh no. I totally forgot. Liberace had flown in for just one night to attend a friend’s surprise birthday party. The only time we’d get to see each other was right after he landed. At 8:30 in the morning.

Oh my god! You’re here! I’m so excited! And, wait, oh, yep, I’m still drunk!” I yelled.

We spent the morning catching up and, for me at least, sobering up. Which wasn’t very fun. So the first thing I get when at brunch? A mimosa.

By two o’clock in the afternoon, as Liberace left to go meet his friends and prepare for the party, I realized I was back off the wagon. But this time, after working for what seemed like twenty-four straight hours, half of which I was hitting the bottle, I felt like said wagon had managed to run me over right after I fell off. Consequently, I had to throw in the towel and admit defeat. There would be no bar crawl this year around.

Life Lesson #39: After the past few weeks of nonstop work and going out, I'm looking forward to the holidays a little differently this year. While I will never forgo this season as a time for fun parties, heavily spiked eggnog and gross amounts of food, I am going to try to incorporate a fourth element. This one will be more about relaxing, winding down a bit, and taking it easy. For instance, I'm going to a house party instead of a crowded bar for Thanksgiving Eve. I've decided to not bartend on Friday night to give my body, and liver, a little rest. And I'm even contemplating a more low-key New Year's Eve.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to even keep a better New Year’s resolution than “avoiding a particular bar” this year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Life Lesson #38: Run, baby, run!

Today is the worst day of my life.

Okay. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. But I swear I have not felt this horrible in a very, very long time.

It’s only eleven in the morning and already I’ve:

Overslept by an hour.
Was late to work because I overslept by an hour.
Have vomited three times. At work.
Forgot to put on deodorant.

This has all happened because I decided to drink my face off yesterday. In comparison, yesterday was my proudest day.

Marathon Sunday means running twenty plus miles for a bunch of people with way more endurance and balls than I’ll ever have. For everyone else, it means drinking heavily from the moment they wake ‘til they pass out. I am clearly in the latter of the two categories.

I made the decision three years ago to truly embrace the Marathon as a Supportive, Enthusiastic, Drunk Spectator. You see, I like the independent nature of running itself. You don’t need a team. You don’t have to be in great shape. And the event itself, well, you only have to watch it once a year. So I feel like I can really put my heart and soul into going bananas since I won’t get to do it for another three hundred and sixty five.

The first time I watched it was from the last mile mark on Fifth Avenue. I brought my little brother with me since his track coach was going to be in it. We had a blast making fun of everyone in the stands and cracking jokes about this crazy lady with a guitar playing ‘inspirational’ music to get the runners through their last few steps. She sounded like she was dying and literarily had people booing to shut her up. All in all, it was a tame experience. After, I went home and called it a day. But I vowed to return the next year.

Two years ago, I lived on the 97th Street between Fifth and Madison. It was the first time Goose was running in it. Madonna and I were ready to be her Number One Fans.

Doing so included meeting at a bar underneath the 59th Street Bridge with assorted family and friends. We wanted to be the first of the group to cheer her on as she came into Manhattan.

A half dozen or so beers post-noon and we completely missed her at the first designated stop.

“Did you guys see her?! She just went by,” her brother’s girlfriend told us as she made her way over to the corner we were trying to see Goose from. Woops.

Okay, on to the next stop then. Harlem, here we come. But first, I just want to grab another drink.

Obviously there was no way we were going to make it up there in time. I mean, I wasn’t going to run there for crying out loud. So into a cab we go.

Ten minutes later and we seemed to be slowing down to a snail’s pace, even though there was barely a car on the road.

“Dude, you got to go faster, we’re trying to catch up to my sister,” her brother said.

Suddenly, the cab came to a stop as it broke down blocks from where we needed to be. Which I found hilarious. I mean, we’re in a cab because were too lazy to walk to meet up with our friend who’s running the Marathon! And the cab just comes to a sputtering halt! Amazing.

After standing on First Avenue and Who Knows What Street for a few minutes, we realize, there’s no way she didn’t already go by.

“Okay, how about we go to Central Park since that’s where it’ll end? At least we’ll see her there,” Madonna said.

Which brings us right back to where we started. The corner of 97th and Fifth. Ten feet outside of our apartment. Woops again. But at least we see her there.

“Where the hell have you guys been?!” Goose asked, jogging in place and looking amazingly normal for someone who’s been running for a few hours at this point.

“Um, well, we had some trouble keeping up with you,” is the best response I could come up with.

The next year, a wiser Madonna and I decided to throw a party at our apartment since Goose and another of their friends from college would both be running it. And this time, our apartment was actually on First Avenue, only one floor up. With windows wide open and a fantastic spread from Dunkin Donuts and York Wines and Liquors, we were ready.

I spent hours on the street, mimosa/baileys/beer in hand, screaming and cheering with Westchester.

“Gooooo Dave! You can do it!”

“Yea Linda, that’s right!”

“Steve! Steve! Steve!”

“We love you ITALY!”

“Come on man with the leg cramp! Walk it off, buddy, walk it off!”

Three hours later, I think I gave myself alcohol poisoning with a side of bronchitis. Running from kitchen to street with mimosa/baileys/beer in hand, I barely made it to the bars after the race only to be taken home a few minutes later.

And then there was yesterday. Which did not disappoint. I had my first drink in hand at 10:30 am at Hansel’s sisters’ apartment (another friend to add to the marathon-runner list). Which, now when I think about it, was only a few hours after I had stopped drinking from Saturday’s antics. Which in turn, had started as a cure for Friday night’s bartending that didn’t end ‘til the sun was almost up. So basically, there was no more liquid in my body that was not some sort of alcohol. I think my body was actually a liquor store.

The majority of the day was spent swallowing mimosas and Coronas and the occasional piece of bagel. And rather than barely making it to the end of the race, I actually made it out to the bar where Hansel was working. No lightweight behavior for me: I’ve had three years of training now! I was even prouder when several hours later, Hansel and I were basically sent home by the manager, probably because we were the drunkest couple on the UES.

Life Lesson # 38: I continue to look back on yesterday with pride as memories of one of the city’s finest days breakthrough. Seeing all the people I knew as they panted their way to the finish line. Seeing all the same people hours later getting shit-faced at the bar. A wise stop to H.F.T.’s apartment to go to the bathroom when the line at the bar seemed worse than anything at Disneyland. A delicious addition to the usual champagne-orange juice combination: Fresca. A dance-off to The Jackson Five, Shakira and Bruce.

So I didn’t run the marathon. Nor am I inspired to give it a whirl next year. That’s just silly. But you can bet your ass I will be one of the best damn fans you’re ever going to see. Because each year, it just gets better and better.

Side note: To all of you that ran - congrats! And to Goose in particular: Happy Birthday!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Life Lesson #37: You say it's your birthday...

Tomorrow, I will officially become a member of the Quarter Century Club.
I’ve been trying to surmise my feelings about this. I think shocked pretty much sums it up.

You see, I am not at all freaked out by being twenty-five. I don’t feel as if I’m getting old or that I’m not where I should be in my life. I don’t feel pressured to suddenly be making a certain amount of money or pop out some babies. I could care less about a few wrinkles or some grey hairs.

But I am totally, one thousand percent shocked. Where the hell have the last twenty-five years of my life gone?! I mean, seriously, I have been sitting at my desk all day, freaking out every time I look at the clock, only to discover that five minutes, not an hour, have passed by. Yet I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how years have just whipped by!

My parents threw a birthday soiree on Sunday in celebration. I managed to drag Madonna, Westchester, H.F.T. and Hansel along. I promised free food, alcohol, and highly inappropriate comments from Grandpa Al. I get the feeling they were not disappointed.

Throughout the day, my parents called me Penny. Because even though I’m turning twenty-five, they still call me by my nickname from childhood. I figure since it’s stuck, and it being the momentous occasion of me entering a new survey bracket, I’ll share with you just how Penny came to be.

It has to do with pooping.

First Stage, in which a seed is planted: Being in Caldor as my mom is buying some t-shirts for my older brother. I am still not potty trained, but I fall in love with some My Little Pony underwear. I grab the three-pack off the shelf and hug it to my chest.

“You want those?” my mom asked.


“Well, then you have to learn to use the big girl bathroom. Can you do that?” she continued.


“Okay, then you can have them,” She concluded.


I became obsessed with my underwear, and maybe more importantly, making sure I told my mom every time I went to the bathroom. How else could I be sure she’d keep buying me big girl underwear?

MOM! I poopied in the big girl bowl!” came from my lungs for several months. My brother delighted in making fun of me every time I made this announcement.

“Why do you have to tell the whole world you used the bathroom?” he asked as he laughed at me.

Second Stage, in which the seed takes root and an idea begins to grow: Sitting on the toilet in the bathroom, singing to my imaginary friend, Ed. He lived in the vent in the ceiling.

I didn’t really enjoy having to sing to Ed, but it was the only way he’d keep me company while I was in there. And since I was only in there for the underwear, I decided if that’s what he needed to stick around, so be it.

My mom, who was in the kitchen cooking dinner but insisted I keep the door open, god forbid I fall in and she have to save me or something, heard me jibber jabbering away.

“You okay in here?” she asked as she stuck her head in the door way.

“Yes! I’m just singing to Ed,” I said.
“Who?” my mom asked.

“Ed! He likes me to sing and then he stays,” I said.

“What?” she asked, still totally confused.

“Ed wants me to sing to him!” Why was she not getting this? Simple logic lady: you want someone to hang out with you, you do what they say.

“Who is Ed?” she kept bothering me.

“Mom! I can’t talk to you, I have to SING!”

Of course, my brother soon learned of my singing-while-pooping habit. The wheels were turning, I’m sure.

Third Stage, in which the nickname flowers: My brother promised me that by eating just one penny, I’d be able to make more come out of my butt whenever I wanted. Being too little to understand the value of each coin, I just assumed the penny, being gold and different from all the rest, was worth the most. The ability to make a whole bunch of them? I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by!

My dad found me later that afternoon, kneeling next to the toilet, staring intently into the water as I hummed a tune to Ed.

“Hey, what are you doing?” he asked.

“Waiting for more pennies. It’s still just one,” I said.

He stood over me and looked in.
“How’d that get in there?!” he asked, probably grossed out at the gerbil size turd floating in the water with a penny stuck to it.

“From my butt. But there’s supposed to be more,” I answered.

“Does your mother know about this?” he asked me.

“I dunno. Can she poop pennies?!” I was suddenly excited. Maybe I wouldn’t have to worry after all. If mom could poop out pennies, well, I could just take hers.

Suddenly, my brother comes dancing in the bathroom, chanting in the tune of the ditty I was just humming to Ed:

Penny Penny Poop a Denny, has a boyfriend, his names Eddie, Penny Penny Poop a Denny, has a boyfriend, his names Eddie!!

And thus, a nickname was born. Shortened to Penny by most family members, but sometimes, used in full: Penny Penny Poop a Denny. With a boyfriend, of course, named Eddie.

Lifes Lesson # 37: I may be getting older according to my birth records, but I’m holding steady to Penny. Maybe because I feel, all these years later, like I've still got a part of that wacky child inside. I kind of hope that when I make it to the Third Quarter Century Club, she’s still bouncing around.

‘Cause she’s just a silly, little humming girl.