Sunday, April 30, 2006

"She's a Rich Girl, and She's Gone Too Far, And You Know It Don't Matter Anyway."

I find it fun that VH1's "My Super Sweet 16" is being treated as a cultural phenomenon and social barometer of late. Take, for instance, this recent New York Times overview of the show, with a few choice behind-the-scenes casting details, such as 200 kids are interviewed as candidates to be on the show, but "only 8 or 9 make the cut." (To which I respond, "There are more than 8 or 9 of these overprivileged snots in the country?) I also liked Ana Marie Cox's quick take in Time: "Their blingy flings are not celebrations of accomplishment; they're celebrations of self."

Now, like pretty much every twentysomething with digital cable in the U.S., I've been sucked in by a few episodes of "My Super Sweet 16." For me, my initial reaction is, "Hey, why didn't my dad ever buy me a harem of musclebound Roman soldiers to carry me into a hotel banquet hall on a pallet?" Then I'm quickly reminded that it was because I grew up lower middle class. Thanks to the great editing on the show, it's incredibly entertaining to see these fortunate young guys and gals throw epic parties in random places like Staten Island and podunk New Hampshire and watch the hilarity/antics ensue. Because most of us in our twenties understand that there's irony to it: how overprivilege combines with tacky and meaningless to create a vapid bonfire of the vanities that makes for amazing television. (See: Any season of The Real World.)

What I'm concerned about is whether high schoolers (geez, I just typed "kids these days" -- I must be old) are going to see that. According to the Times article, the entertainment editor at Teen People says at least some kids are intelligent enough to find the subject matter of the show "repellent." But in an age of "aspirational" YA novels, Paris Hilton (enough said), and the over-the-top celebrity culture of consumption deified in Us Weekly, are most?

And also, I'm going to argue that these types of parties have been going on for a long time, just not on a hundred-thousand-dollar scale. Any party involving the top of the social totem pole in high school is Exhibit A. And, I'm not Jewish, but many of my Jewish friends have told me about their bar and bat mitzvahs. Their themes were "baseball," "magic," or "the Mets." One friend told me he had fireworks and a giant baseball-card cake at his bar mitzvah. As a mainline Protestant who was confirmed and received such gifts to commemorate the occasion as a Steven Curtis Chapman cassette tape that stayed in their shrink wrap until I threw it away later, I asked, "How do the Mets have anything to do with God?" I'm thinking that at least some (some, not all) of these bar/bat mitzvahs have more to do with tradition and topping one's friends than religious achievement. I'm also going to throw over-the-top weddings into the mix: You know, the Bridezilla-esque ones, where the brides-to-be seem more concerned with Vera Wang, cascading cake frosting, and spending money that isn't theirs rather than marrying their beloved.

But more than anything -- social mores, religion, what have you -- these parties are for the rich and their sycophants. Cue the Hall and Oates:

'Cause they can rely on the old man's money. They can rely on the old man's money....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

No Book for You!

I just had to give an update on my previous post on Kaavya Viswanathan.

After Viswanathan maintained (even to Katie Couric) that she "unintentionally" (snort) plagiarized parts of Megan McCafferty's novels, Viswanathan's publisher pulled the Opal Mehta novel off bookstore shelves and websites. Now, according to the New York Times, the demand for Viswanathan's half-assed novel has gone up, and third-party buyers are selling it for as much as $89.95.

First of all, I want to congratulate Little, Brown for standing up for all that's right and good in the literary world and yanking the novel off shelves tout de suite. Instead of pussyfooting around the issue and doing a special book forward that explains parts were fabricated, as in the case of James Frey, or slapping a noncommittal sticker on a novel as a preemptive strike, a la my beloved Augusten Burroughs (whose new one I can't wait to read, by the way), Little, Brown is essentially saying "we won't stand for this kind of behavior" and getting out of this mess while the gettin' is good. Bravo to the decision-makers over there for coming to a swift one.

And as far as the $90 copy of Opal Mehta? Don't hold your breath for continued increased black-market sales. I'm predicting this current state of supply and demand will have the staying power equal to that of a 1999 Beanie Baby.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What the French Connection United Kingdom?

I've developed a new sworn enemy, and it is called the French Connection United Kingdom. I walk by my foe every day on the way to work, and it taunts me, with its cheesy Brandon Flowers–wannabe billboards and its $175 prairie skirts no red-blooded American woman would ever be caught dead in. Yet I remained peaceful in my protest. I could even tolerate it when it used this damned hologram billboard, except this time with a superskinny model stabbing another superskinny model in the belly -- er, washboard abs -- with a stiletto. I chalked it all up to woefully misguided, tacky, meant-for-the-"No Comment"-section-of-Ms. advertisement concocted by some 55-year-old male ad exec with a spray-on tan.

But now? It's war.

Because today, in doing a little research on enemy tactics, I ran across this video, which purports itself to be "Fashion vs. Style." (P.S. Aren't "fashion" and "style" the same thing? Maybe if you have a trust fund, you have a different opinion. E-mail me. We'll hash it out.)


If this video were at all original or funny or unpredictable, I would jump on the FCUK bandwagon and buy a $78 raffia bag just to show my approval. But, um, it's not. Watch it. Now, is it just me, or was this video totally shot in a rural Illinois basment using the local strippers as actresses? I so wish it were hot or well-done. Aren't the Europeans supposed to be all over that? But it's just sad Maxim in 1998. I may watch it later just to mock it. I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Internalized, Schminternalized.

Everyone's buzzing about fake author extraordinaire Kaavya Viswanathan, and, as a young woman who was insanely jealous of Viswanathan's success a while back, I can't help but admit I'm following every word of this story. I love the latest chapter. Megan McCafferty's publisher is now slamming Viswanathan in the media, and, like the aftermath of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, I Cannot. Freaking. Wait. To see what happens next.

Despite the conspiracy theories that abound, here is my guess as to what happened:

Writing chick lit is HARD. Writing any book is hard -- and time-consuming. From Danielle Steel novels to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, it is difficult to find a plot arc that works, mix in some somewhat believable/sympathetic characters, write the whole damn thing, and have the Book Fairy deem your drivel good/marketable enough to sit on store shelves.

So, after getting her book deal, too tired and busy to deal with all of her obligations, Kaavya Viswanathan did what any student would do on the eve(s) of her book's deadline(s): She sat down at her computer, maybe with a cup of really strong coffee, took her fave McCafferty novel (which was the style she was going for anyway) and, out of desperation, started plucking out little scenes and turns of phrase, changing them slightly, like you would if you were writing a report on Antarctica in fourth grade and using only the World Book Encyclopedia as a source.

When I "internalize" a novel, I internalize scenes and maybe a few choice quotes from my favorite characters. Unless Viswanathan read McCafferty's novels 40 times in high school and quoted them to her best friends and in her diaries, I'm skeptical of her claim. May the drama unfold while the rest of us feel just a little better about ourselves for having written nothing beyond blog entries and checks to our therapists since college.

Monday, April 24, 2006

My Elephant Bank

Today, my boss handed a coworker and me a huge palmful of unwanted pennies.

"Who wants it?" he said. Being the poor Midwestern girl I am -- the kind who always checked pay phones and soda machines for neglected change -- I said, "I'll take it!" perhaps two seconds too quickly.

He poured the copper coins into my outstretched palms, and I stood immobile with it as we all tried to order lunch. "Is there a Commerce Bank around here?" my coworker asked, presuming I wanted to cash my loot in ASAP.

"No," I said. I'm going to take it home and put it in my special elephant bank," I said, somehow forgetting I wasn't five years old and, um, still in the Midwest, looking for somewhere to put my found change.

My boss snickered. "It's special because it's an elephant, isn't it?"

I paused. "Yes."

Is it so wrong for a twentysomething woman to love her elephant bank? The Boyf got it for me in O'Hare, en route to the Heartland, where he selflessly volunteered to spend Christmas 2005 with all of my socially awkward relatives. (He's a brave soul.) I knew I loved it when I discovered that you get the money out by opening a special panel with a metal snap on the bottom of his hind feet.

For the record, I hate stuffed animals, bows, dolls, and insincere pictures of smiling women who really hate each other's guts on "girls' night." But I think it's okay to have a few childish things around to remind you that the world isn't all corporations, schedules, and bottom lines. My elephant bank is one of those things. My plastic GloWorm is another one -- it came in a Happy Meal around 1989 and sat on my night table for a few years post-college. I wouldn't sell it for anything. Sometimes just knowing it's in one of the boxes under my bed is enough to remind me of my grandparents, the luxury and fun of a Happy Meal before we knew they were that bad for us, and the cheap thrill that comes from recharging a glowing toy in the heat of a 60-watt light bulb.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Problem with Twentysomethings

"Hey, Newbie! What's pissing you off this week?" you ask.

Well, I'm happy to report that the New York Times has pinpointed exactly what I hate about my age group, the rich, and New York City and wrapped it up in a cute little Styles-section article called The Bank of Mom and Dad.

Read it. I'll wait.

Done? Now, if you're not upset, you should be. The article shows us exactly why many/most twentysomething kids who live in New York City (my age group and demographic) are spoiled, self-centered, ignorant, and otherwise irresponsible people. They're living off their parents indefinitely. I have a radical concept: Recent college graduates should understand what their financial situation is and live within their means. Not their parents' means. I'm talking a budget. As in: Don't make enough to afford both rent and food in New York City? Then you're not living there. Try Jersey. Shack up with three roommates in Union City and commute. Don't like it? Awwww. Poor baby. Maybe you should work your way up in life until you can afford Manhattan.

I think what bothers me most is the parents who enable their children. I'm sure every parent wants to provide his/her child with the best life possible, but there's a fine line between giving your kid a twenty every now and then and subsidizing an upscale lifestyle that s/he has no business experiencing at 22.

Now. If you're like me and you hate rich kids and their sense of entitlement without the work ethic (or common sense) to back it up, check the TV listings and Tivo MTV's True Life: I'm Moving to New York. After watching it, you will want to scream at the rich girl (she's pictured if you click on the link) and embrace the best friends from Ohio. And if I see any of those actors on the street in this city, I plan to do just that.

End rant.

Office Gatherings Version 2.0

I went to another office gathering tonight. This time it was the going away party for someone who believed in me. It's difficult to let this coworker go because, for once, someone -- this one -- thought I should be elevated to a position I was woefully underqualified for. But, thanks to him, I now have a mutual fund. So I'm sorry to say goodbye to him.

When I was with my coworkers tonight, I tried to be fun and talkative and brilliant. The Brooklyn Lagers helped with that (or so they would have me believe...), but when I got home via cab, all I could think about was my father. He is an amazingly social person who tells stories and mixes seven-and-sevens for churchgoers and makes everyone happy. People love to listen to him. He's a first-grade teacher, and you can tell how far along he is in the school year by how colorful and cluttered his classroom is. Each child has a special place on his ceiling for mobiles, for art projects, for drawings. It's like the American Visionary Art Museum exploded all over his walls. He tells stories in loud, nuanced voice, allowing children to get a feel for all the characters: The Whipping Boy. Harry Potter. He created church choirs from scratch. Made two bell choirs from nothing. He's Type A times twelve.

It's hard to realize that I might never be like him: Appreciated. Hard-working. An asset to a community. The Boyf isn't like that, either. So we fade into backgrounds, into bar walls, whispering to each other so we won't feel so alone. We don't have courage -- most people don't. But at these office gatherings, I still try to smile and laugh and say what comes to mind in lieu of listening to a gap in the conversation. I'm not my father. But I can try.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rich New Yorker, Poor New Yorker

Today I was going through one of my usual twentysomething existential/religious crises that center around the overall uselessness of my chosen skill set (especially if I crashed on a desert island with other humans and had to put my skills to work for us -- we'd pretty much be SOL) and my unbelievably bad dealt hand in romance (especially from grades four through 12). Mid-brood, I realized that in one day, I had run across the following two posts:

- This one, from Overheard in New York:

Cleaning lady: I woke up this morning, got on the train, and I asked, "Why, God? Why was I born so poor?"
--State Street Plaza

- And this one, from Gawker:

"24-year-old Kreiss furniture scion Loren Kreiss... enjoys a 1,500-square-foot loft in Chelsea’s Mercantile Building (estimated to go for about $6k per month)....
Says Kreiss, “I think I’m paranoid of people viewing me as just a little rich kid.”

The juxtaposition of the two stories makes me despise New York social stratification with an ire I can't really put into educated, non-swear words.

Hot Judas update: No word yet from NGS.

Monday, April 17, 2006

In Hot Pursuit of Hot Judas

The search is on: I want to find out the name and location of the actor who played Judas in National Geographic's recent "Gospel of Judas" program. Now, "other" blogs considered "relevant" and "intelligent" can debate all they'd like about the usefulness/place of the Gospel of Judas, but true to Typing Pool form, I'd rather work myself into a lather about the dude in the reenactment.

To review: See my previous post on Hot Judas.

Today, I e-mailed National Geographic to get more info on Hot Judas because their press room totally has time to field requests for info, stats, and astrological signs of their programs' hotties.

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 08:41:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Actor who portrayed Judas
Hello there,

I have a quick inquiry for you regarding the recent

"Gospel of Judas" program:

What is the actor's name who plays Judas? I found him

extremely compelling and was curious as to what he's

done before this.

Thanks so much for your time,

Newbie ToNYC

Translation: "Compelling" really means "ha-cha-cha hot."

And now? We wait.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I have nothing of import to say today. I have a low level of indifference to everything that keeps my body moving at a steady, buzzing clip.

I found out today that I'm getting a new boss. The fourth one this year. And I don't care. There's nothing I can do except hold on and hope for better somewhere along the line.

The moon is fading in and out of what looks like inky black clouds over the tall semi-lit buildings of Manhattan. I have a bra on today that I bought in high school. Sometimes it seems like everything is the same, and, even though I'm in New York, every scene will keep being similar, but not quite identical. Enough to fool me for a while.

But despite all of my disappointments, tonight I am thankful for the expensive 12x12 room in Manhattan I fought so hard to get. I know that somewhere there's a 22-year-old college graduate in the Midwest with internships and experience under her belt, dreaming of what I have.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Think She's Fabulous

I went to a reading tonight for this book. I know the author tangentially, and maybe it's the starstruck Midwesterner in me, but I love going to watch/hear authors at book readings. I think it's the triple threat of sight (the author and the book), touch (holding the book), and sound (hearing the author speak). It's almost like ecstatic sensory overload for me, who fancies myself a writer (most of the time) and wants so badly to be in her shoes.

She slaved over this thing for six years, and it's good. Not trendy good or bring-her-the-Pulitzer-now good or she-hit-at-the-right-time good. It's just genuinely, quietly good. And I am so happy for her. I hope she goes to sleep tonight satisfied.

Monday, April 10, 2006

All the Small Things

I hit the "bad weight" on the doctor's scale today, the "bad weight" being exactly two pounds fewer than my heaviest weight ever. So I sprang into action. I bought a salad for lunch. Hit the elliptical trainer and the free weights after work. And I topped everything off with a homemade chicken scallopini dinner courtesy of the Boyf, half a loaf of french bread, and a hot fudge sundae while watching two hours of "The Apprentice." Like they said in BTTF: Progress is my middle name. (But memo to "Apprentice" cast members Andrea and Tammy: You'll get your comeuppance, you prissy backstabbers. Oh, yes. Yes, you will.)

The great thing about tonight, though, wasn't the Donald. (Imagine that.) The Boyf is lactose intolerant and has to take pills with any dairy, while my love for ice cream is pretty much unequaled.* I half-mentioned to the Boyf that I might want some ice cream, and after I tore myself away from the first episode of "The Apprentice," I went into his kitchen to find him slicing bananas over two bowls, each with a small mountain vanilla ice cream, complete with rivers of hot fudge. In my years-old relationship, there was something extraordinarily nurturing about seeing him prepare the devil's candy for me, just because he knew I liked it. And that was a sinful turn-on.

*(Special Hint for New Yorkers (and Bostonians): Emack and Bolio's has the best ice cream in the city. Oh, and never, ever fall victim to Tasti-D-Lite. That's just ice cream blasphemy.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hot Judas

I'm addicted to the National Geographic Channel's specials on religion and the Bible. Tonight was the network's premiere of the Gospel of Judas, and I believe it was one of their finest specials ever, complete with reenactments, tons of scholarly opinion, and suh-weet graphics. But what I didn't expect was to see one of the hottest men I'd ever laid eyes upon. Perfect longish hair. Smoldering eyes. And he just happened to be playing Judas in the biblical reenactments (tiny picture of him from the NGS site below).

SHOW RECAP In a (very small) nutshell, the show followed the discovery and translation of an ancient text believed to be one of the original gospels of the Bible -- before the church narrowed the 30 or so different texts down to our modern four: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This new gospel argued that Jesus told Judas to liberate him from his earthly shell (body), thereby making Judas less of the villain we've seen him as through art and literature and more of a good helper in Jesus's destiny. END SHOW RECAP


This was, of course, completely fascinating, and now I'm dead-set on reading more of the "other" gospels -- especially Mary Magdalene's because she's my girl. But during the reenactments of the Last Supper, the betrayal, etc., I was completely distracted by the utter hotness of Judas. Even the Boyf said he was "unusually attractive." Now, I have four thoughts on Mr. Iscariot (the actor, not the historical figure):

1. Nice work, casting director. Yowza.

2. Who is this guy?
I can't find a credit for him on the NGS site or on IMDB.

3. Memo to NGS: Um, maybe try not to cast such attractive people as biblical figures. It's a weird sensation to be learning about Jesus and then getting all mooney-eyed over his friend/betrayor/liberator/whatever.

4. Okay, IF you're going to cast attractive people anyway, please list their info on your site so I can join this dude's fan club. Or persuade him to move to New York, where he can do a solo performance for me. Ahem.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Best Week Ever for This Dude

Correct me if I'm wrong, but does this guy seem like he's the luckiest dude on the planet or what? I freaking love that his job switch is listed on Mediabistro's Revolving Door for the world to see. Can we get some props for him up in this piece? Hellz, yeah.

Editor's note: Originally, by clicking the first link, you could see this: "April 4, 2006: Derek Roche has resigned as market editor of VIBE to be personal stylist for Sean "P Diddy" Combs." But since has to "make money" from its "Avant Guild membership" the first link is pretty much useless.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Proverbial Rug

When I was in high school in the Midwest, I worked at a major discount clothing/accessories/housewares store. For two years I was the fitting-room girl, so I got to stand behind a tiny desk for five hours and button and zip the clothes other people had tried on. But, hey: It paid slightly more than minimum wage and allowed me some downtime, during which I wrote poetry on paper towels.

Mr. Durso was my favorite manager: He was a 45-year-old, 250-pound white guy with a salt-and-pepper Jheri-curl, mustache, and beard. He never yelled. He never made us stay late. He listened to all of us, even me when I was waxing poetic about boys I liked.

Mr. Durso left to move to California my senior year in high school, and the night he left -- I'll never forget this -- all the store employees were walking out to the parking lot after we closed the store, and I told him goodbye and good luck. He said to me, "Don't worry about the boys. Just study hard." I wish I had paid more attention to that.

I know I should focus on the good things I remember about him, but one completely silly incident pops into my head every so often and fills me with this vague sense of discomfort and regret. We were closing the store, and I was working in the housewares department. "Is it all clear?" he asked me, meaning were the rugs picked up off the floor? Were the towels folded? Were the picture frames aligned? I so wanted it to be good enough, so I hemmed and hawed. "Well..." I said, "I think so. What do you think?" He replied tersely, with staccato hand movements, "Well, is it or isn't it because we have people who want to go home." "It is," I said meekly.

I've always been too sensitive about comments like that -- about my work, my attitude, my appearance. And I wish that had ended at 18, when Mr. Durso left. But even now, I carry work with me. Comments. Suggestions. Indications that I'm doing anything less than an amazing job. My boss and I aren't getting along particularly well right now. My attitude is lackluster sometimes because he grates on my nerves, and I hate that I'm so transparent and that my behavior is so easily swayed by my emotions. So I carry that guilt with me on the subway home from work and when I'm walking down the street -- the thought that I should be doing much better than I am.

Sometimes I wish I could walk down the street without these strange waves of guilt and inadequacy washing over me constantly. I want to be like those girls I always see who are wearing sunglasses and flip-flops and talking on their cell phones or with their friends at brunch. They look like they enjoy life. I want to be able to enjoy being in New York without worrying about when the rug is going to be pulled out from under me: When I'm going to be fired or called out for the fact that I just don't care or that I'm not as capable as I've led everyone to believe. I think that I'm really worried that my New York life is hanging by a thread, and that thread is my job. I lose that, and I lose the city. So when my job feels like it's in flux, so does my identity. And that's a precarious way to live.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Office. Gatherings.

Office. Gathering.

Those two words should never be next to each other in the same sentence. But so many times, we go. We go for the following reasons:

1. We want the boss to see we're a team player, so we put in our appearance.
2. After a long day at "I'm Better Than You, Ltd." (or "White Guys in Ties, Inc." apologies to Crazy Aunt Purl), we really could use a cup of whiskey on the rocks or a cold Stella.
3. We would like someone -- anyone -- to see we're human and intelligent and have potential in freakin' life. That we're not the data entry department or the IT department or the HR department. We have ideas and hobbies and notions of where we'd like to go. We have a plan for where we'd like to go. That we're not stupid.

But that never happens, does it? Tonight, three beers in (two were light, okay, you teetotalers?), I realized I'd had at least two conversations in which I started talking and the person I was talking to looked away and started a new conversation with the person sitting next to them.

If any evildoers are listening, I'll let you in on a hint: That's the quickest way to let someone know -- subtly -- that you're really not interested in them as a person or what they're saying. You're shoe gunk in less than two seconds.

I wanted to scream at them, "Do you know how many publications I've written for?" and "Do you know how good I am? How promising I used to be?" But instead, I took my two bags -- one with my good Manhattan-girl sneakers in it -- and went home. No scenes. Just like a good Midwestern girl would have done.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cadbury Eggs and the Girls of the 1950s

Finally, someone else understands how important Cadbury Creme Eggs are and how tragic it is that every Duane Reade in NYC is plumb out of them (except, apparently, for the DR by Madison Square Park, but good luck getting to that one, as it's not open on Saturdays or Sundays or weekday evenings -- fat lot of use that store is).

I finally found the eggs in Baltimore this past weekend for sale in front of the cash register in a gas station. The Boyf bought me two, but I should have purchased the whole box of them -- about 20 or so. Then again, I'd probably have eaten all of them by now. So, yeah, maybe it's best that I don't go on a creme-egg bender this year.


I'm becoming increasingly interested in how women lived in the 1950s: icons of beauty, career options, fashion. I don't envy the social constraints or the paltry women's rights or the way everything was hidden and packaged so the neighbors wouldn't see; believe me, I'd rather be here now. But I like the glamour of the era: the pincurls, the pencil skirts, the heels, the pleasantries, the manners, the Scotch after work, the Automat.

I'm not a big shopper -- I actually hate shopping -- but on my way home from the gym one sunny Saturday, I spotted a vintage 1950s gown in an open-air flea market that could have come straight off a mid-century society lady on her way to a Park Avenue party in Manhattan, and I bought it. All $130 dollars' worth of it. I have no idea when I'm ever going to wear it. Sometimes I think my dress would only look good on Reese Witherspoon on the red carpet. And the Boyf says it's a "fat girl's dress," which didn't win him any points that day. But having her in my closet is kind of like having a little piece of the polished image of the decade. I imagine who wore it and why, what she did that night and who she did it with, and how it all ended for her -- why this dress ended up in a Midtown flea market instead of in a museum or with her children, if she had any. This is a picture of it that doesn't quite do it justice:

And here's a lipstick holder (with tiny mirror) I got for about five dollars at an antique shop in the Midwest. I'm guessing the ladies put this on their vanity tables, along with their hairbrushes and handheld mirrors:

Monday, April 03, 2006

Chinatown Bus = My Personal Hell

It's no big secret that the Chinatown bus is supposed to be cheap ($35 round-trip), and, for that, passengers are supposed to be willing to give up a few luxuries: air conditioning, room to move, traveling in quiet conditions, etc. And I'm no prima donna: I'll cut corners to save a buck. But my experience traveling to Baltimore was about a one on a scale of zero to 10, 10 being "riding in a heaven-sent cloud," and zero being "I'd rather have hitchiked."

Chinatown Bus #1:
I have to give Bus #1 props for leaving NYC's Chinatown on time and getting us to Baltimore in three and a half hours -- 30 minutes earlier than I had planned. And for that convenience, we sacrificed the following:

1. Normal stomach functioning: We had to sit in the back. By the bathroom. And trust me, the smell of urinal cakes and human bodily functions doesn't exactly make one feel relaxed the whole way.

2. Air: There was no air conditioning, as expected, but there were tiny overhead vents that blew out air that can only be described as rancid. I'm pretty sure a small rodent of some sort had crawled into the ducts and soon afterward headed to that big mousetrap in the sky. Halfway through the trip, though, the driver opened that escape hatch in the top of the bus, and, praise Jesus, fresh air flowed into through the car. Well, half of the hatch collapsed about 10 minutes later, leaving it only half open, and then an enterprising young gentleman across the aisle from the Boyf and me tried to stuff a Champion-brand tube sock between the hatch and the roof to wedge it open, but it didn't stay put. So, as I emerged from the bus, drenched in rat sweat and gasping for air, I had a thought: I think our ride defined the concept of "you get what you pay for."

Chinatown Bus #2
Well, I wish I could describe Chinatown Bus #2. But can't. Because it never came to pick us up from Baltimore. I bought my tickets on the Internet, showed up a half an hour early and everything, but each bus that came was either going to Philly, going to Boston, or full. About 15 of us were left stranded on a grassy knoll at the Baltimore Travel Plaza for two hours while we waited in vain for our ride. Finally, the Boyf and I decided to go across the street and shell out $37 for a one-way ticket to New York via Greyhound (which, might I add, was on time and even showed the movie Starsky and Hutch). The other hopeful passengers who had called the Chinatown bus station said that they gave them the runaround: "Buses came by, but passengers refused to get on." Liars. I'm going to try to call them and demand my money back, but I'm not holding my breath for results, seeing as how "no refunds" is printed on the Internet tickets about 14 times. So for now, at risk of sounding like a crazy Craigslist ad, the best I can do is this:


Dismounting soapbox.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I'm going to Baltimore tomorrow via the Chinatown bus to see my extremely cool college friend/former roommate, who's a reporter (and homeowner -- I just love that word) there. I'll also see another great friend/former roommate, who's coming all the way from Atlanta, along with two college friends I haven't seen for three years, one of whom I had a teeny-tiny crush on for five seconds during college.

I find that whenever I'm preparing to meet a friend or acquaintance I haven't seen for a while -- male or female -- I go through these incredibly unnecessary and elaborate pre-remeeting preparations: getting my hair cut and highlighted, selecting the appropriate wardrobe, going to the gym, all of that stuff.

For example, my usual weekend wardrobe looks like this:

But I'll probably pack something that looks like this:

I so want to show everyone -- anyone -- that I've somehow made it in NYC. That I know that big sunglasses and peep-toe wedges are in. (Um, they are, right?) That I'm on top of trends, and movin' and shakin' whatever you move and shake when you're successful.

But do my friends care? Nope. And that's why they're so amazing. In the city, especially, I've noticed that people have friends who are around for the shopping, the booze, the media contacts, the coolness factor, and even the drugs. But my friends have stuck by me and listened when all I could talk about is Evil E (my ex) and how wonderful the two of us could have been, and they've stuck by me and listened when I finally managed to score the sought-after New York trifecta: an NYC job, apartment, and boyfriend -- ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I feel lucky and blessed to have them.

So, Orioles, here I come. For a night, anyway.