Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If I could save time in a bottle (or cell phone)

Whenever I'm in desperate need of a break from my desk and chair, I've been doing a little spring cleaning around the house, getting rid of the dust bunnies, etc. Today, I came across my recently-departed Motorola cell phone. It was time for another shipment to Cell Phones for Soldiers.

If you haven't heard of it, it's a great charity that collects old cell phones and takes the profits from repurposing them to buy phone cards for U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq so they can call home. It was founded by a teenage brother/sister in their Norwell, MA, garage and has since grown to a national organization supported by companies such as AT&T. www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com

Anyway, I boxed up the Motorola (which had been a faithful servant up until this Jan. when I upgraded to the BlackBerry Pearl) and began to tape the package when it occurred to me that all of my contacts (and perhaps some questionable photos) were still on the camera phone. I quickly unwrapped the box.

Although I'm sure the charity wipes the SIM card or whatever, I'm too paranoid to take any chances. All those years of my Mom warning me about David Walsh got me thinking of scenarios worthy of a Hollywood script (weirdo in upstate NY doublewide gets my recycled phone -- contacts, photos and all -- then falls in love with a photo of my teeth and calls all of my friends in an attempt to track me down, finally succeeding when an unsuspecting family member divulges the location of my pearly whites).

Deleting the photos proved harder than the arduous task of erasing my 100+ contacts. It was like I'd opened a time capsule from the last year of my life and couldn't rescue any of it (the phone no longer has service and nothing to attach to a PC to retrieve data).

It's amazing how one can slip right back to a time/place with a simple trigger like a song, scent or image. The pic of cloud-to-ground lightning just beyond Yankee Stadium's outfield immediately evoked the feeling of my hair being blown about as I juggled peanuts, soda and hot dogs while laughing with Bolo about how we were about to die watching A-Rod's quest for #500.

The strong sensory link is why I never wear perfume again once I abandon it -- it seals that time of my life in a bottle forever (e.g. Tommy Girl is sooooo waiting tables in Boca Raton circa '96).

A bit blurry (and trippy considering it's a camera phone taking a picture of a camera phone) but you get the idea.

Anyway, as I grudgingly deleted photo after photo, I laughed at what the weirdo upstate might think of some of them:

7/18/07 -- 1 photo of blue parakeet on sidewalk
"Was she walking her pet budgie?"
(More sane than it looks: walking to the train @ 110th/Broadway after work, looked down at the sidewalk to see an odd blue bird hopping around with the other li'l brown city birds. WTF? Yes, it was a parakeet quite healthy and at ease with the others, just looking for spare change, I guess.)

8/24/07 -- 2 pics of man working out at gym
"Is she a stalker like me?"
(Sometimes, but this was consensual shower-nozzle masturbation material of my man)

9/12/07 -- 3 shots of my teeth
"Practicing for Rocky Horror audition?"
(Nope, just before/after pics of my left front tooth; there was a long-standing chip in it courtesy of a Wild Turkey binge at Andrea's when I was 14. I didn't want it fixed for sentimental reasons but the dentist insisted; it has since reverted to its former chipped self...yay!)

1/5/08 -- 5 pics of giant brown wet thing and nest of hair
"Have I died and gone to heaven?"
(No, perv. My goddaughter Jordyn has free reign of my cameras, including cellular. This was a self-portrait of her eye and younger brother Phoenix's dreadlocks)
Since it wasn't classified material, I decided against deleting my 20+ photos of various flowers (I'm a big fan of them as screensavers) and 10+ photos from the Bjork concert at Radio City (that way, whoever gets my phone will think I'm a really cool botanist).

I also decided to leave the mysterious photos of my man and I on Roosevelt Island's elevated tram (with the 59th Street bridge glowing eerily in the background); I just didn't have the heart to delete such a fond bit of memory. (sigh)

What really surprised me about all this was that the phone's battery was still full at 3 bars despite sitting in a dark corner of my closet since January. Is that what happens when we don't use them 24/7?

BTW, if any of you know how to quickly wipe the memory from a Motorola 5236A, kindly keep that info to yourselves. Thanks!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How now, eyebrow?

So I'm at one of the thousands of nail salons in my 'hood the other day, getting a $5 manicure when the nail technician (and I use that term loosely here as I'm sure she's an indentured slave on loan from Vietnam) says, "you wan eyebrow wax too?"

"Um, no thanks. Why? Do I need an eyebrow wax?"

"You try. You like. Eyebrow wax make look better."

"No, I like my eyebrows the way they are. Thanks for offering, though."

As she put the finishing touches on my manicure, I kept thinking about her offer. Were my eyebrows in that desperate need of trimming? Was I that offensive to look at?

The nail drying machine was, of course, situated right in front of a mirrored wall so I had plenty of time to contemplate the eyebrows while my polish dried. No, I concluded after careful inspection, I was not Groucho Marx. The nail tech offered it, I rationalized, out of some forced labor agreement with the head salonista.

As I drove home, I kept looking in the rearview mirror at my brows, thinking about their evolution from wild untamed redwoods as a youth to landscaped lines of auburn as an adult:

When I got home, I found a photo of me pre-plucking (damn you, Tweezerman!) p.s. how is it that I was pastier living in South FL than I am now in NYC?

And now, at the urging of my man, I've been trying to return the brows to their natural state. But like the Florida Everglades at the incompetent mercy of the Army Corps of Engineers, it's hard to restore something that's been fucked with beyond recognition.

See, I was blessed with the burly British genes of my father (who has one large caterpillar on his face for eyebrows) so unlike many women, my brows grow thick and fierce. I'm incredulous that I now have to pencil in what was once naturally there. And yet I'm still addicted to plucking -- in my plight to grow them back, it's hard to resist the urge to remove stray hairs.

Why is it that as we grow into adult women, we feel the need to remove what's natural and add what's not? I never saw my Mom plucking her eyebrows and yet it's something I eventually came to do in my early 20's. How did facial hair get such a bad rap? Men? Media influences? [shrug]

Don't get me wrong: Although I shop at health food stores and eat flax seed regularly, I'm no Birkenstockette. I'm not about grow the unibrow back. There are some things I can't allow to grow on my face. With a Dad whose beard rivals the Gorton Fisherman's, I'm just grateful the nail tech didn't ask "you wan lip wax?" too.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The entire city can stand under my umbrella (ella, ella)

Rainy days in the city are salient reminders of two things:
1) how polluted this place is (I don't care how Sarah Jessica Parker tried to sell it in the opening credits of "Sex in the City," nothing says "ew" more than getting splashed with grime water by a passing bus/taxi);
2) how many assholes live here.

Case in point: "Umbrellassholes" who take up entire sidewalks with their satellite dish-sized umbrellas. Every time I think I live in a city of 9 million, these fucktards remind me that for some, it's a city of one.

On my way to meet Jeremy last Friday, my normal-sized umbrella was attacked and nearly ripped from my hands by a passing umbrellasshole. Later, I found refuge from them in the dry confines of a cab, where I took this photo of one in midtown Manhattan (I was safe to observe their behavior like some wildlife photographer sitting in a blind). Notice how the umbrellasshole's circus tent is twice the size of the umbrellas carried by nearby peasants:

How I wished for a passing car to soak this man with a puddle of grime water.

Living in such close proximity to so many people demands that we make little sacrifices like keeping our feet off the subway's seats and wearing deodorant. We'd all like to remain dry on a cold, rainy day but for some reason, umbrellassholes are so self-important that their right to remain dry supersedes all others.

Here's a quick way to check if you or someone you know is part of the problem: if you can fit more than two assholes comfortably under your umbrella, you're an umbrellasshole.

For the turds out there whose umbrella's have their own zip code, here's a big, wet middle finger. I hope your awning-of-an-umbrella also doubles as a lightning rod.

I know this lady looks super uncool, but she's a winner in my book.

Reality check: some of my closest friends are umbrellassholes (Bolo has been spotted with a golf umbrella many times on the streets of Manhattan...bad Bolo, bad!)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Unemployee of the month

Not too long ago, I wrote about how I miss having a "real" job if only because I liked people watching on the train to/from work. ("Real" jobs: you get to leave the house and pretend to work all day, as opposed to freelance where it's actual work 24/7 or starve.) Tonight, after yet another 14-hour work day, I found myself missing something else: the web sites that once kept me very busy at a "real" job.

To counter the grimace I used to get from my boss upon arrival, I'd kick the day off with a laugh thanks to www.icanhascheezburger.com, an amusing collection of animal photos with captions written as though the pets wrote 'em:

One of my coworkers dreamed of having her cats featured on the site. Last I heard, she'd submitted several photos but was still short of the necessary "cheezburgers" (votes) for acceptance. This is what happens to childhood dreams when people work long hours in cubicles, I guess.

Then, when it became necessary to look busy and have a screen full of text, it was off to craigslist's "Missed Connections" (http://newyork.craigslist.org/mis/) to catch up on the strange and sad postings of New York's hopeless romantics, for example:

STARBUCKS 103rd street - "You are so beautiful" sign, in the window - m4w (Upper West Side)
Reply to: pers-671044440@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-07, 12:40AM EDT

Hey, I really hope you see this - I'm the guy who wrote on the piece of paper outside the window tuesday afternoon. You were in a pink top, with short brownish hair and dazzling eyes.

You have this delightful and infectious energy about you, and I'd like to get to know you - in any context (romantic or not) it doesn't matter to me, I'd just like to know more about you.
While most of the postings are about people searching for that someone they saw at the diner (but just didn't have the matzoh balls to talk to at the time), others leave you feeling kinda dirty, as in:
Unicorn 22nd st - looking for the guy I fucked last night - m4m - 35 (Chelsea)
Reply to: pers-666640957@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-03, 6:37PM EDT

To the guy in the plaid shirt I fucked last night - you must be in you're mid to late 40's or early 50's (no offense). I'm the short bald guy with the stache in the brown bomber jacket
I wanted to say that I must have been crazy to do that with you.
You seem like a nice man and I can't believe that I had unsafe sex with you.

Why did I do it and why did you let me?

I don't do that and I have been so careful - up until now - and have tried to be "good". I drank too much, ate too little and mostly was just desperate to touch someone who wanted to be touched as well.
Listen, all I want to say is that I am sorry and that I should never have done that. I've always tested negative ( it's beyond hopeful) but I hope you too.
Mostly I think that these quick instant gratification moments with strangers are just what they are but I also think that "together" we prey on each other's weaknesses and loneliness.
I apologize for my delusional behavior.
All the best
And still others are straight up Janice Dickinson:
you punched me in the head. - w4m - 22 (East Village)
Reply to: pers-666651635@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-03, 6:47PM EDT

I was walking up Bowery at about 2pm on a Friday afternoon -- I didn't know love was headed my way, but you did, and you were. You screamed "Get the fuck outta my way!!!" as you approached me on your bike, which had an extra wheel attached to the handlebars (clever.) Your unkempt, fly-ridden long mane of hair was blowing in the wind, or rather, I imagine it would have been, if not for the layer of crust upon it. And then, just as you got close enough to whisper a sweet nothing into my ear, you reached out with your left hand and punched me. In the head. You punched me in the head, and then continued on your magical journey, still screaming "Get the fuck outta my way!" Well, I just wanted to say thank you, thank you for getting into MY way on that providential afternoon.
And while just a bit off-topic from being a "missed connection," this is probably the most amusing post ev-er:
who put the dead bird in my mailbox? - w4m - 27 (crown heights)
Reply to: pers-668364506@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-04, 5:24PM EDT

a) how did you get into my mailbox in the first place, it is locked
b) did you kill the bird?
c) it died horribly, that much was clear
d) you're psycho
e) do I know you?
f) if I do know you, I don't want to know you
g) if I don't know you, what did I do to inspire you to put a dead bird in my mailbox?
h) I don't know how to disinfect a mailbox from a dead bird, I'm worried about diseases and have used five different kinds of cleaner but still feel like the bird's still in there still and like my bills and my catalogues and my coupons have dead bird on them
i) it was a hummingbird, I looked it up - they don't even live in New York - this is so f*ing psycho, I can't believe this
j) are you the mailman?
k) I'm always nice to the mailman
l) the super didn't care when I told him what happened
m) the neighbors didn't care either
n) do you have some kind of problem with birds?
o) don't put anything else in my mailbox
p) unless it's an apology
q) no, I take that back, I don't even want an apology
r) what am I supposed to do with this bird - it's in bubblewrap in a bag in a shoebox in the freezer right now - am I supposed to bury it - where? how? in a construction site where they've jackhammered through the concrete - where is a person supposed to bury things in this city?
s) I could drop it in the Gowanus canal, but that seems undignified
t) I could drop it in the ocean, but the ocean is so big and it is such a small bird
u) I could drop it in the toilet but it would probably get stuck
v) I hear this whirring around my ears every time I go to the mailbox and I'm pretty sure it's ghost bird, and I'm all "it wasn't me that killed you, bird!" but still the whirring doesn't go away until I get to the stairwell
w) am I supposed to eat it - maybe you were trying to feed me - don't you know I'm a vegetarian?
x) if this was Ricky, I'm gonna beat your ass, mama told you stop bothering the zoo
y) if this was Gina, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, how many times I gotta say I'm sorry?
z) I could drop it off the roof, maybe it will reincarnate while falling and I can start reading my mail again
For those with "real" jobs, a friendly note of caution: these sites are highly addictive. Seriously, being able to spend quality time on them again may just be the spark that gets me in the job hunt.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Time travel to another "Galaxy"

A month or so ago, my cousin Frankie (age 29) texted me one night: "guess where i'm at." The possibilities seemed endless. "Um, in a hotel room with Marv Albert?" I texted back. Frankie replied, "no, galaxy skateway in davie!"

For most grown-ass adults, the reaction might be "why?" or "who cares?" As one who still has her first pair of Riedells and enjoys skating in Central Park's circle at 72nd Street, a little part of me died when the last indoor skating rink in NYC closed two years ago. So, it was with too much excitement that I texted back (flush with jealousy), "NO F'N WAY! We're soooo there when I'm in FL next month!"

And so it went. I arrived in FL last Thursday morning and was at Galaxy Skateway that night for "Adult Skate" in Davie with my cousin and his friend. Just like that, I was transported back to middle school (this is a good thing). As we pulled into the parking lot, I wasn't sure what I was more afraid of: falling on my ass or OD'ing on nostalgia.

See, my formative years were spent on roller skates. When I was in elementary school (1978-83), I went every Wednesday with an after-school program to Galaxy Skateway in Margate, FL (about 15 miles north of Davie). Skating on hideous brown and orange rentals (with a bum wheel coated in gum) on a dangerously-smooth cement rink, I grooved to disco like Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real" and early hip hop like "Pack Jam" by the Jonzun Crew. "Good Times" (think Chic) for real.

Then, from 1984-87, I spent nearly every Friday night skating with my friends round and round a much nicer hardwood circle at Coral Springs Skating Rink (now a Pep Boys). I say "nearly" because I was grounded for an entire summer between 7th and 8th grade (a most sinister attack on my social life by the 'rents). The first "big ticket" item I ever bought myself was my Riedell 2-stripe speed skates. After saving all summer between 6th and 7th grades, I finally bought them ($106 is a lot of babysitting and b-day $ for an 11-yr-old).

By that time, skating had evolved to "shuffling" so my friends and I would line up in pecking order (alpha female first and so forth -- the alpha usually had a brush in the back pocket of her Guess jeans). We'd shuffle for hours around the rink to jams like Trinere's "All Night" and Egyptian Lover's "Egypt, Egypt." When our feet throbbed from shuffling, we'd line up again (in our socks now) to perform dances such as the Cabbage Patch for whatever boys happened to be watching. Luckily, 14-yr-old boys are easy to impress.

Flash to April 2008 and Davie's Galaxy Skateway (where I'd never been before). On the outside, it looked just like the one in Margate. I worried how I'd do on a cement rink but was happy to see it was a hardwood one just like Coral Springs'. From the weird bullet-proof glass booth they make the cashier sit in at the front entrance (it's only $10 to get in -- how much money could possibly be in the register?) to the stale carpeting and "Donkey Kong" video games, it was as though time had stood still.

Not sure what the purpose of a clock is in a place where time doesn't exist.

I rushed over to the skate rental counter (brown and orange skates still in operation) and happily told the ancient man behind it that I wanted speed skates in size 8. Yep, they now rent Riedells (oh, what that would've done for my rep in 6th grade!). Giddy with excitement, I laced them up and hit the floor (not literally, thank God) before Frankie grew tired of my "and then this other time" stories.

Because it was "adult skate night," the DJ was playing old school songs from the days of 12" singles. Hea-ven! MC Shy-D's "Gotta Be Tough" was the first song, then K.J. an' da Fella's "Get Retarded (Now Go!)," then the Megatrons' "Rock the Planet" and then my head started spinning. No wait, that was the jacked up wheels of my skates about to take me into the wall. Ugh! Rentals still suck even when they're Riedells? WTF?!

Me and my cousin Frankie embracing the non-brown skate.

Okay, back at the rental counter to get a different pair, this time size 7. Perfect! (trick: if you can wiggle your toes, you'll be on your ass) Back on the floor, I quickly found myself shuffling again, even after all these years. By the 20th time around the rink, I started to realize why my legs were built like a brick shithouse as a teenager. My cousin's friend (who had come with her inline skates only for exercise purposes) shouted to me, "ugh, I wish they'd reverse the skating direction so we could work the other leg!"

"Whatever, weird adult lady," I thought. It was as though I had time traveled to another "Galaxy" and was once again feeling my 8th grade self (but now a very satisfied 36C). Granted, I wasn't as good as the other adults whose shuffling skills suggested they hadn't missed a Friday night since '88. There were even skate dance crews in the center of the rink and girls in Guess jeans! With the triangle and question mark logo, no less!

In fact, it was so '80s skating rink that the social pecking order was also very much intact despite the fact that most of us were in our late 20's and 30's. This became very obvious during the "speed skate" session where only the "coolest" were on the rink (with the lights turned up so all could observe and approve of their coolness).

Wait, reality check: I was in Davie, FL. At a roller skating rink. On adult skate night. It was a dorkfest, probably. But for just a few hours, it was sooooo cool to be back in '86.

Lights on for the "cool" kids while I finally got my shuffle on in these rentals.

For those who have no freakin' idea what "shuffling" is, this is close enough.