Archive | August, 2012

The Road Trip From Hell

31 Aug

Alia’s bridal shower was in May of 2011 and Rachel and I were, happily, both able to attend. We planned on making a whole weekend out of it and having super fun times. Rachel would take the bus from New York to Boston, I would pick her up, and we’d have a fun-and-girl-talk filled road trip to the great state of VT. Also, there would be snacks.

I left work early that Friday (with Mr. Louis in tow) to meet Rachel at South Station in Violet the Versa (my car that I’d bought brand-spanking new 7 months earlier). I should preface the rest of this story by letting you all know that I have a TERRIBLE sense of direction. Absolutely terrible. If I’m following directions telling me to head north on Main St., etc., I will actually pull out the compass on my phone to find north. When I’m visiting my parents, who still live in the same town that I grew up in, I have to ask my mom how to get to the mall. I once got horribly lost in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and ended up in a dark, scary hallway where the administrative offices are located.  I’m a mess. Also, at the time of this road trip, I did not own either a GPS or a smartphone. I have since invested in both. Well, more of a two-in-one deal. I digress.

I knew how to get to South Station, since it has its own exit off the Mass Pike, but from there I was just going to wing it. I knew there were a bunch of different highway entrances around South Station; with Rachel as my co-navigator, I was sure we’d easily find a sign leading us to I-93 north. Boy, was I ever wrong.

This was my first time driving downtown and it was much more confusing than I’d imagined. Damn you, Boston, and your one way streets! First, we could not find 93 north. There were entrances to the Pike and 93 south, but no north. We circled around the same intersection twice before we finally saw a sign…at the end of one of the infmaous one way streets.  So, we circled the opposite direction, of course hitting every red light, and finally made it. The on-ramp to 93 north was just up ahead…we were so close! And then: disaster struck. And by disaster, I mean a small, unapologetic, Asian man with limited English skills in his beat up old car. And by struck, I mean he literally struck my car with his car. He had been parked on the side of the road when I turned on to the street, with no blinker on indicating that he was doing anything other than sitting. However, right as I was driving by him, he decided to pull away, sharply, from the curb. He basically turned left into my car, clearly not checking his blind spot or even really looking where he was going. The collision made a HORRIBLE noise. I was so surprised at what happened that I did not immediately stop driving. I’m pretty sure I asked Rachel if that guy had just hit us, to which she replied affirmatively. Before this, I had never been in an accident where another car was involved (I had knocked the sideview mirror off of a Zipcar once, but that resulted from a collision with a wall…inside of a ferry…but that’s a story for another day).

The rest of what happened was a blur. I pulled over and Rachel and I both exited the car through the driver’s side door- the passenger side door was no longer an option. It’s a good thing she’s tiny and a good crawler. I somehow managed to do everything I needed to (made sure we were not injured, got the guy’s registration and insurance information, called the police), but the whole time all that was running through my head was “my brand new car!!!”. Rachel said I remained super calm and collected through the whole thing…so I guess I do ok in a minor crisis, which is good to know. Thank goodness Rachel was there with me. She took pictures of the car and got information from a witness who had been walking down the street- and ended up saving me from having to pay my insurance deductible! The insurance company of the guy who hit me of course tried to blame the accident on me, which is totally ridiculous. Rachel also ran down the street to retrieve my hubcap, which had popped off during the incident.

After information was exchanged, we had to find a police station, as I had been advised to go pick up an accident report. The woman I had spoken with on the phone gave me the address of the closest one, which was near Government Center, but I of course had no idea where the specific street was. So, instead of asking for directions, I just started driving. Rachel tried to look the address up on her phone, but it tried to send us to Middleborough. Wrong city, Google Maps. Nice try, though. We followed the signs for Government Center. I somehow thought calling my ex-boyfriend for directions would help. It did not. I was a little frazzled. Then, magically, we happened upon the street! It was a miracle. We then parked illegally in front of the police station (not the smartest choice, I know, but parking in downtown Boston is hard!!!) and ran inside for an accident report. The officer working at the front desk was VERY helpful AND there was an entrance for 93 north right behind the police station! Hurray! We were (finally) on our way.

Thankfully, the rest of our trip was uneventful, except for the crazy rain storm that forced me to slow to a crawl on the highway. Not being able to see out of your windshield is not conducive to driving.

Violet the Versa ended up having to have both passenger side doors replaced, her frame was bent, and there were issues with one of the wheels (I think). She was in the shop for a month. A whole month! But, she was just like new when I got her back, and I haven’t been downtown since.

That’s a lovely scrape on the ruined passenger side door. Sigh.

Song of the Day: I’m in Love with my Car by Queen

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My First Week in New York

21 Aug

I moved to NYC in 2006 after graduating college. I was so desperate to move here that I answered every Craig’s List room mate ad that sounded normal. It wasn’t that many so my options were few. I found a room, actually more of a closet, on the Upper East Side with a girl named Bora. I moved in on June 29th, 2006. The week that followed was one of the most interesting weeks I’ve had in all six years I’ve lived here.

In New York, even in the smallest apartment buildings, I find you never see your neighbors. Maybe I am always leaving at odd times because I’m not the 9 to 5 working woman but in that first apartment, I couldn’t have recognized any neighbor to save my life. So it was no surprise I had never seen the man directly next door.

Our apartments were at the top of the same corner and I passed by his door every day. When I first moved in, I had noticed he had his rent bill sitting outside his door. Bora and I assumed he had been on vacation because I had never  heard a peep from the apartment and she hadn’t seen him in recent memory. She said he was an older man who lived alone. We joked that maybe he died and no one knew and we were about to be a part of a real life Law and Order episode.

It was hot that summer in 2006. This was my first experience with how New York smells in the summer. It is not pleasant. It smells like heat and sweat. Like roasting meat and foreign spices that sting your eyes and nostrils and leave a taste in the back of your mouth. It’s gross. But not as gross as the smell that I experienced developing in our hallway. It would be minimal until I reached our door. While unlocking my apartment, I would feel as if I was choking. It was a stench I couldn’t figure out and it engulfed me and stayed in my nose and mouth for hours after I would run inside. It was a strong, creeping scent, something that I felt more than smelled. And it was definitely coming from next door.

I came home one day and found a slew of cops outside my door. When they saw me, they politely asked if they could come inside and ask me a few questions. Being a brand new New Yorker, I obliged almost excitedly until it dawned on me what they were doing here. The two cops stood in my kitchen and asked me how long I had lived there. When I said a week, they asked if I had seen the man next door in that time. I said no, I hadn’t. I only knew his rent bill still sat outside his door and indicated no one had been inside since it had been dropped off. The police told me they were guessing the man had been dead almost three weeks. Bora and another resident had called complaining about the smell. They told me to burn coffee grounds and not to come outside the door until they had removed the body. I put on the coffee and naturally watched through the peep hole and witnessed my first body bag being hauled off to the coroner. About a week later, workers came in and tore apart the entire apartment. The landlord told Bora that when a person dies in an apartment and heat is a factor like it was that summer, the smell never really leaves the apartment. Fun fact. Needless to say, that was a great first phone call home.

During that summer, I had a dress that I loved. It was a cotton strapless sundress from Target. I wore it almost every day in the sticky humidity. It was long, down to my ankles. The first time I wore it, I was meeting up with a friend that I had a pretty major crush on and hadn’t seen in a while. I felt good, looked cute, it was hot but I wasn’t sweating my makeup off yet. I left my apartment on 1st and walked all the way to 3rd before I had to wait for a light (to non-New Yorkers, this is a good distance walk). As I’m standing waiting for the light to change, the man standing next to me leans over and goes “Miss, you may want to check your dress. I don’t think you mean to wear it that way.” I looked at him quizzically and he nodded back behind me. I put my hands on my back and then lowered them to feel my dress bunched up around my butt. I turn and see that the bottom hem of my dress is completely and almost strategically tucked into my thong and my ass is exposed to all elements. Somehow, in the course of feeling good and pumping myself up for  victory with this guy, I had failed to realized in the sweltering heat of the afternoon that my ass was saying hello to every person walking about on the busy Upper East Side. I turned the color of a lobster, thanked the man, and frantically pulled the hem out of my panties and covered my pale white ass for good. I had no idea how many people behind or in front of me had seen this and not said anything. I walked with my head down and as fast as possible, feeling every eye on me and my recently covered buttocks.  Needless to say, I lost most of my confidence I had acquired for the day.

I saw my second and third dead bodies a few days after the first. I was riding the 6 train home and it was stalled due to a police investigation. Having been here 6 years, I know this is common, but I got a little nervous hearing it for the first time. No one else seemed panicked so I relaxed and waited, trying not to feel claustrophobic in the tunnel. Once we started crawling again, it was announced the train would be jumping to the next express stop. We emerged from the tunnel to be in full view of this police situation. As we crept by, I saw a body bag being zipped up (I was now a body bag expert) and another body laying slumped over a few feet away having it’s picture taken by CSI officers (I know my lingo). As we all crowded around the windows to peek at the crime scene, I sighed and said “Only in New York.” It was my first time uttering these words and if you’re a New Yorker, you know that’s the first rite of passage. We say this a lot because it’s true. Later that week, I attended a Broadway show closing party (my first of many without having been on Broadway yet) and watched a homeless man pee on another homeless man who was sleeping on my block.

I’ve had so many “Only in New York” moments since moving here but that first week was a challenge. Some people may have run away screaming. My love for this city runs deep and when I moved here, Manhattan decided to show me it’s deepest, dirtiest, grittiest, most embarrassing moments to start me off running and to let me know, the Big Apple takes no prisoners. And I love it for that.

I Should Really Be Working…

16 Aug

I’m pretty sure the internet has given me ADD. I’m amazed that I ever get anything done. Ever. Here’s the monologue that is typically running through my head.  Every. Single. Day.

9 am. Hmmm. I’m not feeling very motivated. Let’s just check the internet for a second before I settle in to work. Open up Firefox. GMail! Oh, no new messages except for sale notifications from Old Navy. I don’t really need anymore t-shirts. Or do I? You can never have too many t-shirts. Maybe they have some cute dresses. I’ll just go check it out…Oh, look at that dress. It’s pink! I like pink. It’s on sale??? I should totally buy it. I hate everything in my closet. This should spice things up…aaaand purchased. Why am I awesome at finding things at Old Navy? It’s a gift. And a curse.

Now, let’s see what’s what on the Facebook. Woo hoo, a notification! Rachel updated her status. Let’s see what she’s up to. Oh, she posted a photograph with a witty caption. I love those things. Haha. Ooh, what is that person doing? I haven’t thought about him in years. Click. Married??? Another one??? Gosh, I think I really am the last single person left on the planet. Ugh. Maybe I should try online dating again. Nah, that’s too much work. I’d have to go on dates and look cute and have forced, awkward conversations with guys. Gross. Dating is hard. Ok, time to get to work! Wait, maybe I have a new email….check GMail! Oh, nothing again? Weird.

All right, focus. Time to get this report done. Open Excel. Wait, I didn’t check Boston.com. Let’s see if there’s a new Love Letters posted! There is! Blah, another silly girl can’t decide between her relationship and her job. It’s all about balance! You tell her, Meredith. Why do I read this blog every day? Oh, right, because I like hearing about other people’s problems and misfortunes. What does that say about me? Do *I* have a problem? No, judging other people is totally normal. Ok, moving on…what are today’s headlines? Another shooting? Politics are out of control!  A little girl is missing. These stories are so depressing. I should stop reading these. Traffic accident on 93 snarls the morning commute. People are crazy drivers! I’m so glad I don’t have to drive to work. Another shark spotted on Cape Cod! Sharks! Ooooh, it’s Shark Week! I should really watch some of that. Google! Great White Sharks…yikes, they’re so big and scary. I don’t like sharks. Why am I looking at pictures of them? Oh, no, that one’s chasing a seal! Swim away, seal, swim away!

Seals are so cute. Cute animals are the best! I haven’t been to the Daily Squee in a while! What’s going on there? A tiny puppy in a teacup? Yes, please! Oh, I should pin this to my animal page on Pinterest. Aaaaand, pinned. Pinterest! I haven’t checked that out in a while. Oh, I can use a hanger to organize my flip flops? Genius! Look at all the things you can clean with Dawn, baking soda, and vinegar! I should really get all that stuff the next time I go grocery shopping. Then I can be a cleaning machine! Oh my god. A recipe for a chocolate milkshake with CHOCOLATE CAKE in it? I want to make the immediately. IMMEDIATELY! Maybe I should get a milkshake at lunch time. No, that’s silly. That’s not a healthy lunch at all.

Ooh, lunch. What time is it? I’m hungry. 9:45??? How can it only be 9:45? I should really, really, really get started on my “To Do” list. Buuuuut, I should also probably check Facebook again, just to see if I missed anything vitally important. Oooh, my mom “liked” that photo I posted yesterday. I should say hi to her. Go to mom’s timeline. Hi Mom! Hiiiii Mom! Look, a trending article about Ryan Lochte? Yes, I WILL read that. Thanks for the suggestion, Facebook. You know what site I haven’t been to yet today? Texts From Last Night. Reading about other people’s drunken mistakes? I love doing that! Oh! What Should We Call Me!!! Haha, look at that duck. “When I’ve ordered food and the doorbell rings”. I do that! That is me! I am that duck! Look how excited he is! I get that excited about food, too. I love this website. So many GIFs! Oh, wait, if I stare at this website for too long it gives me a headache. Bethany! Focus! Ok, seriously, it’s time to work! Maybe I should just check my GMail one more time first…

Man, those hamsters running on wheels in my brain to power it up must be EXHAUSTED.

Song of the Day: Sail by AWOLNATION

Old?

8 Aug

Although I will never, ever call myself an adult, I sometimes feel like someone older than my 28 years is trapped in my body. Like, much older.  She took it over surprisingly quickly and makes me do and say things I would not have done or said even 3 years ago.  Sure, sometimes I still like to go out and kick up my heels and party with the best of ‘em- just as long as I have two days to recover after. Below is a list I’ve compiled as evidence of my oldness:

I oftentimes find myself using the phrases “kids these days” and “when I was a kid”- as in “Kids these days don’t have any sort of work ethic!” and “When I was a kid, we did all of our research in books at the library!” Now, mind you, I technically belong to the same generation (the Millenials, woo hoo!) as the kids about whom I complain (generally college students at the institution of higher learning at which I am employed or the scary high school kids who are sometimes on my bus in the morning), but I feel like the differences between these kids and me are astronomical. No, I cannot find a job for you. Yes, you are expected to show up to work on time and actually do work. No, leggings are not appropriate interview attire.  Gosh, kids these days!

I no longer like sugary cereals. Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, and Cap’n Crunch all used to be a staple of my diet (up until quite recently, actually).  I now find myself cringing at the thought of eating any of those cereals and the inevitable ripping up of the inside of my mouth and sugary film left on my teeth if I were to consume any of the above. I’ll stick to my Kashi Go Lean Crunch with skim milk, thank you very much.

I have an anxiety attack when someone invites me out on a weeknight without any warning. I need to be in bed by 10 pm in order for me to get enough sleep to function the next day. Staying up any later than that AND being expected to socialize requires preparation and a Sugar Free Red Bull. Last night, I got distracted by my current arts and crafts project and it was well past 10 by the time I crawled into bed. I’ve been yawning all day and almost fell asleep at my desk as a result. I think this is the only thing Rachel makes fun of me for (well, probably not the only thing…). She calls me an old lady and gets mad when I don’t return her 11 pm texts until the next day.

I no longer have any problem getting up at 6 am on a daily basis- probably because I go to sleep so gosh darn early. Even just earlier this year, I dreaded the idea of getting up “early”. However, once I started making a habit of it, it just became normal. Bonus: I get to work early when I get up early. Imagine that! It’s amazing.

Now, this is something I’ve actually always done, but not only does it make me feel old, it also makes me look old. Whenever I’m driving a car, I sit super duper close to the steering wheel and I sit up very straight. Now, in my defense, I do have ridiculously short legs…but not short enough to justify sitting that close to the wheel. Even my mother makes fun of how I drive. I’m just not comfortable driving any other way! I like to be alert and ready for action at all times. All the other drivers on the road are crazy people and I don’t trust any of them.

I do not understand any of the clothing that young girls are currently wearing. At all. I understand that fashion and trends change, but when is it ever OK to wear shorts so short that your butt cheeks hang out the bottom? Never. It’s never OK. Not even on Halloween when all women are given the green light to dress like a prostitute (I myself dressed up as a very slutty vampire for 8 years in a row). Anyway, I don’t know why these girls think they look good or why their parents let them out of the house, but it needs to stop. I should not be able to see your undergarments through your pants. Belly buttons should be covered. And, for heaven’s sake, NO ONE LOOKS GOOD IN WHITE LEGGINGS. No one. Plus, don’t they just get dirty?

I hate Twitter and I refuse to join and/or learn how to use it. Isn’t Facebook enough??? This may not so much be evidence of me getting older- it’s just further evidence that Twitter is stupid.

I’m sure everyone can recall a time when  a grandmother or other older relative told them to stand up straight. I feel like that’s a very stereotypical thing for older people to tell younger people. It’s along the same lines of grumpy old men yelling at kids to get off of their lawn. However, I’ve started telling MYSELF to stand up straight. I frequently find myself slouching and remind myself that good posture makes you appear more confident and that proper body alignment is just good for you overall. I have apparently become my own Great Aunt Gertrude. I don’t actually have a Great Aunt Gertrude, but Gertrude was the name of my first car, a 1995 Ford Taurus that my grandmother gave to me. So, not only did I look like an old lady driving my car, I was actually driving an old lady car.
Song of the Day: Bach’s Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Minor, the Prelude, as performed by Yo-Yo Ma. This song has nothing to do with getting/feeling older, but I figured I’d play some classy music today to go along with my maturing personality 🙂