Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jamaican Me Crazy!

I am in the middle of a tumultuous love/hate relationship with my apartment right now. In all relationships, I suppose there are ups and downs. But I fear there is no compromise to be made on this one. The whole situation has become a prolonged agony; a torment between having to make a huge change that involves time, money and stress, or dealing with daily, nerve-wracking irritations that threaten a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Kensington ain't all its cracked up to be.....despite the obvious dinosaur.

I hate apartment hunting.

In the past six years or so, I have moved about....ehh.....I would say 10 times. This is a lot of schlepping, a lot of picking and choosing, a lot of money. And it seems that every time I move I end up spending more than I did last time.

I'm sick of it.

I thought that when I moved to Kensington, I'd be done. A place of my own....and in Brooklyn! (Elmhurst, Queens was not a happening place.) But no; yet again, there are problems...even worse than before, when it was just about space and location. Now it's a matter of sanity.

Let's review the pro's and con's of my Kensington abode....

PRO's (I'm not leaving the best for last, 'cause I'm eager to end loudly on the angry points)
  • Proximity to @ Prospect Park - it's only a couple of blocks away to trees, greenery and ducks
  • Proximity to Q Train - we all know this is the only reliable, true Express train
  • Over 700 sq. ft of room.....for all of our crap; ie, clothes, books, paperwork, somebody's eclectic record/DVD/CD collection, more clothes, more books......
  • Sunny - almost too much so, but I need my Vitamin D since I never get to see the light of day during 10+ working hours
  • Cheapo - $1200 a month is a good price these days for a place that doesn't resemble a dilapidated cardboard box
Neighborhood - though very mutli-cultural, there is not much to do for a twenty-something (who hardly gets free time in the first place). No one likes to visit "us all the way out here" (by the way: fuck you "no one"), and there are no restaurants that stay open passed 7pm....except for KFC. And we've relented on the fried chicken many times, much to the dismay of our bowels.

Landords - are useless. They smoke pot all day - which, whatever, I don't have a problem with - but if this keeps you from say, doing your job, then I would say it's a problem. Also, still waiting for him to fix the radiator which is emitting massive amounts of heat. We need to keep the window open and the fan on in the middle of winter just to breathe.

Cockroaches - they are in my sink. Their babies are under the coffee maker. They are dead in my toaster and their carcasses are hiding in my cabinets. Disembodied bug legs and antennae are causing us allergies. Cooking? What, so I can have some roach eggs in my soup? I don't think so.

We also had to chase a silverfish before it got to our bed. Do you know how fast those things are? It moves like a fucking cheetah on speed.....only with SIXTEEN LEGS. Yeah, not happy.

Mice - doesn't worry me too much. I think they are coming from the apartment below us, which leads me to my next crucial point....

Noise - this encompasses many things:
  • ...the Jamaicans below us playing shitty reggae at all hours of the day AND night, which shakes our walls and floors, and beats repetitively under our pillows
  • ...those same Jamaicans throwing things around their apartment as they SCREAM at each other at 7am. (I believe I've heard "No man can stand you!" and "Don't you touch him, he's only 8!", at which point I almost called child services.)
  • of their kids actually threatened to kill me while Ryan was home, then proceeded to taunt him through the floor by yelling, banging and BARKING as if in a drug-induced craze.
  • ...and finally, the people next door to us playing shitty Gospel music, blaring through our kitchen, thus entrapping us within a bubble of bass-blasting misery.
*DISCLAIMER: the only reason I am calling them Jamaicans is a.) I don't know their surnames, and nothing else with which to identify them, and b.) they are, in fact, Jamaican. So, no I am not racist; I don't care who the hell they are, I just want them to shut the fuck up.

I just want a place that I can come home to after a long day of feeling completely exhausted, angered by commuters and frustrated with society, to just REST. Without having to whip out the Raid.....reel in agony over the digestive effects of take-out.....or stomp angrily on the floor whilst my entire body succumbs to the vibrations of the same goddamn notes of bongo drums EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!

I just want a place to call home.

As you might have already realized, I'm a little worked up about this issue. Finding a place has become both my dream and my secret hell, as all my sanity seems to both depend and hang on its balance.

So I ask, have you any advice?
Any leads? Any neighborhoods that I should grace with my unkosher presence?
(There's also a poll to the right if you want something short and sweet.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Technical Difficulties

After several attempts at writing today, Tara has continued to hit a brick wall. This, as you may imagine, has proved less than helpful, as brick walls to the head are quite traumatic.

Our apologies for the lull. Hopefully, after a good night's sleep and a slap in the face, the unkosher girl will be back in all her whining glory.

Friday, March 19, 2010

This Is Not About the MTA, Is It....?

I have anger issues.

I realized this over the previous weekend after bitching out an MTA employee. Usually, I would maintain the belief that anyone who works for the MTA deserves this, as they seem to care nothing about anyone, and generally have no soul (except of course those guys who announce the stops like they're the radio jockey for Lite FM. Those guys got soul.)

But granted, they do work long hours and get screwed by the system (let us not forget the recent strike.) And this isn't my first time bitching someone out. Since I've started living in New York and grown some balls after a highly awkward childhood, I've had many a hot-headed encounter with persons of authority.

First there was the small incident of being reprimanded for unpacking my NYU dorm boxes from our family truck on move-in day. The police officer (or "traffic cop," which though sightly less intimidating is probably the most accurate) sternly instructed me to move our vehicle from the side of Water Street, as it was against standing room policy. I, dripping with sweat and already freaking out over carrying six large bins of crap up to the 15th floor (while mom complained about ridiculous amount of said crap) promptly began to yell my exasperated rant on the corner for all to hear:


Needless to say, mom was quite startled that I had the gall to back-talk a police officer. He did leave us alone......but that's probably because he thought I was crazy.

The next time I flew off the handle, was in Ohio. Ryan and I had rented a car to drive back to NY with all his stuff (why do I always seem to be in the process of moving! No wonder I'm so stressed...) Everything was all reserved a month in advance and I was feeling dandy as we approached the Avis counter at the airport....until he informed me that my credit card was invalid.
Me: Why is it invalid?
Indifferent Employee: Because it's a debit card.
Me: Yes, but it's also a credit card.
Indifferent Employee: The system won't read it as such.
Me: Why didn't they tell me when I was GIVING MY CARD INFO OVER THE PHONE A MONTH AGO??!!!
Indifferent Employee: I don't know.
Me: I NEED THIS CAR TODAY! I have no other way of getting back to NY! How can I pay for it?! I can give you CASH-
Indifferent Employee: We don't take cash, only credit cards.
Me (to Ryan): Maybe we can use your mom's card for now....
Indifferent Employee: But she would have to be the one to drive the car if it's in her name.
Me: WHaaaAAAA???!!!^%(^&#*^)#$*@($)!#(!!!????
Cue ballistics.

In a slew of tears, swear words and most likely some crazy spastics, I chewed the indifference right out of that mofo. That's when he called airport security. Ryan, meanwhile, hid behind the counter and tried to forget he ever knew me.

You can call it rebellion, or PMS, or even temporary insanity. I call it lack-of-patience-cause-I-live-in-freaking-NYC. And yes, perhaps, I have a bit of a problem with managing my anger.

Can you really blame me though? After years of being so eager to please, the exemplary student that was just scraping by, I wanna get mad. If you push me, I'm gonna push back.

But I think that sometimes, things can get out of hand. And it's gotten to the point that my fuse goes off without me even thinking about, or realizing that I'm acting out of raw, raging emotion. My bout with the MTA is an example of that.

It was the night of the torrential downpour. It was 2am. We were tired and waterlogged. Luckily, we caught a Q and were making our way back to our lovely Kensington cockroach-infested abode. The Q stops at Atlantic/Pacific to this announcement:

"Due to a downed tree on the Q line, all service is suspended until further notice."

That's it? No other alternatives? No "sorry we're leaving you in the cold and rain tonight to fend for yourselves"? No sympathy for those who cannot afford a cab?

I was fuming.

After exiting the train, I marched right up to the MTA man in his reflective vest, a train attendant standing nonchalantly behind him in her sunglasses (?), and commanded him to tell me how the hell I was supposed to get back home if there were no freaking trains running to where I needed to go.

He looked at me with no emotion whatsoever and shook his head. "I don't know."

Damn I wish I could use the phrase "I don't know" for every single answer to god-knows-what!
"Do you know how to do your job?"
"I don't know."
"Well gee, sir, I'm sorry to trouble you with such a silly question; as if you'd know, wearing that shitty MTA yellow vest and everything."

If people don't think I know, they'll leave me alone! I bet this is what this guy was thinking. I wasn't settling for that.

"Where are you going?" he finally asked, once I wouldn't shut up. A crowd had formed around me: I was speaking for the masses!

"I need to get to Church Ave, the Q stop. To Kensington"
"You can take the IRT line."
"That WHAT? What are we in the fucking '80s? What the fuck are you talking about."
"The 1, 2, 3 line, number lines. Take it to Brooklyn College."
"Are you on crack???! That is nowhere near where I just told you I'm going!"
The woman behind him just stared on. I couldn't tell if she was just enjoying the show, or if she was in fact dead inside.

I stormed off, cursing and thanking him for being such an asshole. Ryan stared at me as if I had unleashed my inner She-Hulk. I had actually convinced myself that my confrontation was nothing more than an exasperated plead for advice. But, according to Ryan, it was more like raging-bitchtastic-spit-flying-tirade.

After sharing a cab ride home with a very nervous Jewish waiter/ex-personal trainer (which happened to calm me down a bit - I was upstaged by neuroticism) it finally hit me. I was uncalled for. I was out of control. I was angry. And it made me feel so awful inside, that I could turn into such a monster of a person. But I don't think it had anything to do with the MTA....but perhaps it did have to do with Authority.

So, wherever you are, sleepy-looking MTA employee. I hope that you can forgive me for my harsh behavior. Please don't throw yourself in front of a train: I'm sure you were just over-worked and pissed off by New Yorkers, like you are every day. Just like me.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY!: Wedding Bell Blues

For my ongoing theme of planes, trains and automobiles within the history of the Strombergs, below is my mother's romantic recollection of her memorable wedding to my father, 24 years ago. It is a tale of Newark hitchhiking, creepy Poconos hotels, death-defying leaps, and the quirky beginning to our family.

*[My wisdom-infused comments in italicized shed a modern light.]
Then night before the wedding, I traveled from Brooklyn to the then unknown [to me] territory of Newark, New Jersey to pick up Aunt Nancy from the airport. At the time I drove a 1 year old Hyundai. The plane was delayed and the terminal of arrival was changed, so sometime after midnight after riding around to find the other terminal (Newark was small and its terminals and roads not well indicated back then) I picked up Aunt Nancy, started home and probably due to the late hour or my stress level or poor driving I bottomed out on a raised concrete fork in the road where there was some road construction.

So there we were, trying to flag down some help in Newark, NJ, after midnight (remember no cell phones back then; three women, alone - one with bright red hair - in Newark). A noisy, battered-up, suspicious looking car pulled up to help, immediately followed by a much nicer sedan that pulled up to the side of the creepy car exchanged some words, and the creepy car drove off. Three off-duty policeman came out of the sedan to offer there help (lucky us).

They asked if I lived nearby. Nope, of course; I was from Brooklyn. "Can your Dad or Mon come and get you?" Nope, no Dad, and Mom doesn't drive. [Mom was only 25 at the time.] I explained the circumstances: I'm getting married in a few hours. My fiancee is out with his buddies (again the era of no cell phones).

Little did I know Dad was out with Uncle Robbie jumping off the Highlands Bridge at the time! [I guess this was their idea of a bachelor party. For his wedding, he had some nice barnacle-ravaged hands.]

Anyway, the very kind policeman helped calm me down (I was pretty upset) and took my bridesmaids to dinner, while one of them took me to rent a car and vouch for me (at the time a driver under the age of 25 could usually not rent a car). I rented a car, picked up the girls at dinner, and drove home to Brooklyn. Only about 6-7 hours left.

I showed up at my wedding in great rented car (Dad though it was wedding surprise ha ha.) We took the car to our honeymoon in the Poconos. We were traveling late at night in the fog and stopped for directions (remember no google maps, no cell phones...)
[Yes mom, I understand, we have it SO much better nowadays.]

We ended up at a deserted hotel in the process of construction (it looked finished). The doores opened when we entered, whereupon a security guard came up and asked us if we saw Joe (don't actually remember the name he asked). He didn't ask who we were or why we were there in an emplty lobby after midnight. We asked about lodgings, he said the hotel had not opened yet (eerily, we got in with no problem) He suggested a boarding house at the end of the main street, we thanked him. He seemed worried about Joe and took off looking for him. This gave us the creeps and Dad and I quickly returned to our rented car and headed toward a major highway.

Never knew what that whole thing was about. Sounds too much like film noir or Twilight Zone.

On the way home from the honeymoon while traveling through NYC, I needed to stop for gas and got off the FDR drive in Manhattan. After getting gas and looking for the entrance back onto the FDR drive through some side streets, a man ran out between two parked cars to catch a bus, running right into the passenger side of my car, striking the passenger windshield and side window. It was horribly frightening. The man had a huge bump on his forehead, like in the cartoons; it grew as we were tending to him. There was a hospital riight across the street, where he was treated.
He was released that day.
Ominous happenings, eh?
We got married anyway...with success."
As always with the Strombergs, even through the craziest of shenanigans, things tend to work out. Like me, for instance.

.....Although, I suppose this is open to interpretation.

3/23 Update
And just for the record, here is come clarification from my dad:
"The car was a Renault Alliance not a Hyundai...The Hyundai, I totaled running into a toilet bowl after going through the front of a house on Union Ave."
Thanks for clearing that up, dad.......Wait-what?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moses Supposes

Someone asked me if I was Jewish on the subway today.

This could only have been due to the following:
a.) She was reading a Hebrew book, and thought I was reading along intently as I was forced to  strap-hang like a vulture over her seat.
b.) She's lonely and wants a Jew-friend, or is a bit odd and wants to spread the Jew-word
c.) She thinks I look Jewish.

I will have to assume here that c.) is the most probable here, since I have much experience in being perceived as a Jewish-looking gal. This is the entire basis for my documentary; for the theme of this blog even. I think I can tell when someone is intermittently looking up from their beloved book of Hebrew-isms to get a glimpse of my face, which, with my glasses on usually looks something like this:
Minus the 'stache. Even though I am Italian, my hair is concentrated on areas other than my face. Unfortunately, the Italian nose remained.

I hate to say it (and I'm including myself in this horrible stereotype here, even though I am a goy), but if you've got a big nose...maybe a little bump on the bridge....a hook or a bend...people automatically assume you're of Jewish decent.

I have proof:

In my doc, I asked about 10 strangers to tell me why they thought I was Jewish. About half of them pointed to my nose, regardless of common courtesy. I didn't ask them to judge based on my appearance....and none of them stopped to ask if I even was Jewish to begin with, or why I was asking them a question that couldn't possibly be answered based on a purely superficial conjecture.

I don't get it; no other ethnicity or religious group seems to be so publicly inquisitive. It's not like someone would come up to you and ask, "Hey, you Hispanic? You're not by chance a Muslim, are you? Let me ask you something, are you black?"

And what do you say to a Jew who asks essentially asks, "Are you just like me"?

"No, but I could be!"
"Yeah...funny thing about that.." Then run.
Punch them in the yarmulke.
"I actually believe in, at least, I used to...I mean....shit."

From now on, I'm just gonna point to the shnoz.

Monday, March 15, 2010

RE: Flashback Friday: Mom Speaks of the Curse!

After sharing with you all on Friday my family's long heritage of car woes, I was blessed with a wonderful reply.....from my mom.

She left it on my Facebook page using dad's login. At first I thought I was in the doghouse (sorry ma; I could have sworn we were running someone over in a fit of maternal emotion!.....Perhaps, being an imaginative child, I was just making up a more exciting story in my mind); but Mommy Stromberg just wanted to clarify a few things, for the record:
"I never almost ran ANYONE over. That car got a flat tire on the belt Parkway in Brookyn with grandma, Aunt Sis, and Uncle Artie and you in the car. I was about 8 months pregnant. I pulled the car over to the shoulder of the Belt Parkway with light snow falling and me, 8 months pregnant, trying to flag down some help. With no luck. After about 30 minutes with no aid at about 12 midnight, I decided to ride on the flat to the exit ramp to the nearest gas station. It was late and the gas attendant would not let us put the car in the garage, as there was no one at this late hour to help. He said leave the car over night and the garage people will attend to it in the morning. We went to grandma's house (by car sevice) and called dad , (who promptly scolded me for riding on the flat and probably damaging the rim). About 25 minutes later I got a call from the garage, stating my car had been broken into while parked at the gas station. The attendant told the criminals (not knowing they were criminals at first) to get out of the car after they had broken in. They left with some of dashboard, but at least the car was not stolen. The next day we road home with a replacement tire, which unbeknownst to me was the WRONG size; all the way home the car shook and rattled, scaring this 8 months pregnant lady to death. Again dad scolded me because the gas station had put the wrong tire on. (Of course, my fault).

You forgot the car that had NO REVERSE. I had to park on high ground so I could roll out of a parking spot, or push it. There was the car with no key, it had a permanent screwdriver in the ignition to start it. One of these two also had a driver door that would NOT open and the driver side window did not work; someone had to sit shot gun if you went thru a toll. Then there was the car that stalled and you had to bang the starter with a hammer to get it to work. An Dad's white convertible had to be filled with oil EVERY time you drove it, as it leaked profusely as you drove. Don't forget the car we had to push and then pop the clutch to get it started, luckily it was small."
Well, damn, she's better at this than me. Thank you mom, for sharing more wonderful memories that I seem to have forgotten, and for letting everyone know where I get my sarcasm from. You gotta have a sense of humor to deal with the trials and tribulations of the Strombergs. Luckily, we do. 

Thanks Mom. <3

Friday, March 12, 2010

FLASHBACK FRIDAY!: The Stromberg Family Car Curse

Sure, I'll do a theme every week. Why not?

And why shouldn't it have something to do with my childhood, since that seems to be my fixation? (I know, I know I write about it all the time.....well guess what? Deal with it.)

*Last night I was able to dig up some concept characters from an old NYU Animation course. Lili, the cartoon depiction on the left of my real-life little sis (and her fishie), seemed like the perfect mascot for Flashback Fridays.

I figured I would start off with a great piece of Stromberg family lore:

The Infamous Stromberg Family "Carrrr Currrse"
::cue spooky music, thunder claps::

For as long as I can remember, my family has owned the crappiest cars known to man. We have never had the luxury of a brand new or certified pre-owned beauty; only sad clunkers, pre-used by other folks in their four-wheeled glory days, but too abused by time to be reaped of its transportation benefits by the Stromberg clan. And through the struggles of failing transmissions, broken windows and noisy mufflers, my father still insisted on maintaining a long lineage of half-assed purchases.

I am convinced that somewhere in Stromberg history, we must have royally pissed off a car. Perhaps there's something rotten in my namesake's history of engines. Nevertheless, this curse has been passed onto the next generation, ie me, for my luck with cars did not get any better once I got my license. I learned to identify the smell of anti-freeze before it even started leaking. (This is why I live in NY and take public transportation.)

Anyway, here are some of the highlights of the Stromberg transportation heritage. Or should I say, here lie the ghosts of Stromberg past. May they forever rest in pieces.

Mom's Hyundai
Admittedly, it was a great little car. However, when it was broken into in Brooklyn, and the entire dashboard was stolen, mom dec</span>ided it was best to move to New Jersey. I also distinctly remember sitting in this car as a child while my mom pulled away angrily, as an insurance (or some other corporate asshole) stood waving his arms to try to get her from leaving, and nearly running him over. Don't deny it mom. It's okay. Cuz that's pretty bad-ass.

Dad's White Convertible
Dad's baby. It had a pre-ripped black leather interior that would heat up like a frying pan in the sun, a black cloth top, and a decal of a naked woman bending over (that was always awkward). Dad would play the same Alice Cooper cassette over and over on the way to softball games. But the car had no heat, and it broke down at least every week.

Dad's Big Ugly Grave Digger
Dad's bigger baby. It was a bright yellow monster with a crappy pipe design on the side doors. When you started the engine, the whole neighborhood roared, and you most likely experienced an apocalyptic heart attack. There were also fist-sized spiders hiding in the back.

My mom HATED this truck, claiming it never worked and wasn't worth the money. But I will never forget that
day in 2nd grade when that huge monster came chugging into our elementary school parking lot. Every kid out there dropped their jaws in awe; I felt like a queen as I was lifted up 3 feet to sit in the passenger seat and waved to all the gawking parents and their boring two-door coupes. It was the best day of my 7 year old life.

Chevrolet Silver Lumina Van
We were so excited t
o finally have a VAN big enough to fit our ever-growing family! And it had working features! It was used, but it was still new to us. However, things started deteriorating after a few years. The sliding door could only be opened from the outside, while the front drivers side door could only be opened from the inside. The CD player didn't work (major bummer) and sometimes the engine would overheat, which resulted in a cascade of antifreeze to pour out from under the hood.

On the way back from grandma's on Rte 8 in Jersey, our radio kept going in and out: the battery was dying. We pulled onto the side of the road, as I sadly left the Entemann's crumb donut grandma had given me behind on the dashboard. We entered a bar to wait for dad to show up. This is when we realized that it was half bar/half chinese restaurant that also sold fried chicken and burgers. An old man stood in the corner creepily meowing like a cat, while a Steven Seagal movie played on TV.

This van may have died for a two year hiatus, collecting leaves and grime in our driveway while we still had to pay insurance, but then it was back with a brand new engine; just in time for me to get my license at 18....and subsequently crash it during a botched left turn, leaving a gaping hole in the front.

Two Lincoln Continentals
They were comfy, low to the ground, and classy for a Stromberg car. But they were old. The ceiling was caving in and the mufflers were fucked so much that it sounded like a motorcycle driving down the highway.

I started driving our Continental to high school, which was an hour away. One particular spring day after class, I decided to follow a group of friends to the beach, which was only about 10 minutes away. We had only traveled a few feet when I hear a horrible scraping noise.

"Geez, who's car is making that annoying sound? Doesn't sound good."

My friend Esther and I looked out the window and saw someone in the next car signaling us frantically with their hands.

"Oh, shit. It's me."

At the beach I made the startling discovery that my muffler was dragging behind the car, hanging by a thread. A friend tied it up with twine temporarily, but warned me it wouldn't last long. Back at the school parking lot I called my dad:
Me: "Dad, there's something wrong with the car..."
Dad: "SHIT! What did you do?"
Me: "....Nothing! The muffler is hanging by a thread, it looks like it's gonna fall-"
>Me: "...we tied it up with some twine..."
Dad: "That's gonna catch fire! That COCKSUCKER! I put a Pepsi can on it; I thought that would hold it!"
Me: "You put a WHAT????"
Dad: "Listen, this is what you gotta do. Get a wire hanger, and bend it, then wrap it around-"
Me: "Dad, I don't know how to do that!"
Dad: "Why can't the janitor do it?"
So, there I am, at the end of the day, crouching next to my principal who is laying under my car as he wraps a wire hanger around the muffler. He is still wearing his suit.

Tara's 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger
My first car ever. My dad pushed me to get it, since he was the one who really appreciated it, but I fell in love easy. Quite simply, this car was HOT. I got more looks from dudes than I had ever gotten before (...mostly they were drooling over the car, not me). But it didn't matter; I had high hopes for this pin-up on wheels. I was gonna get it re-vamped, with some sky blue paint and a radio that played more than just the AM stations.

But this thing was 30 years old, and it showed. The floor was rotting away; there were two bowling ball sized holes on near the gas pedal, so when I drove, I worried about it turning it into the Flinstone's car. Neither the heat nor the AC functioned, and the entire dashboard would shake if you went over 60 mph. It also cost me $1,200 for a new transmission.

But I shall always remember it fondly.


Tune into Flashback Friday next week when I share a Matlock Memory!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You say tomato, I say....PICKLES!

I'm beginning to notice lately that I'm not like the others. You normal blogging-folk. But, granted, I'm not your normal 24 year old. Sometimes I wonder if this detracts from readers who are seeking the usual fare: those who share their American Idol faves, their daily dieting woes, or pics of cool shoes they wish they had. Some write about their political opinions, or share interesting facts about technology. Or cupcakes.

I don't watch enough TV. I like eating. And I hate politics. I'm pretty meh about cupcakes. (But I do love pickles.)

I mostly write about cleaning out drains. And whine. And assume that people enjoy learning about the not-so-crazy escapades of my weekend.

At first I worried about this......Ok, I still worry about this. But I can't help that I don't easily fit into a mold. It's like trying to stick a star through a square. Too many pointy parts.

Here are some topics that seem to set me apart from the usual blogging fare:

Like, Totally My Fave Things <3
My childhood consisted of me teetering between being a tomboy and a girlie-girl. Well, let me rephrase that....between wanting to be a tomboy, but actually being a girl. In the end, I realized that me not liking normal girlie things was just the simple fact that I was a little bit odd. Unique, is what I prefer to call it. (But we don't know this word when we're 6.)

Here are a list of my all-time favorite things, from childhood to present, to give you an idea of the inner turmoil I endured between normality and oddity, and why I might not be an average 20-something blogger...

Fave Toys
  • Barbies & Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Polly Pockets & Micro Machines
  • Disney Play Peoples, and putting live ants into potentially dangerous situations
Fave Movies
  • I was obsessed with Star Wars....(I had a crush on Luke Skywalker. I wished I was Princess Leia. I had a subscription to Star Wars Insider. You can kiss my ass.)
  • I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid (there was a giant Ariel painted on my wall. Top that.)
Fave Books
  • "The Babysitter's Club" & Chuck Palahniuk
  • "The Boxcar Children" & JD Salinger
  • A book featuring different shaped milk splats. For reals.
Fave Activity
  • Softball.....though I was deathly afraid of the ball.
  • Not bike riding.....didn't learn that till I was 13.
  • Playing house.....though for some reason I was always the dad.
Fave Food
  • Bacon (no more than 15 pieces)
  • Pickles (in a bowl)
  • Whipped Cream (also in a bowl, eaten after pickles)
My god, no wonder I turned out the way I did. (And thus, the blog audience dwindles...)

Fashion Smashion
I was not always into what I wore; my mother chose my clothes up until elementary school. I had some faves:
  • Black & White patterned culottes (short skirt with black spandex shorts underneath - so early 90s!)
  • Yellow plaid wool-looking shirt (I wore this every freaking day in 5th grade. The only time I will ever wear a plaid shirt, again, due to the recent mass influx of plaid wearing hipsters.)
  • Culotte Dress (look to the right...stripes AND polka dots!)
When I got to middle school, I realized that I could buy my own clothes. My idea of rebellion was buying hordes of G+G apparel, such as a platinum silver t-shirt that said "What If?" in chunky lettering. (It's like "As If?," only more existential!) Looking back, I suppose that in itself was my punishment.

In high school, the mantra was always "I must I must I must increase my bust." I hadn't really grown them yet. Too bad my face hadn't grown in yet either. But I did have lots of leg. To hell with the index finger rule!

It wasn't until college that I began to realize the importance of wearing something that not only made you feel good, but didn't try to compensate for anything. (Here in NY, everyone looks fabulous. You don't want to fall behind, or make apparent the fact that you're from New Jersey.) But here's where I probably differ from the status quo folks...

Don't get me wrong,
I love shopping. I am impulsive, and addicted to buying things that will fill the gaping emptiness inside my soul; at least temporarily. However, I'm not one to pounce on any new trend that the fashion industry tries to shove down my throat. Inspiration? Yes. Let me be inspired to buy something cheaper and more interesting than your boring, grey ensemble and the purse that looks like a metallic garbage bag. Let's face it, you're talking about a girl who wears lederhosen with blue, white and black striped stockings, which make my legs look like poisonous Amazonian snakes. I've got my own set of fashion rules.

Yo, look me in the eye when I'm talkin' to you.
  1. Got a fancy-shmancy gathering? Finally nice outside? Need to dress to impress? No LBDs (Little Black Dresses) here. I always go with the LN2: "LittleNeonNumber".
  2. Brighter is better.
  3. No single article of my clothing is more than $25 (with the exception of shoes and dresses, which should be under $50.) If I don't spend that much on what I feed myself, then why the hell should I clothe myself in that kinda dough?
  4. You're only young once. Don't dress boring; there's tons of time to do that when you're old.
  5. Take advantage of thrifting.

Fashion is a great way to be creative and be yourself. Not rape your wallet and turn you into an UGGs-wearing poster girl for a nation of fashion zombies.

Rant ended. (This is the last time I blog about fashion. I promise.)

Pop Culture
I have a confession to make: I read Perez Hilton. I too am a sucker for cheap gossip about other people fucking up their lives. Yet, I think this is just a natural human tendency. Sort of like passing the car accident on the turnpike. You just can't look away.

However, I don't often blog about pop culture. First of all, there are PLENTY of people doing that already. (Just google "Gaga"...I doubt you'll find any drooling babies.) I'm sure if you wanted to read those sorts of things, you would go to say, Mr. Hilton, instead of me. (Perhaps, most of you do, and right now I'm talking to absolutely no audience whatsoever.)

I will say this: I've met Perez. He lived in a pig sty and almost slept through our JLo interview. And to top it off, he hardly acknowledged the crew. So much for being outspoken.

If you ever meet me, I guarantee to talk your damn ears off.

Monday, March 8, 2010

RACSO is OSCAR Spelled Backwards

Last night was the 2nd annual Oscar party at Brian's place! (Brian has surround sound speakers, a Nintendo Wii, Super NES, hoards of food provided by his [Jewish] mother , and a wide screen TV with digital cable - in other words, opposite of my apartment. Hence, his domain is almost always the designated party location.)

Even though I lost the Oscar pool, we all had a great time getting all Mystery Science Theater on that shit. While my attitude towards the Oscars certainly has changed, as I've explained before, there were still many laughs to be had.

Here's a list of things you may have missed during the Oscars in between chip-dips:
  • George Clooney could often be seen staring down Alec Baldwin with the evil eye, making odd faces for the annoying camera that seemed to show or humorously bobbing his head to the epic orchestral music. Extra points for opting towards a less serious and more goofball Oscar attitude.
  • Anyone notice Samuel L. Jackson's little eye roll after Mo'nique's speech? Yeah, he knows. Girl has attitude. Even Sam Jack's like, "Damn woman."
  • Music by Prudence producer pulls a Kanye. Here's why.
  • I was never really a horror movie fan, but after being Ryan's main squeeze (and he is the horror master), I should be knowledgeable about these things at least by association. So, yeah that horror reel was pretty bad. If it can't make me flinch it must have failed.
  • Is it just me, or does T-Bone Burnett look EXACTLY like James Cameron, circa 10 years ago? We were all convinced he was switching identities back and forth between commercial breaks to covet the Oscar. Why else would he be wearing eh?
  • There is a freakish looking man sitting behind Helen Mirren. In Ryan's words, "it looks like Jerry O'Connell's face exploded."
  • I honestly don't understand how you can dance to orchestral soundtrack music. Nor do I understand how break-dancing and the robot are justifiable in this instance. I'd rather sit through Randy Newman singing two songs then watch this crap. Suddenly, we all collectively begin to imagine how Randy Newman would sing a narrative to the dancing action, sort of like this.
For a slightly more mature interpretation of Oscar night, visit my film blog.

Tales of a Drain Delver

Saturday was beautiful. The sun was out, the temperature was mild, and I felt free. Free from work, free from worry, and anxious for spring.

After taking a walk in Prospect Park, I begrudgingly returned to my messy apartment and realized, "I have no time to dilly-dally." My kitchen is covered in a graveyard of plastic Vitamin Water bottles, there's a sink full of encrusted oatmeal bowls, and my tub is covered in a layer of grime from the stagnant water refusing to go down the drain.

So much for a relaxing day off.

I left the kitchen for Ryan. I will handle any bodily liquid, excrement or foul animal substance. I do not fear blood. In fact, since I'm the only one in my family that can stomach such things. (We soon learned in my family that having dad change diapers and cleaning up puke usually resulted in more puke.) However, when it comes to handling soggy, smelly food, count me the fuck out.

I could never have been a waitress. Just the sight of other people's leftovers makes me gag. Anyone who chews with their mouth open, or uses their fingers to eat, deserves to have their face slammed down into their plate. Cleaning out the sink drain of its putrefied remains is equally appalling; which is why I opted for the tub drain instead.

Let me explain to you that this was an hour long ordeal. This was not pour some chemicals and watch your trouble drain away. This was a tie your hair up, get the bleach, get on your hands and knees, and perform surgery on this mofo.

First I scrubbed the grime off the bottom of the tub. Don't do this before you clean the drain. You will be pissed when you realize that this was all for naught. I found out the hard way.

I stuck on the rubber gloves, reached into the drain, and started pulling out what appeared to be a hairy mass of globular....something. It was not pretty. Think creepy girl from the The Ring.

Or this:
I thought for a moment of all the different substances that possibly made up this blob-like creature that was hanging from my clenched rubber hands. Head & shoulders? Feet grime? Snot rockets? Better not to question.

I managed to get most of it out and ran the water, expecting the waters to clear. But no! A grimy film still clang to the surface of the puddle, as I, dejected, slumped over the side of the tub.

That's when I got the hanger. Twisted it into two prongs for prying. Then dove in. I scraped and reached for whatever gobbilty-gook that remained. It was pitch dark; I couldn't see. All I got were glimpses of a slimy grey mass peaking through a watery abyss. It was like I was performing a fucking abortion on my tub drain for chrisssakes.

By the end of the evening, I had gotten nowhere with this drain debacle, and it was once again covered in a battleground of hair and grime. I left for dinner with hands smelling like mildewed rubber. You win this time, tub. But I'll be back. With the acidic vengeance of a bottle of Drano.

That night, Ryan and I had dinner at Zen Sushi on St. Mark's with co-workers Ben and Wen. (Sounds like an early reader verse....."Ben and Wen went out to Zen for some ra-men"....) We've gone to this place a couple of times before; they're always crowded, but they have half-priced sushi and some decent chicken dishes.

Afterward, upon reading the check, he realizes they've charged him full price. We explain this to the Asian waiter, who sort of rudely accuses Ben of sharing with Wen. This is a stupid assumption, since Wen had already eaten dinner at a table close-by nearly 4o minutes before; she hadn't touched his food. Yet the waiter still INSISTS she's shared, as her chopstick is lying in his soy sauce. (Blasphemy!)

You can't just slap on a sharing price without a warning. And even if we were lying (which we were not), the customer is always right.

He finally agreed to take down the price. But when he came back with the receipt, there was an extra service charge already added!

Ben proceeded to scribble the words "Bad Service" on the receipt, as well as an angry face for emphasis. This is more or less what he drew:
Ryan and I stared at it for a bit, then a look of muted horror passed between us both. Somehow even a rude waiter didn't deserve to be the victim of even an unintentional racial slur.

He crossed it out quickly. And drew a proper unhappy face; no stereotypes this time. I may be unkosher, but I have my boundaries. Except when it comes to comparing abortions to cleaning drains.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pun in a Million! [::nudge nudge::]

My friend Phil* had an idea for a script once that was based entirely on the use of puns. He titled it, quite aptly, "Pun in a Million." (just thought I'd clear that up in case you thought I was trying to take credit for it. I'm not that clever guys!)

In reality, I've never been one to pun. I'll be the first to admit my jokes are pretty wamp-wah in nature, but I haven't sunk to the embarrassingly father-like humor of punnery; the kind your dad will repeat over and over again as his trademark line. Case in point, Daddy Stromberg: "You want some furniture, IKEA. You talk back to me, IKEA." (Har har har)

I notice a lot of blogs utilize paronomasia in their titles, which is mostly where the inspiration for "Goy Vey" was born. This is mainly the extent of my pun-ability. I often wonder if this was a bad choice....does this devalue my writing? Do I sound like I'm actually a glasses-wearing dork who secretly laughs at her own bad jokes?........Ahh, shit ::looks in mirror::

I guess I'm sort of a fan of clever puns that focus on grammatical wordplay, like these fine blogging gals:

Hyperbole and a Half
My Inflammatory Writ
Some Whine With Cheese

I love goofing around with words. Ryan and I (and whomever agrees to join into our world of odd hobbies) love taking random strange and magnificent phrases we overhear or suddenly blurt out to be later used as band names and titles for our future-imagined book of memoirs. It's become quite a past time.

Most of the greats have been lost over time. So I've started writing them down in an effort to share their glory with others. So without further ado, here is the list (thusfar) of Memoir Titles/Band Names/Album Titles (What Have You)....

"Sorry for My Greasy Napkin"
"I Opened My Mouth and My Teeth Got Cold"
"Boomerang of Knowledge"
"Dancing for Whispers"
"This Is What a Rainbow Sounds Like"
"Express Walk to Harlem"
"Johnny Depp's Sweat Stains"
"Sexy Virus"
"Always an Adventure at the Mic"
"City Red"
"Sweatin' in the Grocery Store"

Try it. Good times will be had by all.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Books, Glorious Books!

I have an obsession problem with books.

As a rule, I'm usually not allowed in Barnes & Noble or Borders. I cannot walk passed a dollar book bin without buying $10 worth. My visits to The Strand number in the teens per month. And despite the fact that I own a Kindle, I still continue to buy more books.

But before I resort to BAA (Book-Aholics' Anonymous, which should exist in order to treat such addictive tendencies as spending the better years of one's life buried in shelves, and the compulsion to sniff the stale antiquated aroma of crackly yellow pages), let me at least attempt to explain myself.

Reading is the only way I can stop worrying about everything else around me. Whether I'm engaged in the legend of Akira, or trying to swim my way through Hunter S. Thompson, I am there, and nowhere else. I'm a worrier at heart, and I also tend to micromanage my life in my head every two seconds (not like it does any good, but it's a habit for sure.) However, reading requires your attention, and it ensnares it. I'll read 10 pages before I realize that I've already gotten through that shitty subway ride home, or that I still have to pee really badly, or that I have a 2 year old film to finish editing (aheh *cough*)

I remember reading Life of Pi on a bus back to NJ, (which is pretty depressing in itself) after having just been broken up with my 1st boyfriend of 6 months. I cried my eyes out on the way to the bus, but was able to lose myself for the next hour while I laid my worries aside and wondered how the hell that kid was going to deal with all those freaking animals on a boat in the middle of nowhere.

That said, I have found some awesome books over the past year. Some of them are graphic novels/comics (which in my opinion, are not only books, but pieces of amazing artwork.) I try to update them on my Shelfari sidebar to the right, but that doesn't always do them justice. I just need to tell you about this shit.

∆ "Little Nemo: 1905 -1914"/by Winsor McCay
Back at NYU, when I was taking a "History of Animation" course, I was introduced to Winsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur." Mr. McCay was not only responsible for the breakthrough of animation, he also authored and illustrated the weekly comic "Little Nemo in Slumberland" back in the early 1900's. His works have influenced greats like Moebius and Maurice Sendak. Consequently, that same year, the director of NYU's Animation program, John Canemaker, published a book about his life and works.

Simply put, McCay's illustrations are extraordinary, phantasmagorical and beautiful. Everything has been painstakingly crafted in detail and imagination into something as boundless as one's dreams.

Now I have his whole collection, from 1905-1914 for only $50. Not too shabby. (A Strand find.)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5/Mirage Comics
Rybotz was doing his weekly rummage through the comic's section in The Strand when he came across this gem, which was published back in 1987. Only $5! As you may not know, I have been a TMNT fan since I was a wee one. (Somewhere, there is a picture of me as a baby with a much bigger stuffed Michelangelo.) The 1st movie was what really sealed the deal for me; our VHS is nearly worn out from the times I used to fast forward to "Turtle Power" playing over the credits...

What's amazing (at least to me) is that the story in #5 is what the movie was based off of. Most of the plot is the same: the fight in the junk shop, the trip up North on the farm, except:
  • The hot-headed fighter who gets injured is not Raphael as the movie dictates, but Leonardo
  • Shredder is in the junk shop, not the cool Japanese guy from the movie that does the "Attack!" signal with his hand (which I have mimicked on numerous occasions)
  • April looks like either a very Jewish girl or half Hispanic...which I can dig
  • The story takes place during Christmas in April's apartment; which makes it even more heartbreaking [I guess] when it burns down
I'm glad I laid this all out for you. All of you are now that much more versed in the world of TMNT. Your welcome.

Damn You, Leap Year!

It came to my attention Sunday morning (or rather, that afternoon, as I woke up at 12pm), that it was already March. When the fuck did that happen??

I shouldn't really complain, since just last week I was convinced that the next month was actually April. Time goes fast enough these days that I don't really notice when months come and go...even when they're not going anywhere. Life is like one long, grueling day, lucid dreams mostly bridging the gap between days to make it seem like I've never really fallen asleep at all. I honestly can't tell the difference between what happens in reality, and what I imagine in my subconscious.

Anywho, my point being, the past couple of weeks have gone by in a blur and I should probably recap them for my own sake lest they disappear from my memory forever (Hel-lo senility at 24!)

I also like lists and making extra blog posts, as opposed to including them all in one hit. It makes it seem like there is less to read, so readers can't complain about being bored.

Valentine's Day Weekend
This was Rybotz and I's 2nd year together. We decided to celebrate my giving eachother the gift of a sexy virus. I managed to get away with only two days of relative misery, but I was a much better giver. He was incapacitated whole weekend by a general mess of mucus induced coughing. Though it did give him an attractively deep Barry-White-esque baritone, this was usually accompanied by excessive hacking and the question, "Why does my life have to suck so much?" My gift was apparently not appreciated.

So, most of the weekend was spent sleeping profusely (which I am not opposed to), making trips to the pharmacy, and frantically trying to find food as we were too tired/lazy to cook. (Granted, our kitchen is covered in cockroach carcasses - not too appetizing.) At the checkout counter, the pharmacist rung up my Valentine's stash: Robitussin, Gatorade,Vick's Vapo-Rub, antibiotics, box of tissues and 24pk of Trojan Magnums. As I asked her if pseudophedrine would work on my boyfriend's mucus-filled lungs, I realized that I should have added "This is not what it looks like."

All that aside, Rybotz and I did become closer in our mutual sickness. And we did manage to have our moments. He braved cigarette smoke and factory mildew at Death by Audio so that we could see Class Actress live. They were awesome, the decor was sweet, and so was Rybotz. I could see the twinkle in his eyes as he leaned into me with the music. And then blew his nose.

Stay tuned for more posts that are a bit belated.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Can It Be: Football Beats Puppets?

So going through my blog list, I came across a post I never published. Mostly because it was never finished.

Instead of beating myself over the head and throwing an inner tantrum about completely fucking up the timeline of my blog (where is your CONTROL Tara! This blog is now RUINED!), I will do what my therapist suggests and let it go. And also post it. Without blaming myself. It's just a blog dammit!

From Feb 8, 2010
It has been a year since my post about the last Super Bowl. Oh how time does fly.

In Feb. of '09, we had all three of our favorite European gals with us: Agathe (France), Chloe (Scotland), and Rixa (Germany). But this weekend, only Chloe was there to stay on our couch, and she'll be gone after her Wednesday stand-up show at Sidewalk Cafe, leaving us Americans in the dust.

I am hoping that we will see our foreign female friends come this May *if* Ryan and I can indeed take our trip to [said countries]! (Sorry, though, Scotland. We've left you out of the running in favor of Italy. I'm sure you understand.)

But back to this weekend. In contrast to last year, February 2010 seems very uneventful. Perhaps I am exaggerating, since us New York kids are so spoiled with radical things to do at every moment. What, we can't take a weekend off? And still, there were some highlights this weekend worth mentioning, so don't mind if I do....

Puppet Playlist Night @ the Tank, featuring "Country Music"
Try, for a moment if you will, to picture yourself in an auditorium, listening to a hipster yokel stamping to the [only] beat, and singing like Clooney in "O Brother Where Art Thou?", then switching immediately to a crazy-eyed animatronic puppet staring soullessly into the audience as she sings about perfume made from broccoli. Then the lights go down and her head twitches with an electronic jerk, like a terminator robot. Scared? Upset? Bleeding from your ears? As you should be.

This has since been lost from my memory. Those of you with better brain power can help me out on this one.

Super Bowl @ Brian's.....again!
This year we actually WATCHED the game (it was fucking boring.) However, it was much more rewarding than watching puppets. Joy made some great pulpy, fruity drinks that completely masked the fact that we were actually getting drunk off tequila. I ate some McDonald's while everyone settled for soggy Blockheads, and..........

...Yeah, like hell I remember the rest. I keep telling myself that if it were important and exciting I would be able to recall it, but I think it's just an excuse for me getting to be old and senile at 24. What was I talking about again?

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