Thursday, July 22, 2010

Double Down and Zipcar!

ALRIGHT Blog-o-sphere we've got a lot to cover today!
First of all, pretty unrelated to my day (although I DID obviously pop into KFC for a quick lunch), we need to talk about THIS:

You guys.... it's real. This thing is REAL. I had heard about it before, when having a "grossest food you've ever heard of" contest with some strangers on the subway... and sure it sounded nasty. But nothing could have prepared me for the ginormous poster that awaited me at the counter of KFC in Herald square. THEY ACTUALLY MAKE A "CHICKEN SANDWICH" WHERE THE "BUNS" ARE REALLY TWO CHICKEN PATTIES. Is this like the "Go straight to clogged arteries-do not pass go, do not collect $200" card?? First I started to laugh, then I started to gag... then both simultaneously. I definitely threw up in my mouth a little, and all of a sudden my craving for fried chicken started to wane. It was already my turn to order though, so I had no choice. I opted for their much healthier/appealing "Get-a-grip" chicken patty in a sleeve. After placing my order I said to the unresponsive woman behind the counter "I just gotta ask you- do people actually ORDER that double down thing??" I awaited her response with my eyes bugged out already half laughing because clearly I cannot be the ONLY one who thinks that that sandwich is absolutely ridiculous. She just looked at me funny and nodded her head, while walking away to get me my chicken. Sense of humor must not be on list of qualities they look for in KFC employees.
I sat down with my overpriced lunch in the cleanest spot I could find (what a task), and pulled out my incredibly healthy choice. This made me laugh even more:

A chicken ice cream cone? Pretty much. It's as if my lunch were talking right to me. Because Lord knows, I REALLY do need to get a grip. Especially on the foods I'm consuming. You can bet your bottom dollar I ate the whole thing though. (Laughing pathetically with each bite and shaking my head at what my life has come to.)

OK now that we've gotten the lunch discussion out of the way, I want to tell you all about the BEST THING EVER. Yesterday on a whim (and after receiving a too-good-to-pass-up groupon in my e-mail box), I decided to join Zipcar. For those of you who are unfamiliar, zipcar is a company that parks rental cars all over the city. Anyone who is a member can take one of their cars for any amount of time (from an hour to days at a time.) You sign up, pay a one time annual fee, get a zipcard that magically opens the door to whatever car you reserve for yourself, reserve whichever car you'd like/can afford near you, and voila! Ready to drive at a moments notice. I have been contemplating joining for a while but don't really have any excuses for needing a car. But the groupon offered a $35 membership fee (as opposed to $75) and $50 worth of free driving so I figured it's now or never, and I joined!
Today I went to their office to pick up my zipcard, and instantly felt special and privileged having one. And of course, I immediately wanted to drive somewhere, just for the heck of it. I came back home and researched the cars around my area, and opted for a Blue Scion named Beyern that was parked literally down the block. I got it for an hour and a half for $20, and had a blast! It took me all day to figure out where I should go with my new car, and finally I decided, why not check out the new Costco up in East Harlem? So here I was... in a car I've never driven, in one of the HARDEST and craziest cities to drive in (which I've never driven in before), heading to EAST HARLEM-- there were so many ways this trip could end in my demise! But I was excited nonetheless. After a few blocks, once I had re-figured out how to drive... I plugged my iPod into the connector that came with the car and jammed to Lady Gaga all the way uptown. I was giddy the whole time!

(Don't worry, I probably didn't take this picture while the car was in motion....)

Several people have told me the same thing about driving in NYC- "Oh, it's fun! It's like a video game!" Which has made me cock my head to the side thinking "hmmm, that sounds kind of dangerous?" And they are right. It is exactly like being in a video game. Because there are no lanes in NYC. Every now and then you pass a faded line on the street and think "OH HEY! THAT MUST HAVE BEEN A LANE ONCE!" But for the most part, the streets are blank and you just estimate "hmmm there's room for about 4 or 5 lanes on this avenue but hell let's just see where the cars take me" and everyone weaves in and out of each other and it's pretty much insanity. PLUS there are 1000 obstacles to avoid! (Bike riders, pedestrians, flying construction shrapnel...) I felt like I was playing old-school Paper Boy again. Only this time I could really actually kill someone.

Once I got to the shopping plaza and made my way into Costco, I realized that you have to pay to be a costco member, and it's more than $5. I figured, I really won't need to buy in bulk like that until I'm married with kids or I finally become a crazy cat-lady. Then I saw someone with a target bag and realized that they must have opened up the Target upstairs that I thought wasn't opening until the end of the month. SCORE! I ducked out of Costco and ran up to Heaven.
This Target was beautiful, and huge. I fluttered through it in ecstasy like the Little Mermaid at a Garage Sale... look at this stuff! Isn't it neat?? This sucker even had a STARBUCKS, there is just nothing classier. Being in the Target in East Harlem was much like being back in Miami... English was definitely not the primary language. Me being rusty with my spanish and never having picked up the complexities of ebonics, I kept to myself and stayed quiet for the most part.
I once again found myself to be the only white person in the building. That's been happening a lot lately? I'm all for diversity but, where have all the white people gone?
Oh yea, the Hamptons.
ANYWAYS, I decided to do my grocery shopping at Target since I had a CAR with me and could stuff it's giant trunk full of months worth of nutritious goodies. Instead I ended up buying just 2 bags of stuff, mostly frozen dinners and cookie dough. (The essentials.)
On my 3rd trip around the store I spotted my impulsive buy of the day (aside from my "get-a-grip" chicken in a sleeve lunch)- a guitar. I've been telling myself for a while now that it's time to try and learn guitar (I've tried a few times in the past and it's always lasted about as long as it takes to tune the thing.) This was an all-inclusive "guitar in a box" that looked half the size of an actual guitar, but it came with 3 picks and a strap and we know I'm a sucker for package deals. Plus it was super cheap. So I threw caution and common sense to the wind and took it to the front, planning on telling people it was for my non-existent nephew if they asked. (It clearly looks like it's meant for 12 and under.) After making my purchases, I wheeled my stuff back out to my CAR, packed it up, and headed for home.
(My car "Beyern" parked in front of Costco. I made it out without getting mugged! YAY!)
I made it back to my place with like 10 minutes to spare so I decided to run my purchases up to my apartment. This required me to parallel park. In New York City. Where parellel parking is harder than getting Gay Marraige passed in Kentucky. Immediately I began fearing for my life/the life of my zipcar. I would just like to say that I am not a bad driver. On the contrary, I'm a pretty darn great driver and most people who have been in a car chauffeured by me will agree. (And those who don't are A-holes, don't listen to them.) But one thing I'm not so hot at is parallel parking, because I rarely had to use it in Miami. So if by "parallel park" you mean "park halfway into the middle of the street", then I was extremely successful.
Whatever, I was only gone a minute. And I only hit the car behind me once getting out, that's pretty impressive. I returned the car in perfect time and skipped home after what turned out to be an awesomely random day. I love those. As for my new guitar? It handles like a tinker toy and sounds a lot like what the "guitar" on my keyboard sounds like. (If you threw the keyboard into a bathtub first.) It took me about 2 minutes and 4 chords to remember why I stopped playing the first few tries- that crap HURTS your fingertips! So we'll see how long I keep it up before it ends up in the corner with the massive bag of clothes I've been meaning to donate for well over a year now. Start placing your bets...

Zipcar: wheels when you want them. Learn more.

(Here guys, join zipcar! If you join through that link, You get me free driving points! We both win! (well really I mostly win but, you get to join too yay!))

Monday, July 19, 2010

North Quincy Idol

Seriously you guys, this blog thing.. what a responsibility! It's really tough to find time to blog between sleeping through half the day and checking my Facebook/eating McDonalds during the other half. I'm trying though, I promise. I spend at least a couple of hours a day (not all at once) telling myself "hey, you should make yourself useful and go write something that no one is going to read." It motivates me. (Usually to do something else instead.)
But I owe you part two of my Boston adventure, and it's already been almost a week since I was there! I'm starting to forget the details. When we left off, I had just sung for the first part of the karaoke contest. Since my biggest competition was the most unenthusiastic version of "Proud Mary" I've ever heard (Seriously- Ben Stein could've rolled down the river with more fervor. It was like the karaoke version of "Frasier"), it wasn't hard for me to qualify through to the semi-finals which were being held the following night. I'd like to say that I went home and practiced my vagina singing, but really I just bought a bag of fortune cookies and ate those on the couch while reading "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" until like, 6am.
It rained the entire next day so instead of prancing through the flowers at the Public Gardens and making up my own dirty version of the Freedom Trail, I ended up sitting around the apartment I was staying in, sweating profusely. (I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE CAN LIVE IN APARTMENTS WITH NO AIR CONDITIONING DURING THE SUMMER. THIS IS NOT OKAY WITH ME.) To pass the time, I spent a portion of the afternoon cleaning my friends room, because if there's one thing I excel at being, it's a sucker. (Plus I have this weird OCD when it comes to being in unorganized spaces for an extended period of time. Not my own- I will sit in my own filth for months at a time. But other people's places? I automatically start organizing. I don't know why/how this started.) Once I got to the bottom of the pile of clothing on the floor and found a dead bumblebee next to a 3 muskateers bar, I gave up and decided to do something more productive/less insect-y. (Like figure out what to use for a towel since the the towels in existence were OUT of the question.) I settled for the cleanest t-shirt I could find and started getting ready for my big night. North Quincy wouldn't know what hit 'em!
I got decked out in my diva best and finally got my friend Meat to stop complaining for long enough to drag him out in time to get Panera on the way. We ran into our friend Julie in the subway and so her original e-mail response politely declining my invite was nullified- and I happily dragged her ass out to Quincy too (quite possibly against her will, but I'm grateful just the same.) That was a nice surprise! My friend/competition Jordan (who did not TELL me that he had qualified the night before me and would be competing against me tonight) picked us up from the train station and we were off.
Once again Jordan and I were the only white ones competing. I felt bad having to go up against my friend- like we were stuck in a weird Star Wars sing-off... but he assured me it was "my night". (He lives there, he can always try again.) The rest of the competition was... oh who am I kidding, it was fine. It was cake. And cake is exactly what we went for at the end of the night. (After Jordan got lost, drove us in the completely wrong direction, and I peed my pants laughing while Meat whined in the backseat of the car about how he had to wake up so early. NOTHING MAKES ME LAUGH MORE THAN MEAT COMPLAINING. I seriously haven't laughed that hard in ages.) On our way to the only 24 hour bakery in the North End of Boston, we tried to turn down the one way street Meat lives off of to pull straight into his alleyway which is literally RIGHT there when you turn in (granted- wrong direction- but still. It's right there.) What we didn't anticipate, was the biggest D-Bag bicycle cop in existence to be parked on the corner, waiting to fight someone. As soon as Jordan started making the turn he started screaming. Meat rolled down the window and said "c'mon we're just going right there" and this A-hole has the nerve to start screaming "ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING? ARE YOU RETARDED? DO YOU WANT ME TO ARREST YOUR BUDDY HERE? MORON!"
It was all we could do to back-up and speed off before Meat screamed "F*** you" out the window and started to try and get out of the car. (Meat is from Russia, they have bad tempers there.) I couldn't believe the nerve of that cop though. A simple "hey man sorry, one way street. Can't come down here" would've sufficed. OBVIOUSLY this particular officer hates his life, because he rides a BIKE around Boston's Little Italy all night and is most likely missing his scrotum or something. What a jerk.
Once we calmed down and hit the bakery, Jordan got a moon pie, I got German chocolate cake (not knowing what exactly made it "German"... but regretting it all the same. Yuck.) and Meat just continued complaining. You know, the usual. Jordan and I stayed up for hours talking about completely inappropriate and/or hilarious things and stuffing our faces, which meant that the night ended pretty darn successfully. The next morning I got a text from him letting me know that I had made the finals- my picture was up on the karaoke website. It's official! I'm that much closer to being the North Quincy, Massachusetts Idol. (And winning some CASH too!) I have to go back at the end of August for that, which I totally don't mind- as we know how much I loooove Boston.
(I will, however DEMAND a place with air conditioning the next time I am back. I counted this as my one third world country experience for the summer, and that's enough for me.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bahston and "My people"

Here I am, back on the Megabus back to New York. Already? Sheesh, that was fast.
This is only my second post in this blog and already I'm exhausted. The responsibility is killing me! No wonder I don't have a job. Fewf.
So, Boston was fun! But it came and went far too quickly. I'm not into that. Let me tell you what- I've never had a city that I was so happy to arrive in. I grew up in the Cuban sauna of Miami, Florida where I clearly never belonged. (Who's idea was it to ship a borderline albino irish sun-hater to Miami? And more off, what is my family thinking still living there?) From there I made the brilliant and drastic move of re-locating to Syracuse, New York for college. For those of you who have never been to Syracuse, congratulations- keep it that way. Syracuse, put nicely, is a hellish frozen tundra of seasonal depression where the sun dare not go, strewn with some of the most impressive projects you've ever seen. It was not uncommon to pass out drunkenly to the lull of gunshots outside your window, while a blizzard buried your Saturn Vue in the parking lot of your dilapidated crack-addict filled apartment building. Ah, memories. And then of course after college I moved to New York City to pursue .......?, which USED to be my favorite city in the world. New York is the greatest city on Earth, UNTIL you live in it. Specifically, until you're spending the summer or dead of winter there.
I have tried to remain positive about living in New York since "if I can make it there blah blah blah midgets will bring me pots of gold" or whatever.... but the longer I bake in that concrete oven, the longer I curse the B'way for not just calling me up and offering me a lead role already. (Auditions shmauditions. Who needs 'em? There's gotta be an easier way to achieve this. WITHOUT taking my clothes off...)
ANYWAYS, I digress. The point is, I've lived in a few places here and there... and everywhere has had it's "home" stamp on me at one point or another. But nothing has ever felt like Boston.
When I arrived at South Station on Tuesday, I was greeted by a wild hoard of butterflies-on-speed doing Tina Turner dance impersonations in my stomach. I heaved such a sigh of relief, and felt happy all over to be there. What the HECK is that?! And how? I only spent 6 weeks in Boston in May/June working on a show there. But something about that dang town got it's fangs in me, and almost everywhere I go makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. (Except the North End. Screw those Italians and a-hole bike cops. Who wants to eat pizza for every meal? I can stay in NYC for that.)
On Tuesday night I competed in a karaoke contest in North Quincy, about 40 minutes out of Boston. I know what you're thinking... who would travel all the way to Boston to compete in a karaoke contest in North Quincy??? You're reading her blog, that's who. Hey- there's a $1000 first prize and I have never heard of making such an astronomical amount of money in one sitting so, bugger off if you think I'm retarded for trying.
The contest was being held at a place called the "Cathay Pacific". I didn't really know what to imagine... maybe a Hawaiian themed bar, or a reggae night club... the possibilities were endless!
I was not prepared for what I was met with. The Cathay Pacific is a chinese restaurant strewn in the most gloriously tacky 1990's oriental decor-- the "lounge" where we were singing was like a cross between one of the "don't go there without your switch blade" hotels in Las Vegas, and what the dining room on the Titanic would have looked like if it was built in China in the 1970's.
You know you're in a classy joint when there is a vending machine INSIDE the chinese restaurant. Where else can you eat wonton soup and then buy a box of whoppers? This was clearly my kind of place. I never wanted to leave.
What was even more impressive than the decor of this heavenly restaurant- was the crowd.
For those who don't know, I am adopted. (My parents are rolling their eyes right now if they are reading this, because they get all huffy when I mention this fact. "Why is it always the first thing you have to tell people?!" They say with disdain. It's not the first thing, it's usually AT LEAST the second or third, right after "no, I don't eat that" and "I have a really tiny bladder, I can't help that I pee this much." . And here, I put it in my SECOND blog. So there.) The reason I bring up my adoption right now, is that when you're adopted- you always wonder what is hiding deep within your blood that you don't know about. And in my blood, or somewhere within my make-up, i'm pretty sure that I am part-black. (shut up, just because I have the whitest skin shade possible and don't eat collared greens does NOT mean it's not possible!) Me most-likely being part black means that I have an un-natural gravitation towards my black brotha's and sista's. In college, they called me "White Chocolate." No joke. So needless to say, I was happier than pigs feet in shit when I walked into the lounge to find that my friends and I were the only white ones there (aside from the asian staff of course.) I was prepared to sing my best Whitney Houston ballad, and these were my people! I love singing for black people. Because black people are THE MOST responsive people there are to perform for. Not only will they clap and scream inappropriately- they will also yell out precious things like "you go girl", "sing it sista'", "Aiiiiggghhhtt Erica", "Sing child", "You gonna eat that last chicken wing?"... the things that really make me push harder and deeper to sing my bestest. Tuesday was no exception. They made their outbursts, and I saaaannnggg. It was glorious. After my performance I headed to the bar for some water, and the brotha sitting next to where I was waiting told me I did a good job. "You sang that nicely" he said "but don't be afraid to growl."
"I threw a little growl in there, at the end..." I parried.
"Yes, but don't be afraid to REALLY growl. You sang from here" he said, gesturing to his diaphragm, "and it was good, but you gotta really feel it. You gotta sing from down HERE" he added, pointing to his crotchal region. "Sing from the vagina. Sing like you just had amazing sex."
"I'll work on that" I assured him with a wink, to which he quickly extended his hand and introduced himself. (I can't ever remember names so let's just be racist and call him Jerome. That might actually be right.) I completely didn't mean to mislead him with my wink to thinking that I meant I would have sex with HIM (I love black people but I don't love them THAT much! I'm a tiny girl, that would be dangerous.), so I quickly shook his hand, told him to come back for the semi-finals and vote for me, and scurried back to my table. I made a mental note to work on my vagina singing when I got home.

OK I am tired of my over-use of commas, so I'm going to call this "PART ONE" and leave you all in suspense about what happens next... unless you're my friend on facebook, and you already know the results of the trip. To be continued...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a New blog, and the Megabus

So I finally bit the bullet and created a blog. Mostly because my facebook status updates were getting longer and longer, and I found myself being forced to trim them in order to file whatever complaint it was that I was desperately trying to vent to the 800 acquaintances I share my life with via the internet. And twitter? 140 characters? I don't think so. Who can complain in 140 characters? Mormons. That's who. (Love to my mormons out there- go on with ya positive selves!) I don't like being told I need to hold back.
Don't get me wrong, this whole blog will not be chock full of complaints. I doubt too many people would want to read that. But I warn you now soon-to-be-faithful readers... I am Jewish, and there are three things we Jews do in excess: Eat, talk too loud, and complain. I am partial to the third. However, I am also a "struggling" artist in NYC so of course that means I'm in a constant state of "trying to find myself"... which has lead me to Yoga, self-help books on staying positive, and Panera's Iced green-tea. So if you're lucky, every now and then you'll catch me in my "positivity" mode posting something that will undoubtedly change your life (probably not, I can't back that up. But still, it'll be good.)

TODAY'S post however, WILL consist of mostly complaints. For at this very moment, I am writing to you from the Megabus. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to be on the Megabus because I am headed for one of my new favorite cities- Boston, and I am excited to get away from the fresh aroma of body odor and toasted homeless-pee-strewn sidewalks of New York City. But already things are not going so well for me on this bus. First of all, I was under the impression (don't ask me why, because I have no excuse) that my bus was leaving at 12:30. I was wrong, it was leaving at 12:15. But since I thought it was 12:30 I left at 11:15 thinking i'd have PLENTY of time to dilly-dally. I took my sweet time getting there... stopped at Quizno's, etc. Thank GOODNESS it started raining when I left with my sammies, because had it not, I would've skipped happily over to Duane Reade for chocolate, as I'm having a serious crack-addict-like craving right now. But because it was drizzling, I decided I'd better just high-tail it over to Madison Square Garden, where the bus picks up. I figured hey, this way I'll get there early- maybe I can get one of those fancy table seats! I sauntered up to the bus area at precisely 12:14... and approached one of the lines inquiring if they were Boston-bound. "Um no... that's the one boarding over there..." said the nice young man I asked. (Clearly he is not from NYC, or he would've told me to F off. {this blog will be as curse-word-free as possible.}) So I was like WOW, we're boarding early, sweet! Won't have to stand in the rain too long! (It's hard balancing 3 bags, an umbrella and a fountain pepsi with just two hands.) I made it JUST in the nick-of-time. And let me tell you what- those ghetto Megabus employees shuffling people onto the bus? They mean biz-nass. I imagine it's similar to how the check-in process at concentration camps must've been- if concentration camps were in Harlem, and "Jews" were replaced with "Hispanics". (Most Jews avoid public transportation whenever possible.) There was one non-english speaking family that I guess one of the members was missing a ticket, And these Megabus Nazi's were barking orders at the ticketed ones to "GET ON THE BUS! WE LEAVIN'!"... the young spanish boy holding the back door open was frantically looking back and forth in a panic- Air-conditioned safe-haven to Boston? Or work harder to get Tio Paco (*names have been changed to protect the innocent/feed my racist streak) on the bus... in the end, I think he said screw Tio Paco and went upstairs for a window seat. I was one of the last people to get on the bus, and guess where I've ended up? You know it- the dreaded bathroom seat. I am parked RIGHT next to that lovely porthole that reeks of 1000 years of defecation, formaldehyde, and a dash of anti-bacterial soap for good measure. Yum. Could be worse though, at least I don't have to share this seat. (I'm the only one dumb enough to sit here.) Hey, this way I get to keep a tally on who uses the loo the most on this trip. Then I can give them that knowing look of shame whenever they pass me. I just hope no one ate Taco Bell before getting on this bus.
I remember Megabus having a lot more leg room than what I currently have- and I think that's because every other seat on this bus DOES have more legroom... but since I'm at the back by the backdoor, my seat is just a tad bit closer to the one in front of me than the rest of them. This means I've got the Israeli man in front of me who decided to recline as far as possible sitting in my lap. Under better circumstances I might not mind an Israeli in my lap but, this is not the way these things should be done.
Upon take-off, I carefully maneuvered my backpack so that it balanced between the seat next to me and the seat in front of that one. I then slipped my fountain pepsi into the bottleholder on the side of my backpack, and thought this was ingenious of me. Instant cup-holder! Oh the brilliance. All was peachy in my world, until the D-bag bus driver decided to take a sharp right turn, and my bag and cup-holder went flying into the aisle- my beloved pepsi with it. Whoops.
So that was a great start to the ride. I only hope the pepsi that made it all over the outside of my backpack doesn't make it's way inside to the only clothing I brought with me. But I wouldn't be surprised.
Lastly on the lists of complaints- is the man who is DYING across the aisle from me. REALLY?
One thing I have picked up from living in NYC for 4 years, is a manic hysteria when it comes to germs. Everywhere you go in NYC, someone is trying to give you AIDs by coughing all over the subway/sneezing on the bus, etc. It makes me CRAZY. So of course i'm parked right next to a heavy-set man who must have the swine flu/plague/tuberculosis. How anyone can cough and sneeze like that and still get on a public bus with a bunch of unsuspecting healthy people- the nerve! Of course whatever it is that he has, i'm going to catch it, and it will probably take my life/ruin my career/make me infertile. I am clutching my pepsi for dear life, covering the straw with all of my might and trying not to breath. But I've got 4 more hours to go so, it's not looking good for me. Crap I should've sat upstairs with the illegals. (I just asked Jeremy via facebook if it's rude to write "the illegals" and he said "It's necessary". So I did it. Thanks Jer.)
I'm excited for this short trip. I will be competing in a karaoke contest against Quincy's finest drunken A-holes, rehearsing for an upcoming fundraiser, and probably just trying to stay out of the rain for most of it (::shakes fist at Mother Nature for always thwarting my plans...::). I look forward to seeing my Boston friends, and just not being in New York City for two days. Sounds Heavenly.
Welcome to my blog... let's see if I keep this fad up longer than my stint with Wiccan crystal healing.