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Hello All!

It has been entirely too long since my last update, and so I am now here to share with you a very special episode of New York City: That Shit Cray(-Cray). It is to commemorate OFFICIALLY the CRAZIEST FUCKING THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. Is that statement dramatic? Yes. 100% true and 100% warranted? Even more so.

Episode 4: Did You See What I Just Saw? Wait, Hang On I’m Taking A Picture. No Seriously. YEAH, SERIOUSLY.

For those of you unaware of the intricacies of my job (everyone ever), I work in advertising. At the time of this story, I was working on a spirits/events brand, which means: lots of free booze! lots of fun after work parties! And on this particular day, lots of nudity, amputation and unanswered questions.

One of our spirits brands was having a series of Managed Bar Nights, which means we go to a few bars in the same area, we change the theme of the bar to suit our brand, and give out free cocktails for 2-3 hours (seriously be on the lookout for those, they’re awesome). This particular series was set in the Meatpacking District (yay cobblestone! boo stilettos!). When the events ended, myself and a few co-workers went for dinner, thoroughly buzzed.

After dinner, myself, my co-worker and a friend of hers decided to hang out at a bar not far from the restaurant. As we walked, we came upon this most unusual scene.

Next to a bar that was populated but not busy, is an apartment building. Sitting on the outside step of the alcove door to this apartment building is a homeless man. He is completely naked. He is also missing his right leg above the knee. While this all sank in very quickly for us, what made us go back and openly gape at this man was this: In his right hand, he held a disposable lighter, which was lit. In his left hand, he held his nuts. Yes. His ballsack. He was BURNING HIS NUTS WITH THIS LIGHTER, YOU GUYS.  ON A WELL-POPULATED SIDE WALK.

TAKE A MINUTE TO LET THAT SINK IN. I’LL WAIT.

After the event there was a small disagreement about this. While my co-worker’s friend claimed this homeless man was burning the most giant of balls ever, my co-worker and I believed he HAD NONE, and was instead burning/cauterizing some type of….wound or scar? That’s right folks. We saw no trace of any type of genitalia.

Of course being the awful human being I am, I whirled around to take a photo. This sorcerer somehow got underwear on in the .5 seconds it took for me to pass him, then make that decision, so I ended up with a blurry cell phone photo of a man in underwear and a pink hoodie. But that’s probably for the best because now no one can prove how evil of a human being I am.

There were two young men standing just on the corner away from the alcove, just staring at him. Apparently, they had called the cops because they lived in this building and were unable to get inside. Yeesh.

Someone tell me, how the fuck do you continue your night after that? The only solution I could come up with was to continue drinking across the street and watch as the cops came and kicked the man off the stoop. That worked pretty well. I’m a terrible person.

There are a lot of “classic” movies I haven’t seen. A disturbing amount, even. It doesn’t help that this list is continually growing, as evidenced by Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. I felt more and more like a pop culture failure with every click through the list. So in honor of summer, and awesomeness, and doing something fun, I am creating “Shady’s Summer Cinema Challenge.” It is not 500 movies long (I have a job to go to), nor was there any rigorous criteria in making this list. I chose these movies based entirely off of what I wanted to see the most. It should be noted though, that I have not seen any of these before. So if your favorite movie didn’t make the list, it may be because I’ve seen it already. Also, I left off any movies that have a book that I intend to read.

I’m requiring that I finish all of these movies before Labor Day and, on top of these films, I must also fit in all the most highly anticipated new summer movies, as well as summer television. Also I’ve made a similar list of summer books to read. And I just started taking Tae Kwon Do. So we’ll see how much fun I’m having with this list in two months. I’ll provide updates to my progress, as well some thoughts/reviews along the way.

If you see a movie on here that you just can’t believe I haven’t seen, please shut your mouth. Your incredulity will not undo the past. These are listed in no particular order.

Casablanca
Some Like It Hot
The Seven Year Itch
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Guys and Dolls
Gone with the Wind
Godfather (I & II)
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
Ben Hur
Jailhouse Rock
Brick
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Rebel Without a Cause
Enter the Dragon
Le Doulos
Dog Day Afternoon
Akira
The Lost Boys
To Have and Have Not
The Double Life of Véronique
Hard Days Night
Do the Right Thing
Mean Streets
Kids
Cabaret
Natural Born Killers
Predator
Some Like it Hot
Bugsy Malone
Citizen Kane
Trainspotting
Scarface
The Misfits
The Exorcist
Bride of Frankenstein
Dirty Harry
2001: A Space Odyssey
A Bout De Souffle
Blazing Saddles
Rear Window
Annie Hall
The Graduate
It’s a Wonderful Life
M
Boogie Nights
Sophie’s Choice
The Red Shoes
Cool Hand Luke
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Animal House
Rambo: First Blood
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Field of Dreams
Taxi Driver
Dr. Strangelove
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The 400 Blows
Dolce Vita
8 ½
Lawrence of Arabia
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Midnight Cowboy
Flesh
Amélie
National Velvet
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Strangers on a Train
39 Steps
His Girl Friday
Woman of the Year
Bonnie and Clyde
The Way We Were
Jules Et Jim
The Seventh Seal
Fatal Attraction
All About Eve
The Gold Rush
Maltese Falcon
American Graffiti
Roman Holiday
Pandora’s Box
Funny Face
Rebecca
Das Boot
THE GREAT ROMERO TRILOGY
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Wicker Man (original)
Die Hard

Last night, I returned from an extended weekend trip home to Orlando, Florida. I’d been waiting to get back to Florida since I left the day after Christmas heading back to New York City, and the days passed exactly as I had hoped they would; slow, lazy, soaked in the heat and humidity that has become a character of its own when I think back on my adolescence. There wasn’t a moment I was standing beside my mother when I wasn’t hugging her, and I spent a lot of time being a complete creeper and just staring at my family so that I could remember what this felt like, to save up the love like a bear about to hibernate through a long, lonely winter. It may be exclusionary but I saw the people there who truly matter, my immediate family, my two surrogate brothers, and my dear friend Ian, my love for whom I’m oddly incapable of expressing other than to say that it’s real, and that he knows how to be a friend better than anyone I know.

I spent my last day sitting at the dining room table with my siblings and Ian, eating, cracking jokes and telling stories with the kind of ease and familiarity I know I’m blessed to have. When I got into the car so my parents could drive me to the airport, I had no desire to cry. I had spent time with my family and felt all the better for it, recharged and ready to take on a city that is so persistent in its attack on my being.  But before I knew it, I was sobbing in the backseat. My dad held my hand from the driver’s seat and I had half a mind to fling myself from the car, into the Florida heat and rain and just disappear with the humidity.

The last of my fortune ran out in Florida; I was upgraded to a business class seat and spent my flight sitting cross-legged and staring out the window. When I landed in New York City I was welcomed with the news that I would have to wait an hour for a van to pick me. This turned to two hours. I felt again the desire to disappear, but it was held off by the thought that, here, no one would hesitate to forget me. I felt the desire to cry at my misfortune, but it seems my body has decided that since my breakdown at work, New York doesn’t deserve my tears.

I was dropped off at Grand Central and took two trains home to my quiet neighborhood in South Slope. It was 12:53AM. I lugged my suitcase up the three flights of stairs to the space I share with our beloved Pumpkin. I realize now that I didn’t hug her, I just asked her why the dishes that were there before I left were still on the table. We talked for two hours, about what I can’t even remember. Probably Tom Hiddleston. Whiskey. Grocery shopping. Newsies. As I lay there in bed afterward, unable to sleep, staring up at my ceiling while the sun came up, it occurred to me that if not for Julie, I would have spent the night weighing the pros and cons of quitting my job and going back to Orlando.

To Julie: You are an amazing roommate. You are exceptionally talented, and make every day of my life in New York City better. You’re kind and patient and your facial expressions are priceless. You put up with the fact that I haven’t done much to clean the bathroom. You’re an enabler to my sweet tooth and I refuse to regret eating an entire pint of Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch or Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet because HOLY SHIT THEY ARE GOOD. I love that you’re a bizarre night owl because for some reason it makes me feel safe. You accept me for whom I am and believe I can be who I want to be, all the while choosing to overlook the worse parts of me for the better. You listen to me complain about a job that I think you might murder me to have. You believe in a world where we don’t have to compromise to live happy lives, and while I think it’s a pipe dream, I need you to keep believing that because it’s people who believe that way who make the world a better place.

Life gets rough. We take jobs we hate to avoid feeling worthless. We quit jobs we hate to avoid feeling useless. We put ourselves on the line and attempt to take the pitfalls in stride no matter how much they tear us up on the inside. I can’t tell you how much it means to know that after everything has fallen apart and life has shown us how little we matter, I can come home and spend two hours discussing how Tom Hiddleston needs to just stop it already and Andrew Garfield needs to just show himself already because he’s definitely been within a three block radius of us  at some point and is obviously just consciously avoiding us now and how can these bitches not eat hamburgers because what the hell is wrong with them they are delicious. When I’m with you I feel the same quiet sense of accomplishment that I felt sitting around that dining room table on my last day in Florida. Like I’ve acquired something worth envying. I feel like I’m home. I love you.

Btw, I bought your lunch for you. You’re such an idiot.

I could spend a long time explaining and extolling the value of this song and video, but just suffice it to say that it’s about damn time someone told everyone to calm the fuck down about interracial dating. Now go get your summer swirl on.

I don’t even know how to begin this. Ultimately it will end up sounding like another jaded, self-aware millennial complaining about their situation. It will share the same cynical, yet hopeful, yet somehow unabashedly enthusiastic tone seen in countless blogs and Facebook posts. It will contain references to things that were maybe once niche and would make me seem alternative, worldly or well-educated, but are now just common knowledge thanks to the internet. I have no revelations to share. I don’t think my current situation is interesting enough to share with anyone but the people who love me enough to listen. Real life love, not “omg, love her tumblr” love. I’m not able to put the blandness of my situation into an art form that others can relate to. I’m not wonderfully beautiful nor do I possess any kind of ‘it’ factor or quality that demands that I be paid attention to.

Some people have told me that I have the talent to create something that could change the world, but I don’t see what they’re talking about, and our ‘participation trophy’ society has me thinking that they’ve got me gassed up, Willie Loman style. I’m just a normal girl. I’m not exceptional in any way. Somehow, that’s not allowed. If I share this sentiment with someone, they go on a long tangent to convince me that I possess greatness – that I’ll find my calling and suddenly be reeling in a world of fulfilled potential and recognition and being soul mates with a quirky guy that everyone says is just so perfect for me.

Because we think that everyone who has potential lives to see that potential fulfilled. But what if I’ve missed the boat? What if, even at just 22 years old, I’ve missed my opportunity to live up to something? Folks keep reminding me how young I am, as though there aren’t people who peak in high school or college; as though there aren’t people whose peaks are hardly peaks at all, but small hills in comparison to what so many of us expect. Or whose lives are more cliffs than hills – nothing particular to note until it suddenly drops off. I’m not somehow exempt from this because I try or something. My being mildly attractive and above average intelligence doesn’t guarantee a greener pasture any more than the amount of work my parents put into trying to get me off the ground. Hard work ≠ big time pay off. It’s bleak, I know, but it’s the kind of thing I think I have to acknowledge to even stand a chance at being happy with the life I’m most likely to end up leading.

Which brings me to my real question: Am I allowed to be sad? Like I said, I’m 22, mildly attractive, above average intelligence. I have a job working in New York City with a livable salary. I know at least 15 people personally who would maim someone to get my opportunity. In an economy where no one is getting hired, I found a job. I found a good job, in the field I studied in school, with full benefits and after hours perks and the possibility for upward mobility. You don’t even have to delve in to the under privileged youth of America or the starving children in Africa to point out that I’m an ungrateful shithead. I’m over here ruefully contemplating the validity of my existentialism like that bitch in Eat Pray Love while I should just be grateful I had the means to travel to three separate countries just to “find myself.” I should just shut the hell up, sit at my desk and do the work requested of me until I learn to appreciate what I’m given. Who am I kidding? I have health insurance!

How much does it really matter that I think the work I do is pointless and I spend every evening psyching myself out for the next morning? That New York City as a whole is so overwhelming that I never really recover from it? Sure there’s a lot of great stuff here, and I know that if I left I would miss it, but here in the middle of it all I can see is the storm. All I can see are the people who didn’t miss their opportunity, who are still working towards some great finish, who will fall in love one day, working dutifully to their end while I get carried out to sea. It’s as though one day everything will settle and somehow everyone will have ended up exactly where they should be and I’ll be standing right where I was, all alone, proverbial dick in hand, and all anyone will be able to say is how I had so much potential. I won’t have any great stories to keep me company in my old age, no artifacts of a better time; just the notion that maybe, if I’d paid better attention, or wanted it more, I could have had everything I ever wanted, and I only have myself to blame.

I’ve been on the verge of tears for over a month now – every time I’m in a room alone or riding the subway home I have a moment where I think it will all come rushing out, a great wave of cathartic tears somehow washing everything away the way it used to – but it never comes. Even if I were to cry, it wouldn’t fix anything.

It’s not as though I know what I want. I don’t have a dream that I could set out on the road towards, I’m just decidedly unhappy with where my life is now. The little engine that could knew exactly what he was working towards, so he knew to put everything into it. I don’t know where to put my attention because I don’t know what I want. Every time I think of the Little Engine that Could, I think of a girl I knew in elementary school. She would write ‘I think I can, I think I can” at the top of all of her test papers. I don’t think I ever saw her get higher than a C.

Part of me thinks I should just commit and throw myself into this career because at least it’s a direction. At least this way I’ll know to commit and make the most of something, instead of possibly wandering through life never certain of anything. But another part of me remembers that I promised myself I would start making decisions, not just letting life unfold in front of me, and that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I just resigned myself to this life.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to be saddened by my life, but of course that doesn’t matter. I am sad. I wake up and I wonder how each day will make itself worth living through. Other days I wake up and can’t remember anything I was ever excited about. I keep waiting for life to surprise me with a divergent road, so I can make the decision to take the one less traveled by. But I’ve been so focused on looking for the road less traveled by that I’ve forgotten that the roads least traveled never really become roads at all. There may be a bit of dead grass, or a bent branch somewhere in the wilderness, but the roads least traveled remain overgrown, wild, precarious and fearful. Completely indiscernible from the jungle that surrounds them. There is no way to take one of these roads with any kind of certainty. There is nothing there to guide you through except the stories of those who have successfully – and unsuccessfully – gone before. This notion taunts me, reminding me that at any moment, if I only pay attention and want it bad enough, I can have everything I ever wanted. And that if I don’t go for it, I only have myself to blame.

image courtesy of lifehacker

I’m terrible at making decisions. It’s an odd truth, because I’ve been told by a lot of my friends that I’m great at making decisions, and they often consult me for advice or leave the final verdict on our plans up to me.

I feel like an imposter, because in fact I rarely do make actual decisions. I’m just exceptionally comfortable with existing in a kind of limbo that makes others uneasy. When it was getting close to college graduation, I had a job lined up, but I told most people that I would just as quickly have gone home and stayed with my parents. I’m currently in a job that I intend to be with for no longer than another year, and have nothing in mind for the future and yet I’m entirely at ease where many of my friends are in a panic over a similar situation. When my friends ask me to make our plans, I’ll close my eyes and point and don’t have particularly strong feelings over whether the evening goes well or not. Somehow my pervading neutrality comes across as strong decision making skills. I basically just wait until the last minute, then just pull the trigger on whatever sounds best and roll with it as best I can. Maybe the fact that this has worked out well for me makes people think I do it on purpose, and that my decisions are well thought out.

Most of the good things in my life have fallen into my lap while I was too busy trying to make a decision, at least when it comes to the big decisions. My college scholarship fell into my lap through a series of happy coincidences that involved a random comment from a friend of mine before I took the PSAT. I chose my major in a point and shoot process, not taking much time to think about what it meant for my future. All of the organizations I got involved with were either foisted onto me by faculty who appreciated my attentiveness in class, or I joined to spend more time with friends. I’m an expert at letting time run out on the clock and just rolling with whatever comes from that. I Hail Mary the shit out of my life. In fact, whenever I do try to proactively make a decision it seems to backfire.

To my elders I appear unusually wise and self-possessed for my age. There’s always an expression – a look that passes over their faces when I say something they’re not accustomed to hearing someone my age say. It’s a mix of surprise and respect and I relish it whole-heartedly. Often times with older men that look is followed immediately by another, one that suggests that I’ve suddenly climbed the ranks from attractive child to genuine prospect. Suddenly the conversation has much more pitch and verve, they seem to take an excessive amount of joy in launching themselves into a full on conversation where previously they were holding back, sure that we had nothing in common. They find an odd maturity in my willingness to embrace the unknown.

I don’t hold back from making decisions because I’m afraid, I do it because I want to know every possible outcome of every possible combination. I want to know what happens if I make a left and if I make a right. I’ve known this about myself for a long time, but for most of my life I did what most kids do and made decisions based on what I was supposed to do. I’m immensely guarded, so any personal decisions were made in an effort to keep myself from crying. The depressed eating when I didn’t quite fit in, followed by losing 20 pounds when I realized no one likes fat middle school girls.

Now that I’m an adult I realize I have a tendency to get myself into trouble because I’ll let a scenario play all the way out, just for the sake of seeing how it ends. I fancy myself an objective third party observer to my own life and forget about that place where my life intersects others, about the weight that I can hold there. I remain as placid as possible for fear of disrupting the environment, of affecting the outcome.

Yesterday, The Pumpkin and I were on our way to the West Village when I was propositioned by a young man. He was handsome, vaguely exotic and, as we would come to find out, brash. He yelled to get my attention on the D train platform at Atlantic Avenue. I responded, embarrassed, unsure what to say to his shouting, since he had drawn the attention of the entire platform.

“Hey, DREAD, where you goin’?” He wanted to know if The Pumpkin was “my woman” when I didn’t immediately engage him. He eventually realized yelling at me across the platform wasn’t going to work, and came to stand beside me. He wanted to know where we were going. I told him Washington Square Park, which wasn’t exactly true, but it was the first downtown landmark to come to mind.

“Y’all going to smoke?”

His question drew a guffaw from The Pumpkin, and I snorted, “No, are you going to smoke?”

“Hell yeah, I’m gonna go smoke and drink. You should come with me.”

This boy was obviously a teenager, maybe 17. He would tell me he was from Carol City, Florida, and was in town visiting his aunt in New Jersey. He wore a naïve, impish smile the entire time he spoke to me, as though he was going to get into as much trouble as possible, but could easily find himself in over his head. His train came before ours, and while the train sat in the station he made one last effort to get me on the train with him.

As he called my name and waved to beckon me onto the train, I was reminded of another experience. My freshman year of college, on my first real date, waiting for the D.C. metro. A group of boys, some I knew and some I didn’t came down the stairs. My date and I struck up a conversation and before long the boys invited us to go to a party in Georgetown with them. My date loved parties. As the train waited in the station, the boys made one last effort to get my date and I on the train with them. I shrugged my shoulders and walked onto the waiting subway car.

But Carol City had yet to acknowledge The Pumpkin’s existence, and possibly for that reason alone, I said no. It’s not as though I didn’t know the little boy’s intentions, or that I was taking his advances seriously in any way. Rather it was the possibility of the unknown, the idea that jumping onto a random train with an underage hoodlum was an actual possibility. I think it’s been the goal of my indecisiveness to leave as many of these doors open as possible. As I get older, I realize just how impossible that is. Refusing to make choices just leaves me with little to no control over my own life. It’s time for me to start making decisions. Maybe I’ll be as good at it as everyone already thinks I am.

Today is Leap Day. I’d forgotten this until I stepped in the elevator for work in a shitty mood and ran into our receptionist. She was equally grumpy and blamed it on the Day-That-Shouldn’t-Exist. One of our IT guys squeezed onto the elevator just before the doors closed as I said “Oh, God, it is Leap Day, isn’t it?” His response? “Oh, that explains it.” Because Leap Day has a spectacular history of being just all around shitty. And not just because it’s Ja Rule’s birthday.

The Scottish apparently hold this day in kind with Friday, the 13th for bad luck, while the Greek say marriages during a leap year are doomed, especially those on Leap Day.

It’s quite possible that Leap Day’s only redeeming factor this year is that it falls on ‘Spaghetti Wednesday,’ as the woman handing out papers in the subway station told me. I could tell you about all of the minutely shitty things that have happened to me at only halfway through the day, but it’s not over yet so there’s a good chance I’ll have something better to write about tomorrow. So if something terrible happens today, just look up and curse the Leap Day gods, because it’s all their fucking fault.

If you can’t tell, I’m borderline delirious from lack of sleep right now. I’m listening to the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack to try and remind me of a better time. It’s not working.

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