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New York City: That Shit Cray(-Cray)

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.

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.

Hello, followers! I know you missed me in my long absence, so I apologize.

Oh, no one even noticed I was gone? Well… that’s fine, I guess. I’m not hurt at all by that. I’ve been super busy too, you know. My life isn’t all about you people. In fact, in the weeks since I posted last, I have officially become something I have always wanted to be: a New Yorker. 

Yup, Shady and I are cohabitating. We now live in a hundred-year-old Japanese-style Victorian in Brooklyn. We rent the third floor from a cool old lady named Gloria, who didn’t even yell at us for building Ikea furniture until 2am (after dragging several boxes weighing 50+ pounds up two and a half flights of stairs, because we are badasses). The house is full of dust and clutter, everything is old and a little rickety, the radiators are terrifying, and we actually have an above-ground subway train running right through the backyard.

Backyard Train

I took this from my bedroom window. After living next to an airport for years, it actually isn't that bad.

The plusses: I live in New York now, I have enough money to last for a while even before I find a job, and I live across the hall from a friend who gets really excited when I say things like hey, why don’t we spend the whole night watching Vampire Diaries?

But then, there’s Grover.

Dumb Dog (Labradoodle)

Oh, don't be fooled. He looks fluffy and cute, but actually he's a minion of hell.

Grover used to be Gloria’s husband’s dog, and he’s had a lot of different caretakers over the years. Of course, he didn’t choose to specifically torture any of them until I came along.

In exchange for a break in my rent, I’m contracted to walk and feed Grover twice a day. It seems like a perfect deal: I get paid, and I get to have a dog, something I’ve always wanted but have never been able to arrange for myself. Little did I know that Grover would be the worst. 

I’ve walked this dog on time every day, played with him in the yard, attempted to bond by sitting with him and petting him and singing to him and telling him he’s a good boy when he (very rarely) does not-terrible things. Grover, who is an adult dog and does not seem to be suffering from any illnesses, has repaid me by pooping all over the (carpeted!!!!) dining room no less than four times, often right after I bring him home from a 45-minute walk in the snow because I want to make sure he’s had enough time to poop outside, because it’s my job and I don’t like failing.

Also, instead of eliminating like a normal fucking animal, Grover has lately begun a process wherein he sort of poops halfway, leaves it hanging out of his ass as he trots around, forces me to clean him as best as I can (eeugh), and then refuses to actually finish the whole business until he is safely under the dining room table again.

Because this animal is not normal. Like the mythical Cerberus, he is a beast that belongs not on this earth, but in the depths of the underworld where his willfulness may be tempered by the awesome power of the gods.

Cerberus and Hercules

It was probably one of Hercules' tasks to get this dog to poop outside of the dining room.

It’s just not right that this stupid labradoodle is shitting all over my New York adventures. I wanted to come here to feel invigorated, with everything new and suddenly possible, like I could learn to be the kind of person who wins and succeeds and doesn’t get run over by life every four seconds. Instead, I’m holding back tears in the freezing cold as I ineffectually beg a dog to shit properly.

I am better than this dog. I am smarter. I am locking him in the fucking kitchen today and he is going to know my wrath, because I did not come here to be obsessed with a vindictive labradoodle’s digestion 24/7. I came here to live, and to do awesome Valentine’s Day stuff with Shady (it’s gonna be epic), and to write short stories in the park, and to skip down the streets and throw my hat in the air like Mary Tyler Moore because this is supposed to by my year. You do not get to shit on my year, Grover. I own your ass.

(But seriously, if anyone in the New York area wants a labradoodle, contact me. We’ll make it look like he just escaped from the yard. Gloria might not even notice.)

As you are probably unaware, The Pumpkin is in the process of relocating to New York City. As such, I am (obviously) looking for apartments for us to share. So I headed out to Queens last night to check out a posting I found on Craigslist.

That was entirely uneventful, the place was cool – it was the trip back to Brooklyn that totally threw me.

Episode 3: Just Crazy-Ass Shit for No Good Reason -or- The Pantsless Yeti

The property was located just off the R train in Queens. It was the weekend, which means the subway was totally fucked. I transfered from the R to the 4,5 at 59th Street. And then the shitstorm began. At the second stop, 14th St./Union Square, a woman fell on the tracks and was run over. I have no clue as to her state of health because as soon as this was announced the platform was flooded. The conductor announces that the train will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. I (full of anger at the inconvenience this woman and her likely death have caused me. Because I’m sensitive like that.) transfer BACK to the R, which runs to Atlantic-Pacific so I can transfer back to the 4,5 in Brooklyn. It should be mentioned that I could have taken the Q, which cuts travel time in half because it’s express, HAD THE Q BEEN RUNNING, but it wasn’t because as I mentioned before, it was the f*cking weekend.

I’m a little shaken, and am looking forward to (hoping for) a nice quiet ride. I arrive at Atlantic-Pacific and transfer to the platform for the 2, 3, 4, 5.

But there was no rest nor respite for me on this night. Because yesterday was teh Pantsless Subway Ride. There was a tall (6′ 3″), gangly man walking around the platform in what appeared to be white briefs that had been in the wash with a red sock. They were faded pink. Did I mention he was super hairy? Because he was. He was speaking with everyone on the platform because Black people will not hesitate to speak to you when you look crazy. He ends up in the same car as me, I’m standing against the doors on one side of the train, him on the other.

At the next stop, a BLIND homeless man gets on, walking right past the Pantsless Yeti. He does his spiel and begins accepting donations. As the train pulls into my stop, he overhears someone referencing crackheads and believes them to be talking about him. He immediately engages, defending his honor and proclaiming “trust me, I ain’t no crackhead, crackheads smell. I clean myself.” The accused shouts out “I wasn’t even talkin’ ’bout you!” as I step off the train.

When I get above ground, I decide I want a sandwich from the bodega on the corner. The man inside greets me with a smile – I’m a regular. While he’s fixing my sandwich a group of young hoodlums (ruffians? skids? hooligans?) come in. They’re obviously not from the area because they’re pissed about the cost of the items in the store. They’re swearing and yelling, so Store Man takes a minutes to get them out of the store, He admonished them for swearing in front of a lady, to which there was a chorus consisting of the following phrases:

“….PUSSY.”

“She can suck my dick.”

“I don’t give a FUCK.”

“Ol’ ugly ass…”

Thanks, Store Man, for trying, but also for dragging me into this shit. Thanks.

So after that I dragged myself inside, stuffed my face and fell asleep watching My Fair Wedding. I should buy a few cats.

Episode Two: Sample Sale

And we’re back! My experiences in New York have not been exceedingly unusual lately, but I did finally have one of the requisite rites of passage to becoming a “real New Yorker” (or at least a real transplant) I WENT TO A SAMPLE SALE.

Yes. A real life, balls to the wall, modern warfare sample sale.

The sale was for J.Crew, I intended to buy nothing, then spent over $200 so…I’ll be eating at the soup kitchen for the next few weeks.

Even cooler? My boss (whose idea this was. Literally I walked into work and she and my co-worker were like “hey good morning, wanna go to sample sale right now?”) has a boyfriend. This boyfriend knew the right person (I’m not explaining why or who he is) and so when we show up to find the line literally wrapped around the building, we walk right to the door, and they let us in before the sale even opens. GREAT BALLS OF MOOLAH IN THE MORNING. Probably one of the coolest feeling moments of my life so far.

I mean, this is how I felt at that moment.

Contrary to popular belief, sample sales carry multiple sizes, I saw several dresses and coats in size 12, so don’t let that deter you. Had I been wearing the proper sample sale attire, I would have tried on a dress or two (more on that below). If that’s still not quite your size, don’t you dare rule out ACCESSORIES. I got myself 2 sweaters, a pair of real leather calf length boots and an amazing bag. I priced out approximately how much this would have cost in store, and it came to about $690. So I win at life this week. Also, coolest thing ever? My bag had the details from the photoshoot still inside it. It was one of the prototype bags that gets made before they’re even ready to go in store. I FEEL SO EFFING COOL RIGHT NOW. Did I mention when we came out there was still a line around the building?

I’ll stop gloating and provide you with some helpful tips should you ever venture into a sample sale. Because this opportunity was sprung upon me, I was so poorly prepared. But not you, dear reader! You will know how to be.

1) Get there (crazy) early

I can’t stress this enough. The J. Crew sale started at 10, we showed up at 9:50, and the line was around the block. I was fortunate that I was able to get in early and disregard the line (sorry, still bragging), but the poor folks who got there an hour early were still in line in the rain when I left the store.

2) Dress properly

Dressing rooms at sample sales are basically just mirrors shoved in the far corner of the room, so you’ll need to wear an outfit that is versatile and will not require getting naked in front of strangers in order to try on your items. This means preferably tights that you can pull jeans on over, and a tank top so you can try on shirts and dresses over your clothes. If you’re not comfortable wearing clothes that tight throw a big sweater on over it that can be pulled off. Also, wear slip on shoes WITH socks. There will be shoes, and the last thing you want to be bothered with is laces, buckles, ties or straps when you’re in constant danger of being stampeded.

3) Have your priorities

Before you even get in line, you need to know what your priorities are. This is like Black Friday shopping, only crazier, because it’s discounted and sometimes one-of-a-kind designer fare with women who have skipped work, waited in line for hours and are about to go BROKE. If you get stuck combing through the dresses when you really needed new shoes, you’ll regret it when you get there later and find a bare rack.

4) Have an exit strategy

The same way you need to have priorities, you need to know when to say enough is enough. Because there are no carts at sample sales you will reach a point when your arms get tired anyway. Make sure you’ve acquired your necessities before you reach this point. Not only do you need to acquire as much of what’s on your list as you can and leave, you need to take into account how much you plan to buy. You might need a cab, and you’ll want to plan for that.

5) Don’t be a bitch

Favors get returned, as do elbows and pushing. Maybe if this was something I was really crazy over I’d be more animalistic (plus I’m laid back as it is), but let’s remember that clothes are not more important than humans, please. Also, if you go too crazy they’ll kick you out.

6) DO NOT BRING A JACKET

I had time to check my coat because I got let in early, but if you’ve been waiting in line? Those 3 minutes mean the difference between getting that trench you always dreamed of and watching it get thrown over someone else’s arm. No bags, no coats, no nothing. Bring yourself, your credit card, and maybe your phone.

I hope you find these tips helpful next time you’re at a crazy sale. I’m excited to hit up another sample sale sometime soon (or, you know, when I have money again so not really all that soon), this time better prepared and ready to go for it. Is it weird that I’m hoping for more weird stuff to happen so I can write about it? It makes life interesting. Come on, Big Apple, don’t fail me now!

Got any crazy New York experiences to share? I’d love to hear ’em!

As I’ve mentioned before, and as pop culture has probably informed you by this time, crazy stuff goes down in New York all the time. All sorts of crazy. Actual crazy, meaning the kind that you give a wide berth to on the sidewalk, stuff that’s crazy awesome, crazy expensive, and then there’s the crazy unbelievable shit. The things that after seeing a grown man in a tutu riding a children’s bike and high fiving strangers will still make you go WTF? I’m talking about coincidences so insane you simply wouldn’t think them possible in a city with 20 million people living in the greater metropolitan area. I’ve heard a lot of these stories, and New Yorkers are all too familiar with this magic, but I’ve only recently started having tales of my own. I figured I would share these stories as I slowly begin to experience the weird Twilight Zone/Outer Limits voodoo that is New York City.

Episode One: Door-to-Door

I live in Brooklyn with my great-aunt. I was relocating from the south for my new job, so I moved in at the end of June in order to save up until I could move out on my own. My aunt is around most of the time when I get home in the evenings, and usually answers the door when someone knocks, which is extremely seldom. Most people who need to speak with her have a key and are related to her. So it was already a bit random that the one night out of the week that she’s not home, someone would knock on the door who I’m completely unfamiliar with.

Let me just preface this by saying I was experiencing what is called a “raggedy as shit day.” You know, one of those days where you don’t take a shower, throw on the most comfortable clothes you own that are (somewhat) work acceptable and don’t bother with make-up. Every time you catch sight of yourself in a mirror you roll your eyes and say “whatever” and the only thing on your mind is getting home, getting take out and getting into your pajamas.

Yep. photo courtesy of annikadotbenitz.blogspot.com

Anyway, it was a guy (who looked like Chris Brown, btw) who worked for the power company, or something. He was one of those door-to-door guys who finds people looking for work. He does his little spiel, asks me if I’m over 18 and if anyone in the house is looking for work before giving me an information sheet with the company contact on it. I’m walking away, remarking to myself out loud how that was the cutest door-to-door guy I’ve ever seen when the doorbell rings again. It’s door-to-door guy, and he promptly gives me his card, and tells me he’s in a rush but I should give him a call sometime (!!!).  Talk about a major win; I answer the door in my pajamas at 7pm, mouth half full of Raisinets and a cute guy decides to give me his card.

Anyway none of that shit mattered because he never answered his phone or responded to my voicemail. It was a cool confidence booster at the time though. The fun part happens about 3 weeks later. This past weekend was the NYC Marathon, meaning the subways were PACKED. I was heading into Manhattan to meet up with a friend on quite possibly the most crowded train of life. I spend the ride wedged right by the door.

THIS shit. Only worse.

The train is stopped at the Brooklyn Bridge stop in Manhattan and the doors are about to close when some guy fucking jets onto the train and crams himself in the last available space on the train, which happens to be on me. Not beside me, on me. This guy is practically holding me like I’m his girlfriend. No seriously, his arm is holding the pole behind me, and since there wasn’t any space to begin with I’m leaning against his chest. He smells good. I look up and why is this the fucking door-to-door guy?! I stare at him for a minute, which is awkward since I’m already in his face, before I start laughing.

I suppose I should have said something to him, since judging by his body language (not a euphemism) he obviously recognized me, but fuck that. I got off at the next stop and went on with my damn life. Thanks for the laugh, New York City.

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