Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm a Charlotte if Charlotte were a Miranda.

On Sunday, October 18th, at around 11am, I was abducted outside of the Plaza Hotel, taken against my will onto a bus, and forced to endure two and a half hours of the Sex and the City tour, all for the low, low price of $47 (+ $8 for Priority Seating).

The morning was just like any other: after leaving the house too late to catch the bus to The Bus, I waved down a taxi to bring me to 5th Avenue and 58th Street. Traffic was New York City on a Sunday, but I eventually made it to my destination and found ~the woman holding a blue umbrella~ and proceeded, unwillingly, to my pre-purchased VIP (aisle :/) seat. Next to me was a woman in a red coat. I thought she was like me, alone (and scared), but she wound up being mother to the two Australians seated behind me who "aww"d and arthouse-theatre-laughed along to the various Sex and the City clips shown to us on tiny televisions and at maximum volume throughout the day's tour. Across the aisle sat a man in a hooded sweatshirt. I would eventually speak to both Red Coat Woman and Hooded Sweatshirt Man (even going so far as to asking the latter to pose for a dick pic), but for now, I sat, motionless and emotionless, until the woman holding the blue umbrella climbed aboard, and the door closed behind her.

She introduced herself as Elyse our tour guide, and the man behind the wheel as Conrad our bus driver. Elyse had a Carrie vibe about her, while she described Conrad as being "30% Charlotte, and the rest Samantha." I was terrified.

After getting through the initial introductions and pleasantries, the tour officially began. I felt my stomach fall through my feet as the bus shifted into drive and my hopes of a normal life were left behind me. The familiar scenes were blasted into our eyes and ears as the bus drove past relevant filming locations. Carrie being stood up in her wedding dress at the New York Public Library (the movies were also included in the tour); Miranda telling Carrie that she's pregnant at the corner of 23rd and I'm in Hell; Elizabeth Taylor getting gangbanged at a dog park. The other passengers shifted in their seats to get a good look or a good picture. I just shifted in my seat. Like how people shift in their seats when they are uncomfortable, or readying themselves to tuck and roll out of a large, moving vehicle.

Eventually, Stockholm Syndrome set in. I raised my hand when Elyse asked the bus who lives in New York; I even took a picture (of two men who were very mad at Conrad for accidentally turning onto a small street and then backing back out of it (they're the ones with hands in pockets, staring angrily at the bus)). Nightmarish visions crept through my brain each time Elyse mentioned all of the drinking we'd eventually do (were the others going to hold me down and pour cosmos down my throat?), but mostly a numbing calm swept over my person as I gave into the experience. And then we pulled up to The Pleasure Chest and Conrad turned off the bus.


(click for larger/nsfw)

As she reboarded, I heard a fellow captive say, "I think I lost my body." I knew exactly how she felt. While much of my walk through The Pleasure Chest is a blur of Rabbits and lubes and just, like, a set of balls(??), I vividly remember a mousy man in an ill-fitting, light gray suit trying to return something at the front counter. If I hadn't run, screaming, from the store at the sight of mannequin heads in various leather masks lining one of the walls, I would've eavesdropped further to hear what it was this man was returning. Instead, I refueled with a slice and a Snapple from the pizza place next door. Do Snapple caps have facts on them anymore? I forgot to check. I miss the Snapple Lady. I hope she's doing well.

More driving, more clips, more dread.

Our next stop was Bleeker Street. Here, we were set loose to shop at places like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, and other successful white male fashion designer stores. I contemplated using this freedom to obtain actual freedom. To escape. To duck out of the crowd, slink into another crowd, and onto a train. But Elyse promised cupcakes upon our return. And although I found a little bit of myself in this caged dog and this caged baby as I walked by windows of mildly expensive shops, I couldn't shake the cupcake anticipation. And sure, the original Magnolia Bakery that was featured on an episode of Sex and the City (the one where Carrie tells Miranda about her crush on Aidan) sat just a measly block away from where Conrad parked my mobile jail cell, but the Elyse cupcakes were free of charge. That didn't stop me from purchasing a brownie and a hot chocolate from Magnolia, however!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so bad ;)

QUICK REVIEW OF MAGNOLIA BAKERY: The brownie wasn't very good and the hot chocolate jumped out of my lap and onto the floor of the bus in an effort to escape before I'd had a chance to try it. ✮✩✩✩✩


me not knowing my angles in front of Carrie Bradshaw's brownstone / COSMOS, LADIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, the free cupcake was as delicious as it was easy to shove into my mouth so that I could free my hands to slop up my spilled hot chocolate with a roll of toilet paper. The rest of the tour was much of the same: pointing out of filming locations; playing of Sex and the City clips. We stopped at Steve and Aidan's bar and the brand new bartender's ratio of lots of grenadine + a splash of 7 Up made my Shirley Temple taste :/. I sat alone, looking through the pictures I'd taken, still embarrassed from the hot chocolate spill. The knowledge that I might never see my family again washed over me. These people were my family now. Elyse was my mom, Conrad my dad. Hooded Sweatshirt Man might very well become my husband, even though he would much rather have had a husband of his own.

We were herded back onto the bus, filed back into our respective seats. I took my place next to the same Red Coat Woman. I glanced out of the same windows. There was one final stop: the HBO flagship store. Our tour was coming to an end. I steeled myself as we approached Bryant Park. I was ready. Conrad pulled the bus to the curb and opened the door. No one moved. We all silently glanced around at the outside, at one another, as Elyse drew our attention to the tip envelopes included in our brochures. I was the first to stand, and the first to flee. Without looking back, I flew across 6th Avenue and into Times Square. I narrowly avoided being mauled by a Tigger as I continued to sprint toward the nearest train. I didn't stop until I was in the Port Authority ACE station. I don't know if anyone had followed me. Maybe they did. Maybe Elyse is outside of my apartment building right now, waiting to throw me onto a bus and yell more behind-the-scenes anecdotes about her time as a background extra on the first movie at me.

I look forward to a time when hearing the Sex and the City theme song doesn't send my body into violent, panicked fits. For now, though, I'm safe. And with a broken elevator, I don't plan on leaving my apartment anytime soon (I refuse to live in an eight-story walkup!). But I do worry about the others. Are they still on the bus? Maybe they're halfway to Los Angeles now, gearing up for a tour of those episodes. I hope Elyse brought extra cupcakes with her.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Leo and me.



We arrived at the restaurant just as my Oma and Opa were walking up the steps to the door. They noticed us and waved.

"Oh, man. They beat us!" Leonardo DiCaprio said. "And your Oma's outfit is amazing."

Leonardo DiCaprio was right. My Oma was wearing the leopard print button-down shirt that my Opa once said was too young for her. It hurt her feelings then, though she never came right out and said so. She only relayed Opa's comment when she took me to her bedroom closet to show the shirt to me, but I could sense in her otherwise jovial retelling of the story that she didn't appreciate it. "I'll just save this to wear for a special occasion," she'd said. "When I'm even older than I am now."

That special occasion was today. Leonardo DiCaprio and I had planned a dinner with our respective Omas and my Opa, and everyone's schedules finally worked out. We chose Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar®, mostly for my Oma and Opa. They like that the menu features pictures of what a lot of the plates are. It's easy to imagine eating something when you know exactly what it'll look like! I'd wondered if Leonardo DiCaprio would feel weird eating at such a popular chain restaurant, but when I sheepishly suggested it, he mentioned splitting an order of Green Bean Crispers :)

I helped Leonardo DiCaprio's Oma out of the front seat of his car (I rode in the back because manners). My Oma and Opa were still outside of the restaurant, waiting for us at the door.

"Guten Tag!" Opa said, to which Leonardo DiCaprio replied with his own German greeting and a follow-up. A full-blown German conversation started up from there as we entered the establishment, and I suddenly felt silly being the only member of the party who hardly spoke a lick of the language. Seemingly sensing this, Leonardo DiCaprio put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer. "You've got a great granddaughter here, you two."

We slid into our booth - Leonardo DiCaprio, his Oma, and I taking one side; my Oma and Opa taking the other - and began the daunting task of looking over the 174-page menu. The pictures might've helped my Oma and Opa, but for me they added an almost manic feel to an already overwhelming selection. Between the Shareables, Lunch Combos, and Have It All sections, I felt my eyes glaze over. I flipped to the desserts and mentally settled on just ordering a Triple Chocolate Meltdown® as a meal.

"I might get the Fiesta Chicken Chopped Salad," Leonardo DiCaprio announced to the table. My Oma and Opa looked up from their menus with concern on their faces. "Just a salad?" my Oma asked. "What are you, a rabbit?" my Opa teased, laughing at his own joke. Leonardo DiCaprio's Oma smiled and touched her hand to his. "You sure that'll be enough, dear?"

Leonardo DiCaprio mulled it over and nodded. "I mean, Jazz and I are sharing an appetizer, and I can already tell she's chosen a dessert," he winked at me. "I think a salad will be okay." I smiled. How did he know?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sometimes You Get Dumped by Your Middle School Boyfriend Over the Phone While Watching Desperately Seeking Susan the Day Your Youngest Sister is Born

July 8th, 1996

I smelled like Sun-In and finally started to fill out my training bra. I'd graduated from the 6th grade a month before and turned twelve a month before that. 6th grade was a welcome school year for me after the tumultuous 5th I had in a new school that was a mile walk from my new home in a new town run by losers who would steal our laundry (even my velvet gymnastics leotards). My parents had separated at the end of 4th grade (I log each moment of my life by what grade I was in), and it didn't make me sad. Not because I was mature enough to recognize that they were better off apart; I think it was more that I am just sometimes too chill? I don't really remember having much feeling about it at all. I could've shrugged at the news.

Dad kept the house and mom, little sister, and I moved to a worse neighborhood. The one we had lived in wasn't inherently bad, but bikes were stolen and I'd been flashed by pseudo-adults on two separate occasions (one was just an innocent teen mooning, but the other had the police involved and I remember describing the penis I'd been shown as looking like "a duckbill turned down," I literally could not stop describing it that way). But this new town was even worse than the neighboring neighborhoods I wasn't allowed to explore in my old town. Aside from the long walks to school and stolen leotards, the mutant children of the neighborhood trapped me inside of my mom's van, threw dirt and trash into our front door mail slot, and one girl even choked me in the laundromat for I'm not sure what reason. (I'd randomly have her as a classmate in German III years later, in my old town, and she'd act like we were old friends. (And I let her because I don't like confrontation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)) Eventually, our apartment was robbed while the whole neighborhood watched (mom was at work and little sister and I were with our cousins for the day). I was the first to notice something was wrong when I glanced at my first love (the tv) upon entering and saw it wasn't there. So we moved in with the man who would become my ex-stepdad, and my mom agreed to take me to my old house, where my dad still lived, each morning so I could catch the bus to my old school and my old friends, none of whom would ever choke me in a laundromat. And that's where I met Chris. (I think his name was Chris?)

We met through a note my classmate wrote to him. She and he were friends who exchanged notes (you know how we all exchanged notes) and I added a little "hello!" type of thing in the upper right corner of the page. I think I probably signed it "Love, Jasmine" because I was a tween and how else do you end notes to friends/strangers, but Chris (?) took this innocent sign-off as some kind of declaration and asked our mutual friend, through another note, if I'd like to be his girlfriend. My multi-year crush on Steve DePrince was continuing to go nowhere, so I agreed to have my first boyfriend, who I would come to meet only one (1) time. It was in the hallway, and his class was on its way into the gymnasium. I'm not sure why I was in the hallway, but we met, face to face, talked about who knows what, and never met again. We might've written each other some notes, and I don't know if I ever talked with him on the phone. I do remember talking regularly on the phone with a boy from one of those bad neighboring neighborhoods about The Fugees during this time. Why wasn't he my boyfriend?

That summer was a lot of something. Dad's new girlfriend was surprise pregnant with his third and her first child. She liked to tell anyone new about how doctors had told her, years before, that she wasn't able to conceive and now here she was, mid-30s, baby on the way. Karen was a lot of fun until she wasn't anymore. I was never the kind of child-of-divorce who immediately and without reason disliked her parents' new "friends." I welcomed them as new adults in my life because of my reliable chill factor, and was especially excited about them when they wound up joining in on our regular living room wrestling matches. I'm not sure when it started, or how or why, and maybe I was getting up in age to be wrestling with family, but dad and sister and I, and then Karen, would wrestle all over the living room on our every-other-weekend visits, getting trapped in locks and holds and getting bruised all over. Dad was large, sister was a tiny noodle, and I used my gymnastic ability to stretch and roll my way in and out of play. Karen would tie a bandana around her head and call herself Sonya. She would speak with an unplaceable accent, and she would growl and snarl and rescue sister and me from dad's grip. It was fascinating.

And then she got pregnant, and she was a big baby about it. She would wail and howl in agony during every contraction or whatever that happened, and enlisted the help of her bewigged, muumuu-wearing mother from Chicago to kick me out of my house during my summer vacation because my sitting around somehow made too much noise. Karen was no longer the Sonya I knew. It was because of her I'd be banished to the streets where I'd open an iced tea stand because there was nothing else to do and I didn't have lemonade. (I made no money.) This was also the year I got my period for the first time, on Memorial Day, so I was afraid to go swimming, for fear it would just show up again. My next period didn't come until Labor Day. I wound up being afraid to swim all summer for no reason.

But July 8th!

Karen had an inducement scheduled. With her mother and my father at her side, and her groaning taken all the way to the hospital with them, I was finally able to enjoy my summer vacation from the confines of my own home. I could stay inside all damn day and drink as much iced tea as I wanted as I watched Madonna dry her pits using a bathroom hand-dryer (plus other scenes) in Desperately Seeking Susan. The phone rang during the end credits and I ran to answer it, ready to hear the news that another little sister was born. But the voice on the other end was Chris (or whatever his name was)'s. He asked how my summer was going. I don't remember if we'd talked since school ended. I probably told him that I had a sister being born that day in the way that I always relate too much information to people who don't require it. With the smalltalk over, his voice turned into a mixture of nerves and sincerity. He mentioned that he still had one more year of middle school left, and that he was likely going to private school for junior high. He mentioned that we never saw each other or talked. He mentioned that we should break up, in whatever words he used. And even though we'd never gone on a date, and I'd only met him once, and we hadn't talked all summer, I could feel my face tingle with embarrassment, and I cried after we hung up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm doing great.

I started this blog to tell you about Neko Atsume (or, ねこあつめ). It is an app in which you, essentially, collect cats. You lure them to your backyard (and eventually* your den) with food and toys and, in return, they gift you with gold and silver sardines that you use to buy them more food and toys!

Neko Atsume

There are 41 cats in all. They come and go or come and stay, depending on when you check your scene (sometimes you miss seeing a cat or few in the time you have the app closed). And, according to Annette at Welcome to Wonderland, some of the cats are rare enough to only swing by when certain items are left out for them! (That post is also basically a tutorial on how to even use this app, given that everything in it is written in Japanese.)

As the cats play with a ball of yarn or sit in a bucket, you can take their picture and give them a name. I’ve named all of mine after Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters (above you’ll find sleeping Andrew, Xander with the ball of yarn, sleeping Buffy, Darla playing with the baseball, Willow on the tree stump, Oz in the overturned carton, Ben in the bucket, and Cordelia between jumps at the butterfly) because what am I doing with my life. That’s pretty much it! They just play and you look at them!

I have no conclusion to this! I’m pretty much obsessed with collecting cats now and laughed very hard when the chubby cat came and ate all of the food (she left me lots of sardines to make up for it (I named her Drusilla)). All day I think about getting gold sardines and hoping Spike shows up to wear the plastic bag on his head for a while and how Cordelia must really, really like me since I’ve seen her the most of all of the cats.

Thank you Kim for ruining my life re: showing me this game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*The game starts with only the backyard but, after earning 180 gold sardines (or spending $2.99 because earning gold sardines is so hard, cats are so ungrateful?????), you can expand your space to put more things to trap more cats to make more sardines to buy more things! (Or you can do literally anything else, like read a book or go outside or put your mouth into the opening of a bottle for a really long time until your lips are plump as hell, etc.!)