A Confluence of Tragedies

People say that memories of tragedy and loss are usually the most vivid in one’s mind. JFK’s assassination, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, FDR’s Declaration of War—these are memories that defined generations. But for me, the memory of watching the second plane hit the South Tower is blurry. I think Mrs. Chiselko, my old school geometry teacher, turned on the television because another teacher burst in, imploring us to watch. I think I was sitting in the back and only lifted my head when I heard the TV turn on. I think the room was silent in shock, but maybe it wasn’t—maybe it was a flurry of chatter and confusion. Maybe I was at the front.

I don’t know, really.

What I do remember clearly is the aftermath. How by lunch time, on some subliminal level I could already sense how the events of that morning were going to change the United States forever, particularly for those with similar complexions to whoever caused the planes to crash, but not knowing who the culprits were and secretly hoping they weren’t Asian, like me. I remember dealing with the tragedy with inappropriate comments, joking that the Japanese probably did it to get us back for World War II, and making the kids laugh uncomfortably at my lunch table. I remember leaving school early, coming home, my neighbor checking in on us, me telling her my theory about the Japanese kamikaze bombers, the grave look on her face, her scolding me for thinking so ignorantly. I remember feeling ashamed. I remember being confused, in shock, sitting on the floor in my kitchen with my sister. We were huddled together under a thin blanket. We watched the footage of the towers falling and dusty masses walking over the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again on CBS 2, the only New York City-based station my analog TV could pick up since it broadcasted out of Paramus, not the World Trade Center like all of the other stations. I remember talking to my mother through our land line.

I don’t remember the sound of my mother’s voice, whether she was worried or crying or stoically nonchalant like she usually is. I don’t remember who called who first. I don’t remember wondering how many of my classmates’ parents or relatives died that day, and I don’t remember thinking about the safety of my cousin, since I was not aware at the time that he worked in the World Trade Center.

Sitting on the kitchen floor, my sister and I watched, in real time, how our vernacular changed. Ground Zero. September 11th and 9/11. Nine One One for a brief period, until broadcasters realized it was too cliché. Al Quaeda. Bin Laden. Terrorism. United We Stand. In a day, these words and phrases were integrated into American culture.

Before that morning, the word “terrorist” was unfamiliar, even clumsy, on the tongue. It was a word people rarely had an occasion to use. When I thought of a terrorist, I thought of awkward-looking, crazy-eyed white guys like Timothy McVeigh and the UniBomber. Ground Zero had something to do with earthquakes. The Twin Towers were the two rather boring looking buildings I always saw when my family drove to the airport, the first beacon of familiarity I had with the approaching skyline, the definitive signal that New York was near.

9/11 Memorial, South Tower

These are the memories I relived last night as I watched the two memorial pools flow endlessly. The 9/11 memorial is beautiful in spite of the occasion that ushered in its existence. The pools are large gaping holes into the depths in which so many innocent people lost their lives, with water, a universal symbol for healing and restoration, flowing through it for as long as our society will stand. My fingers traced over the engraved names around the pools, a tactile reminder that every name once had goals and dreams and a future and still, today, has grieving family, friends, and communities.

I grew increasingly angry and frustrated– at what, I am not sure– and could not find the appropriate method to express how I felt. So, I prayed. I prayed for the first time in years to the God to whom the victims of 9/11 were supposedly sacrificed, not asking for anything in particular, but posing this question and hoping for an answer: What have we accomplished in our post-9/11 world? What have we learned?

On the Brooklyn-bound 4 train that night, the train came to a shuddering halt underneath the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. I don’t remember it happening, as stopping and starting is a fairly common occurrence. I also don’t remember when the smoke started. I don’t remember who noticed it first. But when passengers started to cry out and called my attention to what was happening, my first thought was crystal clear. Oh God, Sarin gas. We’re all going to die. Then, I made a mental list of the people who I would miss, the people I wished I could talk to one last time. I thought about my mother and, if I suffocated, how pissed she would be at the entire situation. I looked helplessly toward the two families with children and small babies. I held the hand of my significant other and, for a moment, silently waited to die.

Nothing happened. The smoke was just smoke. After the rest of the car came to a collective realization that it was probably going to be okay, I allowed myself to inhale, cautiously at first. We coped with it in the best way we each knew how. The woman with the boxing gloves in the shopping bag leaned her head on the metal grail and read a magazine. The assertive blonde lady asked pointed questions to every MTA official that walked through the car. The woman with the curious scar on her cheek made macabre, inappropriate comments about injuries and compensation. We put cloth up to our face to filter out smoke in the most futile way possible. We groaned and complained when the intercom failed to give us information. Not a single person said anything about terrorism, but we were all listening for it.

Forty five minutes later, the MTA sent an empty train that positioned itself behind ours. People rushed to be the first to evacuate, but many of us waited, letting the elderly and those with small children go ahead, working as a team to hold open the sliding doors, push strollers, hold canes, carry kids. We nodded at the FDNY and MTA officials lining the first cars on the new train, and they nodded back. We tried to ignore the men with the gas masks and the axes and frantic radio calls. And then it was business as usual. I made awkward jokes about human centipede type evacuation protocols.  A man repeatedly asked for change as people walked by and filtered into the cars ahead. People read their kindles. And then we waited, and waited, and waited, and finally the train lurched backward on its way to Manhattan.

On the circuitous cab ride home, it occurred to me that perhaps my obsession with understanding what it means to “be a New Yorker,” my exercise in humor writing that is a thinly veiled disguise for the disconnect I sometimes feel in relation to my surroundings– all this may be due in part to the fact that I have avoided truly thinking about tragedy, particularly the one that irrevocably shaped the mentality and character of New York City since 2001.  Last night was a confluence of memories and hypotheticals that forced me to reflect on how I have lived my life for the past ten years, think about questions  to which I still no answers, and wonder about how I might fit into those answers one day. What have we accomplished in our post-9/11 world? What have we learned?

What have I learned?

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Bed Bugs: The Al-Qaeda of Insects

Here’s a fun riddle!

Q: What’s tiny, parasitic, and ruins lives in a matter of weeks?

A: Your Ex! Bed bugs!

Generally, I am a pretty average person with few interesting and unique qualities. This crippling blandness allows me to seamlessly blend into the background of most situations. (In fact, I am behind you right now, reading a smut magazine and sipping a Coolatta, the drink of champions.) Unfortunately, I have a few irrational fears that draw both confusion and derision. One is the Build-A-Bear Workshop, which, like Voldermort, makes me uncomfortable to type. Another is being trapped in an elevator filled with front butts.

My latest and most paralyzing fear is bed bugs.

What a cad.

When people ask me what bed bugs are, I explain to them, after briskly slapping them in the face for their ignorance, that bed bugs are blood-sucking creatures that live anywhere, typically in mattresses, on clothing, or in fibers. In the past, people thought that bed bug infestation was the cause of unsanitary living conditions, though today that is not usually the case. Like most biting insects, their bites leave raised marks on your skin. Unlike other insect bites, bed bug bite marks are highly recognizable and bring an unjust yet unshakable stigma to those that have them. You are affected. You are blighted. You are a walking testament to the evils of this cruel, unyielding world. All of a sudden your life collapses. Assuming the worst, people who have never seen your apartment secretly volunteer you for the show Hoarders.  Friends bail on plans with excuses such as “My dog has to go outside and take a shit, and I need to be there for this momentous occasion.”

My only personal experience with bed bugs happened across the Atlantic Ocean. I was a bright eyed backpacker then, testing my limits, putting myself outside my comfort zone, and —I thought— rolling with the punches with great aplomb. So of course I was pissed when my travel mate chided me for not “going with the flow” because I insisted on researching each and every hostel and booking them weeks in advance. After succumbing to this hippie passive aggressive peer pressure, I forced myself to have a Devil May Care attitude and ended up checking into what I now suspect was the most decrepit hostel in Serbia. It was as if the hostel outfitted each bed exclusively with twin bedsheets similar to the ones from the 1980s that my mother can’t bear to throw away even though they’ve worn away to a fine, spiderweb like consistency and have no elastic left whatsoever.  I remember my fitted sheet not fitting at all, curling up at the bottom corners of the mattress. I shrugged it off, and in the morning I woke up to my legs covered in what I thought were bites from approximately ten thousand mosquitoes. I walked around Belgrade drawing looks of shock and horror that I assumed were from the particularly hideous pair of Old Navy cargo shorts I donned that day.

But when I arrived arriving at my next hostel, a far cleaner hostel in Croatia (that I, ahem, booked weeks in advance), I saw a sign taped to the front door that both enlightened and frightened me. Although antithetical to its goal, the sign was formatted like a Wanted poster. On it were pictures of bites that looked suspiciously similar to mine and handwritten text scrawled at the bottom that read. Peering closer at the sign, I read:

Do you have these bites that look like this? They are BED BUG BITES. You and your bites are not welcome here!! THANK YOU!!

I backed away from the hostel, rushed to the nearest internet cafe, Googled like a madwoman, and looked at my legs with dismay. And then, like any other self-respecting global citizen, I changed into pants, went back to the hostel, and nonchalantly checked in. Girl’s gotta get her beauty sleep, am I right?

Fast forward a few years, and these pests are now infiltrating my beloved city in record numbers, leaving New Yorkers on high alert. While my apartment has been lucky enough to have escaped the bedbug infestation wreaking havoc on New York City, this constant and ever present threat has drastically changed my life in many ways:

  • After reading about how bed bugs are infesting movie theaters, I flat out refused to go to the movies for the better part of a year. Eventually, I reconciled my fear of the movies and my desire to see Step It Up 2: The Streets by researching every movie theater on Bedbugregistry.com and finding two movie theaters with no bed bug reports. (I’d tell you which ones they are… but I don’t want you bringing your bed bugs to my theater.)
  • Every time I get a bug bite, I needlessly clarify the origin of the bites. This naturally arouses more suspicion from people, which is why, I assume, that people avoid me. All the time.
  • I check my mattress and sheets relentlessly for evidence of bed bugs. Whenever I think I see something, I become momentarily hysterical and surrender myself to the impending bed bug infestation by lying on my mattress similar to how I imagine Jesus did on the cross. 100% of the time this has happened, it eventually comes to my attention that the bed bug is actually lint.
  • Out of fear of getting a bed bug on the subway, I no longer envelop fellow subway passengers in big bear hugs, even when I really think they need it/when I want to smell their strange, yet beautiful scent.

People, namely my psychiatrist, think I’m being histrionic whenever I caution them about the sinister danger of bed bugs. As a truth-teller, soothsayer, chronic malapropist, and concerned New Yorker, I leave you with this post and this Venn Diagram to decide. Good luck, World. You need it.

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Change Is Gonna Come. That’s What She Said.

Instead of a fakepartment, I’m sitting in a faux-ffice, French for “a desk in a hallway.” Rather than procrastinating graduate work, I’m on my lunch break weighing the health risks of a back alley Financial District quickie manicure.

Well, hello. It’s been awhile.

After moving to New York City in 2009, I realized that I was becoming increasingly baffled by the unnecessary complexity of normal things while staying completely unfazed by bizarre things. As it turns out, this is an early presenting symptom of becoming a New Yorker– before the cocoon and the all-black wardrobe acquisition. Noting this change, I did what any self-respecting procrastinating grad student would do: blog about it. And so, HOW TO BE A NEW YORKER was born.

Then, I fell off the face of the planet for two years, and so did this blog. My venture into social obscurity coincided with my attempts to trick people into thinking I’m employable. The blog was on lock down, I (briefly) stopped day drinking, I bought a zillion cardigans, and I started practicing saying sentences like “Pedagogical development is necessary for effective standards-based education” and “No, I do not have a criminal background” so I could say them convincingly in interviews. And once I started teaching, there was no time for anything: going out, exploring, meeting people, pooping, blogging.

I made the difficult but wise decision to leave teaching and slowly get my personal life back. When 2010-2011 the school year ended, I hugged my kids goodbye, cried, packed up the classroom, and prepared for subsequent hibernation (read: an office job). Now with a new job, more spare time than I thought humanly possible, untwisted bowels, four bear cubs, and few real connections made in this vast city, I still find myself as an outsider looking in. I’ve lived here for three years, but I haven’t really lived much at all (she says, poignantly, as a single tear rolls down her cheek and into her personal pan pizza).

So basically, if you’re like myself and gave up after the first two sentences to look for pictures, here:

Nothing much has changed, but I’m looking forward to changing.

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Step 3: Be a Creeper

It’s been awhile since I last posted instructions on how to make yourself an authentic New Yorker. To those of you who have been waiting for months with bated breath in anticipation of my ill-informed guidance… I am amazed at your patience, but more so, your breath capacity. That has to be some kind of David Blaine-esque record. You should get examined by a medical professional. You might be an X-Men. And I’m sorry for the delay.creeper

So, Step 3: Be a Creeper. For me personally, creeping is a craft I’ve cultivated in the bottom barrel of suburbia because there was really nothing else to do. Since I’ve been in New York, I’ve been extra, extra sensitive to creeping. I’ve observed/experienced/partaken in a variety of effective creeping methods that are employed in order to meet the man or woman of one’s dreams– just long enough to establish a superficial connection that justifies wildly elaborate fantasies of marriage, worldwide travel, and progeny without the dangers of confrontation or a restraining order. The vibrant culture of New York City allows for many distinct forms of creeping to thrive, like a petri dish of insecurity. Here are a few of the most popular methods:

  • The Subway Creeper – You know this person. Heck, it might even be you. This creeper is the one whose stare burns into the cover of your book, the back of your head, or even more awkwardly, your chest, willing you to make eye contact. This is one of the most effective creeping methods if you are the creeper. Alternatively, should you be the unfortunate crepee, you are trapped under three or more stories of bedrock and asphalt in a steel Twinkie with creeper filling  for at least six blocks. The express trains are the most effective subway lines for this method because, at optimal creeping, you could hypnotize individuals with your soul-seeking gaze for up to seventy uninterrupted blocks!! There is no escape. Rarely does this ever result in anything more than psychological discomfort for all involved parties, but this style of creeping works especially well in tandem with…
  • Craigslist Missed Connections – For those of you who have never experienced this bite of creeper decadence, Craigslist Missed Connections is an online bulletin service that allows you to post anonymous personal ads for a specific person… except you have no idea who the person is beyond a fleeting, profound meeting you had with him or her, typically on the subway, in Trader Joe’s, at Barnes and Noble, or wherever else desperate people hang out. Sounds silly, right? WRONG. DEAD WRONG. This is a sacred institution of creeping. The brilliance of this creep cesspool is the variety of ways one can go about the creeping. The obvious creepers are, of course, the sorry individuals who post their sad and silent siren calls, beckoning the “sexy papi on da 2 train” or the “cute Asian girl with the sketchbook” to “hit me back” or “be with me forever.” But an extra, secret layer of creepdomi is comprised of the people who, on a lonely Saturday night, or perhaps every night before bed in her adult sized footy pajamas with a trap door bottom, browse the missed connections in the hope of finding herself mentioned. Perhaps this person never posts on Missed Connections, but by being on the site, she too has become a creeper of the passive kind. In this way, Craigslist has revolutionized the world of creeping. The creepee has become the creeper. The student has become the master. The world has become just a little bit more uncomfortable for everybody.
  • Horn-honking Creepers – It’s expensive to keep a car in the city, and I’m pretty sure it’s because those who do must pay some sort of excise tax for the luxury of vehicular creeping. This is a very cowardly form of creepdom considering there is at least a mobile casing of steel and glass protecting you from the glare and projectiles of your creepee. I look down on this kind of creeping, especially in high volume traffic areas like Times Square. It seems as if I hear someone being a creeper every ten seconds whenever I’m there! I secretly flattered to be so popular, but this kind of creeping is really dangerous, especially in trafficky areas– if they are too busy honking trying to get my attention, how can they inform other cars to stay out of their way? Jeepers.
  • Street Creepers – This is the form of creeping I approve of least, dislike the most, and rarely never do. From what I’ve seen, street creepers are typically men, and they assume that walking by a stranger on the street is an appropriate justification for brief face to face creepdom. The two second love songs of these creepers usually come in the form of rhetorical questions that will never be answered, like “Hey baby, where you goin’?” Sometimes, they try to woo you with comments that struggle to be clever. For instance, if a female were to walk by eating a sandwich, a street creeper might say something like, “Damn girl, I want some of that!” followed by a lip-licking motion. Also annoying are the random love songs that make no sense, like “Miss, you dropped your Metrocard” or “Can you please spare some change?” or “Ma’am, you’re not allowed to loiter here.” Silly men, I do not like your comments! While annoying, this kind of creeping is acceptable to me considering I am painfully unaware as to how well-groomed I am on a daily basis. When I used to have to catch the D train every day at 125th and St. Nicholas, I’d know it was a good hair day when I got at least two “Hay baby, hay”s. And when I got none… I was secretly devastated. And probably extremely hideous.
Perhaps... the ultimate creeper?

Perhaps... the ultimate creeper? On looks alone, yes.

So what does it all mean? I could go all philosophical on you and write about the human need for companionship and the level at which our impersonal, technology driven world has reduced the art of courting to an instant, twitter-like exchange. But I won’t, mostly because I don’t know what any of the words mean in that last sentence. What does the prevalence of creeping mean about the unique nature of New Yorkers? Well… nothing. No matter where you go, there you are with a creeper close behind you, I believe the old adage goes. Next time you’re at your job, in your dining hall, on the train, getting your haircut, in the bathroom, at the mall, on a date, I’ll– I mean, a creeper will be there waiting, It’s just that, like most things, New Yorkers do it better. And creepier.

As always, thanks for reading. See you later. Literally. I know where you live.

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25 Things You Never Knew about New York City

Even the greatest city in the world caves to the most transparent of internet memes.

nyc-25-things

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I Could Blog You Under the Table

If I were someone who consumed alcohol, consumed it frequently, maybe too frequently, maybe hungover at this very moment– I would be extremely pleased with the diverse New York City bar scene. However, everyone knows that all bloggers absolutely do not drink because we are too busy with our wildly successful internet writing careers. Instead, I write the following post hypothetically, but for ease of writing, it might read as if I have actually experienced the joys of alcohol, which of course I haven’t, because I’m much too busy posting in this blog every three weeks to indulge in libations of any kind.

There’s a place for anyone, even a super important and busy blogger, in the New York drinking scene. Desperate office worker? Midtown. Desperate high-powered office worker? Financial District. Tourist? Times Square, or maybe swigging a 40 under the Statue of Liberty while crying into your upside down subway map. Enjoy Pabst Blue Ribbon? Time to bust out your Chinatown Ray-Ban knockoffs and catch the L to Williamsburg. Do you wear a blazer with dark-wash jeans and pointy leather shoes? That’s unfortunate, but I hope you find your way to the Village. Study better for med school exams when you’re buzzed? Morningside Heights works. And also, seriously, don’t ever be my doctor. That’s f*cked up.

As a poor, procrastination-loving grad student who hypothetically drinks on occasion, I’m happy to spend time commuting to a bar with great specials, if only to escape the wanker bars that are closest to my fakepartment. One of these places in particular, the bar at Amsterdam Restaurant and Tapas Lounge, has a decently-priced happy hour. The downside to this place is that happens to be run by militant yuppies who hate everyone and hate themselves. Even though I hypothetically frequent this place every Thursday night with a large group of people, Amsterdam conveniently forgets our consistent patronage and always finds some excuse to yell at us. Whether it’s because we were ordering from the bar instead of from the waitresses, or because we weren’t aware we couldn’t eat delicious Levain cookies near the bar because they were “outside food,” or that other time when someone hypothetically and violently threw a couch cube at the bartender when he informed her happy hour was over– they always find an excuse to chastise us. Whatever, I don’t hold grudges. I’ll be there next Thursday, if they hypothetically let me back in after I hypothetically pay $400 in damages that never happened.

Self-explanatory, I think.

Self-explanatory, I think.

I do keep my eye out for cheap bar deals in the city. I (may or may not) have been to other places with a cheapskate mentality, such as the appropriately-named Cheap Shots, a dive bar on 1st Ave between 9th Street and St. Marks Place. This place is a shit hole and proud of it. It is the size of a walk in closet, and there might have been poop on the ground and lining the walls. Even so, true to their name, they do have cheap shots. My problem with this place wasn’t so much the poop as the tiny medicine cups that were posing as legitimate shot containers. It was continually disappointing to have a medicine cup as a drinking vessel but the contents not taste like Children’s Grape Dimetapp, which is a delicious, delicious cold-fighting medicine that should be the real base liquid for purple drank. But I’ll continue to come to this place, if only so I can begin stories with, “I was in a bar with poop on the walls and my Red Headed Slut came in a medicine cup…”

One bar in particular that has caught my eye while simultaneously perplexing me in every way possible is 123 Burger Shot Beer, a joint in Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve never actually been (TAKERS?!?!) but according to their website, it’s dollar burgers, two dollar shots, and three dollar beers– no gimmicks. Seems like a hell of a gimmick to me, AND IT’S WORKING. But, as Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords so intelligently once sang, “What are ya’ ovaheads?” Seriously, how does this place make money? It is utterly baffling. How is it even possible? How is this not a business model for every bar in the history of the United States of America? I wonder if the manager of 123 Burger Shot Beer moonlights as President of Citigroup, or perhaps the head of the Federal Reserve. It’s too good to be true, and I’ll believe it when I drink it, but only after I drink a lot of it, and then immediately regret it, and then take an expensive cab all the way back to Morningside Heights, which I will also immediately regret. Hypothetically speaking. Because I will never do this, ever.

Brb, going out for a blog.

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An Evaluation of My Christmas Swag and Its Relevance to New York City Living

I’m finally heading back to NYC tomorrow morning after two weeks in the ‘burbs with my parents. I have to take care of some business at school, though I’ll return to my hometown one last time before the semester starts and I begin regularly subjecting NYC middle schoolers to the unorthodox teaching style that I call, “Ugh I don’t know, just Wikipedia it.” Since I’ve been at my parents’ house, I’ve definitely gotten over the novelty of the few things about suburbia that, over winter break, I’ve forced myself to believe are endearing. This list includes but is not limited to:

  1. Driving everywhere. I threw my environmentally conscious mentality to the pollutant-filled wind as soon as I arrived in my 54.8 square mile behemoth of hometown. If I walked my normal forty-ish blocks  a day in this town, I’d only be able to get to another Levittown-style development, a Charlie Brown’s, or if I’m horribly unlucky, a Klan meeting.
  2. Wawa. I am probably going to get shit for this because Wawa may be the greatest thing to come out of the Mid-Atlantic region since Bacon’s Rebellion, or something else equally non sequitur. That being said, delicious, delicious Iced Tea, single-serving string cheese, and Icees can only fill a gaping hole in my soul for so long before I digest them.
  3. My Parents. Just kidding, these are the people who got drunk and frisky after my sister’s first birthday party and made me. By logical extension, they must be full-time awesome like I am.

I’m currently in the process of packing up all the stuff I’ve accumulated since I’ve been at my parents’ house for the holidays, and as I pack I can’t help but notice the varying levels usefulness that my Christmas haul will have in New York City. In order to help organize my packing (read: procrastinate my packing), I’ve created a list and ratings system (1 = Highly Irrelevant, 10 = Relevant) that will help me figure out which gifts to take with me and which gifts are left behind.

Stuff of The Stuff I Got for Christmas and Probably Don’t Need (but Might Need Anyway)

  • Blue Owl Pajamas (Rating = 7). I actually asked for red adult-sized footy pajamas with a trap door bottom for Christmas… and last Christmas, my birthday, my last birthday, and my college graduation. On principle, my mother refuses to buy them for me, and the principle seems to be that she is cruel and heartless and does not like to see me achieve any form of happiness whatsoever. Even so, the Blue Owl Pajamas she did pick out are soft and cozy and warm. -3 points because they are a significant handicap to all things poon-related, especially considering I look like an overgrown five year old wearing them.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones (Rating = ~). I realize the scale is only from 1 – 10, but I gave this gift infinity because they will be incredibly useful during my commute. I mean, I love Reggaeton as much as the next person (which pretty much means I hate Reggaeton) but not blaring out of someone else’s earbuds at 7 AM during my daily commute. Or ever.

    Jaded, disaffected hipster does not care what you think about his kitschy, ironic bananaphone.

    Jaded, disaffected hipster does not care what you think about his kitschy, ironic bananaphone.

  • Hilariously Unstylish Blouse (Rating = 1, pending move). This shirt. Is. Ugly. My dad gets more joy in telling me that he bought it for $1.69 at Kohls on Chirstmas Eve rather than how I look in it. However, even though it is hideous and makes me look like a displaced jungle creature, I am probably moving to Brooklyn next year, where it is unfortunately fashionable to wear horribly unattractive clothing. I’ll keep it around in case I need to go incognito through the streets of Williamsburg.
  • Urban Decay Eye Makeup Palette (Rating = 7). Immediate bonus points for the brand; who doesn’t want to smear makeup on your face from a brand whose name and evokes images from the movie Dangerous Minds? I know I do. This is a pretty useful gift because I always feel terribly unkempt in Manhattan no matter how much effort I spend on myself, and some of the shades are excellent for my skin. – 3 points for the crazy amount of glitter in some of the shades of the palatte. Do I look like a transvestite? Don’t answer that.

    Gangsta can read without even looking at the pages!!!

    Reason # 748 Why Everyone Loves Barack Obama: Gangsta can read without even looking at the pages!!!

  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Rating = 8). In a prior post, I wrote about the hierarchy of subway reading material. Team of Rivals, clocking in at a whopping 944 pages, definitely qualifies as a “thick and smart-looking book,” especially since there is a really boring looking picture of Lincoln and some other old dead white dudes on the cover. This present is especially useful since I can learn real things about slavery and the Civil War and teach them to my future students rather than run around the classroom while flailing my arms and screaming over and over again, “THE WHITE MAN KEEPS THE BLACK MAN DOWN!” as per my original plan.
  • Mad Bank (Rating = 10). The parentals and my aunt did their part in fighting the recession by giving me a nice chunk of money that they know I will promptly spend on useless things, like this, this and footy pajamas. What I don’t spend on copious orders of Shamwows will serve me well in the city. Booze bills got to get paid, son!

I received a few other gifts too, but my general perspective is that a) this list hasn’t really helped me pack at all; b) I really, really like typing in bulleted, lettered, and numbered lists; and c) I still have little to no concept of a normal New York City lifestyle despite having lived there for three months. I could probably find usefulness in almost anything (see above: footy pajamas), so I’ll just pack everything and then some, like toilet paper rolls, paper plates, and bags of frozen vegetables I have stolen from my unsuspecting family.

Peace out suburbs; don’t miss me too much.

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