Sans Internet

Something you might guess about the woods: If the internet goes down, there’s nothing you can do. There’s no Starbucks around the corner, no wi-fi to pirate from a neighbor. The feeling of isolation already prevalent in the woods increases dramatically. There’s no newspaper readily available. People have iphones and you trust if something epic happens, they’ll let you know- that’s the outside world outline. For the 6 days we haven’t had internet it has really felt like 1585. On one hand I feel majorly cut off from my friends, popular culture, news, the season finale of Glee, etc. On the other hand it’s helped me understand life in 1585. Mayhap (that’s what they said in 1585 instead of “maybe”) my director turned off the wireless on purpose.

The word “period” gets tossed around a lot here. Period clothes. Period food. This does not mean sweat pants, least favorite underwear, and chocolate. It means bodices, pantaloons, and turnips. Period speech is not “I need a tampon.” but rather “May Apollo’s rays shine brightly on thy pate and grant thee good favor ever and always.” If you’re lucky (and we get internet back in the woods sometime very soon) I will bombard you most profoundly, like frogs did upon Egypt (this is an example of illusions we are encouraged to make) with Elizabethan, “period” speech. For now I will use the minimal time I have on the internet here at Fajita Grill, the closest establishment with internet, where some one was kind enough to drive me catching up on emails, news, and looking at facebook photos of my best-friend-in-middle-school who got married this weekend. The things one misses when one is in Bumblefuck isolation!

• Welcome to Bumblef*ck

Beautiful Bumblefuck.

There may not be public transportation, skyscrapers, museums, culture, or even sidewalks, but over the past week I’ve discovered a thing or two Bumblefuck has over the Big Apple.

These discoveries are shocking coming from me. I’ve long been a believer in the idea that everything you could ever want can be found in NYC. “Why ever leave Manhattan? Everything you need is here!” That bubble has been burst. Just look at the picture above. There is not a soul in that picture. I can bike for miles and not see a single person. Their dogs may run frantically after me, barking as though their hearts will burst, scaring the fucking bajesus out of me and still- not a person to be seen. On a hour long bike ride, maybe one car will pass me. I have an open road and green sunny expanse all to myself.

Of course I’m culture shocked! In New York City on a sunny day people swarm any grassy area like pigeons to a hot dog cart mishap.

I’m used to seeing this many people and more every single day. Here in the woods, I see maybe 50 people a day- if I’m lucky- and I know and am friends with 85% of them.

All the people I see all the time.

This is my little band for the summer. They are all incredibly friendly, entertaining, and talented people. There are only 6 new cast members this year, everyone else has done the faire before, and we were all welcomed with open arms. There is a wide variation of ages- my pirate crew specifically consists of myself and 2 heavily bearded, intimidating men in their mid40s. Intimidating they may look, especially when in character, but they are two of the nicest gentlemen I have ever met. From henceforth I will (try to) think twice from now on before judging a person by his scary scraggly beard and intimidating bulk.

I suppose I can’t say I am in the middle of no where. I suppose I should say I’m by the Great Lakes. The lake is just down the road and provides a much more exciting activity than going to the grocery store. It provides something one can not do in NYC as well. The group of us went down to the bluffs on the lake to watch the sun set the other night (pictured above!). The wind was ferocious on the water, causing everyone’s hair to dance on their heads, cups of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps to go flying, and blankets to be a welcomed layer of clothing. Fortunately the wind was blowing away from the lake or we would have lost many a thing off the bluffs. The view was glorious and when the sun set it took my breath away. It’s hard to see the sun set in the city. Here it is so far north, the sun doesn’t set until after 9pm. It’s not pitch dark until 10pm.

Going back to my loft, warmed from schnapps and the lower level of wind away from the water, I stared at the darkened night sky. It is covered with stars. In New York City you can see maybe 10 stars on a clear night. Here in Bumblefuck, you can see more stars in the sky than there are people in Central Park on a sunny day. Breath taking.

• Summer House: Adjusting to Life Outside NYC

The first thing I am aware of is the coldness of the lower half of my bed. I’m curled up into a tiny ball and it’s almost warm. Everywhere my body isn’t touching is freezing. Opening my eyes, I’m staring at green mesh over particle board. There’s that second of “where am I?” before the realization “oh yeah, the woods.”

The sun is streaming in, not through open windows, but through the space between the boards that compose the wall of my room.

Picture’s worth a thousand words- this is my room.

This is what I meant when I said woods. This is not kidding around. Culture shocked. I am living in a loft over the “Lower Pub” shared with 8 other people in four rooms separated by pieces particle board. The guys in the next room roll over, I know about it. Someone sneezes, it’s a chorus of “Bless yous!”

The Lower Pub

When the sun streams in on beautiful mornings it’s lovely. When rain blows in it’s horrible. When mosqitoes fly in it’s unavoidable. Thus the green mesh of my first morning eye-full. I finally have the canopy bed I’ve been dreaming about since I was four years old. It’s green mosquito netting shrowding my tiny cold twin bed.

Back of Lower Pub and entrance to the loft part

My friends in NYC call complaining about how hot it is in the city, they’re dying without air conditioning. Up north it’s about 20 degrees colder- something I didn’t consider, didn’t pack appropriately. June means summer to me. Summer means no pants, maaaaybe a sweater at night. It seems that here, summer actually starts June 21st. I’m hoping at least, because if it’s cold all summer I will cry, and wear the one pair of jeans I brought everyday, and one morning find myself unable to get out of my curled-up-ball-of-warmth.

I’m spoiled. My heating normally is included in my rent. I haven’t been cold indoors in years. Then again, here I’m not indoors. I am under a definite roof with sorta-kinda walls. I am getting used to it and hopefully if the sun keeps shining and the weather starts warming, in no time I’ll be whistling happily, along with the birds that start chirping at 5am.

The woods.

• Toto, We’re not in Manhattan Anymore

I’ve abandoned my normal make-up routine.

Started wearing running shoes when I’m not exercising.

Sweatpants are my new go-to outfit.

My hair is a frizzy-humidity-mess-fest and I’m doing nothing to tame it.

Yesterday I played hacky-sack.

Today the most exciting event in the neighborhood is a possible trip to the grocery store.

What the fuck’s happened to me?

I’ve left New York City.

What? How could I do such a thing after the declaration of love from last entry? It isn’t over, NYC and I are just doing the long distance thing for a couple months. You knew this was coming.

It was not easy to sit on Megabus and watch the Empire State Building fade into the distance (and listening to R.E.M’s “Leaving New York “-surprise- didn’t help). Highway was the only thing on the horizon for the next 7 hours as I traveled far north to upstate New York. Commonly referred to in the city as bumblefuck. An area I’ve been referring to as “the woods”. You may have thought I was kidding when I said “the woods”. I certainly thought I was kidding- in a cute and vaguely ironic anywhere-that-isn’t-NYC-is-“the woods” kind of way.

My 7 hour (including a transfer) bus ride dropped me off in front of a tired looking state university in an even more tired-looking (when I say “tired” I mean about the same thing as when a guy tells me “Wow, you look really tired”) college town. A terrifyingly long, 20 minute car ride later (the closest semblance of a town is 20 minute ride in a CAR not on a bike- how am I to live??) I arrive at the place that will be home from June to mid August.

It is the woods, there’s no mistaking it. I’m also at a renaissance faire. There’s no mistaking that either. I am no longer in Manhattan and I’m surprised how culture shocked I am.

Tonight Marks Two Years in NYC (part 2)

New York: the city that never sleeps.

At any given moment during the day or night there are thousands of events and things to do. This means at any moment as a resident on New York, you are constantly missing out on thousands of opportunities. It’s a common conundrum: lounging on the futon with your favorite roommates, half a bottle of wine a piece, and half a season of Sex and the City may sound like the perfect evening after a long week. Until you make the mistake of thinking about all the things you could be doing and why live in NYC anyway if you’re just going to do something you could do anywhere else in the world and what if I’m I wasting my youth?! Then I try to focus on the fact I pay about $25 a day for space to keep said futon and wine and DVDs (and sleep) and it makes me feel better about wasting my life staying in.

When I was working my desk job I took my 8:30 am start time pretty seriously. No guys, sorry, I can’t go out to the bar now. No, I have work tomorrow. No, not even for one drink. I can’t! Stop harassing me! My Debby-Downer-ness pains me more than it pains you! were phrases far too common in my everyday speech. In my month of vacation unemployment I have reclaimed the night. With an enthusiasm I never had previously.  (Consequently I now understand the pangs of a serious hangover- an affliction I never faced in college- go figure.)

So instead of calling it a night at 11:30 pm, after multiple hours of running around in silly white pants and busing cocktail glasses, I decide the night has just begun. This needs to be the low point, all up hill henceforth. I’m surrounded by people who are on the inside of New York’s liquor industry. If there was ever a night to go out, it’s tonight. Unfortunately, this realization did not cross my mind earlier.  When deciding on an outfit today, my thoughts were: I’m wearing a provided “cocktail dress” at the party and What is easy to take off in a room full of other people? Thus the previously mentioned beat up Vans and checkered button-up. Fortunately after a 3 hours in a white belly-baring “Thai” cocktail “dress” I have mastered the “Fuck it, I don’t care” attitude. I’ll rock my 90’s grunge outfit where ever the night may take me.

My roommate is appropriately dressed having not been home since the work day at her fashionable-business-casual-advertising-agency job. But because she hasn’t been home in over 17 hours, in which time she worked two jobs, she is laden with stuff. Three bags full of it. “I’m only coming out if you carry one of these for me.” She doesn’t need to ask me twice.

Next thing I know I’m in the back of a SUV surrounded by Scottish people. My boss, who is awesome and the most awesomely chill boss, is at the wheel (it’s his car). The Scottish people are talking, which delights me to an embarrassing extent (me=sucker for accents- this fact may come up again). Bridget and Thomas they are, and Thomas works/worked (this was unclear) at a bar on the LES (Lower East Side) which is our destination.

This LES bar is packed with people this Thursday late night. A constant “Excuse me, I need to get through.” The ambiance is exceptional, the theme of the bar is something of a chemists lab paired with the romance of an old apothecary shop. Large test tubes and vials decorate the bar and all bar tenders are wearing white lab coats. This is clearly a place that prides itself on its signature cocktail concoctions. Part of me feels stupid ordering a beer, the other part is terrified as to the cost of anything.

It’s a fight to get to the bar as it’s so crowded, a fight I’m loosing. Quite lucky because it turns out Thomas has procured drinks for everyone. It’s quite a collection: orange blueberry, lemon and other flavors I can’t figure out, one that tastes like Orangina, then there’s one garnished with cilantro and the drink itself tastes exactly like cilantro. I stare tentatively at the one in my hand, it is green in color and garnished with a green bell pepper. A sip confirms the theory- the drink tastes exactly like bell pepper. They’re all remarkable in their flavor, but I’m not enjoying the taste as much as I think I should if it’s a damn expensive specialty cocktail. But each masks its alcohol content spectacularly (dangerous) and everything tastes better when it’s free so it’s not as if I’m not going to drink them.

There’s really only so much standing, being shoved, and shouting at people (the only way to be heard) that I can take, and this packed bar is nearing my quota. Eric, my boss’s old college roommate (equals stamp of approval from my boss), suggests we transfer to a club in the Meatpacking District where he knows the owner. With cilantro and bell pepper clouding our wits, the roommate and I say sure why not!

Which brings us to the cab ride of the previous entry. Where Eric realizes I may not get in to his buddy’s exclusive club. Great Eric. Couldn’t we have thought this through pre-cab ride? Are you trying to ditch me so you can get with my roommate? Cause that is not going to work (due to her love for me more…and her boyfriend).

Everyone promises not to go if I can’t get in. Thanks guys. This would be a sorry result- not the kind of night ender I’m looking for, so I do myself to make myself velvet rope worthy. I trade my button up for my roommate’s blazer with only my bra underneath. Vans replaced by the gold high heels I (conveniently) needed for the party I worked. My skirt is rather short and I have rather awesome legs (if I do say so myself) so I think I just may slide through. And I do. There’s no confrontation at the door, not even a snotty remark, Eric’s connection lets us cut the line and get in past the bouncer.

It’s 2:30 am, I usually leave clubs at this time. At the latest. Because things get crazy at this time. And in Kiss and Fly they are just that: crazy. Armando, our connection, immediately hands us all drinks. This is turning into a trend. Before we can even finish them, he hands out a champagne toast. Oh My God I Can NOT refuse free drinks!! There is house music blasting, strobe lights flashing, hundreds of people dancing. Periodically dry ice is blasted in a cloud of cold smoke from vents in the ceiling.

Eric had said he would never come to this place with out girls, and now a see why. We are bombarded with drinks from Armando, taken into the dj booth, introduced to the djs, generally shown off. This is not either of our scenes and neither of us is particularly impressed. We’re both just amused. Really? This is what we’re doing at 3am Friday morning? This is what 3am on Friday morning even looks like? I keep giggling because of the ridiculous of the situation (and the over flow of free drinks.)

The novelty soon where’s off. “I’m ready to go when you are.” We tell Eric we’re leaving. He does not take it well- he sulks. Armando thrust drinks in our hands before we can form the word “Bye” and we’re “stuck” staying for another drink. Second try we’re really leaving- neither of us is really having fun any more, feeling slightly guilty we’re ditching Eric-who has been extremely nice and generous and (I find this rather odd) has not put any kind of move on either of us- isn’t reason enough to stay. It’s 3:20, we could stay til 4 when the place closes and hitch a cab ride back but fuck that, we want to leave now.

So we leave, head to the subway, drunk but not messy, tired. I declare I can’t walk to the subway in my “stupid heels” so I sit down on a bench and switch heels for my slip-on Vans. While sitting, an attractive man approaches. “You’re gorgeous, darling. Isn’t she gorgeous?” He slurs at me in an Australian accent. “Are you from England?” I ask, mistaking the accent. “No. Australia. You’re gorgeous. I just want to kiss you.” Ha Ha I laugh at the ridiculousness. But no, this guy is serious. In fact he is assaulting my face with his mouth. Uh no! That’s ok! I pry him off me. Were I of sound mind I would probably be pissed and yelled a “You can’t treat women that way!” tirade. But I’m sloshed and find the whole encounter utterly amusing and easy to walk away from. Australian Face-Assaulter is unfortunately tanked but harmless.

On the subway ride home I banter with Rupert, and actual English bloke who’s trying to get to Times Square. What a night of accents. Scottish, Australian, English. He doesn’t assault my face. Which is probably why I decide I like him. He gets of at Times Square and we wave to each other as the subway pulls away from the station. I’ll never see his again.

New York gives me the feeling that anything can happen at anytime. Large or small, wonderful or awful. There is no ordinary, so things out of the ordinary are what is happening all the time. I love New York. It’s been two great years that I wouldn’t change for anything. Here’s to many more.

Tonight Marks Two Years in NYC

Actually, I don’t know if you’ll get in wearing that.

This isn’t a no shoes, no shirt, no service kind of situation. This is a club in the Meatpacking District, a neighborhood notorious amongst New Yorkers (and notoriously confusing amongst tourists as meat, as in dead animal, is no longer packed there) for being excessively trendy. Waiting-on-line-to enter-a-club-for-half-an-hour kind of trendy. Tight-mini-skirt-and-4-inch-heels-will-increase-my-chance-of-getting-past-the-velvet-ropes kind of trendy. I’m not exactly sure what my personal kind of trendy is, but it’s not this.

I’m in a cab on route to Kiss and Fly in the Meatpacking. It’s long past midnight and I am “bedecked” in a denim skirt, beat-up Vans, and a flannel-looking checkered shirt. I’m appropriately attired for a grunge show or maybe mid-day wandering in Williamsburg. For where I’m going and what I’m doing I am so in appropriately dressed that I may be turned away, denied entry and told my grungy-casual self is tainting the “cool” “hip” “hot” vibe. I’m not sure I can handle the embarrassment of this kind of public shunning. Would my self esteem survive? Would tears start streaming down my face as the big burly security guard stands firmly and ominously in front of the entrance? I am clearly not someone who frequent clubs and my outfit suggests I’m either clueless (as if) or unprepared for such a night. How’d I get myself into this mess? It happens to be the two year anniversary of my move to New York, no small thing in my world, an event worthy of celebration of the go-big-or-go-home sort.

The night started early with a huge private, invite-only party. Commemorating NY and my two years! Ha ha ha as if. Maybe for our 10 year. No, this is a party where I am on the clock. You may have read about my awesome job where I get paid handsomely to give people free drinks. Well, I’m at it again. Tonight it’s free drinks, free food, free DJ, a completely free party to anyone who happened to RSVP on a website (thus the “invite only”). All free because the spirit I’m promoting desperately wants people to not just think it’s cool, but to just know it exists. This party is the culmination of months of bar samplings and other smaller events.

I arrive early because they have hired people to do our make-up and hair, and a stylist to outfit us. I’m working the event with one of my roommates and we’ve been speculating for weeks what our outfits will look like. We’re thinking (hoping) black cocktail dresses that maybe they’ll let us keep. I’m next in line for make-up, the stylist is steaming the wrinkles out of various articles of clothing and asks for help holding up the pieces. The piece is a bright red pair of pants genie style, with wavy pieces ballooning from the sides and gold beads affixed at the end. (I wonder if that description gets your mental image anywhere close to reality.) I am told this ensemble is for dancers. Phew, I think, those pants would be hard to “pull off” (but easy to pull off, they have an elastic waist). Then she pulls out a pair of the same pants but white rather than red. These are what you guys’ll be wearing! Aw shit. That and a little wrap around crop-top shirt is my outfit. Just what I need, another reason to kick myself for not doing crunches on a regular basis.

I adopt the attitude of “Fuck it, I don’t care” which serves me pretty well. It helps that they’ve made my hair all shiny and straight and given my face the illusion of being blemish free. The cocktail I’m serving people is pineapple, basil, coconut, sugarcane, orange liquor, and the promotional spirit. Fancy, no? It’s the beginning of the night and they’re topping each drink with a basil leave filled with shaved coconut, the garnish of course increasing the fancy factor. Fortunately I’m allowed to sample one myself, for the pure purpose of educating guests (very professional and all). It’s quite good, especially when I down the garnish at the end- I may have been the only one to do such a thing all night.

Everything comes together at the last moment, it seems that is generally the way these things go, and guests begin to arrive. For the first hour or so, it’s great. Handing out cocktails, informing people what’s in it, some casual banter, all smiles all around. My word of advice to you if you ever attend such a free event: get there on the early side. You may think it’s not fashionable, but trust me. An hour in, the place is swarming- lines for everything- dishes piling up. My boss frantically tells me to bus tables. Have you ever bused tables in a belly baring top? I’d describe such an experience as paradoxical. I’m getting paid $50/hr to do the lowest rung on the ladder job. Kinda awesome. Kinda sucko as it is not what I signed up for.

By the end of the party I’m cranky. My arms are sore (not only have I not been doing crunches, I haven’t been doing push ups either) from carrying trays. I’m still clearing tables at the end of my shift time so when I stumble across a full bottle of the promoted liquor, I don’t hesitate to slide it in my purse. Hey, I’m not a trained busser, how am I supposed to know you aren’t supposed to pilfer the booze? All the bus boys I know do it.

The place isn’t clean, we’ve been off the clock for not an insignificant amount of time, and I decide I’m leaving. My roommate is more hesitant- she’s staying in the city for the summer and wants to get more gigs- but it takes little prodding from me to convince her to skidaddle.

So far this entry has had next to nothing to do with its introduction. That’s not about to change. Until next entry- to follow shortly!

Going out to the Hamptons

Outside strip malls, highways, multiplex cinemas, industrial yards, cliche America whizzing past. Inside the man sitting next to me orders me and my roommates where to put our bags that we momentarily placed on the 4th seat between us, “You going to the Hamptons? You don’t want to have your bag in your lap the whole ride, I’ll put it over head.” We assure this chino wearing, golf sweater sporting gentleman that he needn’t be concerned with our laps and our bags. Not your problem, sir.

This is a culture shock. I am going to the Hamptons for Memorial Day Weekend. I felt this a duty to you, dear readers (you few, you happy few) to be as NYcliche as possible my last weekend before I time travel to 1585 and my summer of renaissance. Bag Dude (I’m hoping he peers over my shoulder and sees himself refered to as such) is engrossed in conversation with the woman seated across the isle- apparently they know each other, which fits into this micro Hampton culture cliche perfectly. I’m trespassing in the realm of real-life gossip girls and Charlotte Yorks where everyone knows each other personally or through some easily identified connection that (if all goes right) sound deliciously hoity-toity to 99% of the population.

It’s been fun all week answering the question “Plans this weekend?” “Going to the Hamptons.” It is met with a myriad of responses: “The Hamptons? I thought you were unemployed.” “The Hamptons? Aren’t you fancy” “Hope you run into the Real Housewives!” “Oh I’m so jealous!” “Oh yeah, cool, I’ve been thinking of getting a summer share out there.” (The last spoken by my roommate’s co-worker, clearly trying to impress her.)

I’ve been going to the Hamptons since childhood. I could actually say that, it is fact. But, coming from me, that statement would be entirely misleading. My aunt and uncle, easily top of the list of people I want to be when I grow up, live year round in Southampton. They’re amazing hosts and I’m lucky enough to visit them at least once a year.

Bag Dude has whipped out his top-of-the-line, maximum screen-span MacPowerBook. My little European netbook, its dirty keyboard and dusty screen, cowers with intimidation.

We stick out in this crowd. One roommate is completely zonked out, her mouth open, her head nestled in her duffel bag. The other roommate is pealing a grapefruit- a task that essentially requires a mess- which is perfuming the train car and dripping juice down her shirt. I’m on my not-a-Ipad, eaves dropping, observing my fellow passengers, documenting my experience. We are weirdos on this train. Outsiders.

There’s no wireless on the LIRR, no outlets. My netbook battery gave out at the end of the preceding paragraph. Now I’m on the beach, literally my butt is planted in sand, the ocean infront of me, waves crashing as my sound track.

Some how I’m connected to the “Meadow Beach” wireless networ and squinting at the screen in the brilliant sun that’s making today a perfect Saturday. The waters too cold to go in but it is glorious to just be by the water. Perfect way to spend my last weekend before I head up to the woods on Tuesday. Time is flying- I haven’t packed a thing. But it’s hard to have worries at this time and place. My 80 year old uncle is known to start singing a song from his youth, (ironically) often while washing dishes. Living in a place like this, the didty provides the perfect lyrics for the ocean base line “Heaven I’m in heaven.” For now, I’ll just lay back and relax, dig my toes in the sand and stop squinting at technology in favor of the seaside. Glorious.