Friday, September 23, 2011

Up at bat

Bernie and Annie are dear friends of mine. Among many other things, they are avid environmentalists and lovers of organic food before organic was even a word that was trendy. When they are not at their home in Marblehead, they travel to the middle of Maine to be in their home away from home. aka: in the middle of nature with no humans.

On one such occasion, they asked me to go to their Marblehead home and water their plants. (for most, watering plants is not too big of a deal, as there are usually only 3 or 4 tops.) They have 3 floors, and on each floor there are about 6 different things to water. On the third floor, I was almost finished watering the plants when i heard a rattling of sorts within the house, but I attributed it to the wind rattling the windows outside.

As I was walking to the stairs to descend down to the second floor, I noticed a still yet breathing black leathery being on the third stair: a bat.

I froze in place, mid stride and slowly reached into my pocket to call bernie and annie. when bernie picked up, his voice was so cheery and happy to hear from me I almost wanted to punch him. In a very calm and monotonous tone I explained that there was a bat on the stairs and that I would not move from the place i was in until they figured out a way to remove the bat without my involvement.  Bernie began mirthfully giggling and was explaining the situation to Annie, his more methodical and organized better half. (I say this with love; anytime he wants to show me something on the computer, he stares at it like a young boy at an aquarium then willfully resigns to the fact that Annie will be the one that gets him onto the right page and yells for her; she's normally at least a floor up: ANNNNNIIIEEEEEE).
Annie gets on the phone and speaks in her calming former doctor voice asking me where exactly it is. I tell her and also reiterate the fact that I'm not moving until they (up in Maine) find a way for someone to remove the bat. Bernie gets back on the phone and I can hear Annie explaining to Bernie that I was serious and to not laugh. I could still hear a faint glimmer of a chuckle in his voice when he began inquiring about the bat itself. I told him it wasn't moving to which he achingly responded: the poor bat! oh my god! I calmly and flatly replied: fuck the bat this isn't in my contract.

They hung up the phone, made a couple of phone calls and within 10 minutes Tracy came to save my life. She was my knight in shining armor. That was one of the longest 10 minutes of my life waiting for Tracy to come take the bat out of the house. What if it decided to fly around? What if it had rabies? Did the bat liked the way I smelled? (If so, I was a goner.) 
To this day Bernie, Annie and I will remember with sarcastic fondness how serious I was that evening. I wonder sometimes how it is that we're actually friends. The pair of them have such a deep connection to the natural world around them, while I find comfort in hearing traffic patterns of the city and have been camping once when I was 6. It was in the back porch of my parents house. 

I can't say for sure whether or not that particular bat is still living haunting other humans: but it did a great job that night scaring the shit out of me. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hell Night

Monday afternoon my friend Joe calls me and asks if I'd like to join him for Hell night at this satanic restaurant.

I have heard of Hell Night before; it's a Boston urban legend; only the strong survive and those that attend have to be a little bit touched in order to actively want to participate.

Sure I said. Why not. I'll go. WHY NOT? because it's INSANE to go to Hell Night. That's why. I should have said no right off the bat. But I didn't. I mean, who the hell willingly participates in dishes that are known around the GLOBE as the hottest dishes on the planet? I met Joe and Kris and they laid it out for me what would happen. Joe explained that the menu has different options much like a normal restaurant, but on the right hand side are small bombs that indicate the spiciness of the dish. 1 bomb is extremely mild, and even those that enjoy spicy foods only dare to go to a 7 bombed dish. 10 bombs is basically the hottest fucking thing that has ever existed and that no one in their sane mind would voluntarily eat. (in fact, they have a waiver that you sign before it gets delivered to your table.)

We entered the restaurant and I immediately noticed two things: The first being that the wait staff all had bandana scarves tied around their faces from the nose down and the second thing I noticed was that there was hard core punk music blaring from the speakers. If the literal interpretation of what hell was escaped me before, it didn’t now. 

I was becoming educated on how we would order the meal and what to expect within my body the next day. (it was like a run through from the doctor at the gynecologist before the actual exam. *shudder*)

I put my faith into Joey's decision making for the menu and let my taste buds do the talking from there on out.  

The first order was a Russian roulette; it’s exACTly what you think it is. There is a meat ball for each person at the table (4) and one of the meatballs has the Trinidad Scorpion pepper mixed in with the meat. Fortunately none of us got it.

Next was corn smothered in a chipotle mayo with peppers sliced on the corn; It doesn’t seem bad, then all of the sudden the pang of hotness spreads from the center of your lips back through your mouth down your throat and hollows out your stomach cavity. Imagine the explosion scene at the end of Blown Away. and that was just the corn. 

On to the chicken wings, which was a 7 on the scale of hotness. the wings are a 3 alarm fire. the wings are the type of anger you have for your ex boyfriends. it begins softly, then engulfs you faster than the flames of Blown Away; it's more like being drenched in gasoline then having a match thrown inside your mouth and neck. Joey, Kris, Mike and I all did our fair share of eating ice cubes and licking corn bread. 

Then the table behind us got up to leave. We noticed he ordered the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper sauce with out the pasta. He said he ordered it to see if any of his co-workers wanted to try it at the office. Next thing I know, he's opening the take out container and offering me  a bite. Feeling brave, I took a pea sized bite and experienced the #10 bomb. The hottest dish served on the planet was snaking its way through my body. This experience can only truly be described as euphorically evil. Pain that level can only be described as a 60's cartoon drug sketch. I woke up at 5am the next morning to chug ginger ale and soy milk. 

I can check that experience of my list, and i'm 2 pounds lighter because of it, but for the love of baby jesus, I would glue those couple of pounds back on me if I could.  I fought the Trinidad Scorpion, and guess what, it kicked the shit out of me. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


 i fell in love when i was 15. I fell hard. the kind of love where you don't know if you want to laugh or cry, sing or throw punches, create or destroy. this love was powerful and potent. the difference between my love and most was that i fell in love with 8 million people, not one. i fell in love with new york. 

my first time visiting new york was with my parents; we did the cliche sight seeing activities, went to the popular delis. the last day of our stay, i knew, much like I can assume a heroin addict does, that i'd be back for more. 

upon my acceptance to Fordham University, my mother urged for me to take self defense classes. i defiantly declined her wish; deep down i knew if there was someone/thing that wanted to kick the shit out of me, I'm 5'1'' for fuck's sake, it wouldn't be difficult even if I was taught how to properly throw a punch. 

I arrived at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University on August 26th, 2001. There were the orientations, the adjustment of living with a shit load of other 18 year olds all in one place, and showers in which you needed flip flops. Two days after being dropped off, some of us on the second floor of North headed into the city in search of fake id's. This is what is deemed a bonding experience. About 15 yards into our walk up Fordham Road (which is two say, like, two feet from campus) we noticed a man jerking off into a fence. In broad daylight. If I didn't realize I was in New York before, I can assure you, I knew at that moment I wasn't in quaint little Marblehead any longer. Like, he was just going at it, and an NYPD cruiser was parked not 20 feet from the dude. We laughed, blushed and continued on our trek in search of something that would make us seem older. Little did we know, 14 days from then we'd be more jaded than we could have ever hoped for. 

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was running late to my sociology class--so I didn't bother taking a shower, I'd take one later. I got dressed and darted down my dorm hall, only to realize that each room was open, and I could hear audible sobs. I heard a very loud boisterous jersey girl screaming WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE, FUCKING TOWEL HEADS! YOU CANT ATTACK THIS CITY! again, i was stunned and dazed, and realized upon entering a neighbors room, that the World Trade Center tower was attacked by a plane. 

Still in disbelief, I rushed to my class, but realized people were walking around in a fog, as if they were headless chickens. Of course, classes were suspended, and students and professors alike huddled around televisions, and we could hear sirens all over. 

Some ROTC kids walked down to Ground Zero (about 16 miles) while we all tried to contact our families. about 3 or 4 hours after the planes hit the towers, i was able to reach my house. my mother answered and heard my voice and instantly started wailing my baby my baby! that was the only time i got choked up that day. I couldn't really cry when there was so much devastation surrounding me; I felt I didn't have the right. 

That day lasted forever. It was that day that cemented my true unfaltering love and faithfulness to New York City. The following 4 years i dedicated my life, attention and time to my love. I felt being in New York was my destiny.

The time I spent in the City became the most formative years of my life. I learned about the human spirit. I discovered true work ethic. I honed the fine skill of flirtation. I learned the difference between local and express. I (along with my friends) befriended happy hour. I embraced the city, with all it's color, desperation and luxury--I had internships with some amazing companies, met some wonderful people and not so wonderful people. I learned to take cat naps on the subway, to avoid patches of sidewalk with bird shit on them. I worked for one day in a deli. in heels. i heard different languages every day. i wrote papers. i slammed my hand on the hood of a taxi cab and yelled at the driver. i saw the dali lama in central park. i kissed strangers. i was a nanny. i witnessed complete sadness and complete beauty. i learned the difference between cheap wine and good wine. i fell asleep in a bed facing the empire state building. i saw the red sox beat the yankees. i saw priceless works of art for ten cents. i have stood in central park and felt summer breezes shift into autumn winds. i understood how to appreciate my hometown and the smell of the ocean. I split hummus sandwiches with Bonnie cause we were broke. I then stole bread to fill our stomachs, only to have the bread bounced out of my hand by Bonnie's excitement at seeing a purse. I snuck into Tompkins Square park with some TV guys I worked with to smoke a joint with beers and watch the sun rise. the thrill of getting ready for a night out was better than going out itself. i got bit in the ass by a pit bull. i walked home in the wee hours of the morning to smell the fresh bread being delivered in the Bronx. everything i experienced became part of my dna. i became part of new york, and it became part of me. 

New York. The thrill of everything it represents doesn't even compare to the feeling you have when you're in the actual city. Stop. Go. Walk. Laugh. Breathe. Drink. Gasp. Listen. Yell. Silence. Light. Dark. Hope. Desperation. Wealth. Poverty.Fear. Hope. Hate. Love.

Who I am now is different from what I was ten years ago. The thing that will remain the same is the ache I have in my heart for New York; that's the thing about first loves; they never go away. They remain in your heart forever as an ember silently burning. Today, I'm a New Yorker. We all are.