The Battle to End All Battles (or just to wash my underwear)

A few weeks ago, I awoke to find a note on the kitchen table from my roommate. Hastily scrawled on a piece of scrap paper were the words that were to bring war to my cozy little apt. Ugly, unrelenting, all or nothing war: The washing machine tore my blanket to shreds. I think it’s broken.

Let me start with a little background. We moved into our fabulous new apt with the knowledge that we would no longer have to drag our unmentionables out into the cold, cruel streets of New York in order to clean them. We would never again have to drag bags of freshly-pressed clothes up four flights of stairs. No elevator? No problem! We were also blessed with a combo washer dryer (much like New Englanders are blessed with below-zero temperatures in the winter.) This one little box of a machine washes and dries your clothes. In the same compartment. No, really. It does. Or is supposed to.

I found it curious that when we signed the lease, the realtor said no fewer than 17 times, “The hookup is the management company’s responsibility, but the maintenance of the machine is yours.” Hm. Strange that this point was so important to make. But, mere weeks later, standing with a bucket of towels and a user’s manual I found online clutched in my hands, I realized that it wasn’t strange at all. It was genius.  Sauron, Darth Vader, fill-in-your-own-favorite-bad-guy-worthy genius.

About a week after finding that note, I broke into my “time to do laundry” underwear. You know the ones- the stuff you bury deep in the bottom of your sock drawer in the hopes that no one will ever find it. Faced with five of the unsexiest pieces of clothing ever known to man and the decision between going to a laundromat or calling a plumber, I made the most intelligent choice. The obvious one. Fix it myself.

 

I was pretty sure the blanket had clogged the machine. Why not run it once without clothes in it to unclog it? Brilliant idea! So simple! I can do that! I happily put a little detergent in, hit start, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. The calm before the storm. I went back into the bathroom and was met with the ominous sight of a water and suds filled window. Lovely. My roommates both at work, I was left to sort it out on my own. I had found a how-to manual on the maker’s website, and realized that no one had ever cleaned out the filter. It’s probably just clogged! I bet if I clean it, all of the water will drain immediately. (There are moments in your life that you look back on your decisions and imagine a world where time travel is possible. Not so you can change it. No. So you can go back to that moment and bitch-slap the hell out of your past self just to get even.) The filter was located at the bottom of the machine. I carefully began to unscrew it, and was stopped by a geyser of water hitting me in the face. Dripping with suds and half-dissolved pieces of blanket, I quickly closed the filter, and spent a good ten minutes staring at the machine, willing the water to evaporate. After this inexplicably did not work, I  began the arduous process I fondly like to call: holding-a-1-billion-lb-machine-at-a-forty-five-degree-angle-with-one-hand-while-scooping-sudsy,-blanket-filled-water-out-with-a-travel-coffee-mug-into-a-tupperware-container-and-getting-the-entire-bathroom-soaked-in-the-process. After thoroughly cleaning out every nook, cranny, and filter, I ran the machine again, confident in my plumbing skills. I was a powerful, resourceful, independent college graduate! I could do anything! I…shouldn’t have started the machine again. It quickly filled without even the slightest hint of draining. And so it went, and has gone, for about two weeks now. But will I call a plumber? No. I will fix this myself.

…that’s actually a lie. I’m most likely going to call a plumber. Especially after my roommates and I thought the tub was clogged, poured a whole bottle of Drano into it, and then realized that the bathtub drain switch was on. It just seems that, after that, a professional is probably a solid choice.

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Bring it in, NY

I’ve been struck countless times over the past two months at how lonely a city of billions can be. Really, when you live in NYC, you are alone for a staggering amount of time. Walking to and from the subway, riding to work, doing prep work for auditions-I would say a good 60-70% of my time is spent on my own. There is a good deal of peace and happiness to be found in this amount of solitude, but it can also be cripplingly lonesome.

Which makes moments of real connection stand out. Hurricane Sandy swept through the city, devastating some parts while hardly touching others. My apartment was left unscathed, but I certainly felt the storm’s effects when my restaurant lost power for a week. Somehow, we stayed open, serving bottled beer and mixed drinks by candlelight. Of course, no food and a lack of customers meant that I was rendered useless; due to a lack of communication (thank you, lost phone), I found myself in the back of a cab on Halloween, headed into work. The restaurant’s windows were boarded up with plywood to protect against wind gusts. A rather sketchy-looking “Still Open!” was spray painted across one of the boards. Even I, who had worked there pre-Sandy and knew it wasn’t a serial killer’s hideout, did not want to go in. I pushed the door open, and let my jaw drop. Hundreds of tea lights glowed from every nook, cranny, and corner in the restaurant. A half dozen people sat at the bar, sipping on what must have been lukewarm beer. The lack of top 20’s hits usually booming from every speaker pressed the silence loudly against my eardrums. I walked into my very own Wonderland, complete with an Alice serving drinks behind the bar (it was Halloween, after all). My fellow server, the overly affectionate guy, came bustling over to me, handed me a box of matches, and explained that he was bored out of his mind and replacing used-up candles to stay busy. Steam rose from his lips as he spoke, and I realized we didn’t have heat. 

As I walked around the restaurant, lighting candles and wondering why I was called into work, I heard something. A little trickle of laughter. It bounced and flitted around the mostly empty restaurant, making way for a whole gale of laughter. And that’s when I noticed it: everyone sitting around the bar- strangers, newcomers, regulars – were engaged in conversation with one another. They sat, swapping stories by candlelight, as if they had all come in together. An overhwhelming feeling of camaraderie settled on the bar, as the conversation grew to welcome two new members that had just stumbled in. In a city filled with loners, here was a group that stretched and reshaped in order to include everyone that came near. I felt myself smile as I walked over to join in.  A pizza was ordered, a round of drinks poured, and a happy little community was formed. Sure, it was temporary. We’d all leave soon and go back to not making eye contact with passersby on the street, but that was for later. And, really, it’s moments like these that make the rest of the time seem totally worth it.

The New Love of My Life

I have some serious commitment issues. Something about the idea of choosing something and sticking to it makes my blood run cold. Arctic Circle in a bathing suit cold.  I start seeing the negatives that were always there, hidden by the rosy glow of indecision. And things I’m afraid of losing? Those I’ll commit to like a drug addiction…until I have them. Let’s just call me exceptionally fickle.

Until about a week ago. I was, once again, put in a position of commitment. I’ve just recently gotten more freedom than I’ve ever had: out of college, single, subletting a different apartment every month, not tied down by a job…really, I don’t think it gets any freer.

So, when I was given the option of committing, I knew part of me was going to protest. My brain was going to argue that I should enjoy freedom longer, not get stuck so that I wouldn’t want to leave should I be offered a great, long-term acting gig outside of the city. I should stay solo. But the other half of me knew this was too good to not commit to: beautiful,  great company, and with everything I am looking for…

That’s right, I am sitting at my own desk right now, surrounded by my own things in my new apartment. And I love it. I will forcefully suggest that anyone else who might think moving into a 5th floor walk up without movers sounds like a good idea get their head checked, but after one absolutely exhausting day, I am settled in and completely overjoyed to have somewhere to call home, with roommates I am actually friends with, in an apartment we all chose together. I might be in love with this place. Head over heels in love.

So, maybe I should reevaluate my opinions on commitment. Rethink my rather negative stance on relationships, get a dog, plan something further into the future than two weeks…or maybe I should just take baby steps.

The Haunting

So, subletting in the city has been great so far. I’ve been incredibly lucky with my roommates and the rooms I’ve found. However, I’m already starting to feel like I want a place of my own-somewhere I don’t have to move out of in a month. So, when a friend of mine offered to look with me, I immediately and enthusiastically said yes.

Which leads me to a few nights ago. My friend (let’s call her CW), had found a really cheap apt on Craig’s List that she was looking at that night. I decided to come along. It would probably be nothing, but worth taking a chance, right?

She told me where to meet her, and I blanched. It was the same block my ex lived on. After a few deep breaths, I thought, you know what? Oh well. I’m fine. And he sleeps all day anyway. This is fine. When I got to the meeting place, CW said the only six words that could possibly make this any more uncomfortable: “Guess what building we’re going to?” That’s right. We would be looking at apartments not only on the same block as my ex, but in the same building. Fantastic.

I hesitantly climbed the all-too familiar stairs, half-hoping the apartment would be awful with no windows, closets, or plumbing. And then, I stepped into a beautiful hallway. Which led to four pretty, spacious rooms. That all had decent-sized closets. And windows. I walked through the rather large living room, looking for the “but” factor, and being shocked when I couldn’t locate it. CW and I looked through every room, our eyes growing wider with each step. The apartment was incredible. Perfect size, way underpriced, willing to let us move in later than they were originally asking…I was sold.

…and then I remembered. Right. Him. I joked with CW for a few minutes about the uncomfortableness of the whole situation, and then decided that the apartment was too perfect not to at least talk to him about it. So I called him, knowing full well that this whole thing was a bad idea, but praying that he would  laugh and say, “K, you’re being silly. This is not a big deal at all. I mean, we’ll hardly see each other. And I have enough positive feelings about you left that I will be happy to say hello. And if I see you with another guy, I’ll say a little cheer for you in my head and maybe even give him a high-five. And don’t worry about seeing me with another girl because I’ve miraculously decided to never date again. Ever.” Or “K, this is fine. We’ll never see each other- I’ll dig a hole through my wall, and enter and exit my apartment that way. ” Or maybe even, “Actually, it’s funny you bring that up. I’m moving in a month.”

That, as you might have guessed, is not at all what happened.

Highlights from the conversation:

-Yeah, I don’t like it.

-It would really blur the lines.

-[insert awkward joke about bumping into future love interests here.]

-I’m sure you could find another apartment.

-…but it’s your decision.

Thank you, sir, for saying all of the things I was hoping you would negate for me. In the end, though, I’m glad that I talked to him about it. It pulled me back to reality. Because living in the same building as your ex would be awful. Even if the apartment is perfect. It would be like the relationship was haunting you. Every time you walked into the building. And I’m not in the market for that sort of living arrangement.

Any opinions? What would you have done?

A New Kind of Dysfunctional Family

I was incredibly lucky to have moved to the city with a job in place. Thanks to a good friend of mine, I started training at the Irish Pub where I now work the first week I was here. Yes, I completely fulfill that actor/waiter stereotype, and sometimes when guests ask what I do for a career outside of the restaurant I say anything other than acting in order to escape the knowing look in their eye that answer often elicits. Regardless, I have been incredibly fortunate to be put in the company of some of the strangest, funniest, most random people I have ever met. So, I thought I would take this time to introduce a few key members of my new work family:

The Managers:

Th AM Manager-Irish-born fellow who at first seems closed-off, but immediately jumps on running jokes, and laughs at pretty much anything.

The PM Manager-Israeli-born woman who has the type of personality that has you telling your entire life story in about five minutes. Matches my own ability to talk for twenty minutes straight.

The Bartenders:

The dancer- 5’2 blonde dancer who is fiercely loyal to her coworkers, and could kick anyone’s ass. Anyone. I feel as though if she were to get approached by a mugger, she would end up mugging him.

The stereotypical cute Irish bartender- gets tips by smiling at “vodka-soda girls” (copyright W.C. and M.C.) and saying catch-phrase Irish sayings. Plays “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons about 30 times every time he works.

The writer- talks about philosophy one minute, and then pontificates about various metal bands and football the next.

The snarky musician- my friend’s brother who cracks me up with his rye sense of humor and ability to smile and nod at drunk idiots, placating them and mocking them at the same time.

The Servers:

The producer- take charge, no mercy attitude. Knows more about music from the 70’s and 80’s than my parents. Has done more drugs than I have names for. And she’s only 19.

The comedy-writer- Sarcastic, quick, and the first person to ever tell me to “grow a pair” when a table was taking advantage of my obvious nice-girl attitude.

The overly-affectionate guy- Clearly relishes the fact that he works with mostly girls. Sweet at heart, but loves to make awkward joke (I hope) advances and talk about his latest conquests.

The flirt- Hilarious, uber-confident girl who is constantly looking for cute guys, and has no qualms about saying something to them about it. Points out every good-looking guy in the bar within 15 seconds of him coming in. Every time.

The Bouncers-

The Philosopher- Soft-spoken, intelligent, highly spiritual guy who has the most positive, optimist take on life I have ever heard.

The Side-Kick- Friday and Saturday nights, this guy hangs out with the Philosopher at the front door. It’s the most entertaining thing in the world to watch them crack each other up, then get immediately stone-faced and serious when one of the customers puts a toe out of line.

The Owner- Irish woman with a reputation that preceded our meeting. Apparently can like you one minute, then absolutely detest you the next. She seemed nice when I met her, but I’m ready to bet that I’ll see the other side of her soon enough. Can make grown men cry.

The pets- Two incredibly affectionate cats who lie around the manager’s office and use the printer as their personal lounge.

Crazy, loud, and able to tell off drunk college frat boys, these guys are quickly schooling me in how to put people in their place- with a smile. And while we’re all vastly different, you have to look at it as a family- especially when you’re not getting out of work until 2 am.

 

The Thing About Roommates

I have a rule. Don’t date men who, if it ends badly, you will still have to see them frequently. It’s a good rule, right? Safe. Thought-out. Smart. And hardly ever actually observed. In fact, I’d say there have been some glaring exceptions in my dating history:

1. Temp guy. Saw him every Monday-Friday. And while the date went awkwardly well, it was still a strange experience to see him every day after.

2. My “Big Split” ex: Started dating during an all-summer acting gig in the middle of the woods in upstate NY. Lived in the same building as him. Could have been really uncomfortable if things had turned sour there.

3. Pretty much every other guy I’ve dated.

So, fine, it’s not so much a rule as it is a hope. Or a very lackadaisical guideline. But after my last break up, in which I share a large group of friends with my ex, I’ve decided to try to stick to it.

This was complicated on day two of living in the city,when my roommate walked in. Tall, dark hair, killer smile- uh oh. The more I talked to him, the more my little guideline began to seem silly. Ridiculous, even. Why would I want to limit my options? Especially when my options have such nice teeth? (Seriously, they’re perfectly straight. It’s almost unsettling.)

The roommate and I have been hanging out pretty frequently ever since that initial conversation. We sit in the living room after he gets home from law school, eat dinner together, talk, and watch copious amounts of Family Guy. We get caught by our other roommate, who can clearly sense something stirring, when she walks in at midnight to find us still up and chatting away. He fills me in on the issues he’s learning about in his classes, and I explain the ins and outs of auditioning. It’s lovely. And to hear him talk about law is quite possibly one of the sexiest things I have ever done. His passion for what he does is so great and,therefore, insanely attractive.

Anyway, things were moving slowly enough for me to not worry about breaking my rule. Until a few days ago. We were standing in the kitchen, talking about our crazy work loads. He just kept saying, “I won’t be able to do anything this weekend. I have so much work to catch up on. I’ll be able to do stuff next weekend, but not this weekend.” He said it about ten times rapid fire. Why is he telling me this? Does he want me to do something with him next weekend? Does he usually repeat things 50 times? Does he not know he’s saying it out loud each time? So, I decided to try a more forward approach:

“I think I’m going to see a movie. I really want to.”

“Oh? Which one?”

“‘The Master.’ On Sunday, I think”

“Oh. Well, I would come see that with you! I could just finish all of my stuff Friday and Saturday!”

Mission accomplished. In fact, he is currently cooped up in his room, working his way through all of his assignments. As for the rule? Aren’t they made to broken, or something?

Kicking and Screaming. Thrifty-style.

About two weeks before I moved to NYC, my dad informed me that he would be buying me a pepper spray ring, and that I would wear it whenever I was walking

Attractive, I know.

alone at night. (If you don’t know what these are, they are little rectangular “rings” that have a switch on the side- flip the switch, pepper spray shoots out of your jewelry. Into someone’s eye, hopefully.) I said, that’s nice of you, I love you, but no. (Really, they’re that ugly.) I guess he took my comment to heart because about a week later, he handed me an Ila Dusk. This is a British invention (where pepper spray is illegal) that is supposed to serve as a stylish way to protect yourself. The device looks like a charm you attach to your purse. Pull out the chain at the bottom of the charm, though, and a 130-decible female scream erupts out of the accessory, effectively screaming for you if you have been struck dumb. This, I could live with. I hooked it to my purse and forgot all about it.

Until a few days ago. I was shopping at a thrift store in my neighborhood, searching for flannel shirts for my new serving job. It was a small store, cramped and packed to the brim.  As I was exiting the dressing room, I bumped into a banner and knocked it off of its nail. (Thank you, 10 + years of ballet for my excessive amount of grace and poise. ) I whipped around, bent down and quickly picked up the banner. As soon as I touched it, the thing started screaming at me. Loudly. For no apparent reason. My first thought was, “Wow, they put an alarm on a banner? Maybe it’s an antique…” I hung it back on its nail, hoping this would quiet the screaming…but nope. The banner continued to shriek at me. At this point, I had managed to garner every shopper’s attention. My cheeks began to burn as I stared hopelessly at the stupid piece of fabric, looking for some sort of hidden button or lever, anything that could get it to stop shrieking. That’s about the time I started to realize…the screaming was coming from me. Sort of. I looked down, and there, hanging on the outside of my purse was the Ila Dusk. And it was missing it’s chain.

I began to frantically search the surrounding area, employing the help of several

This is my Ila Dusk. Polka Dots. Cute. Non-threatening. Until you pull the chain. Then it’s a harpy. A wailing, bitchy harpy.

concerned shoppers, all the while keeping my thumb pressed against the speaker. Of course, 130 decibles doesn’t really stop because of a thumb, and the thing was going to keep screaming for ten minutes if I didn’t find the chain and reinsert the pin. While I searched, I kept up a constant stream of “Sorry”‘s and “It’s my personal alarm”‘s to the pretty steady flow of curious passersby. The screaming was so loud and, well, disturbing, that people were coming in off the street to see who was dying. Who was being killed. Who was having an emotional breakdown. With each person, my flailing and apologizing grew more frantic. I combed the rug with my eyes, praying for a glimmer of silver. Finally, after what felt like an eternity (and what was probably closer to a couple of minutes), I saw it. There, caught on a hanger, hung my chain. I tugged it off the hanger and reinserted the pin. A silence the likes of which I have never known filled the room, pressing in on my ear drums. My entire body was shaking. I could feel every eye on me. Of course, being the suave, quick-witted, intelligent person that I am, I had the perfect line to smooth this whole fiasco over.

“Whoops.”

Hopefully my mortifying experience saves some lives- everyone was rather interested in the device that had effectively burst their ear drums. And hey, at least I know it works, right?