Saturday, July 28, 2007

Goodbye to Vegas

I read about it days ago, but only just saw it myself this evening: Vegas, a reliable dive on Smith Street, has closed in favor of a Lucky Jeans store (no link given, cuz give me a break).

"Right where that zebra-striped sweatshirt is hanging? That's where I first kissed my first New York boyfriend," I told Stacey.

"It sucks," she said. And started walking away. Moment passed.

It seems weird to think I've been here so long that a landmark could have disappeared. Then again, it doesn't take very long for that to happen in New York.

My friend Matthew is new to the city. Four months - not just off the bus, but close enough. Everywhere we go, I think, remember. I don't say it, because I don't want to be a dick.

I'm just getting my "new" apartment together. After a year. On Thursday, Matthew made dinner and we ate by candlelight, toasting over pork loin and couscous and other things that just don't exist in my fridge most of the time. If it weren't for the triangles of toilet paper standing in as napkins, you'd think I had my shit together.

, remember, I want to say to him. You're having another youth. The New York you see when you first arrive is the city of your heart. It shines in memory like your childhood backyard.

Tonight, at Boat, down the street from the former Vegas, a man wearing a chain around his neck tries for my phone number. He lives in Hoboken, which is not a crime, as far as I know, but indicates, perhaps, a different view of the city.

It occurs to me that I don't want him to touch me. Not just because he's unsuitable, although he is. But because Matthew has said to me, "I see from your MySpace that you're in favor of the Oxford comma." And pauses. "So am I."

Outside, my friends say, "That guy at the bar is cute." And I agree, because he is. And feel nothing about it.

As the man with the chain around his neck leans in to try to kiss me, and I don't exactly rebuff him. But I can't quite go through with it. Kissing him is like getting my teeth cleaned, I realize. Something foreign in my mouth.

"I have to go home," I tell him.

He follows me for three blocks, trying to get me to let him come home with me, trying to get an explanation for the earliness of my leaving. At some point, maybe, we walk past the former Vegas, but I don't see it. I'm intent on my mission, which is getting the fuck out.

If he were a different sort of guy, he might ask me what the problem was, and then I could say to him, "Everything in this city has changed but me." And then I could explain to him that this is why I came here in the first place, to be the stable center of something wonderful.

Instead of explaining, I bid him goodbye and head toward the train. Matthew, I think. After a moment, I realize I'm not all that sorry that I never got to take him to Vegas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oh, Clerks of Duane Reade

Because I am a bad person, very few things amuse me more than making men uncomfortable when I have my period. A few moments ago, at Duane Reade, I got to do just that to a clerk who clearly has no women in his life whatsoever.

Granted, I was in line holding the following items:

1) Kotex
2) Tampons
3) Midol

Anyone might be afraid. This guy, though, turned beat red and said, "Uh, sorry, do you want to go in her line?" And pointed to the female cashier next to him.

"No, that's OK," I said. "I've been doing this for awhile. I'm fine."

"OK," he ran the items through quickly and then leaned forward a little and asked, in a low voice, "Do you want me to double-bag them?"

"Oh, God, yes," I said, trying to sound full of shame. "I don't want anyone to know."

Which is a lie, of course. Because I want EVERYONE to know.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And Now We Make Things Nice and Neat

A lifetime ago, I lived just outside Boston in an old triple-decker with new paint and a tidy little yard. The landlord and lady were Irish, and I highly suspect I got the place because of my red hair and freckles.

Once a month, Siobhan would take out a bucket and a ton of bleach and clean everything to a cinder.

"Cheers, Jennifer," she'd say. "I've got the PMS. If it isn't moving, it's going to get bleached."

At which point, I would head for the back deck where it was safe. I have sensitive skin, you know.

Anyway, I've done so much cleaning in the past two days that I'm just not sure that I'll ever get the smell of bleach out of my nostrils. Yesterday, I went over to the house of Funke and cleaned the shit out of her apartment. I started with the bathroom, which might not have been cleaned since she and her roomies arrived in December.

Halfway through, dripping with sweat and standing on a folding chair, the better to reach the top of the shower stall with my sponge, I felt someone watching me and realized that Sue's roommate Tom was staring at me. Important info: Tom probably has Asperger's Syndrome and is one of the more hilarious people I've ever met in my life. For example, he once claimed that he was going to make himself a business card that said: T.J. McG-----, Escaped Rapist. And pass it out to girls in bars.

Today, however, he contented himself with reaching over and turning on the shower while I was cleaning. Just a little.

I cleaned for about two or three hours and then came home and collapsed. Today, I got home from work and realized that my own place was a pit. The cobbler's wife goes barefoot, etc. Anyway, supposedly a boy is cooking me dinner on Thursday - I know! - so I thought I better make the place presentable.

Also, um, I was afraid my bathtub might be breeding clones, and I really do not want to wake up some morning to find a differently abled, one-eyed version of me sitting at my breakfast bar, drinking coffee and saying, "Steve! I wan' pizza. I wan' pizza, Steve."

FYI, I've never even seen that movie. My sister has, though. And we like to quote it to my brother-in-law, who is named Steve.

I am so high on bleach fumes right now. Send help.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back in the Day, It Just Went Without Saying at All

Sometimes, New York knows I'm falling out of love, and then she pulls out all the stops.

Tonight, I went to a show, which I never do, and then I went out for drinks, which I do too often. A boy talked to me. He was much too young. I made him play a game. It's called, Guess My Age? I do this with every boy who admits to being in his early 20s.

"27!" he said.


Now, you can say - and you wouldn't be wrong - that it would behoove him to guess low. The point is, I could clean up if I wanted younguns. I am so not sure why that is, and don't care to speculate, as it's honestly somewhat disturbing.

At 4 a.m. plus, I got off the train to an empty neighborhood. I passed the lone guy outside the bodega, and walked toward Methodist and home, listening to the Dresden Dolls as I often do. My favorite song right now is "Sing," and because we're unofficially sponsoring way post-teen angst tonight, I'll give you a lyric or two:

There is this thing that's like fucking except you don't fuck
Back in the day it just went without saying at all
All the world's history gradually dying of shock
There is this thing it's like talking except you don't talk
You sing
You sing

All of a sudden, the street opened up for me. There were no cars moving through the lights. No one lingered on the corners. I passed Methodist, and saw a long tiled ramp through the doors, leading to chemical smells and sadness and efficiency. There was no one around at all. It felt like being the last living person, or maybe the first.

Sing for the bartender sing for the janitor sing
Sing for the cameras sing for the animals sing
Sing for the children shooting the children sing
Sing for the teachers who told you that you couldn't sing
Just sing

And then thing is, and this is good to know for background, things have lately been slow and blue. The kind of thing where you're disgusted with yourself for ignoring your blessings, but still can't get out of bed on time.

There is thing keeping everyone's lungs and lips locked
It is called fear and it's seeing a great renaissance
After the show you can not sing wherever you want
But for now let's just pretend we're all gonna get bombed
So sing

I thought about the signs I'd seen: Jewish Children's Museum. So-and-so is the Superintendent of this Station. I thought about how there are flowers here, even at four in the morning, spilling out of their containers in front of the bodegas, and how it feels like cheating to see the Purity Diner closed, with chairs upended on tables.

Sing cause its obvious sing for the astronauts sing
Sing for the president sing for the terrorists sing
Sing for the soccer team sing for the janjaweed sing
Sing for the kid with the phone who refuses to sing
Just sing

When I turned down my music, I could hear birds, but also a guy talking to his friend in a parked car. And up ahead, I saw a women walking in a brightly colored quilt, not fast, and realized of course that I'd never been alone all this time.

When I caught up with her, she said, "Excuse me. Do you have a cigarette. I ain't a mugger. I just got out the hospital." She held out her sad thin wrist with the bracelet.

"I know you're not," I said. "Here. You OK?"

"I'm just going home," she said. The quilt looked handmade and was very clean. She looked off her meds, but nice enough.

She went down the slope and I went across it, toward home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thanks, But I'll Just Keep Ruining My Underwear

This grosses me out more than I can say.

I love having my period. I love overeating and I love lying around and I love the excuse to use a heating pad. Most of all, though, I love complaining. And I love that no one can tell me not to complain, because they're all too terrified that I'll fly into some hormonally induced homicidal rage.

Oh, but Jennie, you say. If you love your period so much, whatever will you do when you reach menopause?

I'll throw a party and buy all new underpants. Because then it will be time for not having my period, y'see. It will be not-having-my-period time. Unlike now.

In the meantime, however, I'd appreciate it if science would leave me and Aunt Flo alone.

Via Jezebel, which you need to start reading immediately.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I've Been Coasting on This for Years

Coworker Dennis: i hate christopher hitchens
Jennie Smash: me too
Jennie Smash: but why do you hate him today?
Jennie Smash: because he's a self-hating homo?
Jennie Smash: because he gives drunks a bad name?
Jennie Smash: there are so many reasons
Coworker Dennis: because Slate is willing to publish an article all about why he doesn't like someone
Jennie Smash: ok, looking at this
Coworker Dennis: if i wrote an article about how i don't like my old boss, would someone publish it? prob not
Jennie Smash: i would, dennis
Jennie Smash: if it were up to me
Jennie Smash: i would publish ANYTHING you had to say
Coworker Dennis: haha, flattery will get you sexywhere!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Here Are Some Things That I'm Tired of:

1) Humidity.
2) Complaining (about humidity and in general.)
3) Having a million pens, but none with sufficient ink/cared for tips.
4) My soft suburban feet and their tendency to blister in anything other than sneakers or flip-flops.
5) Those little zits that form just at the edge of your lipline. Is there no gloss that will leave my pores clean and comedone-free?
6) Boys. (Come on. That's a gimme.)
7) Stories about boys, even my own, unless those boys are pirates or zombies or spacemen, and unless the story ends with all of us standing off against the pirate/zombie/space boys and eventually defeating them, but more importantly learning something about ourselves in the process.
8) The horrible hacking cough that is taking over my office, and its implications for my future respiratory health and mental stability.
9) Hypochondria. (See above.)
10) History Channel shows featuring Hittites. Seriously, fuck Hittites.

I'm Sorry. Our Time Is Up.

Dr. Headbone: So what are you doing this weekend?

Me: Oh, I dunno. I might go to Coney Island.

Dr. Headbone: Lovely. I hope you have fun.

Me: Where did the summer go?

Dr. Headbone: It's still summer.

You have to watch everything you say to therapists. Everything!

Maybe I Have Been Eating Just a Touch More...

I was just at the bodega across the street, buying some junkfood and I swear the woman behind the counter was judging me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

With Friends Like Me...

I like to help. Part of my life philosophy is that if you can help, you sorta should. So when my friends needed a place to stay for a few weeks, and I was gonna be out of the country anyway, I figured they should just crash at my place. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about my apartment standing empty and they wouldn't have to worry about some hobo stealing their things while they slept.

Anyway. Trouble is, I'm totally crazy, and come from a long line of folks who don't do at all well with sharing their space. The Hubleys do not entertain at home, because we are so OCD about things like guests wearing shoes and putting their bags on the kitchen counter. It makes us sniffy and passive-aggressive and prone to saying things like, "I don't mean to be, you know, but could you take your filthy germ-ridden handbag off my nice clean counter?" Oh, we're fun at parties I tell you.

The best part is, I'm not even tidy. So unlike my Mom, who legitimately keeps a spotless home, I can't even claim to maintaining any kind of standard. I'm just weird.

I tamped all this down, though, because the medication is working, and extended the invite. And I largely didn't think about it -- until the cab ride home from the airport.

On the cab ride home, I decided that my friends had probably burned both my apartment and the rest of the brownstone to the ground. They had obviously had orgies in my bed, involving St. Bernards and mustard, while wearing galoshes and smearing their underpants on the walls. In fact, I was sure, they were probably still there.

I seemed to recall that it's pretty hard to evict someone from an apartment in Brooklyn. This is because we are communists.

By the time the cab hit my neighborhood, I was quivering all over with rage at my imagined scenario. How dare they! They would just have to pack up and squat somewhere else! And they could damn well take the dog with them.

When I got home, of course, my apartment was absolutely spotless. In addition, there was food in the fridge, flowers in a vase on the table, and a fresh bottle of wine next to a lovely note thanking me for my hospitality. (There was no toilet paper when they arrived, I'm pretty sure. Maybe that passes for hospitality now, I don't know. What I do know is that my friends are much nicer people than me.)

In addition, when I logged onto my computer, I found a rather astonishing amount of pornography in my browser history. And not a single St. Bernard in sight! So as you can see, I'm inviting these friends to come stay with me any time they like.

Monday, July 9, 2007


I have returned and I have a tan. True story! OK, so it mostly just looks like my freckles have grown together, but I'm still enjoying it. I also managed to avoid burning, except for a bit of pink on my stomach, but that's because it hadn't seen daylight since I collected unicorn stickers and wore a single ponytail above my right ear. (Last year, in other words.)

Tons of stuff to tell you, but in short, I think we should all move to Italy immediately. It's ridiculously beautiful in a way that I assumed had been added to films about Italy in post-production. But no: It's real.

Also, you should know that I returned to my home with a suitcase full of wine. Raise your hand if you think I have a problem.