Not sure if it’s the multi-colored Christmas lights I’m rocking in my bedroom… and leaving on all night, but I have been having trouble sleeping lately. Insomnia is a small price to pay for the Christmas spirit. The dry air doesn’t help. My morning routine has involved quite a bit of time expectorating blood the past few days. The temperature fluctuations really don’t help either. I go to bed freezing under all the covers and wake up in the middle of the night sweating like a fat man.
Last night I fell asleep WHILE I was setting my alarm. Now that’s tired. 19 more days until Santa. I can do this.
I recently had to travel for work and unfortunately had to take a Sunday night red-eye home to New York. My company took pity on me and sprung for a car service from Newark Airport to my apartment in Williamsburg. This enabled me to avoid navigating Monday morning public transportation in a red-eye daze. I had been up for about 23 hours at that point and was not in the proper state of mind to deal with such a scene. The rain only complicated the matter.
So all was good. I could fall asleep (or at least zone out) in the car for the ride home and not have to worry about a thing. What I was not prepared for was the driver. An old school cat as miserable as they come. I believe he said his name was Bud, but I’m not entirely sure. Bud was sporting bright white hair, a giant bulbous nose and thick New York accent. He used local idioms like, “I’m just breaking shoes.”
Things got off to a bad start when my cell phone rang as I was cruising through the terminal. It was Bud, who asked me to meet him outside in the rain, instead of coming in and writing my name on a little sign. Once I found the car, he immediately began to complain that he was not used to driving all the way from Newark to Brooklyn and that we were absolutely going to hit rush hour traffic. Fair enough. For some reason I was compelled to apologize to the guy we were paying nearly $150 for. Even offered alternate routes that might make the ride a little smoother.
He decided to try a route that we were both unfamiliar with, relying on the GPS to illuminate the way. Within a minute we were in the seedy industrial complex of the Newark Airport area. Taking hard lefts and rights, trying to keep up with a GPS that must have been smoking at this point. Only one or two other cars in sight, we were dodging delivery trucks like they were Pacman ghosts. Bud coloring the car with a rush of language that would make Fiorello La Guardia blush.
Not wanting to enflame the situation any more, I treaded lightly. Opting for a joke…
“Well that got sketchy real fast.”
“Fucking Jesus Christ, these GPSs will take you everywhere but where you want to go.”
Down one more side street, in another moment we were back on the highway. Stuck in traffic.
He let out a giant gasp and said, “I’m gonna try to get over to the Verrazano.”
“No this is fine. Stick with the Holland please.” That stopped him in his tracks.
Along the way we passed not one, but three accidents. Cars were readily bumping into each other on this cold and rainy Monday morning. Each time, Bud would make a comment that people don’t know how to drive in rain. At one point there was a break in the monotony and we had some room to accelerate. To a fault I chose to mumble something under my breath, which caused Bud to turn around and ask what I had said. Of course at this very moment, I could see that more traffic was fast approaching and Bud was not slowing down.
“Look out!” I literally screamed “Look out!” Bud slammed on the brakes and we avoided being number four. My knuckles were blood red.
Traffic near the tunnel was abominable and Bud decided to get into an open lane that was heading off into Hoboken. Once he realized he was in the wrong lane, he attempted to merge back into a crowd of cars stymied by the bottleneck of the tunnel. They had just watched him pass them by and were not very forthcoming in letting us back in. Down aways was a traffic cop that was glaring up at us. Bud started preaching that this mother fucker better not give him a ticket.
We got in and passed the cop without incident. Bud looked at him through a closed window and said thank you, then muttered under his breath “Fuck you, hahaha” and after a brief condemnation of the merging habits of motorists, we were in the Holland Tunnel.
Getting across Manhattan was fairly easy as I was directing him the entire way. Though we did seem to hit every red light, which Bud surprisingly pointed out. When we got to the Williamsburg bridge, the left lane was closed and Bud made my favorite comment of the morning…
“They’ve been working on this road since the beginning of time.” I’d never noticed it, but maybe they have. It perfectly summed up my morning.
We drove right passed my apartment after I had told Bud it was right there at the light. Upon making a couple of lefts to get back, we found ourselves on a side street stuck behind a garbage truck. With no where to turn, I watched the truck completely annihilate a sofa that was left on the side of the road.
“Well Bud, this works for me. I hope the rest of your day goes a little smoother.” I grabbed my things and walked the block home. Bedtime.
An animated retelling of the time Warner Herzog saved Joaquin Phoenix from blowing himself up. Told by Warner Herzog.
I hate to iron. It is a mindless, numbing activity. And a whole friggin’ to-do. You lug the ironing board out, fill the thing up with water, straighten out the shirt, detect the wrinkles, make sure there are no creases, iron and repeat. Multiple times. I could be spending that time washing dishes. It’s dangerous too! This heavy appliance is inches away from linens and skin with only one purpose… get really, really hot.
Why do we do it? Why can’t I walk around in wrinkled pants? Who says a pressed shirt is stylish or put-together? I’ll tell you who: Big Iron. This entire pro-pressed sentiment is all a racket put forth by the marketeers of Big Iron to sell more irons. I think it stinks, and I don’t like it.
I will make one point. There is a certain purification I get from ironing out those wrinkles. Watching them melt away somehow makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, however menial. At least as much as I can accomplish while standing in the middle of my apartment in my underwear, listening to REO Speedwagon. (You don’t spin “Keep On Loving You” when YOU’RE ironing?) So I suppose ironing has an oddly cathartic component. Add in the danger and you have something to talk about. I just don’t think the ends justify the means.
Nearly four years ago, on the very first day of work, I was ironing. It was a new me. I was going to press my clothes. In a moment of distraction however, my forearm decided it wanted to get to really know that iron. What my forearm didn’t know is that irons are extremely racist toward skin. Actually, the tip of an iron looks like a Klansman’s hood. A painful, bright purple welt immediately showed up. As an added bonus, because of the confusion from burning myself, I forgot to zip up my fly. So I had a smoldering forearm and an unzipped fly on my first day of work. Awesome! What a disaster. Maybe not- I’m still here. And all my clothes are wrinkled.
For months, actually ever since I moved into my apartment, I’ve been conscious of the thin walls in my building. There are six units here and we are all up in each other’s business. I share a wall in the bedroom with my next door neighbor. Judging from the amount of things I can hear coming from his apartment, lord knows what he can hear coming from mine. I try to keep it fairly quiet. For privacy and respect. I don’t really listen to music in the bedroom and spend most of my time in the other room anyway. Other times, I’m too busy to care how loud it gets in here. Oh!
A young couple and their 3 year old son used to live next door. The kid would sing constantly and run from one end of the apartment to the other. This little shit was doing suicides day and night. Possibly training for a marathon. Julian was hyperactive and a nightmare to live next to. They moved away on my birthday and it was the best present anyone could ask for. For the most part, the guy that lives there now is quiet. Not enough to complain about here.
One thing I’m conscious of is my alarm clock. I use an iPhone as an alarm clock and she goes to bed with me. The alarm’s actual volume is not that loud, but after a long night of restless, intermittent sleep, when that thing goes off in the morning it sounds like shoes in a dryer on a runway at Newark International. I’m trying to subtly imply that it’s loud. Especially to someone disoriented from a dream they were just having about benevolent (and helpful!) robots. I’m pretty sure the guy next door goes to work later than me and I always feel slightly bad that I might be waking him up. I wasn’t quite sure he was actually hearing the alarm in the morning… And at the end of the day, I don’t really care. A man’s gotta wake up to make a living. But at least I had a little guilt about it?
Yesterday morning, my alarm went off as usual. I rolled over, blindly searching for my phone to tap the snooze button, but something wasn’t right. It was 6:30 am. My alarm wasn’t going off. Did I just dream my alarm went off? Did a dream alarm just wake me up? If I start having alarm dreams I’m really screwed. Don’t make me call the Dream Police. They live inside of my head.
No dream alarms. It was the guy next door. He apparently uses an iPhone for his alarm as well. And he’s using the exact same alarm tone as me. Well now I know if he can hear mine. I swear I thought my alarm, the one that is in bed with me, was vibrating and playing that dreadful melody I hear every morning. Heard it as clear as monday morning. Apparently it’s time to reconsider what passes for quiet.
Pretty sure we sleep right next to each other. I imagine his pillow is propped right up against the opposite side of the wall. I bet there’s less than six inches of sheet rock between our heads. I’m moving my bed. And I’m changing my alarm tone. I don’t feel comfortable not only being on this guy’s new schedule but sleeping next to a man separated by a decades old, six inch, mold-infested partition.
I knew this day would come. I’d been dreading it for years. But today, it finally happened. Today… I misjudged the revolving door in the lobby of my office.
I had stepped out for a hot lunch, some sunlight, and an hour of much needed me time. Getting back to work, a woman was coming the other way as I was re-entering the building. I saw her through the glass, thought I could make it, and went for it. Smash. I got slammed between the partition and the side of the revolving door enclosure. It didn’t hurt, but it sure looked foolish. Like something akin to when the Coyote fails to catch the Roadrunner. Years of living dangerously flashed before my eyes. I’ve had near-misses before, some a little too close. But every time I prevailed. Seamlessly entering the building as someone else was leaving. Kind of pretty actually. A time-tested apparatus of civil engineering. Not today though. The woman who squashed me felt bad too. She apparently did not see the little dilemma that was going on in my head prior to our encounter. The contemplation. Should I attempt this? She smiled and gave me a sincere “I’m so sorry”; muffled from the other side of the glass.
To which I smiled back with a wave and said, “My fault.”
Will this effect my carefree attitude toward revolving doors? Will this make me stop and think twice before attempting a stunt like this again. Highly doubtful. I’ve got places to be man. This is New York City. I can’t wait for people. I just wish this was a metaphorical revolving door we were talking about. But alas it is not. I really got crushed by a door.
Speaking of revolving doors, I’ve been talking about this for years. Put a generator at the top of a rotating door to create energy every time someone walks through it. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Well someone finally did it.
Today, in Starbucks, a little boy, who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old, attacked me. He saw me walking toward him, lowered his head and rammed me in the crotch with it. It was not a mistake. There was clear intent to cause harm. I wonder his motives. I refuse to believe it was mere child’s play and feel like I was the victim of some sort of organized hooliganism. Has anyone else been attacked in such a manner? Especially in the Times Square area? Agism is a serious problem in this country and to think it may be manifesting itself through violence frightens me. If this is happening under the microscope of New York City, what’s to say pockets of gangs comprised of 4 year old punks aren’t elsewhere.
Luckily, he missed his target. It wasn’t a direct hit. I was not momentarily paralyzed by the aggression. Only the fear that this was somehow premeditated.
I said, “Whoaaaa, there, haha”
I looked down and he looked up at me. Laughing. Taunting. Threatening.
His mother with a smile, “Excuse me.”
And I’m thinking to myself… Ma’am, I’m not sure you’re fully aware of the devil you’re raising.