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Archive for August, 2009

Celebrity Sighting

While I was working at the bakery, I was also working at the cafe at the Bowery Poetry Club. Very nice place and people, but it was my first time as a barista and I was terrible at it. And they had a juicer. When someone would ask for juice, I would plead with them to please order something else. “I hate the juicer!”

I worked there for about a month, and right after I quit, I would still go in sometimes for an apple cider (just in case the person behind the counter hated making lattes like I did). One night, I was really early for a date and decided to kill some time with a cider. The man at the door collecting cover charges for the band said to me, “Hey. I saw you in a play.”
“Oh, no. I haven’t done any plays here yet. I just moved here. You probably recognize me because I used to work in the cafe.”
“Nope. I saw you in a play. Last year in Eugene, Oregon. After Mrs. Rochester.”
“Really? You saw that?”
And then he started saying some of my lines in the appropriate British accent. “Mother! Open the door! Please, Mother! Open the door!” as he knocked on the wooden table in front of me.

I was pretty flattered. Turns out, he is friends with the lovely Dakota Witt and he was doing poetry slam stuff in Eugene that weekend. It was still strange that he recognized me. I had to dye my hair dark for that show, and when he saw me that night, I was very blonde.

I finished my cider and walked over to meet my date at the Comedy Cellar.

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Cookie seduction

My first job in New York was at a bakery. The owner said she thought I was on a “management track.” I was the only white person behind the counter. I was paid more than anyone else I worked with, even though I was the only one who didn’t go to pastry school. I quit after two weeks.

But the cookies were great, and any cookies that weren’t sold went home with us (or were thrown away). I really liked the “Blueberry Everything” cookie. It had everything!

I was standing on the subway platform in my black pants and hot pink collared shirt, holding a bag of cookies. I spotted an attractive, mid-twenties blonde man wearing a suit 15 feet away from me. Another man was playing the violin in between us. The man in the suit dropped some bills in the other man’s violin case. I dropped some bills in too, and smiled. Then I turned away a little and started flirtaciously eating a Blueberry Everything, slowly, in case it took him awhile to notice. On cue, he approached me and said, “You got any more cookies?”

We shared the cookies on the subway train back to Brooklyn and he asked me out on a date. I was thrilled, and I was pretty sure we had an appropriately adorable story of how we met in case he turned out to be my soulmate.

I met him for dinner that evening. The conversation was pretty good, but then it turned to politics.
“I’m a Republican,” he said.
I told myself that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. If he is smart about the issues and respectful of my different political views, I can respect his views too.
“So you voted for George W. Bush in the last election?”
“Yep, I like him.”
(I had had a few glasses of wine). “I see. You like him. What conservative issues do you specifically support?”
“Oh. Yeah, see I don’t really know too much about politics. I just like him. Because he’s like, the underdog. And I always try to root for the underdog.”

There was no going back. He said that, and as much as I tried to pretend that he hadn’t, I would always remember it. The date ended after dinner. He offered me a bunch of free perfume/lip gloss/beauty products that he got from Victoria’s Secret Corporate Office where he worked.
“Take whatever you want. I’ll give my mom whatever you don’t want.”

He asked me out on a second date. I reluctantly agreed, then cancelled four hours before via text message saying I had “to go to Whole Foods, sorry.” He texted me back that I was “sketchy and weird.” I deserved that.

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“I live in East Williamsburg.”
“Which stop?”
“Montrose.”
“That’s Bushwick.”

No offense to my pals who live in Bushwick. I’m told it’s nicer than it was three years ago. When I moved out after only five months, I wondered if I would ever have a reason to go back. I doubted it. This was before I started comedy. Turns out, over 50% of NYC up and coming comedians live in Bushwick, do jokes about it onstage, and throw parties on their roofs. So I do make it out to Bushwick occasionally and the roofs are very nice.

At least on the Montrose stop, not much has changed. Cafe Moto is still there, that’s a nice place. When I first moved there, all I had within 10 blocks was five chinese restaurants, six laundromats, a karate school, and a Papa Johns. “Duck Duck” opened just before I moved out of Bushwick, and I’m sorry Duck Duck fans, but those bartenders were so rude to me and my boyfriend-at-the-time, we left the establishment in favor of Papa Johns.

How did a wide-eyed optimistic girl from Iowa end up in Bushwick? I was not a comedian. Who would recommend this neighborhood? A few days before I planned to go to New York to look for places with the couple I had agreed to live with, I get a call from the girl part of the couple.
“We found a place! It’s perfect! It’s in Williamsburg, just two stops off the L”
“Does it have a bathtub?”
“Yes.”
“I’m sold!”

And that was it. In September 2006, I went to New York and took the L two stops. It looked pretty cool. I started walking. Asking for directions to Manhattan Ave. I walked for about forty-five minutes, got to see the Marcy Projects and also some really sketchy areas. Turns out, my apartment was not the 2nd stop on the L. It was the 5th. I had left time to explore the neighborhood, which was good, because by the time I got to the apartment, it was exactly time to meet my landlord. He was an hour and half late, so I just waited for him at the Papa Johns.

I was pretty worried at this point. The neighborhood was sketchy. The landlord showed up and I saw the apartment. My room was small, but had “roof access.” Roof access meant that the landlord had not put bars on the windows for my safety, but I would be able to go out onto the small, dirty roof that didn’t look entirely secure. I avoided the roof and signed up for renter’s insurance.

The mailbox was on the outside of the building. It’s the kind of mailbox you put on your house in Iowa, no lock. So all the mail would get stolen every day. The landlord would talk excitedly about the new mailbox he was planning to install INSIDE the building. For a month, he talked about this mailbox and how it would solve our mail theft problems for good. One day I came home and saw that a new mailbox had been installed. Not inside, where the landlord said it would be, but outside, in place of the old one. It looked just like the old one, except that it had a lock and key. The landlord gave me the key, but I never bothered to use it. It was simply easier to reach into the slot in the mailbox that the mail carrier uses to insert the mail. The slot was just wide enough for someone, perhaps me, or perhaps a thief, to reach his/her hand in to retrieve the mail each day.

Right after that happened, the front door broke. The landlord, concerned for my safety, told me to be very careful walking home. He thinks someone broke the door on purpose because he is mad that the landlord “owed him a lot of money.” That landlord still owes me a lot of money. I should have seen it coming. Anyway, if I was ever walking back to the apartment and it felt like someone was following me, I should not stop at my apartment, but keep walking so I would trick the criminal. Then, when I felt like no one was following me, I should then go to the apartment.

Shortly after that, I left the sketchy apartment, the crazy landlord, and the abusive couple and I moved to Manhattan. I do go back to Bushwick from time to time for comedy parties, and my friends who live there have much better apartments than mine was. Sure, they get mugged from time to time, but they’re comedians, and getting mugged is “material.”

I left Bushwick, moved to Manhattan, and now I live in Brooklyn again. I haven’t been to Papa Johns since.

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Goodbye for now, New York!

Big news! I’m moving to Los Angeles in three weeks. I woke up yesterday still planning to switch off every two weeks between New York and LA (long distance relationship), and I went to bed with visions of Los Angeles Craigslist housing classifieds dancing in my head.

On September 12th, I will have lived in New York for three years. I love it here. I’ll live here again, certainly. I’m one of those people who really really wants to raise kids in the city. I have wanted to live in NYC since I was nine years old. I begged my parents to ship me off to a boarding school out here, and when I was fifteen, I encouraged my dad to purchase an apartment in the city that I could perhaps make good use of as a college student at NYU.

Every day for the next few weeks, I’ll recount a funny New York story on this blog. That means you won’t get to hear about when the pregnant masseuse walked on my back during a Swedish massage in the Philippines, or when I threw a martini at my ex-boyfriend at a wedding I attended in Portland. Just the New York stuff. Get ready!

This picture captures the sweet naivete of a new New Yorker. September 2006.

This picture captures the sweet naivete of a new New Yorker. September 2006.

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What am I most excited about in August 2009? This show.

I’m producing The Meaning of Wife with Theatre Témoin at the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC). It stars two terrific women, comedian Erin Judge and actress Ailin Conant.

Erin and Ailin have been friends (and sometimes, ahem, more than friends) since college. Now in their mid-twenties, these two women both find themselves in the unexpected position of being somebody’s wife. Ailin also HAS a wife (which is pretty confusing for people’s grandmothers), while Erin has a husband, matching towels, and a huge white dress that she has justifed holding on to by doing this show.

The Meaning of Wife is part sketch comedy, part public relations campaign, and all way too much information about Erin and Ailin. This funny and brutally honest piece explores what marriage looks like in some of its newest manifestations (read: gay ones) and its most traditional (read: a white dude and a white chick), and what every kind of marriage has to teach us all about what it means to be a wife.

“It’s hilarious, it’s topical, it’s fun, and, most of all, it’s our true story. We enjoy using humor to reveal the absurdities of what kinds of marriages are sanctioned by law and what kind are not. And we’re out to challenge what people think of when they hear the word ‘wife.'” –Erin Judge

FringeNYC is one of the most fun ways to see theatre, and I urge to see as much as you can. Some shows will be great, some will disappoint, but The Meaning of Wife is definitely a winner.

The Meaning of Wife runs August 21-29th at The Actor’s Playhouse. Learn more about the show and incredible performers here .
Buy your tickets in person at FringeCentral (Crosby between Spring and Broome) or online from Ticketweb.

For recommendations on other great Fringe shows, check out Hyreviews.

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