Sunday, November 30, 2008

Consumption

I've been thinking a lot about stuff.

My apartment is crammed full of stuff. I am constantly getting free shoes, free bags, and clothing at a discount because of my job. I love to shop and my job is located in a clothing store. You do the math. Drew says I have an import/export business. I bring things in and then get rid of them because my apartment can't support the weight of so much extraneous fashion. I curse when I try to pull something out of my overjammed drawers, then get inspired every six months and put old stuff in bags to give away, throw away, or sell. My closet, however, remains jammed.

My gorgeous friend MARY mentioned in an email that she's working to de-clutter her apt, and it occurred to me that I need to do the same yet again. Books, makeup, lotion, shoes, cds, pet supplies, hats I'll never wear, dvds, magazines, mail that needs to be sorted. Every surface is full and it's stress-making.

I read an article online in which a woman stated that one of the things this global/spiritual shift that's happening is going to change is our practice of wanton consumption and subsequent overload and wasteful disposal. She says we're going to have to start sharing, and that it isn't going to be that much of a hardship because we have too much stuff already.

I also saw a man on TV who collects discarded old computers and cleans them up and puts them together and gives them to people who can't afford them - the elderly, the poor, whomever. I thought that was pretty cool, it always looks so gross to see unloved monitors and hard drives on the street, waiting to be tossed into a pile somewhere where they will sit, not rotting.

These two things, and the state of my overstuffed cracker box apartment, have already made me think that it's time to stop automatically collecting more items and to put more thought into the purchases I am making and freebies I'm grabbing. I desperately want to see some smooth surfaces.

So with these thoughts of overconsumption in mind, the fact that a very sweet-looking young man, trying to get through the holidays with a temp job, WAS TRAMPLED BY PEOPLE BURNING FOR A DISCOUNT AT WAL-MART, seems a great sign that we need to rethink our priorities. Is it really so imperative to get a discount TV that we would do such a thing? It's unthinkable, and yet there it is. What did people imagine when they stepped on something soft? Did they notice or care? There are reports that there were fistfights and that one man was quoted as saying, ""Nobody is going to keep me from a 50 inch plasma TV for $800". Really? Really?? I feel so sad for the dead man's family and friends, how do you recover from such a senseless loss?

It is not lost on me that my salary comes from the buying and selling of unnecessary goods. I love fashion and I love that a person can create a persona for themselves out of garments. I love the high of a perfect new dress, of the designer shoes that make you feel glamourous. But the machine-like drive of goods in/goods out makes me question whether my energy could not be expended more productively elsewhere. I am not sure and I do love my job. I just find myself wishing we were more conscious, so for the most part I content myself with trying to deter the others from buying fur and insisting that everyone in the office recycle. I use a Britta for my water and I carry re-usable cloth bags everywhere now. It's tiny, but it makes me feel better.

I don't have any real answers or comments other than these on such a tragic and pointless event, except to say that I hope that as a nation we can begin to awaken to the fact that we don't need all this stuff, and that we can begin moving into a new era where more thought goes into buying and selling. I know that I'm going to aim for it on a personal level.



Hangover

ME: What time do you want to order food?

DREW: I'm not hungry.

ME: I know that. But you will be later, what time do you want to order food?

DREW: After I wake up.

ME: No, because you'll sleep through and I want to order food before you have to go to work. 6:30? 7?

DREW: 6:30.

ME: Okay, I'll wake you up then.

DREW: No, Mary, don't wake me up. I want to sleep.

ME: Well, then how can we order food?

DREW: Can't we just do it when I get up?

ME: No, Andrew, because you won't wake up and I want to eat.

DREW: Damn it, you are difficult.

ME: I'm not being difficult, I'm being totally logical and you are being a pain in the ass.

DREW: I am not the pain in the ass, Mary. You are the pain in the ass. You're a child. You know, if a five year old drank liquor, it would be you.

ME: So 6:30 then? Where do you think you want to order from?

DREW: Get out of this bed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

My apt is fairly clean, I've got a tofurkey in the fridge to cook later, along with way, way too many extras for two people to eat, including but not exclusively; two pies (because we can't agree); ice cream, a couple of fancy cheeses; some frozen spinach thingies; sardines; a giant loaf of organic French bread; fancy olives; copious amounts of fruit; two bottles of wine (red and white to suit whatever mood comes up) and a bottle of champagne in case we decide to get fancy and eschew the wine altogether; and dumplings and brussel sprouts to go with the tofurkey with stuffing. We also have a ton of sushi that's going to go to waste because the lady at Gracefully loves Drew and loads him up with free stuff when he stops in after work at 5:30 am.

Much to Drew's chagrin, TCM is showing musicals all day long. Being half a fag, I'm pretty happy about it, but I won't make him watch (for too long) once he's awake. West Side Story was on last night and I was so excited and so happy that it was on and I have a few days off that I did a few of the numbers for the crew. The pets are good sports and will sit on the couch and stare at me "appreciatively" while I sing off-key in a bad puerto rican accent about liking to live in America.

Drew is in the bedroom with a pink satin sleep mask on because I had the shade partially open to read in bed. I tried to get him in a lacey one that says "Dreaming of Paris", but he refused. I plan on photographing him when I get done with this blog. He is equally as amped about this day off as I am, we are both fully on board with any day that celebrates sitting around lazily and eating heartily.

I'm sure I've written about this before, but I have spent many Thanksgivings feeling lonely and far away from family, often while bartending high or drunk in dank bars sparsely populated by other lonely drunks. When I see those nights in my head they look cold and dark indeed. Family-oriented holidays spent alone or lonely suck major ass, and it makes complete sense that the suicide rate is higher around this time of year.

I can think of three friends right off the top of my head that have suffered through painful breakups this year. I can think of other ones who don't get along with their families, who are very far away from them, or who just don't have anyone. I also have friends who are worried sick about money and other ones who are suffering physically. You are all in my thoughts today.

So I don't want to selfishly crow about my full fridge and tolerant boyfriend without saying that my happiness today means that anything is possible for others like me. Everything changes, and if it isn't your day, there are other days. And to my friends who aren't feeling very good today, you can give me a call. If I'm not in the middle of a song and dance number I'll pick up right away. And tomorrow night, if you like, we'll go out and sit in one of those dank bars and talk about it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Drew Update

Well, first, because it's my damn blog, let's talk about my extensive hipster wounds. My arm has formed a nice big bruise and there's a bloody hole in my elbow. I'm all stiff and I must have bruised my ass because every time I sit down it hurts. No jokes please!

Many people (including myself sometimes) have trouble keeping Drew's band sitch straight and every once in a while I'm asked to clarify. He's actually in a lot of bands at the moment. He also hates being online and won't deal with myspace or facebook, except through my page once in a while. So here's the list for those of you who are interested:

BLOODY SOCIAL - these are the fancy lads trailed by models that I often blog about. They get the most face time because I'm always on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to the women they attract.

GOD FIRES MAN - less fancy, more pro, more emo.

NEW RISING SONS - this is a reunion of a band that had a deal on Virgin a few years back, so some of you may remember them.

HARLEY & THE NIGHT - Drew just jumped on board, I haven't seen them play yet, though I do know Harley's a great songwriter.

And lastly, the band he's most famous for is INTO ANOTHER. They're not together anymore but they still have a rabid cult following. And before that in his teens he played with some pretty well-known hardcore outfits, but I'm too lazy to look them up right now.

There, that's all the promo that fucker's getting from me for a while, at least until he takes the laundry down.


It was only a matter of time...

...before they turned on us!

I knew it! On top of having crappy taste in clothing and music, they're vicious! Today I am recuperating from a traumatic hipster attack that occurred last night. I may never be the same!

Well, okay, that's an exaggeration, I'll probably survive without extensive therapy. But I do have a very bruised and scabbed elbow and my favorite vintage coat has some scuff marks on it. Lawsuit!

Last night I went out with my two favorite and most gorgeous hookers--HEATHER (who we call Rabbit) and HEIDI. A dangerous trio if ever there was one, things can always go awry with this bunch but that's also where the entertainment lies, it's never dull.

I met the ladies, along with Rabbit's boyfriend Rob and Heidi's boyfriend Jeffrey, at Lucy's, which is a cute little bar on Avenue A that I've never been in before. Lucy is an actual person, an adorable little old lady of Eastern European descent with old school beauty parlor hair who owns the place and works behind the bar. It's warm and the people were cool and it was crowded but not so badly that you couldn't move.

Rob and I immediately got into an argument about how the neighborhood is full of douchebags and NYU students now. He just baited me to watch me spin and I went on my usual rant. Two drinks in and I'm frothing and shouting as he grins and shakes his head. Heidi yells, "Hit him! Hit him!" And Rabbit says, "Go ahead, he's used to it!" So I slapped him. But he's tougher than he looks, or a glutton for punishment, and refused to acquiesce.

Heidi wanted to go to Motor City to see the lovely ANGELA. I was not very excited about this as Motor City, for those of you who don't live in NY, is located on Ludlow Street, which teems with afore-mentioned douchebags and NYU students on the weekends. It's like Bleeker Street used to be, hordes of drunken idiots and the sluts that love them wander from bar to bar, shouting at each other and clogging the sidewalks. Every time I have to walk through it I get completely depressed.

But we went. And I held my arm out expansively to the street as sloppy girls in headbands slammed into us and said to Rob, "Well, how do you like it? You like these people, you want to hang with them on a regular basis? NOW will you admit I'm right?" He still would not admit it but I spared him the slap because we both knew my point had been proven.

And so we listened to rock and drank tequila shots. And then we drank more tequila shots. And Rabbit yelled at random guys that tried to talk to her. And then we got stuck in the bathroom trying to get her corset organized. And then Heidi and I tried to catch up while shouting over the music and around people's heads. And then I bought tequila shots for random strangers. And then I yelled at Rob some more. And then I realized I was totally wasted and had to go home immediately. I hate when I do that to myself, but there it was. I was toast.

Rabbit shoved Rob out the door to get me a cab but it was clear there were none to be had. The street was just teeming with party zombies. The only option was to walk the six blocks home, so I sent Rob back inside. The word "walk" may be too narrow of a term for what was actually going to happen. I could ambulate by teetering and weaving, but walking--kind of out of the question. And it was fucking freezing.

Sigh...just get on with it, Mary...

As I began picking my way through the rabble on high heels, cursing the bitter cold and the collegians standing in the way of me finding a vehicle, a large body slammed into me from behind, completely swiping my feet from underneath me and knocking me hard into the ground.

I was completely dazed by the shock of it, and just sat there confusedly watching a large group of decidedly hipster types scream happily as they ran by me. I was so freaked out (and, oh yes...drunk) that I think it was my intention to sit there for a while. Maybe at some point someone would come out of Motor City and carry me home. Or maybe I'd just live there on the ground. I wasn't sure.

But one ironically bearded young gentleman broke from the pack and came running back. He leaned over me with a very concerned look on his face and said, "I am so, so sorry! Are you okay?" I continued to sit and said, "You fucker! Look at me!" He asked, "What can I do? Please tell me what I can do!" And I said, "Well, goddamnit, you can help me up."

So he did. And then he stood with me for a minute while I collected myself, and then I put my hand in his arm and he walked me to the corner. So I guess, truth be told, some of today's facial hair-challenged youth isn't actually as vicious as I like to pretend they are.

But I still had to get home. And that was still a tedious and interminable walk through the cold, getting slammed this way and that by Saturday night assholes who in my newly vulnerable state seemed more dangerous than before. It was so depressing, and by the time I got into the apartment I felt good and sorry for myself. I loaded the pets onto the bed and burst into drunken weeping and sent Drew (who was working) an overly dramatic text that said, "I got knocked to the ground by frat boys, please come straight home when you're done."

Of course he called right away, freaking out, and I did have the decency to tell him that it really wasn't that bad. He came home directly after work and cleaned and bandaged my wounds while I sniffled piteously. He said, "I told you not to go down there on a Saturday night, Mary." And then he pushed me in the chest into a lying position, where he knew I would pass out immediately. Which I did.

I told Rocket about it on the phone today and he said the same thing nearly happened to him recently and we lamented this latest influx of running gangs of happy, badly dressed youth. We vowed to continue to shake our canes and shout things like, "Slow down, you whippersnappers!" until things turn around in our favor. And maybe I'll call Rob and yell at him again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ban the Bore

There are always those people that we all know that turn up at social functions or local bars and bore the crap out of us. They drone on in a atonal hum and when we see them talking to loved ones we know to rush in and rescue them from the dreary conversations with sentences like, "Can I talk to you in private for a moment?", or "Gosh, sorry to pull her away from you, but we've really got to leave now."

Bores are relentless. They turn up year after year and never notice that they are draining the life out of every normal person they latch onto. It's always been a mystery to me that certain people can't feel their effect on people. I can see male eyes glaze over when I ramble about shoes or my cats. I know my mother isn't hearing a word I'm saying when she suddenly interrupts my story with a list she's making in her head. How is it that some people can constantly set off room-wide panic and not be conscious of the fact?

I noticed something at my birthday party when I got three of these idiots in a row. One I had actually invited, never expecting they'd actually show up, the other two just wandered in from Bob Gruen's annual birthday party down the road, where they were no doubt boring the crap out of everyone there. By the time they all made it to me, I had had a cocktail or two, and was in that happy, buzzy state where you're a little removed from reality--not completely drunk, but drunk enough to observe things from a slightly skewed angle.

As each one took his or her turn, I didn't bother to pay any attention to what they were trying to tell me, I just watched their mouths move and marveled at the common denominator: the "I" factor. Each one went on and on about themselves without pausing for a moment to ask questions of or observe anyone around them. Ordinarily at a birthday party you would wish the birthday person a happy birthday, and ask them what they got or how happy they were or whatever before launching into your own twice-told tales.

I noticed with the bores that there was none of that, not even a pretense in that direction. Each one immediately dove headfirst into the "I, me, my" monologue. It was kind of mesmerizing from an anthropological (i.e. drunken) point of view: "HeyRaffhappybirthday. I never come out to parties anymore because you know I have been sick and I just hate everyone here and did I tell you I've started a video company and I am going to interview Jesse and you know I was at the first D Gen gig in 1919 and I always wore my hair like this but people just aren't cool like I've always been and they're very jealous and I was in the hospital for a while because I fractured my ego in five places and I, me, my, blah, blah, blah, BLAH."

And the whole time as I watched their mouths move I just kept thinking, "I hate you. You are a selfish little fucker and I hate you, and I think 90% of the people in this room must feel exactly the same way." On some level they MUST feel that, especially as I am not that subtle of a person, although polite for the most part. But maybe they just don't know how to connect and continue the I conversation in a panicked attempt to hit upon something that someone somewhere will find fascinating. Or maybe they're so fucking lonely from driving people away that once they actually have an audience they can't control their self-obsessed verbal diahrrea because they know it will be some time before they get a listener again.

I don't know. And I know it's a little hypocritical to be writing about it in a blog in which the word "I" is always featured fairly prominently. But these idiots are on my mind today.

This afternoon on my way home from the gym I saw another crashing bore that I've known for 20 years. I actually have some affection for him just because we've weathered as East Village neighbors for so many years, and he is a nice person. He's never been pervy or obnoxious, he's never asked me to do anything for him, he will stop and let you walk away after he gets the bulk of the monologue out. He's not truly awful. He's very well-educated and has a pretty interesting family history, which of course I know all about because he's happy to outline it as many times as you would like.
He's just tedious as all hell when you're not in the mood.

This guy, we'll call him Mr. X, was across the street boring the hell out of some other person he'd cornered. I did contemplate waving at him, but he was very engrossed in conversation and I just wanted to run into Duane Reade and get some cough medicine and go home. I'd managed to get myself to the gym but I'm still really sick and just wanted to be home. And he didn't appear to see me.

But they always see you. Because they're lonely and boring and you are interesting and running from them.

I traversed through aisle after aisle to the very back of the store ("Halloween candy...mmm...firming serum...wonder if that one works..."), and found the cough syrup. Of course I couldn't find the specific type I wanted so I crouched down to dig through the bottom shelf in a vain hope that it was hidden there.

I'm not close to the ground for more than a moment when I hear, "Hey Raff." And I look up and there he is, staring down at me expectantly. SIGH...

"Hey, Mr. X." Which I say begrudgingly and which comes out in a croaking rasp as I have no voice at the moment.

"Heyyougotacold? So, I've started a new career as a DJ. I'm playing X & Y on this day and that day and this is my playlist and I'm working on getting into this place and that place and it's really great because I'm bringing stuff that no one has ever heard before and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH."

Dude. I am sitting on the floor with no makeup on, looking at cough syrup. Wouldn't now be the time to say, "Hey Raff, sorry you're sick. Guess I'll leave you to it, get well soon!"? Oh no, that's impossible, because right now it's all about HIS NEW DJ CAREER. And the horrible realization creeps over me as he's talking that he's not there to shop and that he actually ran across the street and followed me into the store and then wandered the aisles until he found me.

Yet, because I grew up in Northern Michigan, the land of completely dysfunctional, passive-aggressive, non-confrontational, overly-nice but weirdly bitchy underneath it females, and because I really don't hate this particular bore, I took his annoying ramble and even responded here and there, all the while feeling resentful and put upon. And then I went home and vented to Drew, gesticulating wildly while holding my new overpriced firming serum that I totally don't need. And now I'm blogging it.

I have no real answers on how to deal with this phenomenon. I know bores don't generally read other people's blogs and even if they did wouldn't recognize themselves. But they must be stopped. Is the answer to just walk away when someone starts on the monologue? That's hard to do when you've known someone forever and you're, you know, ILL AND SITTING ON THE FLOOR.

It's just so frustrating and invasive, and I felt the same frustration at the party, when there I had people to rescue me. I just nodded a few times to each one of these tediumites as they rambled on about themselves, feeling resentment build as their mouths moved. I shouted in my head: STOP SUCKING MY LIFE ESSENCE, YOU TEDIOUS, HIDEOUS VAMPIRE! And then as soon as there was a fraction of an opening turned to talk to whoever else was standing near me.

One of my favorite life moments ever was when I was cornered by one of these people, who happened to be a spitter as well as a drone. As he talked in the direction of the side of my head my friend BROOKE reached up repeatedly to wipe my face with her cocktail napkin. He never noticed, of course, while she and I were hysterical. I still chuckle about it whenever it comes to mind.

But your friends aren't always there to wipe your face. So I'm open to any suggestions you might have, people...