11 things I would totally like to do during a hurricane…

Ok, so I’m no longer on the East Coast, but while I lived there, I definitely harbored huge Escape From New York fantasies, in other words, what to do when the shit hit the fan.

My favorite involved a version of Grand Theft Auto, in which I would punch a soccer mom at a Park Slope stoplight, steal her station wagon, then go bee-bopping through the neighborhoods, sipping whiskey and smoking as I listened to Guns n’ Roses’ ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ only to finally crash into Prospect Park for The End!

I was never going to sit in traffic in the Holland Tunnel, let’s just put it that way.

And so, now I’ve missed three natural disasters since I’ve left NYC: Three! Hurricane Sandy has made me a little nostalgic for all that hardened NYC survival shit. So here goes, 11 things I would totally do during a hurricane:

1. Create an awesome fake Mitt Romney Twitter feed: Oh, somebody already did this! (Thanks for FB post, Ahmad!).

2. Speaking of Mitt Romney, I would probably want to leave my house for a bit and blow off some steam. Since emergency services are down, this is probably a great time to go door-to-door, asking folks if they’re voting for Romney. Yes? Punch them in the face and run.

3. Times of duress that include losing power call for sex and drinking, sure. But what about superstripscrabblesmokeoutsupersexysexdrinkingsandwichmakingbodegalootingselling cigarettesfortwentydollarsapacktothekidsonthecornerhappyfunhurricanetimes?

4. Put on all my sparkly clothes and makeup and re-enact the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ reunion special with myself.

5. Throw away any crap I no longer want out the closest window.

6. Take candy from a baby.

7. Get a canoe.

8. Pray to Jeebus in the canoe. Kidding!

9. Begin my lengthy hate-mail campaign for ‘American Idol’ Season 12, with a special fixation on Mariah Carey.

Doesn't this look like a porno video cover?

10. Finally, time to get that sex tape storyboarded out!

11. Tweet the ‘Today Show,’ suggest places Al Roker can stand.

 

 

Holy, Shitballs! Am I Elite?

The other day, I was doing some research at work. You know, going through some studies of what qualifies as qualifying as “affluent” in this American life. And upon reading some of the factoids, I realized, gulp, that maybe, could I? Have I joined the affluent ranks of America?

Well, according to one study, if your combined household income is over $150K, then yes, you are considered “affluent.” Yet another one said $200K. I don’t know about you, but having a combined household income over $150K may get you pretty far—you know, above-ground pool and a leased Beemer—in fucking Alabama, but it’s not going to get you very far in any place that anyone actually wants to live, like say, on a coast.

To help us all figure out where we land in this new economy—even with a jobs report reporting a slight uptick for September—I have compiled a quiz that will let you know if your small-dog pampering, summer-house sharing, yoga-taking ass is considered closer to the 1 percent that we all despise. Get comfortable with your income bracket and get ready to enjoy the ‘Holy Shitballs! Am I Elite?’ quiz:

  1. Do you pay other people to exercise?

A. My exercise is getting out of the car when the drive-thru is shut down.
B. No, but I go outside and walk around a lot, like smug French people, and feel very pleased with myself while I’m doing this.
C. Yes, my home gym has awesome stuff like a sauna and elliptical.
D. Yes, I have a personal trainer who comes to my home/office three times a week to yell at me and tell me what to do.

  1. Do you have a person of a different nationality coming to your home to take care of your children?

A. Hell, no. A bag of Doritos and a TLC “Honey Boo Boo” marathon is all they fucking need.
B. No, they go to daycare, where they roll around in a disgusting, snotty pit with at least 30 other children, licking on one another all day.
C. Yes, she’s a lovely Jamaican woman, and she just loves my little angel!
D. Yes, I have six of them, two alternates on speed dial. And I am Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

  1. Do you only eat organic and/or locally sourced produce and food?

A. Taco Bell has all the vegetables I need.
B. No, I buy what’s on sale, but I try to eat mostly vegetables.
C. Yes, Whole Foods and my local farmer’s market is my Lord and Savior.
D. I don’t eat.

  1. Do you regularly use/consume any of the following?

A. Pampers/Pepsi
B. Soy milk/Raisin Bran
C. Cocunut Water/Sushi
D. Cristal/Starbucks

  1. Who are you voting for in this presidential election?

A. Mitt Romney
B. Barack Obama
C. Do I vote?
D. Mitt Romney

  1. How do you get around?

A. 1996 Hyundai
B. 1986 Volvo
C. 2013 Beemer
D. Black Escalades

  1. The last time I was on a bike…

A. I never had no bike.
B. Within the last hour.
C. Last weekend’s Sonoma Wine Country ride, of course!
D. That is so cute.

  1. I tend to have sex with…

A. Cousins
B. My soulmate, who embodies every one of my hopes, wishes, dreams and desires. We even made an extended video of our tender relationship and put it on YouTube for the world to see and feel bad for you because you are not as in love as we are.
C. Secretaries, neighbors, wife’s best friend and her daughter.
D. Those I pay.

  1. The last splurge I spent money on was…

A. The soft toilet paper—Charmin!
B. An organic farm share with my friends.
C. An Omega watch, because I deserve it.
D. A Namibian orgy fuckfest.

  1. Do you consider yourself a 99-percenter? Or one-percenter?

A. Neither. That Occupy stuff was some pussy, liberal-arts college kid shit.
B. The 99 percent, of course, but you know, I can still feed myself and buy a six-pack of microbrews whenever I want.
C. 99 percent. I’m tired of Obama saying he’ll raise taxes on those who make more than $250K a year. I had to sell my second home last year!
D. One percent? Please. Try the .000001 percent.

Mostly A’s. If the thought of New York City’s over 16 ounces drink ban infuriates your very being and you consider it an infringement on your rights, then you are an A.

Mostly B’s. Eh, you are so middle class, toiling away in some supposed “professional” desk job with stagnant wages and shrinking benefits. Good luck paying back your student loans, asshole! Or, that’s what Mitt Romney’s brain is thinking as he stares out at you and your sad little protest sign.

Mostly C’s. Congratulations. You are a yuppie douche and probably have your own show on Bravo.

Mostly D’s. You are either the head of your own tech startup and make millions of dollars hand over fist. Or you are a celebrity. Or Mitt Romney. However you made your money, of course, is your business. But you are indeed elite and very much part of the problem.

One Year In…

So, today is an anniversary of sorts. And I tend not to celebrate these types of things, but only quietly acknowledge them in my head. But this year—exactly one year since I fucked off from NYC and moved to the West Coast—has been a most vital and important one, and I feel that it must be paid attention.

See, my plane landed just shy of midnight on Aug. 6 last summer. I ate my last sushi meal in NYC in JFK’s Jet Blue terminal (great terminal btw, only to be outdone by SFO in terms of food, shops, and general all-around awesomeness), to sit on the tarmac for probably an hour and a half past departure time due to New York’s incredible airfield gridlock, or as my friend put it the “one last ‘fuck you’ from New York,” before I set off on my cross-country life-change adventures.

But I made it. My stuff made it. Miraculously not one thing broken or smashed or even cracked for I am an excellent transcontinental mover and packer! I have done it enough times, I should be by now.

If you recall, I wrote a post about Seattle’s differences, i.e. everyone was so nice and it was clean and all that. Well, last week was a huge garbage strike in town and Seattle is so clean, I didn’t even notice it. Seriously. Garbage strike, town does not stink like garbage. Who knew this was even humanly possible?

I still have not seen one city rat. Not a one.

I get asked all the time, mostly by other New Yorkers here for a spell (see? My vocabulary is changing already) or ex-New Yorkers, “Do you miss New York? At all?” and then their eyes gleam with mischief as if some great swell of regret and remorse will come poring out of me, “Oh, all the time! I could never live without The Met! Central Park! Brooklyn! Bagels! Bagels! Bagels! Pizza! Oh, I’m so deprived!”

And I’m here, one year later, to say with complete and total honesty: No.

There is not one thing I miss about NYC proper, except of course my lovely friends and their titillating conversation that borders on obscene at all times. Oh, and my street hockey team.

But that’s it. That’s all I miss.

Life here is so much … easier. Every day used to be struggle: Struggle to get bathroom time; struggle to get into a packed subway car; struggle to pay the bills. Struggle to do your fucking laundry. Struggle. Struggle. Struggle.

Life is too short to be hauling 15 pounds of dirty T-shirts and undies to the corner laundry. It’s even shorter to be worrying about getting infested with bed bugs all the time.

Here are the ways in which Seattle bests New York. Let the games begin!

Food: Oh, I can hear the culinary purists’ shrieks of laughter already. But, seriously, if it’s quality over quantity you’re after, then modern-era Seattle kicks the shit out of New York. Oh, and I had some fantastic meals in New York. I also had a lot of overhyped, overpriced, completely mediocre ones, too. There’s nothing worse than signing a credit card slip for $75 when you had a lousy dish and two glasses of wine. This tended to happen quite a bit in NYC, where mediocrity can go unchecked just because of the sheer number of diners out there. It takes a while to get called out on your shit.

The food I have had in Seattle is amazing for three reasons: Overall, quality, i.e. farm to table, is impressive and beyond excellent. People here take their ingredients and sources quite seriously and it shows. Also, see fresh seafood, like delicious oysters! Oysters! That you can eat right from the sea. Take that, East River!

Two, price. So much cheaper for comparable eats.

Three, because the scene is so small, everyone really steps up their game. Attention to detail is excellent. Also, the wine scene in Washington and Oregon is cranking out some great stuff.

Men: Women of New York, you need not live the deprived life that the city has carved out for you… There are real, good-looking, smart guys out here, waiting, no dying, to meet you. And they are, get this, wait for it…nice! The ratio of hot men to women here is sick. It’s New York odds flipped in the ladies’ favor.

Life: So much easier. Really. Everything, from the aforementioned laundry (I want to make out with my washer and dryer practically every day it gives me such joy!) to just having a decent grocery store nearby was a hassle. There are no mice or roaches in my apartment, and if there were, my landlord would send someone by that very day to take care of it. There is no need for AC. First time in my life I’ve never had to have an air conditioner.

No one’s dog is crapping on our sidewalk. There are no female condoms on my doorstep. There are no domestic disputes, violently and loudly, crashing through my walls and floorboards every night.

The air smells salty and fresh, every single fucking day. Every day.

Oh, the No. 1 reason I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary today? These Guys. They pretty much encapsulate every single thing I loathe about the city.

And so, it’s with this blog, and I realized 78,309 words later since I began this long life journey toward self-improvement and growth and all that crap that I bring to you to this: finding my little spot of peace and contentment. It took a lot of hard work, mumbling, grumbling, action, bitching, moaning, plan-making, decision-making, bed-making and more to get here. And to use a little West Coast earthquake analogy here, living in New York was like two major tectonic plates were grinding away at each other in frustration until something big had to give, and they could just slide into place. The earthquake has happened. The plates are in place.

It’s not for everyone, but it is awesome here. I thought you should know.

Rules of Writing? Go Fuck Yourself

Every now and again, some jackass will post an “inspirational” type piece on writing. These so-called pieces of writerly wisdomisms usually include such nuggets as quotes from Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker and basically give you the same no-shit Sherlock advice that your fucking sophomore-year, creative-writing TA did.

And may I say, I’m here to officially ask for it to stop.

This week, our clichéd “how to write” piece comes from none other than McSweeney’s, that Dave Eggers’ vehicle of all that is twee and precocious and politically correct in this world. Reading McSweeney’s is like being skull-fucked by a thousand mewing kittens, all picking at your eyeballs with their tiny, precious claws. It’s the same reason I hate Pitchfork. I don’t care if the new Fiona Apple single reminds you of that time you had an organic potpie in Michigan while roadtripping with your friends on the way to the Womyn festival. I just fucking don’t.

We have come to claw your brains out with our witty banter and unorthodox use of our advanced vocabulary.

And so, as an official call to end these types of tripe from ever seeing the lights of Internet again, I’m going to be a complete hypocrite and put up my own rules of fucking writing. And no, this isn’t from your TA who’s making $12,000 a year trying to get their book of post-post-feminist-freegan collection of poetry about unicycles published. This is from someone who actually does this shit for a living.

You know that rule about writing every day? Fucking don’t. Unless you are someone like Stephen King, or any of the others enjoying their idyllic writerly existence, who can get up every morning, pound on the keyboards for four or five hours or so, then enjoy afternoons of leisurely sojourns and refreshments, you are probably like everyone else who tries to write and has a day job.

Writing when you have a fucking day job is fucking hard. Like crazy hard. Especially if your day job is sitting in front of a computer all day. The last thing in the world I want to do at the end of an 8 to 10 hour stretch in front of a computer fixing other people’s writing is fucking write. For anyone who does work the day job and has a family and still manages to crank out a few hours after the kids go to bed? You deserve a fucking medal. But I still don’t want to hear about it at your backyard barbecue. I get it, you’re awesome and disciplined. And I’m not.

Look, writing is a chore, a tough gig, a pain in the ass. It’s a JOB. Even Joan Didion said, and I paraphrase, “My favorite part of writing is not writing. It’s when I’m finished.” You know that blissful glow you get when you know you’ve finished something good? Yeah, that’s why we do it. So be reasonable. Get yourself a schedule and try to stick to it—and like everything else—take breaks from it. So don’t beat yourself up for taking one. And don’t make anyone make you feel lesser because you step outside and enjoy nature once in a while. That is crucial to the creative process too.

Don’t be a pussy. You know how many writers are pussies? Lots. Let’s just say don’t be a prima donna, don’t be an asshole and respect everyone you work with, and you should get along fine. Martyr Moment: I once cranked out a piece on deadline after I’d spent 10 hours in the emergency room and came home with my left arm in a full cast. I pecked that 600 words out one-handed. I knew I could call it in sick and miss the deadline. I also knew that would probably be my last shot writing for that publication. It took me four hours and it sucked. But that’s what professionals do. Life is hard. Writing for a living is even harder. Suck it up.

Don’t write under the influence of substances. Repeat: You are not Hunter S. Thompson. You are not Bukowski. No one cares about your trip on ’schrooms. Moving on…

Obey traffic signals and rules. Editors ask for what they need with the rules and stipulations in place for a reason—don’t get all “creative” and add an extra 1,000 words because you were “on a roll” and “there’s some really great quotes here.” No one cares. Follow the rules and everyone wins. As someone once said, if you have no interest in making a living at this, save that fucking shit for your journal.

Carry a notebook everywhere you go. Take notes. It’s crucial to keeping info handy. You will forget that awesome quote you just heard from that crack whore in Tompkins Square Park.

Hang out with people you normally wouldn’t hang out with. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is only hanging out with other writers. This is an incredibly masturbatory practice that may make you the hero of your book club, but it ain’t gonna help generate any new kinds of stories. New people and dialogue will only help your writing. Get out of your comfort zone.

The same can be said for trying new shit all the time.

Read selectively and be smart about how you spend your time consuming other writing. I don’t finish books just because they are there. Period. If I’m not digging something by chapter two or so, I pitch it. Guess what? I’ve done my due diligence in high school and college—and even forced myself to read some shit because it was supposed to be THE SHIT (Franzen and Eugenides, I’m staring right at ya), but time is precious and life is short. Reading is ultimately recreation, and if you’re not enjoying something or learning something PUT IT DOWN. There’s tons else to read.

Learn to use other forms to tell stories. In this multimedia age of ours, there are so many ways and mediums to convey a great story—video, podcasts, cartoons, etc. Get out there and learn how to do some of this other shit. Integrate it into your storytelling. It’s more fun for you—and it’s certainly more fun for the reader.

Make reasonable goals. As in, “I’m gonna have that e-book loaded on Amazon by September,” or “I’m going to come up with at least three new story ideas this week.” Writing is not about plugging along and only writing. It’s about other shit, too.

Now fuck off. I need a drink.

‘What I Know for Sure…’

Now if you’ve been reading the EM site for a while now, you now know that I love’s me some O Magazine, the magazine by Oprah, for Oprah, featuring Oprah.

Live your best life, dammit.

Things that make this magazine great:

1. Despite any misconceptions, its feel-good atmosphere is not gimmicky or over-the-top or too high to aspire to. Oprah keeps it real and grounded and most of the advice is from very smart people who know what they’re talking about: Suze Orman, Dr. Oz, etc. I’ll leave that Dr. Phil to his own devices, but damnit, if I don’t agree with that dork’s advice, too.

2. Articles are written by real writers, mostly female writers, who command respect for their thoughtful prose. It doesn’t talk down to women, or belittle them, or make them think that they have only two things to wish for in life: A) A Man or B) To lose weight or change their looks somehow. In fact, O is all about embracing your spirit and that means embracing your goddamn self all the time, whether you like it or not.

3. Recommendations are reasonable—everything, again, tends to be fairly priced, not tacky, and within reach. Recipes are delicious and healthy.

4. It’s empowering. Really. Every month features people, mostly women, who have changed their lives for the better. It is about being accountable, proactive and making shit happen through mostly hard work, positive attitude and determination. No quick fixes or magic potions here, like “10 Steps to Sexier Sex in a Week” or “Flat Abs in a Month!” O says fuck that, and to that, I say amen.

5. It’s like a little piece of thoughtful meditation on bettering yourself and your life…and you know I also love’s me some self-help books. I just can’t help it, reading it is like a bunch of little fingers are pleasantly massaging my brain.

If you read O, you know that Oprah ends each issue with a little note called “What I Know for Sure.” And so, I thought I’d compile a list of 10 Things I Know For Sure, the Evil Molly Edition:

  1. Being around water feels good. And, according to my last issue of O, there’s scientific research to back this up. Apparently some ocean molecules, electro-static-y goodness fills the air, making us feel better, and has restorative healing powers. There’s a reason man has always gravitated toward the sea. Grab a towel and go swimming already!
  1. Yoga and meditation are not worthless hippy pursuits. If you do these practices consistently, you will feel an overall improvement to life—your physical self, your mental self, your concentration and ability to stay calm and problem solve.
  1. Be nice to yourself. If you’re not nice to you, who will be? Lead by example. That means eating good food, drinking lots of water, etc. Don’t do stuff to yourself that you wouldn’t want to see friends doing to themselves.
  1. Temporary “fixes” become torturous mountains eventually. If you find yourself reaching for a quick fix upon a stressful day (i.e. booze, pills, cupcakes, etc.) you’re digging yourself a hole. Better to get out now than later.
  1. This, too, shall pass. Almost nothing is as bad as it first seems. Life goes on. People forget. Remember that.
  1. Physical items are just that: Items. You can love something, like a car or book or pair of shoes, but remember, it’s just a thing. Not a person.
  1. Get outside more. Humans were not meant to sit inside all day long. Go ahead, converse with nature. See some shit.
  1. Make it a goal to meet more people and do things outside your comfort zone. This is the only space where any new learnings can come from.
  1. Don’t let people get away with bad behavior or taking advantage of you. I was raised to be a good, quiet girl, as I think most women are. And the “reward” to all this was that people would recognize what a sweet, hard worker and/or person you were and would reward you appropriately. What a bullshit concept cooked up by some man. This doesn’t happen in real life. You need to politely yet persistently speak your mind—and stand up for yourself constantly—even if you run the chance of being shot down or told off. As the old adage goes, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Oh, and red flags are red flags for a reason. Please do not ignore. On the flipside, if you mess up or wrong someone, own it, apologize and mean it like an adult.
  1. Everyone who is worth a shit has a few enemies floating around. Does it bother you when your FB friends’ status goes down? If someone refuses to come to your party? If so-and-so thinks your idea sucks? Who cares? Realizing that not everyone has to like you is pretty liberating.

Now go forth this pre-Solstice weekend and make good. Oh, and take a nap already. That helps everything feel better, too.

Guest Post: Dispatches from ‘Mer-Kuh

There’s No Place Like Home…

Disclaimer No. 1: This friend of Evil Molly is yet to abandon New York despite all its problems.

So in all my years of urban living, I’ve never been robbed. I’ve never been the victim of any significant property crime at all really. Does this make me lucky? Perhaps. I’ll even go with probably.

But all that changed when my job decided to send me deep into the scary, scary place that all of us born and bred in the metro-NY area fear: The American Heartland, or as EM would call it ‘Mer-kuh (If you grew up in or around NYC and you deny it scares you out there: You’re lying. Stop it.).

See, we all know EM likes to give New Yorkers a bad rap. Mostly, it’s the transplants that deserve it. If you came here from somewhere else the odds are higher than not (I’m calling it at 70/30) it’s because you are a narcissist or an asshole anyway and New York allows you to embrace and feed your true nature until you OD on it before she chews you up and spits you out.

We come from 'Mer-Kuh, with dreams of fame and glory, only to be forced out by bedbugs and dabbles in prostitution.

But for our purposes let’s start here: By and large, the stereotype is that New Yorkers are at a minimum rude/cruel and at a maximum evil degenerates who will drink the blood of your children after they steal your wallet. And Midwesterners – they are good, friendly salt of the earth people ready to help out in a pinch.

Not so fast.

Disclaimer No. 2: If you grew up in rich, white Manhattan let us all acknowledge that there’s probably a 97/3 chance you are in fact a raging, entitled megalomaniac, possibly a psychopath, who takes pleasure in the extreme suffering of others without any help from drugs (see below) if it advances your personal interests. Hell, you might even be an investment banker. But if you grew up really working for your money in places like Queens, outer Brooklyn, Jersey, Long Island or wherever, you have the same odds (even money) as someone who was raised in the Midwest or the South as being a douche, you’re just a douchebag in a different way.

I know that slicked-back look is sorta back, but don't ask anyone who looks like this for help. Ever.

Disclaimer No. 3: Give me a crackhead over a meth head any day – but that’s an East Coast v. Midwest debate for another time.

This vs.

this.

So let’s just say that recently I found myself on a lovely little piece of ground in one of our states in the middle.

Imagine my surprise when we exit a meat-and-iceberg-lettuce-heavy meal that took all of 30 minutes to find my rental car windows smashed in with a tire iron and my overnight bag missing.

Now could this happen anywhere? Of course. Did I expect this in Nebraskowa or Kansourri? No, I did not. Was I dumb enough to leave my wallet and cell and really valuable valuables in a locked car even in a place I thought was safe? Of course not. Not where I’m from. We don’t do that shit.

But shit that’s worthless to others to steal but will cost me a shit-ton to replace? Yep. I left it (in the stupid Ford hatchback with no trunk). I had a bag of valuable equipment I had to haul into the restaurant with me, and I just couldn’t carry everything. Goodbye Rx eyeglasses, chargers for everything under the sun, house keys, (my actual – not the rental) car keys and clothes. Not to mention the first truly decent overnight bag I’ve ever had – it had the perfect amount of space, which is irreplaceable if you travel on business as much as I do.

Disclaimer No. 4: Even if you’re a low-maintenance woman, if someone steals your favorite jeans and perfectly assembled toiletry kit, you are going to be PISSED.

Since we’ve established that the theft could happen anywhere, you might be wondering what the fuck I’m on about anyway.

Disclaimer No. 5: I blame meth heads for stealing my shit, and yes I know they are arguably casualties of the shitty socioeconomic forces pulling the American economy apart at the seams.

When I walk up to the car and see the glass bashed all over the ground and my stuff having taken a walk, no one in the crowded parking lot offers to help. They gawk. Finally, a late teens blonde cheerleader type approaches me drinking her soda and greets me with a faux cheerful/friendly tone of voice.

Others just mill around watching. I’d say about 10 in all: Construction/road crew type guys, two matronly types in sensible shoes and polyester pants – in New York we might play the variant of “Gay or European” known as “Lesbian or Midwestern Mom” but given where I was my money was on Mom – two retired guys in Marine Corps caps, a family, etc.

The Midwest: Where People Like This Have to do Shit Like This to be Taken Seriously.

Girl: “Oh wow. Did someone break your windows? That’s terrible. You don’t seem to be hurt. That’s good right? I’m glad it wasn’t me. I have my life in my car. I don’t know what I’d do.”

Me: “Are you serious? You’re glad it wasn’t you?” Turn away in disgust and then turn back toward crowd of seemingly “respectable” folk staring at me. “Hey, if anyone has anything we can use to sweep the glass off the seat to keep us from cutting ourselves or could give us some paper so we can write stuff down we’d really appreciate it.”

No. One. Even. Fucking. Answers. Me.

Finally, the cook (not white guy in a dirty apron who probably wouldn’t be labeled “respectable” by the people staring at me) comes out and helps us clean up and lends me his phone to call the cops back since mine stopped working, and no one offered theirs up.

Yeah I get it. I’m a stranger. But in New York, if you got mugged or got hurt and asked for help – you’d probably get it faster than that. Even from a stranger.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been carrying heavy equipment to the office door and some random dude in coveralls and Yankees cap appears to help me – without being asked or without a whole lot of phony pleasantries exchanged. Or the amount of times I’ve stopped to give tourists directions even when they are in my way walking too slow, making me late for work.

So, what have we learned? Assholes are everywhere. Even in the Heartland. And oh yeah. Some of us who live in New York, we can be decent, too.

Disclaimer No. 6: Our communication styles differ. When visiting NYC, ask us exactly what you want to know. We don’t have time for pointless chitchat. But if you need directions or can’t work the subway ticket machine we’ll probably oblige if we don’t have to hear your life story first. See above douchebag ratio and know even some of them will probably help just to speed up the line. And stop asking the guy in the $3,000 suit barking into his cell phone or the woman in Prada. The 1 percent ain’t gonna help you find Central Park. They’ll settle for your economic security and possibly the blood of your children. Ask the guy in Knicks hat with the neck tattoo instead of covering your purse. He’ll probably help you.

Disclaimer No. 7: To the young lady in the parking lot who was dumb enough to tell me you’re glad it didn’t happen to you: I have one word. Empathy. You might want to look it up. And when I see you walking through Midtown carrying your crappy headshots (We all know how you paid for those. Were they really free?) after you move here and pursue your dream as an actress/model/dancer/girl who falls too far too fast and ends up debasing yourself after the city breaks you – if you need directions to Port Authority to catch your sad little bus home in two years I will totally give them to you.

But I'm a cheerleader!

EM says: Meth is a helluva drug.

Summertime Rolls…

Sitting at a local tutoring center a few weeks back, I realized, looking at all the ADD-rattled heads bobbing about, that these little fuckers are about to get a couple months off. I asked one what he was going to do, and he said, “Watch Extra.”

Really? It made me immediately jealous of the unencumbered freedom ahead of them—and how they would squander it away on days of TV, video games and Totino’s pizza rolls.

Remember that feeling? That giddy anticipation of an empty, lazy summer ahead, with nothing to do but bike, swim and generally feel good and have a good time? Summers filled with the clink of a bat hitting the ball? Fresh food from the grill? Sitting on porches and rooftops? That first whiff of fresh saltwater as you head out of the oppressive city toward a weekend of sleeping late, sunbathing and 5 p.m. cocktail hours?

Or, as a girl I used to work with, said to me on a rooftop smoke break before our catering gig started in college, “I love Iowa City in the summer,” she said, blowing smoke out as we perused the green trees, impossibly warm, clean air and setting sun. “All the idiots leave town.”

It’s true that many of the best things in life are wasted on the young, but the Swedes and other Europeans have it right…whilst the getting’s good (aka warmth and sunshine), get out there and make good of it.

We, Americans, work too hard. I don’t care what anyone says about falling behind in technology, etc., which is true, but not due to us grinding away our little hamster wheels on tedious tasks. Just because we work more total hours doesn’t mean we work smarter…ask any German. They are the poster kids of efficiency yet still manage to take five to six weeks of holiday good times every year. And, no, familial obligations, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, do not count.

I’ll take this one better than a vacation…how about a permanent change? I posted this article about Guatemala last week, which made me want to get on that ex-pat lifestyle pronto. After spending 10 days in Honduras, visiting with other ex-pats, who seem to be getting by just fine without cable TV and gym memberships, I am ready to ditch this American Life. But that is a dream that must be a little deferred for now…until I can wrangle up the means to go forth.

So, I am a little down upon that return and summertime getting rolling. Because there is one thing I will miss about the East Coast—and that is restorative hang-time with friends at the beach and near the water. The beach houses and the lovely little cabins that have sheltered our many nights of doing pretty much nothing at all. Last summer before I left, we sat on the front porch and watched a thunderstorm roll through for hours. And ate ice cream. That’s it. And it was fantastic.

See, the West is the Best Coast for many a reason, but when it comes to a nice, hot summer day on the beach? Well, I will have to wait to August for my day in the sun. I was a little sad when I had to put my swimsuits away post-Honduran vacation.

And then my break of sunshine came through the clouds…a midsummer roadtrip with one my best friends on the Pacific Coast Highway, from San Fran to L.A. I’ve always wanted to do this, and now I can, in less of a Thelma and Louise way, without the attempted rape and killin’ and driving off a cliff parts, and more sitting in hot springs and eating at killer restaurant parts.

So, yeah to summer breaks and trips and all that goodness—and making some adult summer break plans that do not involve more TV, processed food, staring at your laptop, or Disney of any sort. Trust, you will not go to the grave wishing you’d spent more time in your cubicle.

Cheers to the nonofficial start of summer, starting now.

Guest Post: Operation Get the Fuck Out of New York

So, I need to start this rant by giving credit where credit it due. Evil Molly is my inspiration for “Operation Get the Fuck Out of New York.” She’s already done it and was kind enough to share her “teachings” on everything from picking a moving company to keeping my eyes on the prize.

I’m originally from North Carolina. Everyone who meets me will learn this fact within about 20 seconds, half that on a bad day. I am definitely one of those transplants who has talked about getting out of New York after my first year here. That was five years ago. That’s right; I’ve been in the depths of hell since January 2006.

When I got here, I moved into a “room” in a railroad apartment in Greenpoint. I took this place off Craigslist without visiting and trustingly mailed a check for three months rent to the two guys. I am an idiot. Here’s what I discovered within about 10 minutes of my arrival:

  • They lied. About everything. For example, it wasn’t a room—it was a hallway that was closed off. There was no heat (don’t forget it’s January). It was “furnished”—with a futon mattress on the floor that smelled like unwashed hipsters and beer.

 

  • These people were not normal. There were rules about which sponges I was allowed to use. Sponge rules.

 

  • These two dudes were old, underemployed and completely neurotic (Ed note: This pretty much sums up everyone in NYC posting on CL). One of them sold vacuum tubes on E-bay AS HIS ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME.

Real old dudes not as cute.

  • The G train, the only one in Greenpoint, is NOT a direct line to Manhattan nor is it in any way shape or form a convenient mode of transportation. And it never comes, so you’re always late.

  • Being an intern and making $20 per hour is like being a slave given NYC prices.

 

You may be forced to this to buy your ramen.

But somehow, I feel like I had to tough it out to prove that I could conquer New York. So, I stayed. And have I suffered for it. Between harsh winters, blazing summers, rats INSIDE MY APARTMENT, cockroaches, being homeless thanks to a dip-shit roommate, bad bosses and little pay, sometimes I question my sanity. I often look back and think, “Where did the damage to my brain occur that makes me stay here.” If you knew me in college and the few years after, I’m sure you have some theories or helped incur this damage, but I digress. As the song goes, New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

Now, as I pack up my beautiful, reasonably priced, rent-stabilized apartment across from Prospect Park and quit my well-paid corporate gig, I can reflect on the person I’ve become. New York didn’t just make me into a bitter, undersexed 30-something (although that last part is painfully true). This place has also taught me a lot about the person I want to be and what I value most in life. Here are a few examples in no particular order:

  • Relationships. I have incredible friends here who help me laugh at the absurdity of NYC, brought me to Brooklyn, took me to Fire Island (the best part about living in the city), and have counseled me through all of the laughs and tears. They make living here such an incredible experience and leaving so hard.
  • Nature. I miss the smell of fresh-cut grass, walking across a dewy lawn, hiking in the trees, swimming in dirty lakes, getting my feet muddy (dog shit doesn’t count) and having a garden.
  • Dogs. I’m getting a dog from the pound, maybe within minutes of my arrival.
  • Being outside. There is nothing better than a rooftop party in the summer, unless it’s drinking in your front yard every day.
  • Actually seeing live music. Despite the fact that every band ever performs here, you still won’t get to see them because there are millions of other “fans” gobbling up the tickets. (Ed note: Then talking and using their camera phones throughout the show…)
  • Food. I will miss the food in Brooklyn, especially Thai and Indian done properly.
  • Real men. I need a boyfriend, one who can use power tools, drive a stick shift and doesn’t wear black skinny jeans. He should preferably not be from Philly and adore college basketball. I’m in the market. I’m also not afraid to say this since I’m leaving behind NYC, and the she-men who can’t do any of these things or are all from Philly.
  • Fuck commuting. I never again want to go to work in a high-rise building full of bankers, sit in a cubicle, or take the 4/5 train during rush hour. I’m sorry, environment, I’m getting a car. My compromise will be to bike as often as possible, something I’m too scared to do in New York.

I wouldn’t trade anything about the last six-plus years, and I’m glad I’m getting out with my sanity reasonably intact. But damn, I never want to hear someone screaming about Jesus at the top of her lungs at 7:45 a.m. on my way to work. Ever. Again. Fuck the subway. I’m going to go where life is good and drinking whiskey on the front porch is the norm.

Clint Eastwood may or may not be included.

Ed note: Godspeed and much, much happier days to come.

 

The Shittiest Job I Ever Had…

Yesterday, Gawker Media posted an article about how recent college grads can’t find entry-level gigs at “real” jobs, instead having to suffer through a gig at Starbucks, or the Gap or the like.

Boo hoo.

Since I posted this to FB, with a comment about how everyone—except those lucky bastards with Mom and Pop’s help—will probably have to work a shitastic job now and then to fill in the employment cracks that happen to all of us, it got a heap of responses from other hardworking folks, who I know have had shitty jobs.

Thanks for the love!

Now, I have had a ton of shitty jobs. And when I say shitty, I can literally say shit-tay, because I grew up on a working farm and shoveling literal shit—cow shit, pig shit, horse shit, you name it—was part of the regular protocol. Additionally, I “walked beans,” which in Ye Olden Days before soybeans were blasted with chemicals meant that we walked between the rows cutting out the weeds by hand. No shit.

Mike Rowe gets paid a lot for shoveling shit. Most people do not.

Since then, I worked in the local diner, where I was subject to the verbal abuse of the chain-smoking, welfare mama owner and her baby daddy who somehow scrapped enough together to mortgage it—they didn’t like kids with the booksmarts, let’s put it that way. I also worked in the local bar and grill, grocery store, then took that shit to college where I worked all four years, slinging sandwiches, coffee and Chinese food to other privileged college students. I also worked a stint in a glass factory, which is the second most loathed job I’ve ever had: it was hot, dirty, dangerous, boring-as-fuck work that sure as hell ensured I was headed back to college.

But this is the absolute worst fucking job I have ever had. I know you’re not supposed to do this, burn bridges with former employers, blah, blah, blah, but fuck it. Truth be told, we all have these war stories, and they’re phenomenal to share—everyone’s got that horrible boss they love to hate.

This gig was post 9/11. I was unemployed for about six months, but what seemed like forever, walking around Chicago, looking at all the tasty treats I could not buy until I shuffled back to my apartment to watch the Style network until I could pass out. One day, I remember I was down to my last $5. I was on the corner by a deli and really hungry and I thought, “I can go in there and buy a turkey sandwich. Or I can buy a pack of cigarettes.”

I got hours and hours of satisfaction from that pack of Parliaments.

Anyway, I digress. The economy was so bad, I couldn’t even get a gig serving coffee or waiting tables—I showed up at one restaurant opening that was hiring 100 people for front of house—2,500 people showed up for that interview. I finally, finally got a fucking job offer at a PR/Marketing agency. As a journalist, going to the Dark Side was not something I necessarily wanted to do, but at this point any job was better than continued living off the House of Visa, which is much, much less forgiving than the House of Mom and Dad.

The PR agency was where I would be confronted with two immense forces of evil: my boss, the VP of the agency, who was dubbed “The Beast” and “Monster” by my coworkers (more on that later); and our biggest client—McDonald’s.

We literally had someone who was our "Ronald McDonald coordinator" who would schedule his appearances. There were three FT Ronalds and one PT Ronald in Chicagoland. There were Ronald conferences yearly in Vegas, where all the Ronalds nationwide convened (I would've KILLED to see this one). Getting rid of this creepy character is probably one of the smartest moves McD's made--but made me sad for the Ronalds. They really were nice guys underneath that makeup.

I’m a pretty coherent worker and have never had any major issues with any employer—I get shit done thoroughly; I listen to directions and I learn fast. And I remember everything. The first two months of this gig went pretty well, no hassles. My co-workers, who pretty much ricocheted between two emotions every day—trembling with fear and rage—warned me that my first attack was nigh.

Oh, and they were right.

I was out with a client, scouting spots for an installation. It was the last step in negotiating a major project that my boss had been working out with this guy for months. So you’d think that one of the biggest aspects—the budget—would’ve been worked out early. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone getting into any business prospect without discussing, “So, what kind of budget are we looking at?” from the get-go.

The guy turns to me and goes, “So how much is this going to cost anyway?”

I didn’t know. And being a journalist and not a PR smoke-screen blower of bullshit (I learned this is an absolutely crucial part of the gig later on…trust), I said, “ Let me give The Beast a call and get right on that.” (I did not call her The Beast to the client, but for the story’s sake, I will refer to The Beast as The Beast from here on out.)

When I called The Beast, all hell broke loose. She began screaming at me over the phone, introducing what would become one of her signature lines, “WE TALKED ABOUT THIS!” When I knew that we very clearly had not. She was so disorganized and delusional, that she would literally imagine conversations in her head that she had with us, that she never actually shared. I would be in meetings with my coworkers where she’d bust this out on all of us, and we’d be sitting there, shaking our heads, like “What the fu….???” How can three people not remember the same thing? Impossible.

So, she basically screamed at me for about 10 minutes about how I ruined this account and what a moron I was. I got off the phone, politely told the client that she would be in touch regarding the final contract, finished the gig, and rode the bus shaking all the way home.

It only increased with intensity and egregious behavior from there. I watched this 6-foot-tall, middle-aged monster stomp and yell and berate her way through our office every day—and everyone was a target, even the lowly interns who were getting paid next to nothing. I told people it felt like navigating a minefield that changed—daily. You would have everything done, think you had all your bases covered—and BLAMO—she would crazy-think up something and attack. It was like working with a feral animal—and she did smell bad, so there you have it.

She also worked all the time and expected you to do the same, being there at 9, 10 p.m. on a Friday night. “Oh, what? You want to be off by 7 to go to that concert you bought tickets for? God, well I guess I’m the only one who works here.”

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we were running a major holiday fund-raiser, and just concluded its launch event. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, our offices closed at noon. We did all the post-event wrap-up, releases, etc., however she left a huge list of completely unnecessary tasks to be done before holiday. Then promptly left the office. I was left with one of our interns, who The Beast had already berated into tears earlier, and we were frantically working thru the list, when the intern turned to me and said, “I gotta leave, I am going to miss my flight!” It was 2 p.m. and I was like, “You gotta go. Just go.”

I think I left like three uncashed checks we had received in the mail that day for that charity in a folder, to be deposited Monday after Thanksgiving.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, I walked in at 9 a.m. and could not even sit down and take my hat off before The Beast came raging into my office, screaming at me about how I could leave three checks undeposited, probably worth about $100 total, over the weekend—this continued for probably about 15 minutes. Not only was this horrible, but also proof that she basically was rifling through our desks at night, looking for stuff to yell at us about.

The Beast’s abuse was so fast and furious and every day, that honestly I can’t remember every single detail, and quite frankly, it was all the same—WE TALKED ABOUT THIS… usually prefaced a tirade of gigantic proportions about some miniscule detail, that no, we did not talk about. She had no regard for others. Another career low occurred when she made me continually harass the PR person for a Chicago Bull who was supposed to appear at an event for us—but had JUST BROKEN HIS LEG SEVERELY and was facing the end of his career. I told her, “You know, the Tribune is reporting that his circumstances are pretty bad, that it’s going to be months before he can walk. We should probably take that as a sign that he won’t be participating in our event next week.”

“CALL HIS PUBLICIST! I DON’T CARE! He committed to this event!”

The Beast was notoriously cheap, too. The Worst Combo—she would buy used baby clothes for co-workers who had babies and give to them at baby showers, and ask us to chip in as the office gift. After the first time she pulled this, I refused to go in on office gifts, saying I would get my own gift, because it was so embarrassing.

After a year and half of such abuse, I was finally up for a raise. She took me to a nice lunch and proudly touted my “$1,500 raise!” like it was a huge deal. I’m sorry, but an extra $50 after taxes each month is not a big deal. Shortly after, via a coworker who was really great at e-mail snooping—The Beast left her e-mail open and often would ask us to rifle throught it if she was at meetings to find stuff for her (before BlackBerries, folks)—found an e-mail from our finance director that I was approved for a $3,000 raise. So, she was withholding the other $1,500, to pounce out a year later as my “second raise,” therefore pretty much fucking me out of my raise and my next raise to boot. I think she made close to $300K a year just to put stuff into prospective.

In addition to all the Ronald McDonald prepping (seriously demeaning shit, folks); McDonald’s product launches, charity events, corporate this or other she drug us out to—yelling at me why we didn’t get more coverage for a local McDonald’s charity drive with Chicago media on the DAY THE IRAQ WAR BROKE OUT—I was chain-smoking, teeth-grinding and binge-drinking my way to early menopause. Instead of hiring professional laborers to set up event sets and stages and such, she would make us physically haul heavy-ass shit in hot weather to save a few bucks while she would sit around in her clean clothes and kiss McDonald’s executive ass.

After a year and a half, I finally got to move on…which was great, but I was so beatdown I could barely rejoice. Shortly after, I ran into one of our former clients who hinted that they were looking for better representation. I started greasing the wheels at my new agency to steal The Beast’s most prized client. And I did it. The greatest satisfaction I got was one day discovering that that McDonald’s account did indeed move over to my new agency. I imagined The Beast throwing her hands in the air, cursing my name. It makes me smile to this day.

Back to now. Everyone’s moaning about the economy, but the truth is the economy and job market has been incredibly unstable since 9/11. Sorry, kids, but there it is. Every company on the planet—whether they were really affected economically by 9/11 or not—used it as an excuse to lay off employees, hang the threat of perpetual layoffs over the ones they kept, cut benefits and make them work more hours. How’s that for fucking patriotism?

These practices have pretty much been the status quo among American Companies since 9/11, no matter what anyone says, along with a lot of Bush Era legislation that continued to fuck over the working folk and cut benefits—and that’s been the better part of the past dozen years that have sucked for you, American Worker. The recent economic brou-ha-ha has just been the latest round of what will be a continued downslide of the American Economy. As Suze Orman says, companies won’t be creating jobs in the future—you will need to create your own job.

And I fucking love me some Suze Orman.

Suze! All tough love and common sense. I love her!

So recent college kids? Welcome to the show. You may have to serve some coffee, but here’s hoping you never have to deal with The Beast.

Frustrated, Frustrated, Feeling So Castrated…

It seems, over the past few weeks, that many of my pals are feeling incredibly frustrated. Whether it be with their living situations, gigs or projects, they are feeling blocked. Trapped. As frustrated as Newt Gingrich with an all-weekend freebie pass to a cathouse in Nevada that he can’t use right about now.

I don’t know if this is the ides of March’s fault (ugh, March, you’re gone, but you always tend to be the fuckup of the year); the year of the Dragon, or the fact that it is 2012, and we are all going to die in a fiery hellball of cumshots from the heavens heaved by an angry and vengeful evangelical God by EOY. But it sucks.

To brighten your end of week, here I present, people who have had a more frustrating week than you:

1. Axl Rose. Man, can’t this guy get a break? I mean, can’t a likely bipolar meglomaniac date a shill of a 20-something in Lana Del Rey, who hasn’t heard the rumors about his alleged supermodel-beating tendencies? And can’t he just accept an invite into the Rock ’n’ Roll Retirement Home in Cleveland? No, Axl cannot. Most rockers abandon their youthful, angry ways with age, but not Axl. Hold on to that hate, Axl. Hold on.

2. Now that he’s all but secured the Republican nom, Mitt Romney has more problems with women than a coked-up Ike Turner. Good luck with all that as your party keeps on keeping on with its We Hate Women Campaign 2012.

"Uh, what's the Lilly Ledbetter Act again?"

3. Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, is now extremely frustrated as her eunuch of a husband will be pouting around their home in his sweater vests, glued to Fox News, talking incessantly about what might have been.

4. Ugh! Maintenance. I remember, back in the day (the ’90s) when a little trim with a scissors every now and then was all it took to get action ready. Today, ladies, not only must you pluck, wax and wane, but you must also make sure that your ladybits are not an offensive color. Truly, this is another banner Worst Week yet for foreign vaginas. It is only a matter of time until “Twat Wars: Tallahassee” becomes a new series on TLC. Take a look at this, courtesy of Jezebel who broke this stateside, as far as I know:

5. Jobs! Do you have one? Does it suck?

6. Dave Grohl is also having one hell of a pesky week. That scamp Courtney Love is now accusing him of acting inappropriately toward her daughter. Honestly, Courtney, between the whole catty remarks, Nirvana catalog fights and other nonsense, can’t you just let it go and leave poor Dave alone? You rival only Axl Rose in holding onto petty resentments from the ’90s. On second thought, how’s your vagina holding up? I bet it could use some bleaching.

7. This, once again, is the worst week ever for Hootie and the Blowfish as they found out, yet once again, that they continue to be completely irrelevant as Lollapalooza announced its summer lineup of Black Keys, Black Sabbath and Jack White.

Hootie, now appearing at your local Cracker Barrel.

8. If you live anywhere around North Korea, this is a pretty shitty week for you, too. Supreme Leader—don’t you just love it when little insecure men go all aggro and give themselves names? Isn’t it cute?—son of that last asshole will prove that he is every much the asshole that his father was and shoot off a missile. Shooting your missile off to demonstrate your masculinity is so Cuba Missile Crisis, circa 1962. Come on, it’s 2012, Kim Jong-un, lighten up and bleach your vagina!

Mmm…who else is having a pretty bad week? I think this about sums it up. Now, let’s check in on those who are universally blessed, and who always have awesome weeks no matter what:

Anthony Bourdain, James Franco, Suri Cruise, George Clooney, Mark Zuckerberg, Jon even though being overly handsome can be tiring Hamm, and anyone who attended the NYC Pulp shows from what I hear, and Jarvis Cocker. Of course, anyone with any sense would like to be Jarvis Cocker for a day.

If only Jarvis were God...Or is he? Mmmm....

As for next week, I hear the moon is to join forces with Pluto in Capricorn, which is really going to fuck up your finances. Good luck with that!