Just coming back from NYC was distressing enough, but I'd also gotten myself pretty sick walking around lower Manhattan without enough clothes on (apparently) for a couple of hours on our last day. Chills, a fever and a terrible bronchial cough kept me awake all night and in bed all day for a week; at one point I thought I might've had pneumonia.
When I was finally well enough to go to the post office and drop off a late birthday present 5 days later, I found out the hard way that my car's radiator and a couple of the hoses attached to it had leaked out ALL of the coolant while I was gone, something for which I had no warning because I'm sure it evaporated from the ground. Pretty much the perfect shitstorm of mechanical failure. When I noticed my car was running kind of hot I decided to go home, let it cool off and see how putting in some water went, but I never even got home.
Once again I had to pull over with my hazards on - the third time in 5 months I've had to do so in this immediate area alone - and wait for a AAA tow truck. The smell of hot dirty water and the sound of it boiling out of said radiator kept me company while I waited. At least the weather was nice and I had a cherry limeade.
Anyway, I was already thinking of returning to NYC after coming home, of course, but now I owe my very kind mother another $500. That's another 4-7 day NYC budget right there, assuming I could stay at someone's place and get guys to buy most of my drinks. It's like the universe is constantly going LOL FUCK YOU YOU'RE STUCK IN PHX.
Anyway, I'm going completely stir crazy. In the last 9 days I've been out of the house for an eye exam/to get new contacts, to run to the post office and drop off that present, to go to my friend's little boy's first birthday party and to visit another friend who lives in the boonies and drop of my last ASU library books ever on the way. That's it.
I was supposed to have my car back tonight and my mechanic never called, so it's not done yet. Turns out the replacement radiator he got was faulty. Head+desk.
I meant to make a couple more posts in December, namely one about gluten- and dairy-free oatmeal cookies I made that are better than sex, but I've been neglecting this blog badly once again. So without further ado, here's my very long and image-heavy New York City post.
Here's us heading to Manhattan from JFK; we're ecstatic, naturally.
We stayed with Ale's way-too-generous cousins in their luxury apartment
across the street from the NYSE. Amazing.
For some reason I don't think posting pics of the inside of their apartment publicly on the worldwide InterButts seems appropriate, but it was minimalist and furnished exclusively in Ikea because they've only been in NYC a few months.
The inside of the building itself may or may not have been the one from The Devil's Advocate.
So Ale's cousin set the pace for the whole sojourn the first night - it ended up being 4 straight days of barhopping, dancing and binge drinking. I fully expected to be lent a couch and left to my own devices. Actually, I expected there to be only one couch and was fine with sleeping on the floor so long as it was clean - these people didn't owe me anything. But they were both hell-bent on showing their cousin a good time, and I got taken along for the ride. Turns out the cousin who mostly took us out works from home, too, so he had way more time to dedicate to getting us shipwrecked than I could have anticipated.
We also decided on the plane that I should fake a British accent, which I barely kept up for two days and nights before abandoning such a huge commitment, as in the wake of imbibing huge quantities of liquor I found myself constantly dropping it and slipping into Australian. Plus there were way too many real Brits around, and her cousin wasn't fooled for a minute.
The first night we got there, we hit 4 or 5 bars in Greenwich Village. I had been awake for a very long time and wasn't even interested in drinking, but Ale's cousin has an uncanny knack for coaxing people into getting extremely drunk. We met a really cool friend of his, a classic New York bartender, and two weirdos he invited back to his apartment with us.
He's truly the master of fucking with people. I wanted so badly to sleep, but he tried to teach me how to salsa in his kitchen at 4 AM instead. Finally he took the two weirdos downstairs to check out the golf simulator in the lounge, at which time I took a precarious drunk shower in his bathroom (because his fancy tub has very high sides), locked the bedroom door and climbed into his bed next to Ale. Locking him out of his own bedroom the first night was pretty hilarious, and I want to think that he respected me for it.
The places we went to, in order, were Corner Bistro, the White Horse Tavern (left), the Dubliner (right), and then two bars whose names I will probably never recall. One of them we hit at the behest of an annoying hipster who Ale's cousin teased so badly about his beanie that he apparently threw it in the garbage.
I made the mistake of divulging the fact that a man had never bought me a drink, at which point her cousin challenged me to get a drink out of someone and then made a huge show out of selling my merits to the two weirdos - Ale wouldn't stop calling the bald and eyebrowless one "the Mole Man" - and the hipsters when I failed. I distinctly remember him slurring, "Come on, isn't she fucking beautiful?!". Oh god, it was so embarrassing. But Ale fell asleep face-first on the table, so I ended up getting not one but two, count 'em two, vodka tonics. Score.
So I woke up still drunk around noon the next day to the sound of children playing. Surprise, there's a playground on top of the school next door level with the bedroom and living room windows.
Awkward but charming. When I finally got up I noticed what a disaster the previously immaculate kitchen was - and paused for a moment to consider the chocolate cake with two forks stuck in it sitting on the counter. There was also a plate of maple syrup, and other dishes everywhere. Ale thought that her cousin and I had feasted while she slept, but I was asleep before he came back up. He'd eaten just about everything, and we were laughing about the fact that he'd inexplicably required the simultaneous use of two utensils to vanquish the defenseless pastry. "What, did you use two at the same time to shovel it in faster?!" We asked in hysterics.
Ale had been up and wandering around a while already, and when I was finally ready I headed straight for the nearest food cart, but not before she pointed out the rotating cobblestone security street. I'd post a video if I could find one for everyone who thinks I was tripping balls. I said "Oh fuck, I can't deal with that right now, I need food!"
Weirdly, it was probably the only instant in which I felt overwhelmed there.
So I got some fucking delicious $5 veggie rice and a ginger ale from a Halal cart and ate it in a cute little area called British Gardens. And don't worry, my face only gets puffier as The Drinkening intensifies.
After that we made the obligatory sightseeing trip - Times Square, Grand Central, Bryant Park, etc.
I'm so glad Ale got an amazing camera for Christmas, mine completely sucks when it comes to taking grand sweeping photos at night - or just in general. 4 of the ones above are hers!
Now I wouldn't be surprised if I got in trouble for posting these next ones, but hopefully the fashion police don't find me. There is a 4-story Forever21 in Times Square. If I hadn't still been drunk I would've browsed so hard. Their displays were spectacular, and the guy who told me I wasn't allowed to take any photos acted as though I'd offended his mother or something. Whatever man, you can't expect to set up beautiful 80's mannequins with jet packs around a crashed space ship on a pink and purple, glitter and crater-ridden planetoid and expect me to walk away calmly. New York is of course a fashion mecca, and this is my humble (re: shitty) blog tribute to its tear-inducing magnificence. Everyone there is so goddamn stylish, I can't stand it. Lots of amazing hair and shoes, specifically.
So before long it was dark again... And time to party hard ala Andrew W.K. again. First we had Vietnamese food that wasn't very good, but Ale and her cousins tried frogs' legs in curry and I had a weird salty plum soda worth mentioning. Then they talked us into getting foot massages in Chinatown. I was waiting for some Jackie Chan shit to happen but it was Thursday, peaceful and quiet. And anyway I was thinking of Rumble in the Bronx, we were probably just in the wrong neighbourhood.
We hit some random bar, found a place I'd wanted to see called KGB that was even more cliquey than I thought it'd be, and then Ale and I were left at the Mercury Lounge and to our own devices. We'd just missed a show and their entire crowd presumably consisted of NYU students. I realised we were close to Mehanata, the Bulgarian bar Ale wanted desperately to see until she found out Eugene Hutz was no longer a DJ there, but we set out to find it anyway. We walked up and down Ludlow mostly between Rivington and Delancey for a long-ass time, stopping at another place I'd actually wanted to check out called Cake Shop.
I was kind of sad we didn't get to see any shows at all while there, but we did see lots of quality graffiti. This was my favourite and the only street art I took a picture of:
If only my camera took better nighttime pictures - there's a creepy molester chasing her.
I told Ale after we had been walking up and down the block in the rain for quite some time that we had to start asking at places that were just random doors with bouncers. And the first one was the Bulgarian bar. Score. The bouncer was super nice and had actually considered asking us what we were looking for when we'd walked by before! As a matter of fact, everyone there was super nice and polite. There was one irritable cabby and one douchey Irish bartender, but that was just who they were as people, it didn't have anything to do with the city.
But okay, so we meet these two motherfuckers outside. One's a small Middle Eastern Brit with a cockney accent and his tall silent friend is apparently a New Zealander. He told me to slow down when I started telling him about how we'd been looking for the place, then asked our names, and declared that we'd be "Leanne" and "Jessica" that night after we told him.
Unfortunately the Ice Cage was closed, and we found out later that it's always closed, and that the vodka inside is watered down anyway. The music was awesome. Eastern European, Indian, reggaeton, all with live bongos and other random shit. There was a girl with a full blown feather headdress, a third eye dermal implant and tattoos across her face selling jewelry there. You can see her in the background of picture below.
Cracks me up every time. I look like someone spilled a drink down the front of my dress, but we were just soaked from the rain. That cockney fuck said after I started dancing with him that he was "so into pulling my hair", so I said, "what, you call that pulling?" and he yanked my head back toward the ground. The I started doing it back to him. Ale said it looked like some weird Russian tango. He bit the shit out of my lip and face while we were making out, too, and kept hiking up my dress to get grabby. I'm sure everyone there saw my ass, so it's a good thing I was wearing tights. I started dancing with another hot guy (which I don't say very often; he was really good looking) and when I went back to the bar, the cockney fuck was making out with Ale! I started giving him a hard time and I'm pretty sure I made him buy me another shot. They had swings instead of barstools and miraculously no one ate shit. The cockney bastard was already trashed when he got there, so I ended up drinking his Coronas, too. Basically we had an amazing time and danced the night away. I got the guy's business card and he apparently got our numbers - put us in his phone as "Bulgarian bar" and "Mexican Gang Member". After we got back I fell asleep on the bathroom floor clutching a towel in preparation to take a shower that was never meant to be.
Moving right along, the next day we decided to try to finish our sightseeing before the next round of drinks. Just thinking about drinking again was so unappealing at that point. We saw the Dakota and got a glimpse of Central Park; then I had a tasty little salad, the inside of a quiche and a hot chocolate for a decent price. I love that most of the eateries in NYC have 1,000 different things - pizza, soups, sandwiches, wraps, paninis, quiches, breakfast, coffee, pastries, etc. etc. and yet are so tiny! It's infinitely more interesting than the places in Phoenix, which I guess goes without saying.
And then I was all like, "DERP"
The Chinese foot massage had actually messed up my feet pretty badly, and I still have cramps in the specific spots the guy worked on as I'm sitting here typing this. And, once again, I was still kind of drunk and felt sick from walking around without eating anything and then snarfing the veggies above. I limped through most of the museum, though, and picked up a postcard, a couple of paint brushes, a charcoal pencil and what I'm referring to as "the infamous $7 pencil". I was too exhausted to change my mind and exchange the $6.95 pencil for the $9.95 Mucha postcard book I really wanted, but luckily, I found it online after I got home for only $5.95 and bought that shit, erasing one of only two regrets I'd had from the trip.
An entire wall covered in tiny people and itty bitty oils; definitely some of my favourites.
When Ale left it was snowing outside, too; I saw it through one of the windows:
Not long after I trekked back to the apartment (it was a very pleasant trek in a beautiful neighbouhood, but I could barely use my feet) it was time to go out again. They'd decided on Italian food so I didn't eat much of anything and was glad that a fruit plate was one of the dessert options. By this point I was feeling pretty shitty about Ale's cousin taking us out every night and paying for so much, and on top of that I felt like a fourth wheel. Most of their conversations had nothing to do with me and I wasn't a part of them. I was just the friend who'd been brought along like luggage and was getting great treatment by proxy. And I've always been weird about people doing things for me like giving me gifts or money. For some reason these feelings really overtook me that night and I was in a terrible mood.
We went to a bar next door to the Italian restaurant waiting for Ale's cousin's friends, and then to a Spanish bar with salsa dancing. I got the first round of drinks because that was all I could afford; it's a given that it's expensive as hell there. Ale's cousin said the total tab would probably be less than 300, and I gave him a look that should have been accompanied by the distant and lonely sound of breaking glass.
I tried my hand at salsa again, and they even played an Aterciopelados song I knew, but my despondent mood was really working against me, and for once my old friend vodka wasn't really helping. I was sitting in the far corner of the bar next to the door because the spot had opened up, waiting for the night to be over, and then an Ecuadorian guy with a newsboy hat and an adorable smile came straight up to me, told me he loved me hair and that he wanted to dance.
As far as I was concerned I'd already failed at salsa and was considerably drunker at that point, so I told him I'd just follow his lead because I couldn't dance, and he liked that idea. Honestly I wish I could remember more of that night - and it was the least drunk night of the four, too! What I do remember is that he was sweet, sexy, a great kisser and nothing like the other raunchy or creepy guys I meet on a regular basis, even if they are sassy English businessmen. He hugged me close a couple of times while we were dancing and I probably would have felt like I could've fallen asleep right there even if I hadn't been drunk. He kept putting my arms around his neck and told me I smelled really good.
After making out for a while we went outside so he could smoke. He asked if my eyes were green and I said "No, they're blue. They're really blue". I stepped into a spot where a light was shining so he could see, and he stared transfixed for a minute. I'd told him while dancing (if I even was dancing, shit) they he made my night, and he said no, that I'd made his, so I had to insist. He went back inside to check on his people, and what I did after that is sort of a blur. At this point I was crossfaded, which he'd apparently been all night. I waited outside a bit and then went back in but couldn't find him.
I adhered myself to a bench across from where Ale and her cousins were standing at the bar and refused to move until they were ready to leave. My mood had been dismal, elevated to awesome and then had crashed back down again: I was done. They told me in the cab on the way home that about four guys were trying to get up in my business on the dance floor but I'd never noticed, said there was just the one (who got away, sob) and thought they were just giving me shit. They stayed up talking all night while I pulled a blanket over my head and tried to sleep in the next room.
The next day we headed over to Brooklyn to check out Williamsburg, all four of us. We just sort of wandered around; it's like what hipster downtown Phoenix always wanted to be. My favourite parts were watching a couple of guys hand-paint a beer ad and the mushroom ricotta frittata (say that 5 times fast) of my dreams.
We also walked to the edge of the island and got a great view of Manhattan; once again, I'm glad Ale's camera was up to getting a picture.
We stopped at a super tasty hole in the wall coffee shop called Oslo before leaving. Apparently we also walked past a guy who's in Gossip Girl, and Ale about lost it. The whole trip I had my fingers crossed hoping I'd see Norman Reedus, but I didn't of course. That's ok.
When we headed back to take a breather before going on another bender, Ale decided that it'd be an all-out war with her cousin. She wanted to break the famous drinker and claim his immortal soul. So, unable to take a pre-game nap, we sat down and came up with a point system. Ale started simply and then I added more. Her cousin joked about getting a tattoo on his ass that read "Bitcheeeees!" to honour his impending victory and make fun of us. Ale said he should get a big tattoo across his stomach, and I said it should be of a half-eaten chocolate cake with two crossed forks stuck in it, and "Thug Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry". We all laughed about that for a while, and it's the inspiration for what I'm going to make and send him to say thank you.
When we found the score sheet the next day Ale said "Dude, this thing has blood all over it and it kind of smells like puke", which sent me into a fit of uncontrollable laughter because I couldn't think of a better way for it to have ended up. It also had a cigarette hole in it.
We started at Dewey's Flatiron where drinks were free for ladies until 11. Ale's cousin knew what he was doing. At one point I was somehow holding 3 drinks, which one of his friends applauded. "A hand for each drink and a drink for each hand, and then one more!" is one of my new mottos.
Then we went to some bar whose name I can't remember, but before we did I needed to eat something; I couldn't keep absorbing so much cheap vodka on an empty stomach. Ale's cousin left me at Katz's Deli of all fucking places, but believe it or not, their split pea soup was compatible with my diet and delicious. One young guy who worked there was extremely helpful and I drunkenly and profusely thanked him for dedicating himself to finding me something.
At this point I was doing an Australian accent because people are more approachable and willing to help if you're a foreign tourist, and because I barely had any idea of what was going on. I asked two girls I found outside where the bar was, and it turned out it was right across the street. One of them asked if I was from Melbourne because she'd been there and knew the accent, and I told her that I was originally. She gave her friend a "see, told you" look and I tried not to crack up. I was trashed and getting across the street was an endevaour. In the next bar I drank my soup. Ale's cousin thought that was funny as hell and asked why I'd gotten it to go, and I said I didn't want to lose them, of course. I was afraid they'd ditch me. Some old creep kept talking to me and wouldn't leave me alone; I was reminded that I'd get more points (20) if I got his number, though, so I did right before we left; his name was Tom and he wanted to take me out for coffee, haha.
Old guys and creepers, I swear.
On our way to the next place, the Randolph, Ale's cousin's cool Asian friend ran ahead because he was cold and I followed. Before long we'd put a lot of distance between Ale and her cousins, and while they were out of sight she fell into a pothole she didn't see while trying to text that cockney bastard, landed on her knee, skinned part of her palm and (as it turned out) sprained her wrist pretty badly. That's at least minus one - I'm sure she only made it worth one because she knew she'd fall. Her cousin just pulled her up by her collar, called her a cabrona and told her to keep moving as she was laughing.
While we were running I told the guy how shipwrecked I already was and he said, "You're drunk right now?!" It's good to know that I can maintain and function up until I pass out on the bathroom floor. At the next bar Ale's cousin tipped his hat to me as well later that night, saying "THIS ONE - this one can drink". Honestly I was more proud at that moment than when I got my bachelors' degrees in the mail the day before I left.
We had picklebacks at the insistence of the guys - a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice. They were actually really good. Plus 2. After a while I went outside to check on Ale, and she was royally fucked up. She'd puked again and was talking to a huge and very nice black guy. Eventually he enfolded us both into the warmth of his leather jacket because we were freezing. Ale refused to go back in and puke, refused the teddy bear's suggestion to puke in the trash can, and one of the bartenders walked past to smoke and told me to keep her from puking on the ground right out front. Welp. Apparently she chose to puke on her coat right around then and resolved the issue. Minus 50. I had to go back in and tell the guys that she really wanted to go home. I came back out to tell her we'd leave pretty soon and she started yelling, thrashing and hitting me. When she wouldn't calm down I went back to her cousin and calmly said, "Hey, we need to go, she's punching me".
They took pictures of themselves making fun of her epic loss when we all got back.
I was wide awake and hungry and started raiding the kitchen. I made scrambled eggs. After that I made some sorry but delicious tacos that I would have filled with the eggs had I known I'd still be hungry, and even ate a couple of pretzel chips that I shouldn't have. Here's me going, "I'm making eggs at 5 AM, wtf you gonna do about it?" and with Ale's cousin and his hoverhand.
I fell asleep around 6 and was up at 10 for some ungodly reason. I had all of my stuff packed and set out to see MoMA and the rest of lower Manhattan around noon. Unfortunately walking to the tip of the island and then finding a subway entrance that wasn't closed because of construction took up a lot of time. I'd also grabbed a couple of souvenirs for people who'd asked for specific things, and a Kind bar that I'd only eaten half of before it froze in my coat pocket. Then I somehow screwed up and got on the wrong train; I knew immediately that I didn't have time for MoMA before we had to leave for the airport. For how drunk we were for most of the trip, though, I was amazed and thoroughly satisfied with how much of NYC we'd seen.
I tried to crush the Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry Kids in the Hall style, but the wind was bowling me over. So they're just sitting on my thumb instead.
We had numerous injuries apart from my poor feet having been worked over the wrong way by a Chinese reflexologist by the time we left; I'd only fallen just once, luckily, because there was a step down from the door at one of the bars that I'd forgotten about and my boot slid off the edge. A nice guy helped me up. Somehow both of my knees were messed up, though; I had a ton of bruises, which are always a sign of a successful night. I was amazed I hadn't lost anything; not so much as a pen, a ring or a dollar bill. The three smallest toes on my left foot had been stuck together with blood for three days and I'd done nothing about it. That last night Ale apparently fell hard enough to bruise her hip, skin part of her palm and sprain her wrist, as I said. And like I've been saying since last May, it's not a party until someone gets arrested or goes to the emergency room. Getting arrested was worth 100 points, by the way.
But the story doesn't end there. The cockney fuck had been texting me the entire time and when I checked my phone after we landed in Phoenix he'd suggested that he might come through on business one day. Later he asked how far Vegas was from here because he might check it out before going back to London. I was thoroughly amused, not quite able to believe that I was still talking to him. I was also surprised I didn't have bite marks on my face when I woke up the day after dancing with him. The attention was flattering, but the whole time I was texting him and trying to convince myself he was attractive and that I wasn't totally humiliated, I was wishing that the Ecuadorian guy was the one who'd gotten my number.
A couple of days later I was still thinking about him and, stuck at home sick and jobless with nothing to do, I posted on the missed connections board of craigslist, obviously not expecting anything.
The next morning, as I told him, I nearly spat orange juice all over my keyboard when I had not one but two replies from a real person whose email account displayed his full name. I knew it was him because he said he thought I'd gone back to Phoenix. No one else could have known.
Apparently he wasn't even aware that section of craigslist existed, but his brother saw the post right after I submitted it. He'd told his brother about me the next day. When he saw it the conversation went something like:
"Did she have blue eyes?"
"Was she wearing a plaid dress?"
"Aw hell no!!"
On top of all that, this was the day of the Internet Blackout. A lot of thoroughly un-savvy people didn't know that they could be redirected to various participating sites' homepages or linked to them externally, thought that they were down completely. Craigslist was participating the same way Wikipedia was. The chances of all this have to be one in a million.
So now you know why I'm extra pissed about my car breaking down. It figures that I'd meet no one worth a second glance here in two years and someone sweet and sexy in two days there. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an extremely dateable guy in Manhattan or Brooklyn, really. Life really has a way of making you think you're getting a fancy massage and then fucking all your muscles up, am I right? I guess that's what Skype is for.
UPADATE: After keeping in touch with the Ecuadorian for nearly 4 months he abruptly stopped talking to me for no apparent reason right when I was supposed to buy my plane ticket. Le sigh. I was hoping for a kickass sequel to my trip, but it'll be quite a while before I return to that wonderful place. But hey, cry me a fucking river, San Francisco's next!