Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Love the Subway, Unless I Forgot To Put on Deodorant

I cried on the subway about 15 times last week. (Yes, that's twice a day, which makes me like, an America's Next Top Model contestant.) I cried on the subway just about every time I got on the subway, and sometimes continued crying while exiting the subway, still clutching my tear-and-peanut-butter stained copy of "The Lovely Bones" (Alice Sebold), which opened with the murder of a 14-year-old girl (15 pages) and continued to describe the family's life in the aftermath of said murder, narrated by the protagonist, who was looking down from heaven (313 pages of grief, grief, death, grief, grief, breakdown and the occasional respite for "happiness in the face of grief, death, sadness and breakdown"). Now I've moved on to "Name all The Animals" (Ali Smith) which opens with the death of the author's 18-year-old brother (10 pages) and is currently dealing with that grief and aftermath thing. Both of these books are beautiful and amazing so I am willing to accept suicidal thoughts in order to witness their beauty, and Heather has promised me that I will do less crying (rather than more crying) as "Name all the Animals" continues.

I prefer the subway over the cars we used in The Rest of the World specifically because I like to read while I shuffle from one Devastatingly Important Event to Another, but sometimes I'd like to duck into my car and change my shoes, or fix my eyeliner, or eat a sandwich, or, you know, cry.

Not like I would read while I drove (usually). But like: this is a barely-sensical-blog, not "This American Life," in which the opening scene blends seamlessly into the topic of the day, so really, the point is that if you want to cry for whatever reason, you'll probably need to wait 'til you get home, and by then you may no longer want to cry, because maybe you've decided to focus on your "life" instead of the life of "characters" in a "novel." Also there are no teenagers in my life, let alone dead teenagers. Because on the train and in the city, there are always people watching you. The Hills have Eyes.

We don't have a lot of easy privacy in NYC except in the bathroom, and even then, sometimes not. Like if you don't go to an office every day or if you work at Ally McBeal. Or sometimes even at home, like in crack dens, like the one I heard about on "This American Life," where everyone just went on the floor or in buckets. Gross, right? That's why you shouldn't do crack. Ta-dah!

Applying Deodorant: Does it matter if the thirteen thousand strangers at the intersection see me go for an under-jacket stealth deodorant swipe? Krista and I had dinner on Monday at the West Side Diner and this old woman with lipstick smeared all over her face sat down and yelled "Where's my waiter?" about thirty times, and there are homeless people singing along to LL Cool J on beatboxes in the median all the time, so really, what's a deodorant swipe? I don't know. Somehow I can't do this unless I am buffered by a friend who can certify, by their presence, that I am indeed a sane person, albeit one who forgot to put on deodorant and is now stuck with a corner-deli sample-sized stick of something awful like Ban.

Singing: I just feel like the quality of my life could improve by about 15% if I had just 10 minutes a day to scream along to "Because of You" (Kelly Clarkson), "My Junk" (Spring Awakening), "Irreplaceable" (Beyonce), "Fidelity" (Regina Spektor) and occasionally a little "Build me up Buttercup" (Temptations) or "To Be With You" (Mr. Big) action. Also my favorite part of going home for the holidays is being able to belt "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (Mariah Carey) while re-circling the parking lot at Twelve Oaks Mall and trying to stay Zen when customers with asses wider than my car are taking all eight days of Hannukah to back out of their parking space.

Re-application of makeup: Because I like to pretend like I don't wear any (except lip gloss and eyeliner) and because I scorn the girls with compacts on the train, I'd really like to do this in private. The Bloomingdales bathroom is not private and the Barnes and Noble bathrooms have crabs and gooey babies in them. Oddly enough, the best place in the city to apply makeup, as I learned from Stephanie, is in Sephora. You don't even have to use your own, and all rules of public etiquette and sanitation are giddily thrown out the window in favor of untethered access to Stila Smoky Eye Palette and DuWop Lip Venom.

Writing in my journal: Maybe if I stopped reading other peoples journals over their shoulders and trying to imagine what their lives might be like, I'd spend less time worrying that they were reading mine. Again--total stranger, why should i care? I have no idea. I just know that I do. Also, obviously I realize the irony in this statement, considering what i am doing right now.

Drinking: Drinking in public spaces is not only unseemly, it's illegal. Where is one to pre-party if one must go straight from non-drinking-event to drinking-event without stopping at home or at a friends home (two things which are far easier in The Rest of the World) and without taking a quick shot in one's car or in the backseat of a friend's car before heading inside? And am I the only one still convinced she can save massive amounts of money by insisting on pre-gaming every drinking-event she attends?

Drinking and driving is bad, obvs, and I'm not advocating such behavior. (Though I admit that, in September of 01, I often took a few generous gulps of Mad Dog 20-20 at the last three intersections before reaching my place of employment, The Macaroni Grill, because I was dating a boy there who made me nervous. (Kids: don't try this at home. Or in your car. Or on the train.) However the stuff didn't kick in til I was already safely in uniform and carrying several heavy plates of lasagna. Also I really waitressed better while intoxicated, because it helped dull the pain of having to collect and submit 14,000 'Create Your Own Pasta' forms and have discussions about the zany-ness level of my tie.)

Everyone who knows me is aware of the juice-and-vodka trick (drinking 25% of a bottle of juice, filling the remainder with vodka and then drinking it on the subway and the street with abandon), but even that is problematic when you have no-place to create the mixture to begin with, because like, are you really gonna bring a pre-mixed bottle with you to work at 9am? Who's thinking about drinking that early in the morning? Not me. Actually, this section is making me wistful for Riese circa 2006, who drank a lot more than 2007 Riese. Actually, I take that back. Perhaps crouching in a dark doorway to pour vodka into a juice bottle was not the high-point of my life. Though I'd argue that Natalie, Annie and I pouring vodka into juice cups at "Naked Boys Singing!" (Heather has a side gig stage managing these folks, which is why we were there, it made us squeal and made me feel homosexual) was the high point of my life, for sure. Aside from when Natalie and i consumed a 6-pack of Amstel Light in a cab between her place and Williamsburg two summers ago. Like me, she's always on the verge of bankruptcy/nervous breakdown, so she understands how much better this is than actually drinking at the event itself.

The other trick I know of is the Sofia Coppola champagne. It comes in cans that makes it look like red bull. You can drink them openly on the street and no one will know a thing.

Eating: My Mom always told me to do onto others as you would like them to do onto you. I would like for others to not eat anything on the subway unless it is completely scent-free. E.g. a Zone bar, a bag of nuts or dried fruit, a piece of bread, candy. But do I want to smell your sandwich? Do I want to smell your BARBECUE CHICKEN WINGS? No. No, I don't. And carrying a McDonald's bag onto the train is like carrying a Pandora's Box of every fast food smell to ever exist in the city onto the train and leaving it there, including the smell of stale coffee and gooey babies. I love the guys who totally sit all hunched over taking up as much space as possible to extend the gigantic girth of their Subway sandwich wrapper across their outstreatched egs and eat with little shredded lettuce bits falling everywhere. Really Papi?

Changing Clothes: I used to do a lot of quick changes in my car, especially between work/gym/school/home/out. Cameron's office became a good place to do quick-changes, especially when she got that full-length mirror. But now that I no longer work there regularly, I must dress to impress for a three p.m. interview, even if I'm following it up with an evening of lying on Haviland's couch. Luckily she'll let me borrow sweatpants. I can't carry this shit around with me, I'm not He-Man.

Checking to See if Your You-Know-What Has Started: This might seem gross, and that's because it is. But considering the amount of scrotum-coverage as of late, I feel this is actually quite vanilla.

The Morning After: Oh NOTHING beats the joy of the morning-after subway ride. There is no decency of retreating to private cars, or even sharing a car in which case one person is driving and therefore has divided focus. Nope! There you are, in a public place with someone you don't interact much with in public, but, as of 24 hours ago, you have a very intimate and private knowledge of. You realize you don't know if they drink coffee. You can be seeing someone for a while before your first morning after, because I don't do sleepovers, for example (using me as an example). Also I don't like talking on the subway really, I prefer to read. One time I asked Lewis (my brother, pervs!) if he would care if I read while we traveled on the subway and he was like "Um...Yeah!" And I was like ""

Really though, this applies to all morning after subway rides, not just "morning after" subway rides: As your stop nears (after you've inevitably asked "What's your stop again?" thirty times if it happens to be someone you don't know that well), even if you are having a fight that will lead to divorce or a breakup or a discussion verging on the brink of a marriage proposal--when their stop comes, convo OVER. You have no control over this. You are at the whim of the subway engineer, your fate in his fast or slow hands. Because people will stay an extra 10 minutes at your house to finish a discussion or a fight or a confession but people will not, under any condition, suffer the unbearable consequences of taking the subway even 1 moment away from exactly where it JUST WAS if that place happens to be YOUR STOP, and GOD FORBID you should encounter the worst nightmare ever, which is if you actually RIDE ALL THE WAY TO THEIR STOP. When the discussion is over that means you must exit the subway at THE WRONG STOP, and, in some cases, you must actually exit the station, cross the street, and attempt to get back onto the subway going back towards your stop.

I mean, you may as well stand outside their apartment naked with a boom box blasting Sting. I mean, you basically ARE STING.

Also it's important that when you get off the subway during the middle of an awkward conversation that you announce to the car "THIS IS ME!" which, for some reason that we are unaware of, means "this is my stop." heather is demonstrating in the photograph.


Haviland said...

LOL lots with this one, R.

I also REALLY like that mysterious hand in the pic of your lovely profile, "applying God knows what."


Anonymous said...

i'm friends / roommates with lewis and also a fan of your blog because a lot of times i agree with things you say, and also i share your appreciation of low fat ice cream, sweatpants and abbreviated words such as "obvs"

a solution to public drinking: your brother got me a flask that is shaped like a Blackberry / oversized cell phone for my birthday, complete with a case and belt clip (the horror) and so far i have had no problems dealing with it in public. i debuted it at a college baseball game and then throughout Mardi Gras and i felt very "sly" and undercover about it. but then again no one commented when i left the flask in my boyfriends truck and carried around an actual handle of whiskey instead. perhaps lewdawg and i can send you one.

anyways sorry if this is totally creepy. lewis can attest that i am kind of creepy but its not like i have a mustache and am sitting outside your window.


riese said...

um, leaving a comment is soooo not creepy. in fact, it's the opposite of creepy, it's an invitation for me to fall in love with you instantly, and perhaps show up outside of your window.

that flask idea is a good one! Like a HI-lighter. you know? Oh man, I just remembered how I forgot to write this idea I had about why coke is so popular in nyc, which is that it's the only drug you can do in the bathroom without leaving a smell or smoke or anything.

you should send a blackberry flask and if not---

hav of the mysterious hand: write that down for potential st.patricks day gift. along with more of that sexy white lip gloss.

nyradical said...

I'm in awe of how prolific you are. And vicariously basking in your productivity. Go team.

How to save dough w/r/t drinking--befriend bartenders. That's actually the key to happiness I think. Related: Tanqueray in Fiji bottles. Tho some don't like straight gin, but then what's a martini? When I used to bartend, I'd only pretend to do the Vermouth thing, and just hand over straight gin and olives.

My favorite commuting hobby is trying to match passengers with their stops. It's actually a sick, socio-racist mind experiment, but whatevs.

In other subway news, I remember how I realized that my last live-in-girlfriend relationship was officially over. We rode the subway together into Manhattan from Astoria, and the entire 20 mins, sat side-by-side listening to our respective iPods. What was really depressing was that they were identical. Little, cute, identical black nanos. Like, how gay. Worse, hers was engraved by me (a V-day gift), cause I'm a fucktard apparently. "Engraved"--there's a pun in there somewhere.

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to go shopping. Yeah, I'm taking that NY Mag spring jacket tip. The Peter Pan-esque collar adding a feminine touch on an otherwise minimalist, masculine coat. Something like that. This is me. Cheers.

nyradical said...

One more thing--my turkish oil wrestling girls're having an homo-rodeo party, replete with mechanical bull. Details to come.

team gingerbread said...

I hate forgetting to put deo on in the morning. Personally, and I think pretty much everyone who has taken public transit can attest to this, I'd much rather have to see you put on deo if it means a stink free ride, you know? A moment of discomfort is worth it

Of course you're not a degenerate so the lack of deo probably isn't going to cause a nuclear meltdown or anything, but I once had to use my boyfirend's deodorant (he used Axe, ok? that's how bad it was) because I was late for work and forgot mine at home and I smelled like a frat boy all day long.

goneundercover said...

this one is awesome!

ahhh, sephora..

Jane said...

The morning after subway ride...brillant!

riese said...

tara, can i still comment in hindsight, or do i have to take new information into account? because if i would, i would say: "too bad you didn't wake up today and get that jacket, woman, now you're going to have to battle the crowds in soho. you can listen to your ipod." and "i appreciate your affection for gin, although as you know my relationship to the stuff is pretty rocky. i think it reveals a very attractive toughness and resilliance to things that, to me, taste like pine needles and rubbing alcohol. ROCK ON." hehehe.

tg: i don't really stink, i just sweat. do you still think its worth it?

nyradical said...

i. So, I'm finally dragging my ass out the door to run errands and grab that coat.

ii. Before I leave, I figured I'd drop a note. And now technology's overwhelming me. There're like 5,000 means by which I can msg you. Here, on autostraddle, gmail, chat window, MySpace msg, MySpace comment ... too many choices. So I settled on autowin, now that I know you don't think multiple comments're creepy.

iii. I can't believe you think gin tastes like pine needles and rubbing alcohol. It's like my ambrosia. Why you gotta be hatin'? Yo. Here I am still recovering over the fact that your dick's bigger than mine ... waa.

iv. Well have a lovely day, lovely girl. I'm out.

v. Pardon my ebonical whatevs.