Monday, December 22, 2008

It’s About Time, Asshole

Sure, I could sit here and tell you all that the reason I took a month off was because I got malaria or knocked up Brooke. But then when my mom called and was like, “You got Brooke pregnant?!” and I responded with, “Cough cough. Who’s this?” all my lies would eventually unravel and I would be forever known as the boy who cried malaria baby.

So instead, let me explain.

When I moved to Miami, I took a different job, although in truth I probably could have stayed on with the old law firm and maintained the same dedication to my paralegal job even from 1,300 miles away, the only difference being that I wouldn’t be able to make copies, which, in truth, I didn’t do even when I was there. I would leave stacks of documents on Crazy June’s desk with bold-faced post-it notes like, “COPY OR ELSE. TWO PLEASE.” I didn’t enjoy making these vague, though utterly polite threats. But June had been working there for many, many years and was very, very crazy and had come to the confused conclusion that the office was her second home, and clearly she didn’t do shit in her first home, because that was her modus operandi here: I don’t do shit.

So I took to strong-arming her, which many people will tell you isn’t the best way to deal with elderly women, but what I think they mean is that it isn’t the most humane way, because it definitely is the most effective way. The one time she mentioned something to me about how aggressive my notes were, I told her that it was legal speak I had picked up from a recent trip to London. I also told her that Brits are more sophisticated because they drink tea instead of coffee, and she was satisfied with this line of reasoning.

Why I would want to leave all that behind is beyond me, but when the time came to pick up and move, I made a clean break with New York. I quit my job, collected my last paycheck, stole a stapler and a mouse pad, and left.

Then was promptly offered a job writing for a New York company.

And while you may be saying, Well that’s the dream! You did it! It’s like Rudy meets The Princess Bride, THAT’S HOW FUCKING GOOD IT IS!, the truth is that writing for a living is no different than doing anything else for a living. (Except trafficking immigrants – it’s definitely different than that.) A job is a job is a job, and by and large if you have a hobby it’s probably different than your job. Like if you loved playing in garbage, and then grew up to be a garbage man, you probably don’t come home and play in more garbage. You do watercolors or make homemade beer. The same thing happened to me. For years, a blog post was the one thing I wrote everyday (besides my notes to Crazy June). Now, it’s the fifth or sixth. And when some free time to blog arises, I usually just want to drink scotch or take pictures of Puppy instead.

The holiday season (or what they call in my line of work “the busy season” or “the season that will make you wish you never learned to write, motherfucker!”) took this quandary to a whole new level. It didn’t help that I ate so much turkey (WILDERNESS SURVIVAL FACT: A 12-pound bird will feed two people for up to six days) that the tryptophan overload slowed my cognizant abilities by over 70%, but the fact remained that much like my high school girlfriend, I had to put blogging in the back seat.

Flash forward to last Thursday. In preparation for Christmas, Brooke and I flew up to New York, which is where we’ve been since last Thursday. The apartment we’re staying at here is a small one-bedroom, the kind of place a gypsy may use as her office for reading palms. It is, by all accounts, a standard New York City apartment: The bedroom door will hit you in the face if you’re too close to the edge of the bed, but there’s a coffee shop across the street and extra storage above the front door, so it’ll work just fine.

But then the other night, right before I drifted into slumber, I was awoken by noises from the apartment next door. In truth, I was awoken by lots of noises. I had forgotten this about New York, how when people complain that it is a “noisy” city, they don’t mean honking car horns or jack hammers – the mean that 10 million people living on a plot of land no bigger than most Midwestern industrial parks means that there is always someone no more than 20 feet away from you. They may be above you or below you or right on the other side of a comically thin wall, but they’re there, and they make noise. It’s why when New Yorkers see those scenes in futuristic end-of-days movies where Times Square is completely desolate they don’t say, “Oh my God, how creepy!” they say, “Oh my God, how peaceful!”

Which explains why, when I was jarred awake by strange sounds from the apartment next door, all I could think was “Armageddon, you tease.” All night long, the heater had been the main culprit of my sleeplessness, routinely unleashing a symphony of wheezes and farts like an old man playing cards, or me when I wheeze. The din was nearly unbearable. There was no use trying to fall asleep while the heat was coming up. Instead, you needed to time your sleep with the radiator’s off cycle, lest you drift off dreaming of tiny gnomes banging on the walls with tiny hammers or, during one particularly hefty outburst, a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo.

And just when I thought I had succeeded, here came this noise from the apartment next door. It was a woman, definitely Japanese or Mexican, and she was either writhing in a bout of sexual ecstasy or standing in firm agreement with her boyfriend about a matter in which she is very invested and jumping on the bed. Her manner of agreement got so aggressive that I couldn’t help but laugh and think to myself, “OK! We get it! We all get it. You like whatever it is he’s doing.” She must have said “Yes” over fifty times. Was she afraid he would misunderstand some other outburst such as “Oh yeah” or “Uh huh”? It had to be an unequivocal “Yes”?

I thought this and other things and chuckled to myself thinking, “I can’t wait to write about this!” But then I realized that The Job doesn’t care about my Japanese/Mexican neighbor having loud sex, though I’m sure it would make for some good Water Cooler chatter:

Mike: “Did you see the game last night?”
Me: “No, but is it unusual for a Japanese woman to climax in Spanish?”

The Job is the job, and multi-ethnic neighbor sex is why we all need hobbies (especially if multi-ethnic neighbor sex is your hobby). There has to be room for both in my life, because the alternative is scary. I don’t want to be just another nine-to-fiver. I don’t want to waste away grinding out a pay check. Most of all, I don’t just want the only other thing I write to be a post-it note.

Even if it does say “COLLATE, BITCH.”


Blogger [mother] said...

I totally understand - Much like a carpenter who starts a project and lets it lag and lag and lag [father].
If only I could stop the cleaning and laundry as a protest.

December 22, 2008 at 2:45:00 PM EST  
Blogger Nicole said...

You're alive!! It's a Christmas miracle! Now I know that there truly is a Santa!

Seriously though - we are happy to be your water-cooler chat buddy.

December 22, 2008 at 3:22:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Camels & Chocolate said...

I used to be a magazine editor and blogged allll the time, out of boredom from my cube. Now I'm a freelance writer and find it hard to get inspired to blog most days, as it's what I've been doing for most of the day, every day, and who wants to take a break from writing by doing more writing? So yes, I get that.

And I always knew New York was ridiculously noisy while I was living there (my bedroom overlooked a pothole on 10th Avenue and holyshitballs, if I ever had made it through an entire night without waking up, I would have considered that my life's biggest conquest), I never really realized the magnitude of that until I moved to another city (San Francisco) and came to the conclusion that New York's noise problem (and Japanese women climaxing in Spanish)? NOT NORMAL.

December 22, 2008 at 3:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger Rachel said...

Welcome back! We missed you!!

December 22, 2008 at 4:35:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank god you are alive. I was certain something terrible had to have happened to make you forget about the mini-masses who are bored at work.

Please dont leave us again Dan!

December 22, 2008 at 5:01:00 PM EST  
Blogger SassyTwoSocks said...

I was starting to worry that someone found your Christmas card so horrific (or lovable) that they decide to hunt you down, stalk you and god knows what else...

December 22, 2008 at 5:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger Vanilla said...

I was so mad at you for leaving this blog to die, but this post was kind of like ethnic make up sex, which is the best kind.

December 22, 2008 at 5:55:00 PM EST  
Anonymous UrbanVox said...

some times I wish I was... and wish I could be happy being a nine to fiver... :)

December 23, 2008 at 6:24:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Dan, you SOB, you're like McCauley Culkin in Home Alone or at least a really cute puppy that pees on the floor and tramples all over it. What I'm trying to say is, you go away for a month and we can't stay mad at ya! I mean that adoring pic of puppy really saved this post. =o)

December 23, 2008 at 7:06:00 AM EST  
Blogger emertron said...

Glad you're back. You make slacking at work more fun.

December 23, 2008 at 4:25:00 PM EST  
Anonymous With the Inlaws 2008 said...

Holy crap -- that comment about "Is it unusual for Japanese women to climax in Spanish during sex?" - made me nearly spit out my coffee. Awesome. Thank you for that.

December 24, 2008 at 2:09:00 PM EST  
Blogger Uncle Ebenezer said...

I thought you died. Which I was I was yelling so loud in Spanish (using a Japanese accent) the other night. Sorry if I kept you awake.

December 24, 2008 at 8:00:00 PM EST  
Blogger Poodle said...

although it beats NO JOB

December 24, 2008 at 9:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Towely said...

Glad you're back. Merry Christmas to you, Brooke and Puppy.

December 25, 2008 at 6:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger the frog princess said...

Hooray, I missed you!

The funny thing about the NY noise is that now, when I'm anywhere else, I have a hard time falling asleep because it's so *quiet*. It makes me feel like I'm trapped in that scene in the horror movie where everything goes silent... right before the man with the ax jumps out of the fridge.

Fortunately, that's why they invented whiskey.

December 25, 2008 at 6:47:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I relate to this more than I want to believe. I spent 5 years at an evil law firm before switching careers, and I can definitely agree that those lifer secretaries are the worst. Esp. the ones who work for one of the partners and feel as if they're above the more pedestrian tasks, and basically waiting for their 65th birthday and the maximum Social Security benefit to kick in. Ack, greener days writing for Esquire (I believe...?), would be my assumption.

Cheers from a first-time reader,

December 28, 2008 at 6:34:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi. what is it to do with getting your girlfriend pregnant? relation???

January 23, 2009 at 1:31:00 PM EST  

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