Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Some Things I Will Miss About Miami

Ask Brooke if she had any reservations about leaving Miami and as soon as she stops laughing in your face she'll say, "No. Nada. Nyet." Brooke wanted out of Florida like it was some giant beachfront prison camp. We would have fights all the time because I would say something like, "This pizza is pretty good," and she would reply, "IT IS NOT. It's good for Miami. This pizza couldn't suck New York pizza's dick." She felt strongly about leaving.

I was a bit more ambiguous. While Brooke would land at JFK, step up to the exhaust filled taxi stand, take a deep breath and smile, I immediately felt my blood pressure rise just from catching a glimpse of the skyline out the plane window. I'd run over elderly people on my way out of the plane, because in New York if someone gets from Point A to Point B faster than you, you lose.

Don't get me wrong – I'm happy (nay, ecstatic) to be here now, but that doesn't mean that there aren't things I will miss about Miami.

My nice apartment. I've accepted the fact that I will never live in a nicer apartment than I did when I left Miami. I mean, delivery men would compliment my apartment! Coming from a long line of New York shitholes, the last time anyone complimented an apartment of mine was when, after an ill-advised attempt to "get to know my neighbors" my sophomore year of college, I invited over the girl across the hall for drinks. While sitting on my couch, awkwardly sipping a beer, realizing very quickly that we hated each other, she commented, "Nice place" – the most backhanded of compliments considering the fact that we had the same exact apartment, except mine was decorated better. You could just hear it in her voice: "Nice place. I would have spent more time decorating mine, but I've been so busy banging dudes who sleep on air mattresses."

On the plus side . . . We didn't have to buy any furniture for the new apartment because we already had the three pieces needed to fill it.

The Beach. I don't have any case study to reference because that's not my style, but someone somewhere once told me that some Asian scientists did a study where they hooked up people to brain wave machines and sat them down on the beach looking out over the ocean and all sorts of pleasure centers lit up – ones that normally are only activated through things like extreme fighting and intercourse. Sure, there's some holes in my research. I don't know where they plugged in the brain wave machines on the beach. But the point is, the study was conducted by Asian scientists – the same ones who engineered the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Summer Games. So obviously it's true.

On the plus side . . . It's nice to have sidewalks again, because sometimes it's like, "I just wish there was some concrete so I knew where I was allowed to walk."

Lower Cost of Living. I'm no Republican, but if New York is going bankrupt and has state income tax and Florida isn't going bankrupt and doesn't have state income tax, then isn't New York doing something wrong? I mean, where's all my money going? To trash collection? Libraries? Central Park? Schools? Police? Firemen? Street cleaning? Museums?

On the plus side . . . My wallet was getting so heavy!

Working From Home. We've been over this, but I can't emphasize enough how suited I am for working from home. This isn't to say that I don't relish each and every one of the coworkers with whom I now share office space (especially the ones who read this blog), but if home is where the heart is, and I should be putting my heart into my work, then I'd much rather not have to carry my heart in a messenger bag with a magazine, iPod, and meatloaf sandwich the 20 blocks to an office, where you're not even allowed to have a bed let alone work in one. And don't even get me started on drinking at you're desk. They're practically Draconian about that.

On the plus side . . . I've started flossing for meetings.

Filtered Water . . . From My Refrigerator! So you know how lower middle class people have Brita filters? Well I had a water filtration system BUILT INTO my refrigerator. It even dispensed ice cubes made of filtered water.

You can't possibly understand the joys of clean ice and water on demand until it is taken away from you and you are forced to use poisoned tap-water ice and a Brita, which is always empty but it's such a pain to refill that you just stand in front of the refrigerator and enjoy a few mouthfuls of saliva instead.

On the plus side . . . There's a water dispenser at work, so I get most of my hydration done there.

Rainbows. Do you know what happens when there's a rainbow in New York? Someone buys it. And then they charge people to look at it. And then Sex and the City mentions it in a movie and then rainbows are "the new hot thing." Then rainbows jump the shark and everyone thinks rainbows are lame and sunsets are the new rainbows.

On the plus side . . . Those rainbows that form when the light hits a puddle full of leaked gasoline just the right way is kind of the same thing.

Serotonin. Here are some jokes I wrote about my serotonin levels.

"My serotonin levels are so low I got a tax credit from the Obama administration."

"My serotonin levels are so low that Jon Gosselin looks down on them."

"My serotonin levels are so low that sometimes I stare deep into the black void that is my future and think that today is as good a day as any to just give up."

Ha?

On the plus side . . . Depression is like exercise for the soul.

Happy homeless people. The other day I was walking through the subway carrying Puppy (don't tell anyone) and we passed a deranged homeless guy pounding away on a Casio keyboard and kind of scream-moaning like he was very sad, and very angry about it. Then as Puppy and I walked past, he shouted, "What, you two don't like my music? You suck!" Really? My dog sucks for not liking your homeless guy music? Maybe if the lyrics were more like "Here Puppy, Puppy. Here's a treat for the good Puppy! Now let's go out and pee, ok?" he would have been a bit more receptive.

On the plus side . . . all the more motivation to not become homeless!

Having two bathrooms. I will look back on having two bathrooms as one of the best times in my life. Never having to wait for someone to finish, never having to worry that you're taking too long. It was a dream come true. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

At least I'll be able to tell my kids grand stories of back when I had two bathrooms. "Artemis, Clementine," I'll say, as we stand in line outside the one bathroom in our apartment. "Once upon a time your father was somebody. I had two bathrooms. Full bathrooms, not halves. Showers and everything. I was living the dream!" And then Brooke will come out of the bathroom just as Artemis pees his pants. And Clementine will push him to the ground and run inside, slamming the door behind her. Then Brooke and I will lock gazes and she won't even have to say it. I'll know exactly what she's thinking as she looks at our poor, vulnerable son, curled up in the fetal position covered in urine. "We're not moving. No fucking way."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Comeback of the Decade?

Insulting a girl is never easy. Technically the only right way to do it is to wait for another girl to say out loud what you are thinking privately, then kind of nod in agreement. It's very complicated and hardly cathartic, but any guy who has ever called a girl a bitch or lumpy to her face knows that whatever relief may come with unleashing your anger is vastly outweighed by the immediate sense of shame, not to mention her yoga-trained legs attacking your crotch like a chorus line. I've never heard of a guy insulting Brooke to her face, but I always imagined that if it did happen Brooke would come home out of breath with blood on her hands and when I asked what happened she'd be like, "He said I was obtuse. Can you grab me my passport from the night stand?"

As it turns out, though, Brooke isn't always as insane spontaneous as she appears. Because on Saturday when a random guy on the street called her a [c-word] to her face, she didn't do anything! Except almost become an accessory to murder. Let me explain.

Brooke and her 23-year old cousin from Long Island were walking around our neighborhood doing girl things like shopping and complimenting each other's outfits. Brooke was holding an unlit cigarette like she does sometimes, because she doesn't smoke, she just likes to embrace all of life's possibilities. When she was done with it, she dropped it on the sidewalk – a donation for the local homeless. (So thoughtful!)

Right then, a man who was walking perhaps ten feet behind her says, "You [c-word]!" Stunned, Brooke and her cousin turn around, at which point the guy approaches Brooke and says, "You almost burned me with your cigarette, you [c-word]!"

Noticing a discernable amount of crazy in his eye, Brooke resists all of her take-no-prisoners-especially-if-they-call-you-a-[c-word] instincts and opts for the diplomatic approach. "Excuse me, but the cigarette was not lit and it was also nowhere near y–"

Right then her cousin, a petit blond with a French manicure who clearly hasn't noticed or doesn't care about the crazy eye, jumps in. "You can't call her a [c-word]! What kind of guy calls a girl a [c-word]? I could set you on fire and you still can't call me a [c-word]!"

(groin kick, groin kick, groin kick, groin kick) Sorry, when I think of the story that's how I like to picture it, because the way Brooke tells it the guy just slinked away without another word. And who could blame him? At best he was offering a trite apology for an unforgivable outburst; at worst he was getting set on fire to prove a point, which is this: just don't insult women. It's not worth it. And if one ever sets you on fire, remember to call her pretty when asking for the first extinguisher.

Friday, February 19, 2010

[redacted] FAQs

I know you all probably have some questions, as well you should. I figure we could either all go into an online chat room and sort this out 1998-style (Ok, who brought the pedophile!), or I could curate a sampling of the most common questions and concerns and preemptively address them here. So let's get down to it.

How was your Christmas?
It was lovely! Brooke got me an antique tie clip that everyone compliments me on. I know I'm a little late to the Mad Men fashion party, but if you ask me, not dipping your tie in your soup never goes out of style.

Where have you been, asshole?
Oh right. That. Well I guess we should just get this out of the way. I know I disappeared. And not like a magician, although if that's what you want to tell your friends I'll back you up. No, I disappeared more like a fun-loving though inherently flawed dad from a broken family who is either a loose-cannon police officer, semi-pro rock guitarist, or race car driver. And I promise it won't happen again. Until it does, and then we'll all officially be part of a "vicious cycle" just like those people on Intervention.

I've heard rumors that you are no longer living in Miami. Is that true?
Yes, the Internet got that one right.

Why did you leave?
There comes a time in every man's life when he has to decide if he's ready to get busy living or get busy drinking mojitos for lunch. Luckily that time never came for me, because my favorite flavor of mojito is Lunch Mojito. Instead, that decision was made for me when Brooke and I got the news in early December that we were being called back to the Big Apple for work reasons. We spent most of December in New York looking for an apartment and most of January packing up our place in Miami. We made the permanent move back to New York on January 24. Really the best time to be in New York. (Insert sound of head hitting wall.)

You know, I'm still mad at you.
I know. I feel like that prostitute who does everything but kiss, but only so she can put herself through law school. Then when she finally gets to law school, she finds herself sitting in the library yearning for the days when she anonymously approached strange men who wore pocket squares, not knowing whether this would be the go-around that netted her a book deal, or if it was just another run-of-the-mill spike-and-rob scenario.

What the hell does that even mean?
I'm sorry. It means I'm sorry.

You make it so hard to stay mad at you. Do you at least have a place to live?
Yes, I do. After an exhaustive search that involved at least ten real estate brokers, thirty-five apartment viewings, and over six hundred mini-strokes, Brooke and I found a great one-bedroom in Greenwich Village. I know what you're thinking. "Well hey, Richy Rich! Congratulations, Mr. Look At Me, I Get Extra Boosts At Jamba Juice." But that's not the case.

You know when you hear stories about people who have an unbelievable deal on an apartment? Like their elderly neighbor died and no one noticed until one day they caught a whiff of something awful? So they went in and disposed of the body, stole their identity, and have been living in a rent-controlled junior four ever since? Well now I'M THAT GUY. Except the previous tenant didn't die, she just moved to London, which is really more like a rebirth, especially if you love tea and watching great American TV shows on a one year delay.

How do you feel about being back in New York?
I know that when I left New York two years ago I was pretty excited to be leaving a place where I actually used a light therapy lamp to treat my Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just me, sitting in front of a fucking lamp for twenty minutes. I would have made fun of myself if I could have mustered a joke through all the tears.

But Miami is – god, it's so many things. Unfortunately one of them isn't "the perfect place to call home." And sure, no place is perfect. Just the other day I spent six dollars on a gallon of milk here in New York. I'm pretty sure at that cost it's economically feasible to invest in a cow. But at the end of the day, New York is home. It's a place where I have "guys." Like a shoe guy in Little Italy or a stand-up MRI guy in Queens. And that's good living by any standards.

How is Puppy handling the transition?
The beauty of Puppy is that he hates all seasons equally. He's neither a summer dog, nor a winter dog, so going from Miami to New York is a zero sum game for him. Plus, while we were looking for apartments and packing up our Miami place, Puppy stayed with my parents on Long Island. For over a month he ran around in the back yard, learned to use a doggie door, and ate wet food. It was like a doggie Sandals. And now he gets to come to work with us every day where he does funny things like poop under my boss's desk and try to jump on my HR manager's lap. I'm pretty sure he's fine.

So what now?
I guess we get back to this blogging thing. Sure, it's about as culturally relevant as the series finale of Arrested Development, what with all the Facebooking and Twittering and Apping (is that a thing?) going on these days. But like my high school girlfriend always said, "What are you doing? That feels weird. Stick to what you're good at."

Final thoughts?
The other night I was walking home from the gym at a pretty brisk pace when out of the corner of my eye I spotted what appeared to be a cat slowly ambling across the sidewalk towards a mound of trash bags. I didn't really slow down, because Hey, cat, learn your place. But as I got closer I noticed that it wasn't a cat at all. It was a possum.

Unfortunately at this point I was so close to the thing that I was committed to walking right past it, which WAS NOT an option because the thing's tail was probably a foot long and clearly if it touched me I would die. The only thing to do was vault it, which sounds athletic and cool but in practice looks more like a little girl skipping over a puddle. So there I was, a grown man covered in post-gym sweat dandily leaping over an enormous rodent who was on its way to a pile of garbage. Bottom line: It's nice to know that after all this time New York can still surprise me.