A tragic tale of self-employment

I started working for myself this past March. Despite the abysmal pay and lack of traditional employer benefits, it’s the flyest gig ever. I may not get health insurance or paid vacation days, but my boss sure is understanding. She’s like Ja Rule’s dream girl, a certified down ass bitch. Because she’s myself, and I treat me like my number one.

I am at once the best employer and best employee that ever existed. The synergy between me and myself is outrageous. We are so, so synergetic. That means we’ve synchronized our energies. (We’ve also synchronized our cycles—a convenient side effect of being the same lady.)

For instance, let’s say I want to take a long lunch break. Maybe I want to go on a half-hour bike ride to the rock gym, climb a while, go to Wendy’s for a baked potato and a frosty, and bike the half hour back to the office. My boss is 100% cool with it, because she also wants me to spend the majority of the workday playing and eating.

Or perhaps I want to take a little rest on the office couch and cruise Craigslist for kayaks and kittens—two things I have no intention of actually buying.* My boss encourages it! She too enjoys perusing the catalog of kayaks and kittens available along the Eastern seaboard.

Our company is the best employer in the country. Dogs are allowed, pajama casual dress is worn, and snack breaks are mandated every seven minutes.

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All right, that’s enough. You get it. I LIKE WORKING FOR MESELF.

I gots a little office in the downstairs of the Weight Watchers center where my mom works. It’s huge and cement and empty, but my space is cordoned off with a bunch of hanged-up sheer curtains. It’s kind of like being inside of a shower all the time. I have a couch and a mini-fridge and a desk Curtis bought me for Christmas where I do freelance work.

I don’t have any coworkers—a sad reality of working for yourself, since coworkers are good—but I at least have my mom upstairs. She’s even better than a coworker because she grew me and gave birth to me and is thus required to love me unconditionally and sometimes buy me lunch and drive me to work.

If I walk outside through my downstairs exit, my mom’s office windows are right above mine. Now that the weather’s nice, I’ll sometimes go outside to peel oranges. If I feel like having a chat, all I have to do is chuck a couple of orange peels at my mom’s window and wait for her to open up. She gets pissed but only because she thinks it’s a bird flying into the glass. And boy, nothing gets my mom madder than a bird’s death. That’s one of my most vivid memories as a child—my mom losing it whenever a bird flew into her car’s windshield.

“GODDAMMIT BIRD SHIT I KILLED YOU GODDAMMIT MOTHERFUCKER I DIDN’T MEAN TO BASTARD ASS UNLCEFUCKER GODDAMMIT TO HELL.”

She likes birds.

Anyway, two weeks ago I went outside and felt like having a chat. I didn’t have any orange peels but I needed something to throw at my mom’s window. They always use pebbles in the movies but that seems dangerous. The only thing my mom hates worse than an innocent bird’s death is the prospect of getting showered with shards of broken glass because a rock smashed through her office window. So in lieu of rocks, I decided to throw pieces of mulch.

This may be news to you, as it was to me, but individual pieces of mulch are hella hard to throw. It’s almost impossible. They’re not at all aerodynamic and they don’t have enough heft for heaving purposes. They suck. It’s like trying to throw, I don’t know, a single corn husk. A wadded piece of dry toilet paper. The top to a tube of chapstick. Anything light and stupid, you name it.

So I threw pieces of mulch at her window and none of them would reach. They’d get really close but they’d never quite make it. I could have given up—could have walked 100 feet and just gone to her office, or I could have called or texted or emailed her—but I didn’t want to. I wanted to throw a piece of goddamn mulch at her window and have a chat.

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I tried a million different ways. Overhand, underhand, super forceful, less forceful (in case the force was too much and was actually slowing down the mulch’s velocity—logic that makes no sense to anyone except me). I tried curving it left, curving it right. It’d come within inches of her window but would never reach. (Know that this was all done in sight of many, many motorists—the Weight Watchers building is on the corner of a busy intersection.)

After four minutes of trying every mulch-throwing technique I could think of, I still wasn’t ready to give up. I picked up a new piece of mulch and gave it my most powerful hurl yet. So powerful I probably would have thrown out my shoulder had I not instead violently twisted my ankle and crashed to the ground in a cloud of dirt and mulch.

I sprained my ankle and, worst of all, the mulch didn’t even make it to the window.

There are two lessons to be learned from this:

  1. If you want to get a person’s attention by throwing something at their window, DO NOT USE MULCH. It simply don’t work. Go for orange peels or, if you’re brave, a pebble. An apple core or banana would likely work too.
  2. If I ever offer you a job, do not take it. I am a stupid boss.

P.S. My mom did hear pieces of mulch hitting below the window, I’ve just desensitized her to it. I consider this my most shameful accomplishment.

P.P.S. I went outside to get a picture of the mulch for this post and couldn’t resist throwing a piece at the window again. I got it on the first try.

*I did buy a kayak. I couldn’t help myself, and I don’t even like kayaking that much.

 

 

I went to a summer camp for models

I once tried to be a model.

Here is me, trying to be a model.

Here’s me, trying to be a model.

It’s kind of a shameful thing to admit. If I had actually become a model, that’d be one thing—not shameful a-tall. But since I did not become one, and instead failed fully in its pursuit, that’s another thing.

Even if you didn’t know, now you know. I’m telling you because I wrote about it for a website called xoJane. You can read it here. Or, if you’d prefer, you can read a less-censored version below.

In 2007 a mofo approached me in a mall in Florida and asked if I’d consider being a model. His name was Keith. (I used “Kevin” for xoJane because that’s a sneaky trick of the journalism trade. I used a pseudonym for myself too, another sneaky trick.) Keith looked like a mouse if mice were amphibious and untrustworthy. He scouted for Elite, the same agency America’s Next Top Model winners used to sign with.

I met with some Elite people, they told me I was too chunk, so I lost some weight and went to a camp for models in New York City that summer.

Here is a list to describe that experience.

  • They brought us to a burger restaurant to prove that models were allowed to eat but then ONLY SERVED SLIDERS. Funk outta here with sliders, what’s a girl like me supposed to do with a slider?! I was the only one that went back for thirds which means I ate approximately one-eighth of a traditional hamburglar.
  • They made me do yoga for the first time in my life and they filmed it. I’ve dedicated the past three years to learning how to bend over and touch my toes with straight legs, to give you an idea of how flexible I am not.
  • Karlie Kloss gave us a runway walking demonstration. I felt like an old, ugly behemoth next to that nilla wafer. For real she waify as hell, I don’t reckon humans are even meant to be that waiflike. Hold on I just Googled it and waif actually means a homeless, helpless person. Isn’t waifiness supposed to be an enviable lady trait? What the heck. I like homes and being helped both.
  • A nutritionist came in and told us to drink lukewarm water in the morning cause it gets shit moving. She weren’t all that genuine a person but I’ll be damned if she didn’t preach gospel. Try drinking 16 oz lukewarm water in the A.M. and tell me that don’t get your pooptubes straight crackin.
  • I had a test photo shoot and they put me in eyebrows and a dress and hurt me real bad. Had to kneel on a wooden floor for about an hour. My knees weren’t meant for kneeling, that’s just not what they do.
  • I walked around Central Park with 10-15 other girls while we all wore teeny tiny T-shirts. There’s no use in pretending I wasn’t the biggest of the bunch because I was. THAT SHIRT BARELY COVERED MY STICK-OUT RIB. Barely but.
  • I starved myself in preparation for my test photo shoot (Keith made me) and after it was done I ate: 1) One full chicken 2) One pound of shoestring fries 3) A molten chocolate lava cake. I didn’t realize we weren’t getting our Kardinal Offishall measurements done until the next morning. Kardinal Offishall is a rapper who had a hit with Akon but I just used his name in place of the word “official.” Measurements are body measurements for boobs and butts etc., which Elite agents live and ride and die by.
  • That next morning (after photo shoot + full chicken, before measurements), I was still on a rampage and demanded my first donut in months. The sprinkled donut I got was garbage and my saint of a sister went back and returned it for me not because I was a diva but because I couldn’t face the Dunkin Donuts employee. NYC DD employees are Steve Austin, so stone cold.

I gave up on the modeling career because my bones were too big. A lady named Karen knocked on my right hip and said “Nah ain’t gonna work, we prefer the type of hips that make childbirth more painful and difficult.” I said “That’s wassup” and now I’m not a model.

Also, if I’m keeping it real, I look like a tired cadaver in most photos and I’m prematurely wrinkled and overall I don’t have that charming/likable/outgoing a personality. These traits do not befit a model.

It took me nearly 10 years to share this story. (That means I’m 27 now, which means my birthday has come and gone. Please leave your wishes of good birthday fortune in the comments section below).

 

Coffee sucks

Coffee tastes bad.

It does, doesn’t it? Objectively, coffee tastes like strongly brewed poop water. No one’s ever tried coffee for the first time and shouted, “This is a fine, delicious beverage! Pour me another!”

Or maybe they have, but their taste buds got put on upside down and inside out and they’re not complete, functional humans who could have ever survived in nature. No disrespect to em but they the dum-dums who would’ve eaten the rotting, festering flesh of some beast, washed it down with a handful of poison berries, burped, sharted, and died. Cause clever folks know not to fuxs with bitter.

Humans have trained themselves to accept some bitter food. In coffee’s case, we drink it because it’s nice and cozy and full of a mostly harmless—though still fun and energizing—drug. Those are objectively good things that excuse its foul taste. My mom can’t distinguish between the smells of coffee, dog food, and poop, and yet she drinks a cup o josé every morning.

Tiny baby iced coffee from New Zealand that cost $5 dollars.

Tiny baby iced coffee from New Zealand that cost $5 dollars.

That’s all. Don’t pretend coffee tastes good. You love it, I get it. With enough milk and sugar and ice, I like it lots too. But it’s gross as shit. Please acknowledge that.

SEASICK OR NAH

I’ve never been seasick or carsick. Never in my whole life. Not a once.

Impressive, ain’t it? It’s probably my favorite thing about myself. That and my four intact wisdom teeth. And how small my feet are in proportion to my height. Oh, I also like my feet’s high arches. And that they’re orange—that’s cool, too. Damn, I guess I like my feet pretty good.

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I even like them in Tevas

Other than my mouth full of wisdom teeth and my small, orange feet, my ability to not get motion sick is my favorite thing about myself. I can read in cars as they speed along winding roads and I can happily fall asleep on a cruise ship as it rocks back and forth.

So, earlier this month when Alastair and I crossed the Cook Strait by ferry—from the South Island of New Zealand to the North Island—and our departure got delayed due to rough seas, I was excited. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about vomiting ferry passengers, and I wanted my own. I wanted to test my stomach’s limits.

And it was the perfect storm for testing my stomach’s limits. Not only would I be crossing tumultuous waters on a ferry, but I’d also eaten a lot of food that day. (We’d stayed at a bed and breakfast the night before, and they fed us like queens and kings. If you ever go to a place called Kaikoura, I highly recommend the Nikau Lodge.)

Below is a list of the things I ate. I remember it perfectly because all I think about, ever, is food. (Food and also my feet. Did I mention I can pick things up with my toes? I just finished petting a cat with them, actually. Holy moly they some good ass feet.)

I encourage just skimming this list, as it’s long and boring and basically a grocery list for a family of four.

  • Banana
  • Peach
  • Fresh plum
  • Stewed plum
  • Yogurt
  • Granola
  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Toast with scrambled eggs
  • Potato hash thing
  • Bacon
  • Half a tomato fried in butter
  • Mushrooms fried in butter
  • Large chicken sandwich with miscellaneous vegetables
  • Candy
  • Macaroon
  • ¼ bag of chili sauce flavored chips
  • Half a PB&J sammy
  • Large hunk of cheddar cheese that had not been refrigerated for a while

Sounds grotesque, listed out like that. I should consider eating less.

NEVERDALESS, when we boarded the ferry, I knew it would be the true test of my gut’s durability. During the three hour journey, I kept a log of my nausea. Here ‘tis.

9:01 p.m.
Finally on the ferry. I ain’t worried bout nothin.

Nausea scale: 1 out of 10, only because I ate old cheese.

9:17 p.m.
A gross man just chose the couch next to me, took his shoes off, and kicked up his sour-cream-and-onion flavored feet directly next to my head. A minute after that, I heard the thud of a baby’s head as she fell on the ground. Had to get up and go to the bathroom, just so I wouldn’t hear her wails, and everything I touched there was wet.

I could very well throw up tonight.

4 out of 10, eff.

9:20 p.m.
Had to get up again and find the deck for some fresh air. Saw someone eating a corndog.

5 out of 10.

9:25 p.m.
On the deck. There are smokers out here and, uh, the seas is churning.

5 out of 10.

9:40 p.m.
Back at the couch and my head hurts. Both Alastair and Mr. Stanky Feet are asleep. Finna lie down despite the one million stains on this couch.

5.5 out of 10.

9:56 p.m.
Put my headphones in and chose Trey Songz’s “Gotta Make It.” I can’t stop thinking about the eggs I had for breakfast, in a bad way. All right, truly going to try to sleep.

6 out of 10.

10:02 p.m.
I’m making myself sick with this log, thinking too much about smells and noises. Motion of the ocean is actually fly, I feel like I’m skiing! Stomach hurts though.

5 out of 10

10:11 p.m.
Had to turn up my music. Far too much coughing around these parts.

5 out of 10.

11:19 p.m.
I slept! But woke up to a chorus of babies coughing and confident men laughing. Terrible alarm clock, but otherwise I feel fine.

4 out of 10.

11:23 p.m.
This coughing baby sounds like it’s going to throw up.

5 out of 10.

11:24 p.m.
Aw, remember that time Coogan threw up in the car because he ate too many blueberries? You weren’t there but he told you about it several times. Vomiting babies aren’t so bad.

4 out of 10.

11:39 p.m.
Back to the bathroom. Smells like Fritos and bunny pee, which is redundant because they have the exact same odor.

5 out of 10.

11:44 p.m.
We’re almost to Wellington and the seas have calmed down. I miss the rough seas, they were more fun. The worst part of this whole trip has been my inability to put my hands down the front of my pants (for sleeping comfort).

3 out of 10.

11:53 p.m.
I’m gonna put my hands down my pants. I’ll keep them up high, but I’ll never see these people again anyway and plus where else does one keep her hands when recumbent?!?

1 out of 10.

12:14 p.m.
Back in the car, on dry land. I’m snacking on sour worms and savory crackers and my gut is strong as ever.

0 out of 10, hell yee-haw.

p.s. THE ANSWER IS NAH.

 

 

Swimming with sharks

I am an OK surfer. I’ve been doing it since I was about 10—so I should probably be better than I am—but I manage all right. There are still days when I go out and can’t catch a single wave, but more often than not, I rip.

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Me ripping

PLAYIN! I’ve never ripped anything but my wetsuit. Truly though, I am OK, at least by New England terms.

And that thar’s the qualifier—New England terms. Ya girl surfs strictly Rhode Island and Maine, strictly June through October, although I did rent a surfboard in Florida for a few hours once. I shared waves with a surf instructor that day, and he told me I “did really well for my first time.” That was two years ago—so I’d been surfing for 14 years—if that gives you some indication of my ability.

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Perfect form (I’M GOOFING)

Despite my mediocrity, I like it a lot. Part of the reason I came to New Zealand was to do some surfing, and some surfing I’ve done. And snoop doggy dogg, ain’t it scary.

The first day my cousin Alastair brought me out, we went to a beach called Muriwai on the Tasman Sea. You ever been to the Tasman Sea? It’s the sea on the west coast of NZ, and it is corporate as hell. It probably has an MBA from Wharton. Probably works on Wall Street. Do Wall Street people have MBAs? I don’t know. I’m not that corporate, but the Tasman Sea sure is. THE TASMAN SEA MEANS BUSINESS.

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Might as well be wearing a business suit and loafers

When we first got out, I had a couple of shaky but decent rides. Then, about half an hour in, a wave crashed directly on my face. It wasn’t a huge wave, and I’ve been crashed upon many a-time, but this wave wrecked me. It held me underwater, threw me almost into shore, and put one gallon of water into each of my facial holes. That’s five gallons straight into the dome, seven gallons if you count my eye holes. (Feel free to count my face holes however you want. It’s all exaggeration, don’t matter.)

I’ve had a lot water in my face before, but this was beyond my realm of experience. It burned. It felt as if I’d swallowed a full glass of Polyjuice Potion and had started to transform into a Slytherin.*

After that wave tored me up, I turned into a sugar bowl lady—too timid to really try for any more waves. I eventually gave up entirely and paddled into shore, where I built sandcastles and befriended an outgoing baby while waiting for Alastair to finish up.

The next day, still damaged from my beating at Muriwai but ready to get back into the water, Alastair brought me to a beach on the east coast, Te Arai. He told me the South Pacific Ocean was gentler than the Tasman—more of a not-for-profit type vibe—and he was right. The waves were smaller and less powerful and much better suited to my delicate, New England constitution. Alastair (and all other New Zealanders, I guess) have much stronger constitutions that don’t really fuxx with small waves. I was the only person in the water.

So small, so perfect

Te Arai

I had myself a grand time! I stayed out for an hour, riding baby waves to my heart’s content. The waves were the perfect size and the crystal clear water was the perfect temperature.

“You can see anything in these gleaming glass waters!” I shouted to myself. “Why, I can see the sand ripples on the ocean floor, and I have terrible eyesight! Hurrah for the South Pacific Ocean!”

In between waves, I started making a list of all the things I’d be able to see through the clear water.

“Seashells. Urchins. Crabs. Fish! Ooh, so many fish. Um… stingrays. Sharks. Hey, I wonder if I could get eaten by a shark right now.”

I spend a lot of time in the ocean, and I’ve never been scared of sharks. But before Te Arai, I’d also never been out surfing, all by myself, in warm South Pacific waters.

“What if a shark did come and bite me? What if I died? Then my family would have to tell people I got killed by a shark while surfing in New Zealand, which sounds far more extreme than it is. These are baby waves, for heaven’s sake! I’mma get out of this water now.”

So I got out of the water. I needed a drink of water and more sunscreen anyway, plus I have a rib that juts out goofily and it was aching something awful.

When I got back to where Alastair was lying on the beach, I asked him about sharks.

“Oh yeah, there are sharks here,” he said. “Hammerheads and bronze whalers all the time. You’re fine though. You were near the shore—they don’t come in that close.”

“Cool. And if they did, I could bop them on the nose and they’d leave me alone. I ain’t never scared.”

“No,” said Alastair. “If a shark were going to bite you, it’d swim up beneath you. You wouldn’t see him coming.”

“Ah, right. Think I’ll stay here and read for a while, then.”

After half an hour of reading, Alastair stood up and said he was going to jump in the water. I was burning up (it’s hot there) and had kind of forgotten about sharks, so I decided to join him. I grabbed the board and we headed out.

As soon as we got out there, I caught a wave on my board and Allie caught a wave on his body. (Like me, his nickname is Allie. Who ever heard of two cousins—a boy and a girl—with the same dang name?!) When we paddled back out, we faced each other to congratulate each other on our successful wave riding. We were probably six feet apart, me facing the shore, Alastair facing the ocean.

Suddenly, in the clear ass waters, I noticed a large shadow on my left. At first I thought it could be my shadow, and then I noticed fin-like features and thought it could be an enormous stingray. Alastair thought the same thing and asked, “Is that a stingray?” By this point it had swam, very slowly, right in between us. As he said it, we both made out what it actually was.

I said with authority, but did not scream, “It’s a SHARK!”

And ‘twas. ‘Twas a goddamn shark. It cruised right by, probably two feet away from both of us. Alastair says it was probably a mako shark, four to five feet long. I say five to six. And, seeing how he uses the metric system and doesn’t know feet as well as I do, you ought to believe me.

After it passed between us, I caught the next wave and rode it in boogie-style and had myself a quick heebie-jeebie type shiver. Alastair swam closer into shore and hung out there until he could tell another swimmer about the shark. Once he did, we left.

It was scary and cool, and I look forward to it never happening again.

*For those unfamiliar with Harry Potter, I suggest you read the series then return to this post, in order to understand the reference.

 

Travel highlights

I traveled to New Zealand this week. Here are seven highlights from my journey:

One

On my flight from Boston to San Francisco, I sat between two white businessmen. One of them read the same pharmaceutical magazine for the duration of our nearly seven-hour flight. He also invited me to hop in his rental car and go on a run to the bank in downtown SF during my layover. After light consideration, I declined.

The second white man had an aisle seat and got to put his bags in the overhead cabin. I had a middle seat and did not get to use the overhead cabin (‘twas full), and the homie wouldn’t let me store my second bag under his seat. FOR REAL YOU NEED THAT EXTRA 12 INCHES OF FOOT SPACE? I wanted to shout that at him, but I dint.

Also, I sneezed and neither of them blessed me. Them and they hating asses SMH.

Two

In San Francisco, I lost the ticket for my flight from there to Auckland. I had to leave the security area to talk to the people at the ticket booth, but the ticket booth was closed and the self-checkout kiosk was unhelpful. I then looked more carefully in my bag and found my original ticket. That was good news.

Three

I almost bought a $7 candy bar. I didn’t know the price until they scanned it, and when that woman ever told me $7 dollars I shouted IS YOU SHIZZING ME (but with less anger). I did not buy the candy bar. I bought a Twix somewhere else for like a buck fifty.

Four

I filled up a water bladder with water but couldn’t get the water to come out the nip (nipple), for it didn’t have a nip slit. A Japanese chef at a Japanese restaurant watched me gnawing on it in futility and offered a toothpick (for poking purposes) but I turned him down. We had communication barriers and plus I didn’t think a toothpick was really up for the job. Still it was a generous offer and I respected him for it.

Five

I chatted with a New Zealand lady while waiting to board the flight to Auckland. She had the neatest voice, you should have heard her! Google “new zealand accent” if you’re curious. That’s all it was.

(It’s the vowels that are the best, I think. Sounds like every vowel is pronounced like an “I.” Bif kissirole. That was one of the dinner options on the flight. I opted for the chickin with limin pippir sauce instead. I didn’t taste no limin pepper though.)

Six

Pooped four times on the second plane.

Seven

When I landed in New Zealand, I threw away a napkin in an airport trashcan. The trashcan had a sign that said “NO SPITTING, USE TOILETS.” That’s a stern yet helpful sign. I liked that.

I’m here now, and it’s very nice. Here’s a picture!

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