Monthly Archives: February 2016

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!

02262016_NZ-46

Advertisements

The Russian Bathhouse

It’s been almost two years.

It’s been almost two years, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. About the time I went to a Russian bathhouse.

A Russian bathhouse—or banya—according to Wikipedia, can refer to a number of types of steam baths popular in Eastern Europe. A Russian bathhouse, according to me, is an underground swamp hell, built of germs and hair and sweat where overweight Russian men glisten and beat patrons with branches.

In 2014, I went to one for my cousin’s birthday.

This cousin’s name is Caitlin. If there ever existed an objective list of the world’s most fun, pleasant people, Caitlin would be at the top. So, two years ago, when I found out she’d be celebrating her birfday in New York City (she lived in Puerto Rico at the time), I traveled down to meet up with her and join in on the festivities.

The festivities were fly. Caitlin, her friends, and I ate hamburgers on English muffins and drank drinks with alcohol and I think even danced dances, maybe. The next morning we ate bagels and peanuts and more hamburgers. By Sunday afternoon, we were engorged with meat and booze—and while the process to get there had been fun, we felt and smelt like beefy alcoholics.

Caitlin decided a trip to the Russian Turkish baths in Manhattan would reverse our feelings of beefish alcoholism. She told me that when she still lived in New York, she and her friend Nikki would go there all the time. It was really hot and intense, Caitlin said, but wonderful and rejuvenating.

“Well, I despise heat and intensity,” I said. “But don’t I love wonder and rejuvenation. Plus, I trust your judgment. I’m horrified by the sounds of this, but I will join you.”

“Word!” said Caitlin. “We’ll just have to buy some bathing suits first. I think today’s a non-naked day.”

If you’re ever invited somewhere, and you’re told it’s a “non-naked day,” I suggest you shout NAH THANKS PLAYA and turn the eff around. If a place a business has naked days and non-naked days, I promise it’s not the type of establishment you want to mess with. That’s important advice I did not learn until after I went to the Russian bathhouse.

We bought bathing suits at a department store in Brooklyn called Bobby’s. No disrespect to Bobby’s, but their bathing suit selection is … straight covered in pudding. For real—the day we went, every bathing suit available at Bobby’s had been manhandled by grimy pudding fingers. I bet you’re thinking, Pudding? Why do Bobby’s customers got such pudding hands?

Here’s a secret just between you and me, homie: Bobby’s customers probably don’t have pudding hands—they probably have poop or blood hands. But we told ourselves it was pudding because Caitlin’s friend Nikki was already waiting for us at the bathhouse, and the train was coming, and we needed bathing suits—poop, blood, and pudding be damned. I chose a shiny blue bathing suit and Caitlin chose a pretty teal one, neither of which we tried on, for $3.99 each. Then we went to the bathhouse.

When we got there, several men with round, gleaming stomachs greeted us. They were all half naked, sitting at tables, eating pork and mashed potatoes.

“Hey,” I whispered to Caitlin. “What’s going on with all this pork? Where are the garments for these men? THIS ALL SEEMS VERY STRANGE TO ME.”

“Come on, there’s Nikki. Let’s get our locker keys,” said Caitlin.

We got our keys and then went into the locker room, which was located directly off the pork café and had only the flimsiest of saloon-style doors.

“I like how these doors swing so freely,” I thought. “A very nice quality for locker room doors.” (My thoughts were hella sarcastic that day.)

We changed. Since it was towards the end of winter, I hadn’t seen myself in a bikini in a while—and I’d never seen myself in a bikini quite as sleazy as the one I got from Bobby’s. There was an alarming amount of pale flesh and dark hair (and I’m on the blonde spectrum, fam!). It was as if someone had dropped an industrial-sized batch of white bread dough on a dog groomer’s floor, picked it up, and then stuffed it into a glimmering string bikini.

“Yo, peep this,” I said to Caitlin, turning toward her. “I look like someone dropped an industrial-sized batch of—WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!”

“I …” said Caitlin. “Something’s gone astray.”

Nothing had gone astray with Caitlin—something had gone astray with her bathing suit. It was tiny. So crazy tiny. Child’s size small tiny. Which makes sense, because that’s the size bikini she’d purchased, child’s size small. It covered about 1/50th of her body, but that didn’t matter. She still had to wear it. And wear it she did! Right down into the depths of the bathhouse.

Imagine, right now, that you are sitting in a room. That room is made of stone blocks and is 130 degrees and has at least an inch of water on the floor. You’re wearing a dirty, undersized bathing suit, likely with someone else’s poop or blood or pudding on it. There are 25 other people in the room with you, some of them touching you, most of them grunting or moaning, all of them sweating like old men eating plates of pork and mashed potatoes. Scummy soap bubbles build up around your feet, and a couple branches float by. You find a long strand of hair between your fingers, from a different color spectrum than your own, fam. Two men start shouting at you in Russian.

That’s a bathhouse.

If you want to make it extra terrible, like Caitlin did, you can purchase a platza treatment. Doing so will get you 20 minutes of being violently attacked with branches and contorted in unnatural positions by a burly Russian man. She loved it; I did not. I did not even like watching it. I felt like the worst Samaritan of all time, standing there not doing anything while my cousin got the shit beaten out of her on her birthday.

After an hour and a half—an hour and a half of simmering in the sweat of strangers in a literal cesspool—we left. On the way out, the man who had whipped Caitlin with branches gave her a hug and promised the next visit would be on the house. I told you, she is objectively the world’s most fun, enjoyable person.

On the drive home back to Maine, I had the driver’s side window cracked. It was precipitating a wintry mix that day, and a plow truck in the southbound lane sprayed some slush across the median and it hit me right in the face. It was amazing actually, how fully it got me. A straight up white wash.

For scale: The experience of having a pound of gritty slush smack me in the face while driving on the highway was at least 16 times better than going to a Russian bathhouse.

All right, did it. I told my story, and now I will never speak of it again. (Unless you want to go, in which case I’m in.)

 

What to do when you invest all your money and then the market crashes and you quit your job

After several years of watching the stock market, I finally bought some of it. I went through a ridiculous rigmarole to get set up to invest through an investment company, and then I invested the majority of my savings. I won’t tell you how much exactly because that there ain’t none of your business.

That was in November. I invested in a total stock market ETF, which means that rather than investing in a couple companies—like Apple or Facebook—I invested in all of the companies. Or most of the companies. I don’t exactly know, but it’s something like that.

Anyway, I invested some money. I felt responsible and mature and rich. The stock market had been doing well and, I figured, would probably continue to trend upward. For a little while, it did. And then it did not.

The stock market straight sucks right now.

POOP

POOP

It took a giant poop dive (that’s a nosedive but into a pool of poop) and I lost a bunch of money. Again, the exact amount ain’t none of your business. Plus, to be honest, I don’t know the exact figure. But I’ve lost enough that it sucks. Losing five bucks sucks, and I’ve lost considerably more than five bucks.

Beyond that, I’ve also recently made the decision to quit my stable, decent paying job, and not because I have another job lined up. I intentionally do not have another job lined up, in fact. So not only have I lost money in the stock market, but I’ve also lost my source of income.

What does a person do when these things happen?

A person keeps her money in the stock market, because as long as humans continue to innovate it’ll probably return to pre-poop dive levels one day, and if she sells now then she’s really losing that money forever.

A person stops spending all her money on stupid shit like diet Snapple and fancy trail mix and crazy backcountry tents that she thinks she’ll use one day but of course never, ever will.

A person … I don’t know.  What else does a person do? You tell me. Please. It appears I am stupid and have made a series of very poor decisions.

On attractiveness and fanciness

Looking good is fun. Like, dressing up, wearing jewels and makeup and, I don’t know, barrettes? It’s fun. Makes you feel good. Makes you feel attractive and fancy, and that’s what life is about, ain’t it?

No, WRONG-O, life is not about those things. I’m not sure what life is about, but it’s not about looking good and being fancy. It’s probably about other things, like reproduction and survival.

Oh, looking good is what gets you a mate? And fanciness, as a display of wealth, is proportional to your ability to survive in the industrialized world? P’shaw. I heartily reject that baloney.

Imagine you meet someone. For sake of this argument, this someone is a man and a babe. He’s wearing a well-tailored suit and has an expensive hairstyle. He smells good. Nice, straight teeth. Muscled shoulders. You think, “One day, I’mma marry that man.”

One day, you do. And boy, he looks fly in those wedding pictures.

Chances are, you just got TOOKED. Any asshole can trick you into marrying them. That handsome man, he might suck. So many people suck, and the people who care the most about looking good are probably the ones who suck the hardest. This handsome man won’t want to chill with you, he’ll be busy getting his suits tailored and beauty snoozing while wearing his retainer. And when he’s not doing those things, he’s probably strutting around town, primping and preening and seeking admiration from others.

That’s not say all handsome men are scoundrels, nor all beautiful women. But definitely some are. Don’t let their looks sway you, and don’t let your looks sway others. You should aim to be as unattractive as possible. Got a chiseled jaw? Cover that up with scraggle beard. Got a neat butt? Wear puffy poodle skirts so no one can see. Then, when you meet someone and decide they’re worthy of your love, you can shave your beard and show off your donk. It’ll be a wonderful surprise for all parties involved.

As for fanciness being a symbol of your ability to survive, that’s bull, too. If you’re wearing diamonds and going on extravagant vacations to show the world how rich you are, you’re actually threatening your survival. Bad people gonna wanna kill you for all those riches, and the Earth gonna wanna kill you for your big ass carbon footprint. Motherfunk that frivolous display of wealth. Instead, show us aggressive saving habits and a frugal lifestyle. That’s how we’ll really know you got money in the bank to pay for our homes and medical bills.

A note: I wrote this because I looked stupid today and am soon to be unemployed. There’s a decent chance life is about looking good and being fancy. IDK.

(I used italics to emphasize “is” back there. Cool, wasn’t it? We got to bring italics back.)