Having Somebodys


I have somebody who might be interested in renting your apartment.

As far as I’m concerned those are pretty much famous last words by this point, but any time somebody says that I have no choice but to ask who.

Typically it’s the friend of a friend who just moved into town, or somebody who is in some unique situation. I know everybody means well but it’s the way the news is delivered that makes it so misleading

I HAVE somebody who etc.

They have, only them. It’s like every one of my friends suddenly became a broker. They are always so confident that they have fixed solution. They’ve done it; they figured it out, case closed.

I HAVE somebody who is interested in renting your apartment; she’s got an internship in the city for 3 months.

That’s awesome for her, congratulations and all, but unless she’s going to have 4 consecutive internships that pay her the salary of a real employee I don’t think you really have somebody for me.

Once in a while I’ll get the semi-brazen friend who declares:

I think I rented your apartment for you.

Everybody is so excited to jump right to the end. Just because you have somebody who really wants an apartment and says a bunch of things, doesn’t mean they will pass a background check, and a credit check, and will actually come through.

You can’t take everybody at his or her word. After all, this is the city where the phrase “voted best pizza” exists on half the pizza places in the city.

Oh yea? Voted by whom? Your mom?

So you could understand how I might be slightly less than eager to jump when somebody says they have somebody to rent my apartment. But nonetheless, I must continue to jump.

Like last week.

A colleague of mine told me they had somebody.

“My wife knows him but he’s Italian and doesn’t speak great English and wants to communicate via text.”

I thought about making some hilarious stereotype joke about it being impossible to talk with your hands via text message but deferred and texted him anyway.

What follows is not an exaggeration. All punctuation actually happened. The name has been changed to protect the ridiculous.

Hi Luigi this is Rich I hear you were interested in my apt. You can email me at ______.

One minute later he responded.

We can txt????

I figured what he meant to say can we text, but the typical Italian language format made him confuse his statements with his questions. That really didn’t bother me. Though haven’t somebody who’s English was that poor could potentially make for some really awkward landlord conversations.

What if a pipe burst or there was an emergency, was I going to have to text him to figure out what the hell was going on. But I was getting ahead of myself.

I was more concerned about the amount of question marks he used. Was he really that inquisitive? Maybe. I just conceded realizing this conversation would probably be easier (barely) over text message. I wrote back.

Sure.

Two minutes later Luigi responded.

Okok yes I m interest of your apt!!!! When can I see u to talk about it!!!! Please let me know

At this point I realize this guy not only overuses punctuation but he has no idea how to use punctuation. He’s mistaking exclamation points (which he uses far too many of) for questions marks, and disregarding periods all together. I mean 8 exclamation points in two sentences.

I once had a writing teacher who told me for the entire semester we got 3 exclamation points.

I think by this point my teacher would have thrown his phone out the window.

I also realize that I am not going to just invite this import over to look at my apartment unless he meets the bare minimum criteria I have for renters. So I decide to check something quickly with him.

Can you answer a couple questions for me? Do you know what your credit rating is?

As soon as I send the text I realize there is no way this guy knows what a credit rating is, and even if he does, he probably doesn’t have one.

Two minutes later my suspicions are confirmed.

Im sorry about I just come here!!!! I have

New text message

I have few months here but I really iterest in ur apt!!! Im a good guy !!! U gonna have the rent on time trust me

How the hell is this guy really iterest in my apartment? All he knows is that I have an apartment and by that logic he would be iterest in every person in New York’s apartment. As far as I’m concerned I’m not that special to this guy.

I feel cheap.

U gonna have the rent on time? TRUST ME? This guy could not be more of a stereotype if he tried. I know he only has few months here but is this guy negotiating everything like this?

Is he buying mozzarella at the market with a post dated check and saying:

You gonna cash this check on Tuesday and it gonna work. Trust me.

 I call on the depths of my Italian heritage and my College minor in the language itself but still cannot remember the word for “balls.”

I call Luigi on his bluff.

What is your salary?

Two minutes later…

2000 dollars a month!!!! But we r 3 persons so I don’t think that we gonna have anyproblem

One minute later…

What do u think about it????

What do I think about it? I think you have some serious issues conceptualizing the New York City housing market to start. I also think your punctuation use is driving me batshit. And last but not least I think you are out of your damn mind if you think that you can survive in this city on 24,000 dollars a year.

Just to confirm, you want a one bedroom apartment for three people?

Two minutes later…

Actually we are two guys only!!! But my friend just came to visit me!!!!

Now I’m positive I don’t want this human anywhere near my apartment. So I just text him back to get rid of him.

 I need a tenant who makes at least 60,000 a year

Fourteen minutes later he responds.

Thanks so much im not the right persone!! I just came!!! I don’t make that money yet!!!!!

(Side note: He used 5 exclamation points for this statement, the most of any of his sentences which I thought appropriate considering I felt it really was the most important of all his texts.)

I hope u find some one !!! If u don’t find  no body let me know!!

!! Thanks have a great day

I did have a great day. And I really hope I don’t find no body soon.

The Housing Crisis - Part 2


I am waiting at my apartment for this brain genius rocket propulsion human species wizard home inspector to show up at my apartment to tell me what apartment is worth.

I am waiting, and he is ten minutes late.

I call him but he doesn’t answer, so I leave a voicemail. He calls me back.

Oh geez I gotta tell you I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve been here for 25 minutes, there is just nowhere to park, I mean I can keep trying but I just don’t know we might have to reschedule this.

First of all, we are not rescheduling. I don’t care if I have to drag his car up to the roof with a rope made of spit and licorice rope I will make sure this idiot gets into my apartment.

Second of all, we are not rescheduling.

I will keep trying. That’s what he said. Trying. Trying is not a word one uses to describe finding a parking spot. Looking is more like it. Basically he was just driving around the block with his eyes open, which is how almost all people drive.

Ten minutes later he arrives at my door having apparently managed to find a spot.

I open the door and see before me a kindly old gentleman which makes all of the hate and anger I have saved up for him hard to apply.

He walks into my apartment and starts asking me questions which I am trying to answer as best as I can because this guy apparently holds the key to whether or not my apartment is worth what its supposed to be worth which shouldn’t even be a question because I own it.

Bah.

Would you call this a living room slash dining room?

Dude, I would call this a living room slash dining room slash Turkish bath house slash discotecca if I thought it would help me refinance my mortgage faster. So yes, call it whatever you’d slash like.

How many square feet would you say this is?

Um, 27,000. He fathoms a guess but I raise his estimate.

Yea, I can’t check because I don’t have my measuring stick.

Measuring stick? You were going to get the square footage of my apartment with a 3 foot piece of reject wood? It’s no wonder this guy only works 10 hours a week, if I only had a stick to measure with I wouldn’t want to work more than 10 hours a week either.

I maintain a pleasant demeanor though because again, I don’t want him to leave and tell the bank that my apartment is worth 14 dollars. After five minutes he is gone. As he leaves he tells me he will send the documents to the appropriate people, which, I don’t even know who that is anymore since I am dealing with so many different idiots.

Like the guy at the bank who was processing my refinance who calls me and says:

Hey Rich we need you to send in those forms.
What do you mean? I sent them in last week.
You did? You sent them here?
Yes, I sent them where you told me to send them.
Oh Ok, my partner didn’t tell me. No problem.

Well, not no problem entirely but why don’t you go ahead and take your partner out for a coffee or something and get your shit together because if you come back and tell me the refinancing of my motorcycle went through I’m going to walk into the bank and just start doing karate.

And I don’t even know karate.

But amazingly the process continues on to the next step where I have to get the board of my condo to approve my refinance. Because that makes sense. The building in which I own an apartment needs to approve of me spending less money every month. I don’t even know how to get in touch with my board so I call my broker; another space genius prodigy mind-winning superhero.

I ask him how to get in touch with the board. He tells me to email the management company. I email them. What follows is the EXACT email conversation that took place.
           
I really wish this were an exaggeration.

Dear Bob and Joe,

Gentlemen, I am currently refinancing my mortgage and need to send over the paperwork to be approved by the board. Can you let me know where I need to send it? I have it ready.
Thank you.
Best 
Richard

One minute later

??? What property is this for?

The so and so apartment building in Queens

Send it in

Please tell me where to send it.

Here

Bob I don't have the address please send me the address where you would like me to send this.

Joe please deal with this request thanks.

Can either of you please tell me the address of your company so I can send this in? I'm not sure what the issue is here.

They don’t respond. So later that day.

Bob and Joe,
Please give me the address of where to send in my paperwork for my apartment so the board can sign off on it. I am concerned at this point at the lack of professionalism in responding to this email. Can you explain to me what the issue is?

By the time the conversation ends I am in such disbelief I am looking around my office like I am on candid camera. I feel like annoying 14-year-old girls from the valley runs my apartment complex.

I want to quit my apartment and the process. I want to buy an RV with cash and park it on a deserted beach outside of Tijuana. I cannot believe that other people have managed to successfully refinance their apartment without ending up in a homicide trial.

I become convinced everybody I have encountered in the process is a complete and total moron. I want to pick them in a room filled with one way mirrors and watch them interact like baboons, which aside from the ones I've met, I am not sure they aren’t.

When I began the process I stupidly hoped I could get it done in a couple of weeks. I was mind blown when they told me it would be many many weeks.

The process is still not done though I am pretty sure the end is near. Either the end of this process or just the apocalypse is looming. Either way I am never refinancing again.

The Housing Crisis - Part 1


Renting out one's apartment is an awful, tiresome, and frustrating task.

Refinancing one's mortgage is a process so convoluted, confusing, and frustrating that it should be reserved as a punishment for war criminals.

In April of 2012 I decided to try and rent out my apartment and refinance my apartment at the same time.

This was a poor decision.

I started by trying to sell my apartment. Or I thought I was going to sell my apartment. I had a broker come in and take a look at it, he said I could get my money back for what I paid for it. He said he'd call me to start the process.

I never heard from him again.

I invited another broker to look at my apartment, he was not as optimistic about me getting my money back... Because he wasn’t lying to me.

When I asked him how much he thought I could get for it he made what some people would call "a poop face" and started telling me about the real estate market.

It was at that point that I realized I would not be getting my money back.

Real estate broker suggested I rent out my apartment. After some thought and private counsel with my trusted board of advisers, or as I call them: mom, I decided to go ahead and try to rent my place.

My broker was excited. "great" he said. "when can you be out and have it painted?"

Ummm after you rent it for me?

Apparently my profound confidence, snappy dress, and impeccable grammar led apartment broker to think I was some sort of Vanderbilt who could afford to keep several homes around the city in which to stay in when I become bored with any of the others.

I told him he would have to rent my apartment with my stuff in it.

Well, its gonna be a lot harder to rent if its not empty.

Well, that's why I am not doing it. That's why I have you apartment broker. I didn't say you had to rent my apartment to a gnome, a red head, or Australian royalty, I just said rent it. I don't care how hard it is, just make it happen. When I go to a restaurant and I order a dish the chef doesn't come out and tell me how hard it is to make.

So apartment broker begins the process. He complains that it’s tough showing the apartment only at night and he could show it more if he had the keys. And there is nothing I love more than giving strangers keys to my apartment.

Regardless, I give him my keys.

Apartment broker complains that what I am asking in rent will be too high and we should lower the price. I tell him I NEED to get that rental price to cover my mortgage which I acquired in the spring of 2008 when the mortgage rate was just under 437 percent.

I realize I need to save some money somehow.

So now I go to see a new broker. Mortgage broker. He explains to me I can save a considerable amount every month by refinancing my mortgage. All I need to do is fax in several documents and forms to begin the process. I am excited. I begin the process.

Meanwhile every time I talk to apartment broker he tells me how my kitchen is too small and before they rented out a similar apartment they had to show it 35 times.

First of all, I start to loathe him.

Second of all I want to scream at him that I don’t care if he has to show it 100 times. You have the keys. That's why I gave you the keys, so I wouldn't have to care. Again, the chef doesn't come out of the kitchen and go

Oh geez guys sorry but I am having a hell of a time chopping this onion

No! He chops the fucking onion and makes me my dinner. You on the other hand insist on telling me all the minute intricacies of apartment renting that I have never once cared about until now. And looking at it now, I still don’t care about them.

Every time I get on the phone with him he wants to tell me everything about every prospective person. I ask him how its going and it’s like he hears me say “Hey, ramble for five minutes.” Every conversation sounds like this:

Ya know its tough we got a lot of traffic in the office and then we post ya know but we gotta make sure we get the right people because and then ya know I gotta deal with the board and you don't even wanna know what I gotta deal with.

You’re right. So please shut up and just rent my apartment.

Meanwhile after faxing in my forms, my mortgage broker explains to me that I have to have somebody assess my apartment to tell me what it's worth.

Good. I was hoping I could invite a stranger into my home to place a value on the thing that I own but no longer want to so must rent except at a lower cost than what I am currently paying now so that I could potentially lose money to not live in the place where I live.

Getting in touch with the, I don’t even know what to call him, apartment assessor, is like trying to track down a missing child but I finally succeed. This bozo calls me back and asks if he can come by my apartment at noon the following day. I tell him no because I have a job, like other adults. I ask him what times he works. He says

Monday to Friday 10 to 12.

Oh. Good. I was thinking this might be a challenging experience but if you work ten whole hours a week this should be a piece of cake.

Naturally, I should have anticipated what would happen when he showed up at my apartment.

To be continued…

A New York Story


It was a Saturday. My friends started showing up a little before 6:30 pm. They were gathering at my apartment to do a reading for the web series I’ve been working on. After almost a year of delays we were getting the cast back together, along with some new additions, and I was very excited.

It’s the kind of gathering that drives my soul. Take one part creativity, five parts friends, three parts wine, and you have a tremendous evening on your hands.

As I opened the door to let my friends into my apartment I noticed there seemed to be a scent of bad cooking in the air. I am very fortunate to live above somebody who frequently cooks delicious smelling meals. However, every once in a while they have a miss and what they prepare smells less than extraordinary. I though it unfortunate that it should coincide with my reading but once in the apartment we couldn’t smell it anymore.

The reading goes tremendously. There is laughter and stories and more laughter. A couple of people take off early but we sit around drinking and talking.

At around 10:30 my buzzer rings. Through the peephole I can see police officers. I am confused because we aren’t being that loud at all. I open the door and the officer asks me if I know the person in the apartment across the hall. They point to the apartment of the guy who I’ve seen maybe twice. The guy who plays his TV way too loud.

No I say, I don’t.

He says my neighbor called them because there was an awful smell coming from his apartment. He tells me that heard us talking in my apartment and wanted to see if we knew anything. I tell him no and he wishes me a good evening.

The evening continues. We joke about the smell. We make extremely lewd jokes about it. The jokes continue as everybody files out and heads home.

The next morning, slightly hungover, but extremely satiated from wonderful time with my friends I am awoken to the sound of drilling.

I make my way to my door and look through the peephole to see my two Supers drilling into the apartment across the hall.

It is at this point that I realize the smell is much stronger than the previous night and has infiltrated my entire apartment. It’s not just bad it’s excessive. Somewhat like rotting fish but far more significant, as though this smell has the ability to reach more corners of my nose.

On my way out to get a bagel I ask my Supers what’s going on but they don’t respond, caught up in their seemingly amateur approach to opening this door. Why don’t they just call a locksmith? Wouldn’t that be simpler?

As I walk out of the building I pass my neighbor who called the police. I ask him what’s going on.

The smell is awful, it’s gotten into our kitchen, and it stinks.
Well, I’m glad you called the police then.

And then I am off to get my bagel.

I return about 90 minutes later. And since I have recommitted myself to living a healthier lifestyle, I climb the six flights of stairs to my apartment. By the time I get to my floor the smell is just as bad if not worse, and my supers are still there however they have stopped working.

Their tools are on the ground.

The lock has been pushed through the door leaving a hole no more than three inches in its place. And Raul, in his mangled English, calls to me.

Richie, look. Look here.

He points to the hole in the door. He gestures the way you might tell a child to look into a bird’s nest to see the new eggs. I lean over slightly to look through it. He urges me on again.

Look, look!

Hesitant I inch closer, feeling slightly like this is some sort of antique peep show where you pay a quarter to look at a strange picture inside of a box.

Bending over to peer through a tiny hole, which leads to the location of an unbearable scent makes me physically, visibly nervous. I hesitate again before getting closer, not sure what to anticipate.

But I do get closer. I bring my eyes to the level of the hole in the door. And I see it.

A body.

Lying on it’s back, visible from knees to chest, belly protruding from the shirt.

Dead.

He dead Richy.

And then it hits me; the worst fear of some of my friends, something that we laugh at it when we see it in movies has come true.

Suppose nothing happens to you? Suppose you live there your whole life and nothing happens? You never meet anybody, you never become anything and finally you die one of those New York deaths where nobody notices for two weeks until the smell drifts into the hallway.
-Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally

I’m suddenly part of an urban legend, the plot line of an episode of Law and Order. Overheard in the city. All of that. Except real. Realer than I could ever imagine.

I move quickly back into my apartment. Trembling. Shaking. I call one friend, I text another. I chat with others online. Somebody contextualize what this means. Somebody explain this.

The smell is no longer just bad it has taken on a whole new level. It haunts me. It makes me over think things. I am spooked. I am disgusted. I am terrified.

I light candles. One, two, five. I spread them around the room. They don’t mask the smell with it. They mix with it. Infuse it. I try to sit next to the window. I make phone calls. I try to distract myself.

There is nothing on the planet powerful enough to distract me from the smell of a dead body. Words flash through my head.

Rotting.

Corpse.

How long was he there? How long had he been dead? Was it drugs? Alcohol? Certainly not foul play since the door was still locked. It takes the coroner 7 hours to finally remove the body from the apartment.

In that time no less than 3 different detectives and police officers ring my bell. Two different ones ask me questions; one asks to use my toilet.

They ask me if I knew anything about my neighbor. I tell them all the same thing, only that I never saw him but he played his TV loud all the time.

And that’s when it strikes me. Of all my neighbors he was the only one I thought about every morning when I left for work and every night when I got home.

What is he watching? Why is it so loud? Why is he watching TV so early? Every day, never a change.

His body leaves and eventually so does the scent, replaced with a broken door with a duck taped over hole, and a green sticker that seals the door and reminds me that where I live, yet again, will never be the same.


The Year of Incredible Focus

There is a box of mismatched Legos sitting on the second shelf of the entertainment center in my apartment, they are the ashes of my childhood, pieces of my life leftover, significant but otherwise unused.

When I first moved into my apartment, while I waited for my furniture to be delivered I came across them. As I wiled away the hours and hours waiting for the furniture delivery guy to never show up I played with those Legos, making vehicles and forts, building the same way I did when I was a child.

When it came time to put them somewhere I couldn't bring myself to throw them out so I just put them in a sealed box on my shelf. Once in a while I peek in there to take a look at them, check up on them I guess. But otherwise there they sit, undisturbed.

One of the first blogs I wrote, the fourth one to be exact, was about how I had inherited all of my parents dishes, bowls, cutlery and glassware. As a single man living by myself it was far too much for one person. Nearly 4 years later it is still too much for one person. I have more glasses than I have friends. That might concern me if I didn't have enough glasses to break one every single day for the next 2 months and still have enough for a house party.



When I first moved in to my apartment the goal was stuff. Get stuff. Acquire stuff. Display stuff. And that I succeeded at. My apartment quickly went from barren to overstuffed. It's embarrassing to note that it was two months after my apartment was robbed before I realized my sunglasses had been one of the things stolen.

And speaking of, it is just over a year since my apartment was robbed. Looking back now it is very easy for me to say how lucky I was. I was not home, I was not harmed, I lost many material possessions but nothing that I couldn't ultimately get over. Between the insurance payments and an incredibly superfluous outpouring of generosity from my coworkers, I was able to continue leading my life, continue with my trip to Fiji and move on.

The toll the robbery took on my psyche was much greater. I bought a security gate for my window. I used to laugh when somebody would come into my apartment and immediately lock the door behind them. Now I do that every time. The unique creaks and noises of my apartment that used to endear the building to me now reminded me of the robbery. Every time the trees outside brushed against the fire escape, or the people in the apartments next to mine made the floor creak, my heart momentarily stops. I realize I will never feel as safe as I did before my apartment was robbed.

After the robbery I felt angry at myself for being so connected to my material possessions. Did I really need so many watches? Did I really just say I "loved" that watch? How did I let myself get so... materialistic?

I know it wasn't intentional. When I left college with no real idea of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, I concentrated on the only truly tangible goal I had, having my own apartment.

So the two years I spent working two jobs to get my place were spent daydreaming of the kinds of things I would fill it with; the art, the books, the dishes. The sheer amount of time I spent thinking about dishware at 23 should have let me know it was time to find some new goals... or at least a hobby.

It was an easy, specific, tangible goal. Get enough stuff to fill my apartment and then I would feel whole.

Having had a year to think about the events of that night, the things I lost, and how it all affected me I realize that the sheer idea of having my personal space violated by a stranger has done far worse things to me than losing any of that stuff. And while I'm sure the robbery's effects on me will never entirely go away (though I can hope) I do have control over something else: my attachment to my stuff.

I am not about to make a claim that I am going to give up all of my stuff and live a monastic life. I love having nice things. But I can limit their importance in my life.

On the verge of a brand new year, and a year in which I will be closer to 30 than ever before, and following a year that rocked me in so many ways I could never have expected, I am suddenly aware of how scattered my lifestyle has been.

I have spent my days chasing new projects, new distractions, new experiences, things that are better, more unique or exciting, all without any real thought with how they were contributing to my overall story. As a writer I am also aware of how exhausting it can be trying to tell 9 different stories at the same time. And I have been focused too heavily on cramming my life full of stories, events, and experiences, that I have paid little attention to the story I was actually trying to tell.

I do know that I don't want my story to be the one of the guy who acquired too many things and had a bunch of experiences but never really ended up where he wanted to be. Now I know it's impossible to know exactly where you will end up when you begin, writing has taught me that too. And I'm not trying to do that either.

I simply seek to reduce my life down to more elemental things. Fewer, quality pieces. More significant relevant interactions with friends. And more focus when it comes to the things I want to do. While it was fun to write a huge play that I never produced, then write 6 episodes of a web series that got put on hold, and then write and shoot a short film that ended up in limbo, and then write and direct a play which actually went up, I always felt like I was at the whim of my life experiences and my own boredom. And the combination of the two was exhausting.

So in the next year I seek to do the following:
  • To clean out my apartment of those things that are not extremely necessary to who I am and the life I want to lead.
  • To limit the amount of things I do merely to distract myself, even if that means subjecting myself to sitting still and thinking about my life... my least favorite thing.
  • To focus my attention on the projects that I am in love with. To stop trying to do everything, all the time, in the fear that not doing means I am wasting away.
And those Legos on my shelf? Well, I will package them up nicely and donate them. Maybe the ashes of my childhood will become the seeds of somebody else's.

Play Time

I was 25. I had been living on my own for about a year. And my social life was anything but bustling. “Going out” typically meant drinking beers and eating fancy pizza with my friend Andrea whom I had done theater with in high school.

Andrea mentioned to me that our high school theater teacher who was a huge mentor for me, was putting on a play in Manhattan and she was going to get tickets. She asked if I wanted to go. I readily agreed.

As we took the elevator the 4th floor of a sliver of a building just off Broadway, and walked down a narrow hallway past a meeting of some very large, bearded, individuals meeting for a support group, I wondered if this was indeed the best use of our time.

The play went well and afterwards my mentor told me had a small part in a play for me.

Seeing as I was not an actor and hadn’t been in a play since I was 17 and was now an “adult” with a full time job and my own apartment, I was a bit surprised and not really sure I should be in a play. But on second thought I really had nothing else going on in my life, so why the hell not?

As it turns out there was a part for Andrea as well

It wasn’t really difficult acting that I was required to do. I had a handful of lines and basically my role was to run around the stage and portray the life of an 8 year old who was up to mischief in the woods.

A tony deserving performance it was not.

The show only went up for two nights and it was sparsely attended. And it made me realize a couple of things.

The first was that I find acting to be extremely boring! The performing part of it is fun and something I enjoy, but the sitting still in rehearsals, not talking, having to stay in one place while things get set up around you, oh man was that boring. It was about the worst thing in the world for my ADD.

But after the show was over I realized something else. I too could write a short play that not many people come to see!

So that’s what I did. While waiting for my turn to speak at a job function I was attending, I wrote 3 pages of dialogue in red pen on the back of my notes. Those pages became the foundation of dialogue of my first play; Disengaged.

I convinced Andrea this was something we should do and she agreed, or maybe I just hung up on her before she could disagree.

Either way she was in.

I wrote a companion piece, we booked a theater, and put on our first show. It was one of the most incredible experiences watching the words I wrote come out of other people’s mouths and see an audience react to them.

I was immediately hooked.

I took a couple of weeks off after the show but I started writing again, and nine months later we mounted our second show Safety and Desire.

It was different than anything I had ever done before in that it was more grounded in real life conversations and there was poetry in it, my own.

We actually oversold the show and by all accounts it was a great success. But afterwards I felt like something was missing.

And the more I thought about it, I realized it was because it went so quickly. I had spent months working on the script. And then more months planning, looking for theaters, casting, marketing and countless hours with Andrea discussing every minute aspect of the show.

And then for six weeks we rehearsed. Nearly every single day we spent several hours with the actors running lines, blocking scenes, and getting ready to put this thing on. I was still bartending at the time too.

So I would work from 9 to 5, then go to rehearsal from 6 to 10, and then rehearse all weekend and then bartend on Sundays from 4 to 10.

And for as crazy bone tired as that made me, I never didn’t want to do it. I was in love with it the whole time. Sure I had no time to do anything else and kept running out of clean underwear and cutlery, but it was worth it.

So when both performances of the show were over it felt kind of like… that’s it? I wanted more. I didn’t feel purged of the show. I felt like I wanted it to go on longer, to share it with more people, and prolong its life.

And I think a part of me was also hoping for the show to save me. I don’t know how that would have happened or what it would have meant.  But I think I just was expecting some kind of reaction or response or something more significant.

So I made a promise to myself, the next time I did a show it would be for longer.

Well guess what… that time is here!

My next play is coming December 7th – 10th in Manhattan! So if you are going to be even close to the area I’d love to see you there. It’s called Ripped at the Seems and you can buy tickets at www.ripped.eventbrite.com.



It’s a show about a lot of things, but more than anything it’s about the things we think but never say. It’s about the conversations that Andrea and I have after rehearsals or when we’ve had too much wine (which isn’t an infrequent occurrence).

I am so excited to put this show on for twice as many nights as any show I’ve done but I’m also excited because I’ve made another promise to myself.

And that promise is that this show won’t save me. Whatever hopes and dreams I have for after the show, I’ve let go of.

Well, almost let go of. I’m close. Really close.

But the goal is just to enjoy the process, because it’s all process. We all spend too much time on this for it to be just about what happens during 4 days in December. I have made a commitment to just love every minute of this.

And hopefully it shows.

Until then, enjoy the trailer!

Sounds Like Home

The house I grew up in made a variety of sounds. They were the natural creaks, and groans, expansions and contractions, flexes and bends that a house makes. I got pretty good at knowing which step would make a squeak, or how far I could open a door before it would make a noise.

Living in a house with three other people you also get used to the noises they make. Which sneeze belongs to whom, who lumbers up the stairs versus who runs, and tons of other inconsequential other sounds that you never really pay attention to.

All of that stuff pretty much left the forefront of my mind as soon as I moved into my own place. My new apartment was a host of new sounds. I had a really squeaky floor before I got any furniture. My heating hissed at me like a disapproving audience. And every door had its own signature alert when opened or closed.

But shortly after moving in I was lying in bed not yet asleep when somebody in the apartment next to me or below me coughed loud enough that I could hear it.

My first thought was:

Oh Dad must still be awake.

But then I realized that wasn’t my dad coughing, it was just… a stranger. It threw me for a second. It was a surreal moment. I didn't know any of the people who would be making sounds around me.

I quickly learned the people to the right of me really like explosiony action movies. The woman to the left of me really liked vacuuming… a lot. She also liked Barry White. And sometimes she liked vacuuming TO Barry White.

Not too long ago I came home and noticed my neighbor had the “Ab Rocket” delivered to her.

For those of you who may not know, the Ab Rocket is NOT a piece of combustible military weaponry. The Ab Rocket actually combines what you love about rocking chairs with what you hate about crunches to create the ultimate ab toning experience.

I didn’t think too much of it, merely happiness that my neighbor was making a commitment to fitness. I myself had just purchased the Iron Gym, which is a combination pushup/pull-up bar that you can secure into your door frame without any hardware. You can then do as many pull-ups as you’d like until the 24-dollar thing falls apart and you fall and break your ass.

But that hasn’t happened yet (I also haven’t used it in 6 months) so I won’t worry about it.

One day I was in the bathroom… well, ya know, being there, when I heard a very rapid squeaking sound.


SqueakSqueakSqueakSqueak

It didn’t stop, it just repeated itself over and over again. I strained my ears to see if I could tell what it was. Was my building moving? Was somebody doing construction? Was somebody slowly cutting a hole into my apartment through the bathroom wall? I chalked it up to one or all.

But then I heard it the next day, and the next. Every day at the same time. Always first thing in the morning. And it sounded like it was coming from just the other side of my bathroom wall.

And then it hit me; it must be the Ab Rocket. My neighbor was Ab Rocketing first thing in the morning every morning. I was relieved at my revelation. At least nobody was burrowing into my apartment.

Discovering new activities from my neighbors around me was part of the experience. The new sounds kind of plateaued after a while as I settled in as a permanent resident of my building.

Until one specific night.

I was lying in bed reading when I heard it from the apartment below me:

YeOOOOOOOO

It sounded like a howl, or somebody celebrating. It happened several times and the look on my face was that of “What the…”

I sat up straight in my bed with my brow furrowed as I tried to figure out the sound. But I could do no such thing.

A couple of weeks later I heard it again. It was definitely a man. Was he celebrating a sports team? Couldn’t be, it was too late in the evening. It happened, several times. It still sounded like a shout of joy like maybe he was celebrating… something else…

The beginning of it almost sounded like a slap… like somebody was slapping him and he was screaming. Was he being hazed? Did I live above a private fraternity? Was I just making shit up now?

Quite possibly.

Every so often I would hear it again. The shouts coming in twos, fives, and more. Over and over again I would hear this sound for a short while. Every time I would stop what I was doing and try to use my crap powers of deduction to understand what was going on.

A couple of weeks ago I heard it again. This time there were more shouts than ever. There had to be at least 15 of them. If I wasn’t so terrified of life I might have gone downstairs to knock on his door and ask him if he was OK. But I didn’t because

A.    I rarely speak to people in my building
B.    I was not really sure I wanted an answer.

But I heard it again last week. And I was sick of it! What the hell was going on? Was it spanking? Because really that’s what I thought it was, and I couldn’t think of anything that made more sense. I lived above a guy who was getting spanked in rapid succession at random times throughout the year almost always before bedtime.

I jumped out of my bed and squatted closer to the floor. The sound was closer and seemed more familiar.

I then sprawled out completely flat and put my ear on the floor. I was shocked at how clear the sound became. It was almost like I was in the apartment with the stranger below me.

And that’s how I figured out:

He was sneezing.

Frigging SNEEZING! All this time and all my conspiracy theories and all it turns out to be is a sneeze. I actually was relieved, if only for the fact that I no longer had to expend brainpower to figure this out. The knowledge was mine.

However, it was also at that point when lying flat on the floor with my ear pressed up against the wooden panels that I realized:


I need to dust under my bed.

The Most Signs of the Most Times

Let’s get right down to it shall we?

It continues to happen. I continue to stumble across signs, labels, and symbols meant to convey a message that do more to confuse than anything else.

I would suggest some sort of common sense police but I know that would get shot down before I could… you’ve already shot it down haven’t you?

Damn it.

Well regardless, I was up in Boston visiting my sister recently when I realized I had no money. Since I stopped bartending this happens frequently. My pocket is physically much emptier since I stopped giving alcohol to strangers.

So I decided to visit an ATM to get some cash, which is the reason I visit ATMs in the first place. And I saw this sign.



Ohhh OK. Cash only. So wait… you mean this ATM doesn’t make pancakes? Here I am, walking around Boston thinking that I can stop at an ATM and get some cash and pancakes, and I come across this frigging thing that does not make OR sell pancakes. How am I supposed to deal with this?

What has this city come to?

Does anybody use the ATM for anything else aside from taking out cash? I do know that that there are far too many options in the ATM screen. As soon as you put in your pin, it is suddenly asking you if you would like to:

Make a withdrawal
Make a deposit
Check your balance
Transfer funds
Call your mother in law
Share a milkshake

I mean ENOUGH already ATM machine. Just be yourself. Nobody expects anything else from you.

Something else I don’t expect a lot from is my conditioner. But apparently my conditioner expects a lot from me, like loyalty.



Official supplier to men? What men? I don't recall signing a contract. I know I don't represent all men or even some men but shouldn't I get a say? Have I been breaking some code up until now?

I don’t know if I’m going to get in trouble here but I have definitely used other conditioners, and those conditioners were not all specifically for men. Actually, some of them were made specifically for women. I’m not sure if they were the official supplier to women, but they definitely had a contract.

Does that make me a woman?

Don’t answer that.

There should be a law about putting statements on products that can’t possibly be proved true or false. Anything in the realm of:


Official Cola of Extra Terrestrials
#1 Choice of People Who Are Picky
Official Supplier to People Who Buy Stuff

And even if it WAS the official supplier to men, who made that decision? I want to make sure I get to vote for our representative. I would vote for somebody with a name like… Burly Von Steeleater.

And speaking of manly things, I own a paper shredder. It’s pretty much the closest thing to a power tool that I own.

I have been using for about a year before I actually looked at the instructions on the top. I noticed there were some symbols there to caution silly people. One symbol said don’t put paper clips in. One symbol says do not try to shred your own hand. But there was one I didn’t understand.

Do you know which one I am talking about?



Yep you guessed it. Second from the left, no shredding of gingerbread men.

Does this apply to all cookies or specifically to gingerbread men? Is there something specific about gingerbread men that makes them a bad idea to shred? What about ginger snaps? Or snicker doodles? I mean shredding an Oreo (in addition to being a sin) also just seems impractical.

But why cookies? Is this a call the company regularly gets?

Hi is this shredder support?
Yes it is, how can I help you?
Well, I had a box of chocolate chip cookies that I meant to put in the cupboard but I accidentally jammed them into the shredder. Can you help me with that?

And it’s only cookies. No vegetables, meats, or dairy symbols.

But at least the shredder company was putting forth the effort to prevent any issues in the future. They were expending effort, whereas one of the tenants in my building proved just how lazy and inefficient that person is.

Upon leaving my building last week I saw what appeared to be a note taped to my super’s office door. Apparently somebody in my building had something to say to him before he reported for duty.



Let’s just skip over the passive aggression, because that is obvious enough. Because obviously the super of my building is controlling the individual heat going to every single apartment in the building and directing rage at him is a good choice. We all know that.

I was more confused about the whole package of the note, specifically the order of sentences.

I actually think “I can’t breathe” would have made a better lead. Because heck, by the time you get to the end of the paragraph this person just sounds whiny. But if you as the writer kick it off with your inability to process oxygen, wow! I mean if I were a super I would be like,

Hrmm should I fix that leaky pipe in 2D or the woman in 5F who won’t make it to sunup. 5F it is!

It seems like it makes the process easier.

And I’m not sure you can see this, but that note was actually written on an envelope. A blank envelope.

Which makes me think this is a person who has envelopes but no paper and they would rather waste an envelope than an actual slice of paper. I mean if you are going to write a threat, or a complaint, at least write it on an actual paper. An envelope looks like it was a mailman complaining.

Not that a mailman’s complaints are any less important than a regular person’s. Unless of course that person is Burly Von Steeleater.

That guy always comes first.

How to Become Your Mother in 5 Easy Steps

I do many things that I am not aware of.  And many of these things aren’t normal things to do. They aren’t big things, in fact they are small things, almost inconsequential. And they are things that probably would otherwise go unnoticed were it not for the fact that people regularly point them out to me.

And when I try to consider why I do them, all I know is they have something to do with my mother.

I will be doing something that I do regularly when somebody will say, hey Rich, why are you doing that? And then I will freeze… because I don’t have an answer.

The answer is of course that my mom did this thing, and hence, now I do it. And god willing, one day my children will absorb the same thing through osmosis.

I now present you 5 ways in which I have become my mother. (And you can too if you’d like.)

5. Candles in my apartment.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my mother had a smelly teenage boy in the house, or maybe it was just her affinity for the combination of wax and flame, but our home always had many candles. And we often burned several of those candles in our house at the same time.

It was kind of well known amongst friends that our house smelled so good. In fact I had one friend who used to ring my doorbell just so that she could stick her face in the door and smell my house when I answered.

Naturally I now posses candles. I have a candle for my living room, 2 for my bedroom, 1 for my bathroom, and a whole bag of votives. If you didn’t know any better you might think I was well set for a séance or an exorcism.

But usually I only light them all when I have people over for a party, which is kind of like an exorcism… of sobriety.

4. Wiping down the shower walls.

I am fortunate enough that I have many friends who let me stay at their apartment either because I am visiting them or I am too lazy to go home. But in all of those apartments that I have stayed, and all of their showers that I have used, I have never in my life, seen a shower squeegee.


The shower squeegee was a staple in my bathroom growing up. When you are done showering, you wipe down the walls. Its just what  you do. I have had people staying at my apartment hear me wiping down the walls and wonder aloud:

What are you doing in there?
I’m wiping down the walls.
Why?
Um, well, because my mom told me to when I was 7 and, and I just haven’t stopped.

I believe the appropriate answer is to prevent shower mold but this apparently was not of a concern to any of my friends’ families growing up. Was shower mold something that only affected the Boehmcke household? Can’t be… right?

3. The toilet paper roll.

Now this is the most trivial of items. This is so trivial that I feel almost embarrassed to mention it. Apparently when you replace an empty roll of toilet paper (and you do replace empty rolls when its your turn don’t you? You better… you shlub you.) with a new one. It is imperative that you replace it in a manner that makes the toilet paper come over the top of the roll, and not under it.

Why, you ask? Well the easy answer is:

I have no god damn idea.

But that is the way it was done in my house, and that is what my mother told me was right. So naturally, when somebody visits my apartment and replaces the toilet paper upside down, I am compelled to replace it correctly.

It is not because I am anal about the way my apartment is, or I am OCD. I am neither of those things. But something about an upside down roll of toilet paper just screams transgression to me and I cannot find peace (which is an important thing for me to be able to find in the bathroom of my own home) until that toilet paper violation has been rectified.

2. Jellies in the Fridge

So generally my fridge is pretty empty. Not because I don’t eat – I do, and quite regularly – but because I have no idea how to keep food in that fridge. As I have chronicled here, I have had issues grocery shopping and choosing food items to possess.

Growing up my mother always had no less than 3 different kinds of jellies in the fridge, often including the crazy party cousin of jellies, the marmalade.

Surely one jelly would have been enough, and would be enough for most people. Well not for my family. And it was something I regularly made fun of my mother for.

Well jump to today and my fridge will often be empty except for several different varieties of jelly hanging out on the door.

It’s not even that I am so in love with jelly, I mean I liked it growing up. But the amount of time I spend in the jelly aisle of the grocery store rivals the time most people spend purchasing their first home.

I have opened my fridge and felt disappointment, ACTUAL disappointment that I have only one jelly. I don’t know why I do it, all I can say is it just feels right.

1. Cleaning and then dimming the lights

It constantly confused me growing up, that when my parents were getting ready to entertain and have people over, we would have to spend the whole day cleaning the house, only to have them close the doors to our rooms and then dim the lights to the rest of the house before the guests arrived.

Well hell, if we were going to close the doors and dim the lights, why the hell did I spend 4 hours cleaning my room in the first place? I mean we could have just left things as they were and lit a couple candles and nobody would have known the difference.

And yet, when I had people over recently, I spent a day and a half cleaning my apartment only to dim the lights, replace the toilet paper roll, and light candles before my guests arrived.

But I have a feeling I am too deep into these routines to cease them. So it looks like I am bound to keep buying jellies 3 at a time and wiping down my shower walls. And even if I find out that does not prevent shower mold at all… good luck trying to stop me.

...But They Can Take It From You


I open my eyes. I am still on the couch. The fire alarm has stopped. The sun is up. I look at my clock on the wall.

The time is 9:30 am on Friday morning.

I feel grateful I have slept, if only for a little while. My soul is numb but I feel OK, which is to say I don’t really feel anything at all. I sit up. I put my feet on the floor and it comes back quickly. I am in my apartment. My apartment that has been robbed.

What now?

I check my phone. Missed calls. Missed text messages.

What happened? Did they ever come? Are you OK?

I don’t know. Yes. I don’t know.

I walk around my apartment. I look at the mess I have barely touched. The idea of cleaning up a crime scene exhausts me. It seems impossible. Though it is just a messy apartment the task seems absolutely insurmountable. My heart sags in my chest.

I walk into my bedroom and stare at my window. An activity that will quickly become ritual over the next several days. My heart speeds up slightly as I turn the corner to see it. Every time.

I think about breakfast but I don't eat. My appetite for my life is nil.

I look at the footprints on the floor. Made in the dust from the cops’ fingerprinting efforts.

I stare at the fingerprint dust and digest how I never imagined seeing that in my apartment. I try to understand what it means to clean it up, try to understand if that is supposed to be a good thing.

But then I spend hours trying to get that dust out from under my fingernails. Because it’s everywhere. The windows, the floor, shelves. I don’t even see it. It just appears on my hands, my knuckles, and under my nails.

I clean up my apartment but not enough. I try to wipe up the footprints made of fingerprint dust in my bedroom. But that just makes it worse. Spreads it around into a bigger mess, a metaphor. I use paper towel after paper towel. There is still more than a trace of it. I still don't eat.

I call my insurance. I file a claim. The woman is apologetic and sincere. I appreciate her sincerity. She tells me somebody will get back to me in 24 hours. At some point I stop stepping over things and start picking them up.

I refold shirts, blankets. I put extra pillows back in my closet that don't fit. How did these go? I can't remember it seems so trivial and stupid but still it bothers me that I can't remember. I am awake for hours but I accomplish nothing. I lie down on my couch and take a nap. I sleep for hours.

I wake up somewhat more rested but still otherwise depleted. The insurance person calls me, a different woman. She is also sincere. Honest. She asks me if she can record the conversation. I agree.  I tell her what happened from the beginning. She tells me they can cover a fraction of the cash. The rest is gone. They can't cover the cost of all my watches and cufflinks, less than half of it.

I think I am beyond things. I think I have moved on. But then out of nowhere, it grabs me. And I cry. It happens fast. A flash flood from my heart. That lack of control scares me. But then again there was never any real control to begin with. I feel pathetic.

I know I have things I need to do but I fear leaving my apartment.

I fear coming back.

I talk to my super who speaks broken English. We watch 14 hours of security video in 30 minutes. We see nothing. He tells me in his broken English that I should put bars on my windows. I nod.

I leave him without feeling better about what happened.

I go to one of my banks to open a new account. An Asian banker who speaks broken English and ends every sentence with “my dear” sits with me and helps me through the process. She is sweet and polite to a fault. She asks me why I am opening a new account. I tell her. She tells me in broken English that it usually happens through the fire escape. I nod.

I leave her without feeling better about what happened.

I got to my other bank to do the same things. A polish banker who speaks broken English and is incredibly helpful sits with me and helps me through the process. She asks me questions about the robbery. She asks me if I have an alarm. I tell her no. She tells me that is why it happened, and I should have an alarm. I nod.

I leave her without feeling better about what happened.

I see people on the street wearing hooded sweatshirts and wonder if it was them. I realize safety is an illusion. I wonder if I should have kept my shades down more often. I doubt every single thing I've ever done in my apartment.

The phrase “scene of the crime” burns in my brain like a campfire that refuses to die.

I start to understand how other victims have trouble moving on with their lives. How they have trouble trusting. I feel withdrawn. Antisocial. I have no desire to see anybody.

From time to time I remember something new I lost. The watch my parents bought me for graduation. The tiffany cufflinks my sister got me. The Indian head penny I had since I was a child. Silly cheap jewelry I exchanged with girls I thought I loved when I was young and naive.

Jewelry I had never planned to get rid of.

I feel detached. I feel so uninterested in being around people I know. I don't feel like talking. I feel like sitting. Like not moving. Like forgetting.

It is nearly 6 pm. For the first time today. I get something to eat. I look around at the buildings as I walk. All of the buildings. So many. An impossible amount. Why me? Was mine just the easiest? Who knows that? Who knew that? I am so distraught one moment but sheepish at others.

Really it was just watches and cufflinks and a camera and cash. My first inkling isn't to replace those items. Whatever the insurance pays, when that check comes I won’t replace them.

I don't want to replace them. Part of me wants to forget them, or at least move on. I have a hard time rationalizing new stuff. New watches. New things that could be taken from me. Ephemeral. All of it.

Even if the rest of my life goes on undisturbed. Even if nothing ever happens to me and I am never stolen from again I imagine myself still feeling angry that I had to lose all of this to figure that out. That this had to happen. I will always be minus one. In the grand scheme of things it wasn't much, but the closest things I had to family heirlooms. My Father's cufflinks. The pocket watch I bought myself after I directed my first play. They aren’t items, they are events.

Friday night I don’t sleep in my apartment.

It frustrates me that there is no consolation. All I have is it could have been worse. And I know that. I know they could have taken my computer or my files or the art. But it doesn't change the fact that took MY shit. It wasn't theirs to take. They pulled my clothes out of the closet. My closet. In my apartment.

The one place that I rave about.

Oh I love living alone. Oh it’s such a safe neighborhood. Oh it’s so quiet in my corner of the building.

Yea I’m sure they realized that.

I am angry that I am not able to take my home for granted. It pisses me off to no end. I want to curl up in a ball in my bed. I want to feel safe. But I don't. I can't.

Saturday night I sleep on my couch again.

I want to move on and become a minimalist and forget those silly watches and believe that cash meant nothing. But I can't. I want to derive some renewed look on life and approach a scenario where the things I lost will pale in comparison to the things I will gain. But I worry that won't happen.

I worry that I will never get over this. I think about therapy. I worry about therapy. I worry about becoming the guy who turns this into a soapbox.

I don't want to teach every single person about fire escape protection. I don't want to always have something to say about homeowners insurance. I don't want to be any of that. I want to be done with this. But I don't know when I will be.

But they, he, it, touched my stuff. Turned the one place I felt safest into the one place I can’t trust. That window is now a gaping hole in my comfort. I can't walk into my apt without checking that window. Every creak and groan that my apt makes that I used to love now puts me on edge. I twitch and flinch with one feeling behind it all.

What if they come back?

It was easier when the sun was up. Nighttime puts me on edge. Even though it could have very well been day when my apartment was robbed, the night brings a fear. I don't know anything anymore.

Sunday night comes.

I will sleep in my bed tonight, or at least I will try. I pull down the covers. I climb in. I look at the window. A mixture of fear, paranoia, and hatred I try to ignore.

Futile.

I set my alarm to wake up for work. To try and return to normal. To start again. I go to turn off my lamp when I notice it on my hand.

Fingerprint dust. Again.

I wonder if I can ever get it all.

You Can't Take It With You...


I emerge from the elevator and approach the door of my apartment. My peephole is glowing white. That means the lights in my living room are on.

Strange. I never leave my apartment lights on. I have on occasion when I was really in a rush, but this particular morning I had actually taken my time. Weird.

I shake it off and put my key in the top of my 2 locks, the expensive one, and the one that cost me hundreds of dollars because the locksmith told me it is nearly impossible to pick. I go to turn my key, but the key won’t turn. That lock is already open.

Again, strange. I can count on one hand how many times I forget to lock my top lock. And it’s always intentional because I’m carrying laundry.

I put my key in the bottom lock go to turn it the one and a quarter rotations it takes to open the door, but after a quarter turn the door opens. That means I didn’t lock the bottom lock. I never forget to do that.

And now my heart rate picks up.

I walk into my apartment and all the lights are on. I can see my couch cushions sticking up. Why are my couch cushions sticking up? And my body is adrenaline. And mind is fog, and I’m starting to shake.


I walk into my living room and now my heart is beating against the inside of my chest. My mouth is open and I am moving slowly. Goosebumps are running up and down my spine. I can’t feel the air around me. I don’t know how I’m moving but I am. I can see my computer across the room on my desk, lying on its side.

This isn’t real life. This is a movie. I don’t understand what’s going on. The blood in my ears makes it tough to concentrate. I am trying to be quiet to see if I hear anything or anybody. I can’t believe I am still moving through my apartment.

I move toward my bedroom and see that my closet door is open blocking my entrance, I try to close it but I can’t because all of my clothes are on the floor.

I have to squeeze by it, and step over all of my possessions to get into my bedroom where I see my fire escape window open.


And I die. My blinds have been ripped out of the ceiling. What was first confusion and disbelief is now a fact. I have been robbed.

And my world starts spinning further out of control. And I’m losing my breath. I have to step over the mess of my possessions and squeeze past my closet to get back into the living room.


I walk back through my apartment and out my front door and I ring the bell of neighbors I have never spoken to before. I call the police. My voice is fragmented and out of tune. I close the door to my apartment and I fall to the ground.

We’ve dispatched a car that will be there right away.

The time is 10:40 pm.

I manage to stand up. Now I try to process things for a second time. What do I do? I call my friend. Because I don’t know what’s going on. Waves of varying reality wash back and forth from my mind to my heart. My friend picks up her phone. And right away I’m crying. And I can’t stop. Because I’m discovering what is missing as I’m telling her.


My watches are gone, my watch box sitting in pieces on my bed, completely empty of all of my precious valuables. And my already sunken heart falls impossibly deeper into my body. I open my nightstand where I keep pens, and old concert tickets, and a marble box full of cash I made from bartending.

Too much cash to be honest.

Cash that was going to pay for flights and hotels and meals when I went to Fiji in January.

Cash that is now gone.

I am sick. My mouth tastes like vomit and I feel like a child. I have no ability to conceptualize what has just happened.

My stuff is gone.

And now I can’t breathe. And my friend is asking me what I should do and there are a million scenarios in my head. And I’m shaking. I can’t stop. I can’t process. I don’t want to touch anything; I don’t even close my window. The window through which somebody came to steal stuff out of my apartment.

I call my mom. I call another friend. I call a co-worker.

I start to doubt myself. Did I leave my window open? Is this my fault? Oh my god will my insurance cover this if I left my window open? Oh my god what does this mean?

What does this mean?

I am so emotional I don’t see that my window is broken. The metal latch snapped off because he or they or whoever it was, shoved my window open, breaking the latch. That latch, a false sense of security that had helped me sleep well for 2 and a half years.

Time passes. I sit on the floor of my living room.

The time is 11:40 pm.

The cops still haven’t come. I call again. My voice has not improved. It quivers at varying levels of volume. I sound like somebody who has been robbed. I sound like a victim, which now I am.

The car has been dispatched and somebody will be there as soon as they can.

I text friends, they text back concerned. People call. They tell me to stay with them. They ask if I want them to come and stay with me. I don’t know what to say. I cry sporadically. I can’t control it. I feel cliché. Violated. Betrayed. Naive. Insecure. Foolish. Childlike.

I don’t want to touch anything so I stay on the floor of my living room. I turn on my television and watch the channel that shows the video feed of my lobby, hoping I won’t miss the arrival of the police. I do nothing but sit and watch.

I sit and watch.

I don’t move. I don’t know what else to do. Should it take this long? My heart jumps every time the door to my building opens but it is just people who live here.

I sit and watch.

The time is 12:40 am.

I haven’t moved. I have texted. I have spoken to my mom. I have cried. But there are no police. I feel forgotten. I call 911 for the third time in two hours. I tell them nobody has come yet. A woman takes my information for the third time.

Somebody will be there as soon as they can.

Friends text me back. Are the cops there yet? What is taking them so long? Where are they?

I don’t know answers. I don’t know anything. I don’t know how somebody got into my apartment. I don’t know how this happened to me.

The time is 1 am.

My life zooms in and out of focus. My subconscious tries to contextualize what has happened. Should I go to work tomorrow? I thought I lived in a good neighborhood. I shouldn’t have had cash in my apartment.

At some point, I don’t know when, I suddenly feel vulnerable. Weak. Like a target, like an easy target. I close the window of my bedroom and lock it. I don’t even realize at this point that the latch is now broken. The remains of the shitty metal sitting on the floor like corpse.

The time is 1:15 am.

They stole my change. The empty Gatorade bottle I fill with coins at the end of the day that I usually turn into cash at the bank that I then use to buy dinner or drinks. My change. My fucking coins.

The time is 1:20 am.

The cops finally arrive. Two police officers knock on my door, a man and a woman. But they look like teenagers. The man enters first followed by the woman who closes the door and locks it.

Oh shit, I just touched the door.

Are you fucking kidding me? They look clueless, they walk through my apartment, and they ask me stupid questions. They ask if he came through the window. I want to scream at them that I don’t know. That I wasn’t here. That they are the fucking police and they need to figure that out.

They ask for a list of items I lost. I give them one I wrote on a piece of notebook paper, it won’t be until the next morning that I realize I left off half of the items stolen from me.

They call their supervisor who comes with his partner. He asks me if there are any junkies in the building, any drug users. I tell him this is a safe building, a good neighborhood. He tells me he has never had a call here before. For a fraction of a second this makes me feel better, until I remember I have been robbed and the past doesn’t matter any more.

They tell me they are going to check out the roof. They go up the stairs and push open the fire escape door, which sets off the alarm. They walk around the roof and come back. They close the door, which doesn’t shut off the alarm.

Over the raging fire alarm tell me they haven’t seen anything but they are sending forensics to take finger prints. They tell me they will tell my super to turn off the alarm. They leave.

The time is 2 am.

I watch the video feed of my lobby over the sound of the fire alarm, which has not gone off yet. I am realizing it is going to be too late to sleep anywhere else tonight. I am hateful, I am broken, I am afraid. My mouth still tastes like vomit.

The time is 2:30 am.

The forensics team comes. They take fingerprints off the window.

Are there any other places there might be fingerprints?

Are you kidding me? How the fuck should I know? You are the police. Fix this. This is the crime scene, figure it out. Find fingerprints. Please don’t ask me. I don’t know. The fire alarm is still going off.

So I look, I point here, I point there, I point to my computer.

None of it works. There are no usable prints they tell me.

The time is 2:45 am.

They tell me I can clean up my apartment now. I can get on with my life now they say. I can’t comprehend any of this. I can’t function. They tell me they will tell my super the alarm is going off. I feel beat up. My chest is tired. I pick up my computer and fix it. I see they took out the cords, they were going to take it, but for some reason they didn’t.

Why not? Too heavy? Too bulky? I plug it in and it works. I am grateful for something tonight.

The time is 3 am.

The fire alarm is still going off.

I have no desire to sleep. My mind thinks a million thoughts. I think about everyone I know. I think about what tomorrow will bring. I think about how I am scared of my bedroom, of that window. I contemplate staying up all night.

I put the cushions back in my couch.

The time is 3:30 am.

The fire alarm is still going off.

The time is 4 am.

I grab earplugs from my nightstand. I take a blanket that was in my closet but has been ripped off its shelf and is now hanging from a nail. I lie down on my couch. The alarm has not stopped. It will never stop. I pull the blanket to my chin. I close my eyes.

Different Down South

On its best days, there is not greater city in the world than Manhattan. On it’s worst days, this city can make you want to walk through the streets screaming expletives and throwing manhole covers at tourists.

That is why it is always a good idea to get out of town for a little while, if only because manhole covers are expensive to replace. I enjoy heading down south to visit my parents a couple of times a year. I refer to their house as the “South Carolina Writer’s Retreat.”

I call it that because the pace of life is so much slower down there that I have a bunch of time to work on whatever writing project I am currently focused on. But since life slows down so much when I visit I am also able to pay attention to just how different life is down there.

Like when I get off the plane at the Savannah airport I am greeted by a sign advertising robotic surgery.

Now I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that guy isn’t a robot. But maybe my robot knowledge isn’t what it should be?

I have mentioned that people in my parents’ area call it the “low country.” Now I think this was a geographic nickname but I think low stands for a couple of other things. Like a low interest in healthy sandwiches.

For example, New York is so health conscious that they post the calories for food on the menus, and they don’t allow you to fry foods in oils with trans fats. And there certainly are very few restaurants in New York where a “fried sandwich” would be featured prominently on the menu.

But after I landed and my parents and I stopped for lunch near the airport… that is exactly what I found. So naturally I ordered it.


And it was just as amazing as it looks. I thought it came with a side of fruit…


I guess raspberry dipping sauce counts right? The whole weekend down there was pretty much one big commitment to “low” health standards. I don’t keep cookies in my house so of course I harass my mother as soon as I walk in the house that there are no cookies in the jar. So she went out and bought 3 packages… that I promptly ate.

My parents have their friends come and visit so staying in the guest room there is kind of like staying at a cozy bed and breakfast. The bed is super soft and the room is very comfortable. So comfortable that when I walked in and tried to turn on the lights, I actually got to second base.


I accidentally groped this metal mannequin my mom has in the room. Over the course of the weekend that mannequin and I would have quite the weekend tryst based on how many times I felt her up trying to turn on the lights.

I do love that room though. When I fall asleep there I wake up never knowing what time it is. I don’t mean in the sense that time just seems to stand still.  I mean literally.


The clock doesn’t work so I have no idea what time it is when I wake up.

I roll out of bed when I’m finally rested and then stumble into the kitchen to raid my parents’ cabinets for all the food that would normally last them 2 weeks, but that will now be gone in 18 hours.

At home in New York my life moves so fast and is so hectic sometimes that I don’t spend a lot of time just sitting on the couch eating cookies or sitting on the porch taking a nap. I mean, I also don’t have a porch. And taking a nap on the fire escape outside my window really isn’t the same.

The only time I fall asleep is on the train, and falling asleep on the train doesn’t really count as a nap, that only happens out of necessity. It’s usually all I can do to keep from drooling on the stranger next to me.

Eating is always a strategic affair as friends and I are always picking specific times we have to eat for dinner, rushing to meet up, texting to coordinate. When I visit the retreat, nobody has anywhere to be so we just eat when we’re hungry. And I just leave my phone on my bed. What do I need it for? If it rings its just going to wake me up from my nap.

But its not just the slower pace of life that catches me off guard, it’s the interactions I have when I visit stores and restaurants. Like when a server asks me if I want some coffee or tea after my meal, sometimes I order a tea, or a chai tea if I’m feeling adventurous.

I have ordered chai tea before from many nice places and chain establishments like Starbucks. I usually have a level of expectation of what I’m going to receive. Never does that level of expectation involve a teakettle wearing a dress.


Things are just different down there. I really miss it when I accidentally end up in SoHo during Fashion Week and nearly punch a sea creature in the face. (She wasn’t an actual sea creature, but she was so awful she might as well have been.) Not one of my finer moments.

Anyway, my point is for as different as it is down there, I love it. Even just writing this is making me long for the time I get to visit, albeit with a couple less cookies maybe. In fact I think I will go make myself a healthy dinner… with a side of raspberry dipping sauce.

Mad Men... Myself

I love living alone. I’ve had my own apartment for over 2 years now and it’s fabulous. It is quite possibly one of my favorite aspects of my life. It allows me a freedom and comfort I couldn’t have if I still had roommates.

The only thing challenging about living by myself is not having anybody to instantly coerce into helping with the half a dozen projects I am always thinking about doing. If I schedule it far enough in advance, I can gather some wonderful friends to help me.

But every once in a while I find myself dressed in a suit and tie climbing out my window holding a tri pod and a bottle of Jim Beam.

Allow me to explain.

I have been on a contest kick the last 6 months, video contests mostly. And that has led into other ventures like the viral videos that I did for my friend Sean's company Boom Boom Energy. Myself and my friend Brandi self shot 3 videos for him in my apartment using a tripod and my camera. You can see them all here.

But as I was moving stuff around my apartment to assemble a desk I just bought, I put the tripod in my room and forgot about it.

Until later that day when I came home, walked into my bedroom and saw a tripod... with a camera on it... facing my bed. I can only IMAGINE what somebody would have thought had they come over after work. Thank god nobody saw that one.

But aside from incriminating myself in my own apartment, I recently started watching Mad Men. Yes I know this is the 5th season and it’s amazing. But I don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t watch TV. But the amount of people who told me

Rich you would LOVE Mad Men. You HAVE to watch it.

Was starting to get annoying, and I was pretty interested in it anyway. So I bought it on iTunes and started watching it. I got so into it that I watched the first 2 seasons in about 3 weeks.

I noticed 2 immediate effects.

  1. I started drinking a lot more. I’d like to believe that it was the 95 degree weather but something felt positively sinful about not whetting my whistle while engaging in mid century misogyny and philandering.
  2. I really felt myself wanting to be a part of that lifestyle. And not because I want to get married, cheat on my wife, and then cheat on the woman I am cheating on my wife with. But because they were so damn stylish, I wanted a reason to look that good. I will admit I wanted to be Don Draper. 
Luckily around that same time, a friend of mine sent me this tasty little flyer from Banana Republic.


A chance to walk on to the set of Mad Men? Absolutely. I was in. Now I just needed a plan.

While I had previously sworn off public voting contests, this one was just too much fun to pass up. So I took a look at the site and was immediately disheartened.

The person with the most votes had many thousands of votes. Something I couldn’t possibly match.  I contemplated not doing it but then I decided I would and enlist the help of some friends.

Well the friends ended up being quite busy and or out of town at that time so I had no choice but to shoot it myself. I was at work on Friday afternoon when I realized I could take the picture on my roof. With the sun setting. Perfect!

So I rushed home after work.

Actually that’s not true. I walked fast to the train, but then I just sat on it, it doesn’t matter how much of a rush I am in, the train tends to go the same speed and or slower. So that sentence should have said:

So I went home at normal speed.

Better. I got home and climbed out my window onto my fire escape and up to my roof. I quickly realized that I didn’t have much time. The sun would be gone soon. So I climbed back into my apartment to shower, shave, get suited up and set up the shoot that I would be doing of myself.

The shower was quick and easy but shaving in a hurry is like, well, I mean it’s really its own metaphor. Any time we are talking knives and faces, there really should be as much time allowed as possible.

Thankfully, I didn’t cut my head off and was able to quickly get dressed and part glue my hair into a 1960s quaff.

I grabbed the camera and tripod as well as a bottle of Jim Beam which I was going to use as a prop for the shoot.

Now I was in one of my favorite suits which I wouldn’t exactly call “action wear.”

And climbing out of my window requires getting over an extremely high sill which I can barely do in basketball shorts, never mind tailored pants. And with nobody to hand me all of my stuff I had to simultaneously lift my leg 4 feet in the air and over a ledge to get it out the window while also holding a fully expanded tri-pod (for some reason I hadn’t thought to collapse it) and a 30 year old bottle of whiskey that hadn't been opened since the last time my parents had a "nautical party" in our old basement.

Right about the time I was straddling the window I thought to myself, what if somebody sees me? What would they think?

OH there he goes again. Always getting dressed up to drink whiskey on the roof!

Never mind the fact that once on my fire escape I have to walk past my neighbor’s living room on my way to the ladder to get to the roof. My neighbor, who recently bought an Ab Rocket and uses it for 30 minutes every morning so I hear a half hour of

Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak

Well... at least I think that’s her Ab Rocket. Anyway, I'm just saying we both have our own stuff going on.

Mine is not the tallest building in my neighborhood, so I can only imagine if the people in the buildings across from me looked out to see me standing on my roof, in a suit, and sneakers, striking poses for a camera on a timer.

A couple of years ago this might have bothered me, or made me insecure. But I have embraced my ridiculousity and thus do not mind doing strange things that attract attention.

I mean it doesn’t always go so well, sometimes trying to take a picture of myself all I got was this.


Headless man on the roof.

But when it went well it was pretty cool. And I was happy with how most of the pictures came out, and after much debate I picked one that would be my entry into the contest that I had no chance to win.

Which picture did I choose? Well, you'll just have to wait and see now won't you?

Why Bugs Love Me or How Angelina Jolie Saved My Life

Be it my charming personality, my succulent skin, or perhaps my manly scent of awesomeocity, bugs frigging love me. And not just some bugs. All bugs everywhere, all the time, always.

This is a problem for me because I do not love bugs. I do not like them in my face; I do not like them in my place. I know they have an evolutionary purpose and they have a spot in the universe and all that crap. That’s awesome. Good for the bugs. But I don’t want them near me.

If I am in a group of people I seem to be the one that the bugs seek out. Perhaps the reflection of the sun off my pasty white skin makes all bugs think I am some sort of beacon of buggy hope.

Something about me seems to make bugs think it is OK to just stick parts of their ass into my skin. Bees, mosquitoes, whatever. That is not OK. No.

I am also not OK with even the sounds of flies. You know when they buzz so close to your ear and rattle your eardrum so severely it feels like a monkey is shaking your spine.

Maybe you don’t know, because that fly is always hanging out near my ear and nobody else sees it, they just see me slap my own ear like I’m trying to quiet the voices.

The only bug I am OK with landing on me is a lightning bug. They are so unique, and bright. But perhaps all these other bug attacks are payback from those lightning bugs I stepped on so I could see them glow… dead.

Yea, that was probably a poor decision.

But I apparently have “Sweet blood.” Which god help me if Vampires ever really do overwhelm the earth, I am going to be like the amuse-bouche of the undead.

I remember getting bitten by mosquitoes a lot as a child. But there was no time more outrageous than my first trip to Jamaica.

I was there for a convention during high school and I was staying in a house that didn’t have any air conditioning. So they left the windows open and had multiple fans going all night long. However this didn’t stop the mosquitoes from biting.

When I woke up I noticed the dozens of bites I had received on my exposed parts overnight. They weren’t just little bites that rose into a round circle. No, these were Picasso bites. Rising and elevating themselves into impressionist type shapes across my very sweaty epidermis.

Over the course of those 4 days I received over 130 mosquito bites that swelled and spread until I looked like a 3D topographical map of the earth.

I was reminded of all this bug hatred a couple weekends ago when my sister and I went up to Maine for a little R&R.

We were having a perfectly wonderful weekend until it came time for a little lakeside relaxation at night. Instead of hosing myself down in DDT and pesticides like one of our friends did, I thought I would use a little bit of common sense and just wear some long pants and sleeves.

And of course, common sense failed me again.

The mosquitoes BIT ME THROUGH MY CLOTHES. THROUGH MY JEANS. What kind of bugs were these? Thick heavy cotton and long sleeves protecting me and yet they STILL managed to pierce through to me.

Do you know who didn’t get bit? The guy in shorts and a t-shirt who was sitting outside drenched in bug spray - he was OK. The guy wearing pants and sleeves? Not so much.

But the culmination of it all happened back at my apartment. The scene of the worst bug experience of my life.

For the past 2 years, my… situation had been almost nonexistent. After those first 2 isolated incidents, I had lived a pretty much relaxed and uninterrupted experience.

But that all changed this past week.

I was in my bathroom getting ready for bed. Now I’ve mentioned before that since I live alone I rarely close the bathroom door. And I was changing out of my clothes when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.

The ghost of Barry Bonds was back in my apartment. Just as grotesque and awful. This was Larry Bonds.

And Larry Bonds was just outside my bathroom door facing away from me. If I had been in a better mood I might have laughed at the fact that Larry Bonds appeared to be mooning me. But I was too busy obsessing over the idea that either he had to die, or I was going to commit suicide, because I couldn’t live like this.

I think it is also worth pointing out that I was naked at this point in time.

Of course. Of course I am going to see Larry Bonds when I am completely naked and feeling most vulnerable. I panicked. My bathroom light was on but the rest of my apartment was dark. And if he made a break for it, I would never find him, which means I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night, nor any of the nights after it, spinning me into a maze of stress and psychosis that would ultimately see me losing my job, apartment, and friends, and just sitting under a bridge with a can of Raid screaming “LARRY BONDS CAN GO F*** HIMSELF!”

Luckily I realized that was not my best option.

I quickly scanned the bathroom for a weapon. My eyes caught the toilet brush.



Long enough to strike, but not really a killing type of weapon. I have stepped on creatures like this that then popped up and ran away cursing at me in Spanish (I imagine).

Toilet brush was no good.

I then grabbed the toilet brush holder.


But realized it didn’t give me the grip I needed for a killing blow.

I was panicking; he was going to make a break for it at any moment I knew it.

And then I saw her.

She was like a vision, a beacon, and a symbol of hope. Angelina’s scimitar eyes gazing up at me (still naked mind you) from the cover of my Vanity Fair magazine sitting on the floor of my bathroom.


Remembering that Jason Bourne had once used a rolled up magazine to stab a guy in the eye, I figured I could do something similar to kill this beast. I grabbed the magazine and rolled it up tightly.

I took one step out of the bathroom and he made a break for it.

Shit!

I quickly swatted, clipping him on the side, he jogged away and into the dark. I took another swat, smashing him into my floor. Success!

But because these things are obviously robot aliens from space he was still twitching.

Asshole.

So I grabbed a sneaker, put it on, and stepped on him with all of my weight. Compressing him so hard I fully expected and hoped to see a cucaracha shaped diamond stuck in my sneaker when I was done.

But that did not happen. Only death. And that was success enough for my naked self.

I went to bed relaxed and relieved, realizing it wasn’t clothes that I needed to give me the strength and courageous fortitude to defeat bugs... just Angelina Jolie.

Miami Bound Machine - Part 2

So after settling on a collection of (questionably) stylish pieces to wear to Miami I am faced with another decision to make.

Do I want to get in shape before I go?

Now I wouldn’t say I’m in bad shape but the words used by other to describe me (lanky, gangly) don’t exactly bring to mind the image of an Adonis. And this is Miami! Nobody looks crappy in Miami.

Now that I think of it that could be the catch phrase for Miami. Ya know,

Virginia is for Lovers
Georgia on My Mind
Nobody Looks Crappy in Miami.

Some of you may know that I had an unfortunate falling out with my gym last spring. I haven’t gone back to that, or any gym, since..

This is not to say I haven’t been working out. No sir, I work out, like a healthy champion. I have gone through several iterations of a workout plan with varying levels of success.

First I started working out in the park near my apartment. This was going well for a decent part of last summer. I would get home from work, change clothes, and then go do whatever routine I had cobbled together for myself. Sometimes doing pull ups on the monkey bars or step ups in the playhouse.

But then I worked out on a Saturday, and the park was full of kids and their families. I didn’t think much of it until I realized jumping around sleeveless and sweaty with a bunch of 8 year olds is a great way to live your life if you are a camp counselor.

Otherwise, it’s just a great way to end up on the news.

So I quickly put an end to my park workouts.

I decided I could just rollerblade instead. But there is a funny thing about rollerblading that you don’t notice until you are actually doing it.

And that fact is, NOBODY ROLLERBLADES.

I mean practically nobody. Apparently the year that rollerblading started getting cool was the same year it stopped being cool. And I certainly don’t look cool doing it. (Remember, gangly and lanky)

While I am blessed with a certain degree of athletic faculty, if I hit a bump while I am skating, my limbs spring out from my body like 3 different Jack in the Boxes. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many people around to see it happen.

Add into the equation that dogs don’t like rollerbladers. I mean if they don’t like a biker, that biker can just ride away no problems, no worries.

But on Rollerblades, a getaway is not as easy.

Dogs don’t instantly bark, they just stare intently at you as you approach. You can see them thinking…

Herehecomes herehecomes herehecomes “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!”

As they launch forward yanking their leash and owners arm nearly out of the socket. I usually try and laugh it off but I really can’t hear or focus on anything anyway because the adrenaline influx I just experienced is enough to bring a Mastodon back from the dead.

Plus there is a rather large hill on the way to the park. And while it is a bitch to get up, it is practically a suicide attempt to go down. I mean I am OK at stopping but there really is no OK at stopping when you are on Rollerblades. You can either stop, or you can’t.

And the hill ends at a rather busy intersection where I have to make a sharp right turn to get to the park. So I would either have to jump OVER the traffic like I’m Evil Kinevil, or just smack straight into it like… well, Evil Kinevil.

The last time I attempted this hill I was going down the hill so fast I had to jump off the side walk and jog onto the grass (in my rollerblades) to stop.

This near death experience quickly changed my view on using Rollerblading as my primary workout activity. Seeing as one of my requirements for my workout regimen is that I live through it. And as much as I’d like to be in good shape, I do not consider “dead” to be good shape.

So I’ve started working out in my apartment. I even bought one of those pull-up bars that you attach to your door frame. I bought it in Bed Bath and Beyond if you can believe it.


It seemed like an awesome way to do pull ups without ending up on To Catch a Predator.

I opened it and there were a lot of pieces. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical that the whole apparatus could be put together using the exact same tool I used to put my erector sets together when I was a kid.


But it worked and I have been using quite frequently. Granted it has been more out of guilt than anything else. Like this weekend where I eat 2 cupcakes at midnight, have a bacon omelet for breakfast and then do 20 pull ups like that is going to negate that refuse my body is now trying to process.

I tried doing pushups in my living room but every time I do pushups, the following morning my wrist gets sore and a bone starts to protrude out of it like I’m a crappy fetal Wolverine.

Again, a description I try to avoid at all costs.

I thought about joining a gym just for a month until I left for Miami but then I remembered the conversation I had with Neil, one of the prized idiot salesmen I met when I first joined my gym back home.

I was there with my buddy and the salesman says to me,

“Hey so here’s the deal, you guys like hot girls? Cuz we got a ton of them here.”

Wow Neil, nice. Very profound. In fact you could probably write slogans. How bout this one.

Miami: If you like hot girls, we got a ton of them here.

But seeing as there are now less than 2 weeks left to go before Miami and I have made nearly 0 noticeable progress, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my body will remain more or less in the non Adonis phase as opposed to, well, you get the picture.

I have even convinced myself that taking the stairs up to my apartment can wipe out eating three chocolate croissants a day.

Desperate people come up with interesting theories.

But I have something else even more serious to concentrate on. On this trip there will be beach time involved and that means going shirtless, and that is something Miami is really not ready for.

To Be Concluded…

You're In Trouble

It was a routine day at B3 for me. I was in the cleaning materials department looking for some supplies to maintain the impeccable level of sanitation I prefer in my apartment. I was holding a bottle of tile cleaner when I saw it.

I almost didn’t believe it at first as I caught it out of the corner of my eye. But I did a double take and there it was.


A bottle of Urine Gone.

But it wasn’t just a single solitary bottle of Urine Gone. No, there was a stock of Urine Gone. As to say not 1 but many people have the need to get rid of a large quantity of urine on a regular basis.

My mind instantly went into overload trying to rationalize the existence of this product on our planet. Surely it couldn’t be for human pee… right? I mean this has to be for animal owners… right? For a while I thought the “Beyond” in Bed Bath and Beyond stood for beyond good. Now I realized it stood for “Beyond human comprehension.”

Of all the places I would expect to find a 24 oz bottle of Urine gone, B3 was not on the list. For me, the B3 is a place of fluffy towels, spatula sets and electric toothbrushes, not… pee removal.

If anything I would expect to find a bottle of this product in a place like a gas station, the same place you can buy the malt liquor, red Solo cups, and ping pong balls that would cause one to get drunk enough to pee on a… well... anything.

And let’s also consider, outside of the bathroom, the bed is the place you are most likely to find pee. But that you can clean up immediately by just tossing your sheets and mattress pad in the washing machine.

So this product must be for removing pee from OTHER surfaces and locations.

I had questions that needed answers. Most pressing was this:

What human had decided there was an untapped need in the market for pee removal?

It did make sense that the product was housed on the bottom shelf where you have to kind of surreptitiously stoop down to get it. I can’t believe anybody would want to proudly display this product in his or her cart.

Hey, everybody! Look what I got!

Which also makes me think just what an awful moment it must be at the register when the associate has to ring you up. Even if they were ignoring you, you would think curiosity would get the better of them as they wondered who could need such a product.

I know there are some things that I have been embarrassed to buy, My Ped Egg to name one. And usually I can play it off with a silly comment or self-deprecating joke. But Urine Gone? What the hell are you supposed to say if somebody gives you a look?

Boy did I have a hell of a weekend!

And if you are buying it, it is probably not an emergency because you would have used whatever you had on hand to get rid of that stain ASAP. So that means you have an OLD urine stain you need to get rid of, OR you are anticipating an awful series of events in the near future. Either way, I don’t envy you. Not even a wee bit.

Ha-ha, get it? Wee? Ahh.

I was so dumbfounded when I came across Urine Gone that I forgot to read the label, but upon returning home my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I googled it.

Here is what I found.

Urine Gone effectively removes new or old stains and odors from carpets, mattresses, and furniture. Urine Gone works on just about any washable surface or fabric! Just darken the room and use the Urine Gone "stain detector" black light…

Wait a minute.

Stain detector? STAIN DETECTOR?



Here’s the thing, if you KNOW there is urine in your home, but you don’t know where, you don’t need Urine Gone. You need a home security system complete with motion sensors, HD cameras and a barbed wire fence.

Who is peeing in undisclosed locations in houses? Are there criminals regularly breaking into houses to deface the home and then leaving, doing the old “Pee and Flee?”

If you are using a black light you are no longer a regular person, you are a detective. You are a forensic scientist tracking down human detritus. You are the star of the new hit show P.S.I.

The description continues:

For Pet or People Accidents Non-Toxic Safe for Carpet Litter Boxes Wood & Tile Bathrooms Sofas & Beds...

So there is proof it is not just for pets, but people too. There are people with pee accidents in their home. Many people. PEEple.

I’m not sure what would cause such an accident. Perhaps you have white carpet in your home and you recently brought home an Eskimo child who immediately set about to write his name.

If you go on the Urine Gone site they say:

 If you loved the 24 ounce urine gone, you might like… the urine gone refill.

48 FRIGGING OUNCES OF URINE GONE!

Also on the website, in the “Product features” part, there is this great tidbit.

Don’t leave your house smelling like a litter box… Get Urine Gone.

Hmm OK. So what you are saying is, when faced with the choice of cleaning up pee or just leaving it, most people choose to just leave it? Is that the reason for the arrival of this product on the market? Laziness?

The only thing I found more outrageous were the actual customer reviews on the site.

Mind you these are actual reviews.

I have ten cats, and one of the former-ferals sometimes sprays in the house…

I’m not even going to show the rest of that review because it doesn’t get any better. Ya know what helps get rid of the smell of 10 cats? Not having 10 cats.

I have literally bought dozens of urine removers on the market…

Really? If you have bought DOZENS of urine removers, don’t you think it’s time for a lifestyle change? If you cannot get your animals to stop relieving themselves around the house shouldn’t you be thinking of getting a barn or something? I mean jeez at least buy a tarp.

I have 9 cats and 8 dogs in my house and somebody is always doing something somewhere that they shouldn’t!

17 animals? I’m not even, I mean I just… I can’t…

I think my favorite part of the product is how they don’t specifically advertise but more subtly mention that this can be used in the removal of feces as well. I really think it’s only a matter of time before Urine Gone gets a companion product called, “Damn it, Go Away Poop.”

And I bet you won’t need a black light to find that mess.

Chairman of the Bored

I needed to buy some chairs.

It always starts out so simple doesn’t it?

I needed to buy some chairs because I have been living in this apartment for 2 years now and I have been sitting on folding chairs at my kitchen table.

I use that term “kitchen table” lightly because my kitchen is so tiny that I can’t open the fridge and have a thought at the same time.

My kitchen table actually sits in my living room.

Whatever.

So anyway folding chairs are extremely uncomfortable. I am a fidgety human as it is, but sitting in a folding chair is awful. I have to shift around every 3 minutes until I finally get comfortable with my feet on the lamp and my head under the couch… and then my butt goes numb.

I was getting so angry, not at myself for having not purchased chairs, no, I was mad at my chairs. I was starting to yell at them.

Rich: Man you suck, you know that? You just suck so bad. You are so awful I hate you.
Chair: (Blank stare)

So I decided to buy some nice, new, comfortable chairs.

Having no car and not really wanting to bring chairs on the subway (though that would solve the challenge of finding a seat), I decided to do it online and have them delivered to me thereby saving myself time, stress, and inconvenience.

What I didn’t realize was that I probably could have built my own chairs in the time it was going to take for me to get them in the mail.

I get online and I do my normal dance where I over research something, then order it, then have second thoughts, then cancel it and buy something else.

So by the time all that dust settled I had ordered a pair of this chair.


Exciting right? Yes quite.

Click, buy, confirm, woohoo.

I received an email telling me that the chairs had been shipped from Stockton, California. Hooray! My chairs were on the way!

On March 5th I checked the tracking website and saw that my chairs were “In Transit” in Reno.

And that is when the communication stopped. I went a whole week without hearing about the status of my chairs. I started to worry.

Had my chairs gotten off the truck in Reno to stretch their legs? (Rim shot!)

Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a lovely audience!

But back to my chairs.

Had they stumbled into a casino and lost all of their money? Were they sitting at a craps table with a couple of rough necked barcaloungers with cash to burn? What the hell were my chairs doing in Reno that they couldn’t’ be reached?!

Or maybe the delivery truck driver had lost his mind and decided to keep all of the furniture on the truck for himself. I could see him driving across the country on Route 66 blasting Lynard Skynard with his head out the window laughing like a maniac as he chomped on a cigar.

Sometimes my brain runs wild.

I pictured my chairs sitting on the back of a truck writing me a tear stained letter,

Dear Richard,

We left Reno days ago. I’m so scared. This truck is so dark. I haven’t been sat on in days. I can’t see anything and there is some ottoman in the truck somewhere that keeps screaming in the night. It is so lonely. Help me!

Sincerely,

2 Red Chairs

But then good news my chairs had arrived in Jersey. And then Long Island! And then while I was at work one day I saw my chairs were out on the truck for delivery! And then I got home and… I still had no chairs.

What?

I checked the tracking website to find this awesome tidbit.


Wait why?

What did they mean by undeliverable?

I watched as my chairs went back to Long Island, and then Jersey, and then California (curiously skipping Reno on the way back.)

So now I am seething. I am angry. My blood is boiling, I am red. Red like my chairs, which I don’t have because they have been sent, back to California.

So I call the shipper. The conversation went something like this;

Rich: Yo fool! Why you send my chairs away?!
Shipper: Chill playa, the vendor requested them back.
Rich: Word?
Shipper: Word.

So I call the vendor who sold me my chairs. Now I am really really red and trying to control my voice because despite my best efforts, when I get angry my voice doesn’t sound scary, it just gets higher and sounds like I am about to cry.

So I call customer service and I meet my undoing;

A syrupy sweet lady with some southern drawl who is just a pleasant as a peach. And apologizing her head off for the transgressions enacted upon me.

So instantly I feel all bad, but only for a minute because then she asks me;

Well we can have them resent to you or would you rather just cancel the order?

What do you mean would I rather just cancel the order? What kind of logic is that? Well ya know, I really wanted to start sitting on these chairs in early March, and since I’m not going to be able to sit on them until late March, well, jeez, I mean I just don’t know if I can use them then.

OF COURSE I STILL WANT MY CHAIRS! It’s not like these chairs are going to be stale when they get to me. Unless these chairs are made out of bread… are these bread chairs?! Did I accidentally order the Sourdough Dining Set, because if so, let me know and I will cancel.

But as it turns out my chairs were made out of wood, not bread. And they were resent. And they arrived. And they are beautiful. And I am sitting in them as I write this.


They are comfortable too! So comfortable that I don't have to rearrange my existence every 3rd minute. And my butt hasn't fallen asleep either... yet.

The First Rant

Since I began writing this blog, I have had many ideas for stories that never made it into a post. For the most part, these ideas are just one-liners too one dimensional to be fully fleshed out.

And more often than not they just get added to a rapidly growing list of ideas that never get used. Seeing as that document is now approaching 12 pages, this is my best effort to purge myself of these baby rants.

Home Made

In the south you come across a lot of signs that say "homemade." I don't know how this became the go-to marketing ploy of restaurants. To me it seems very similar to slapping the word "eco-friendly" on a product. But even if eco-friendly is a lie, it still implies something good. "Homemade" doesn't necessarily means something is good.

Do you know how many homemade things come out awful? Half the shit I "home make" tastes disgusting. Homemade means, "not made by professionals." Would you ever get on an airplane that said "homemade" on the side?" Would you use aspirin if it said "homemade"on the label?

Vanity Plates

If you have an idea for a vanity license plate you should have to submit it to a panel of judges at the Department of Motor Vehicles. And if that panel can't guess what it means within 5 seconds, you are not allowed to have that vanity plate. It is not fair for you to have a secret joke that I don't get on your license plate.

It will piss me off while I am driving. And then I will all of my time tailgating you to see if I can decode your plate. You might as well have a magic eye poster on your bumper.

Concert Encores and Side to Side Hand Waving

I understand there are some songs where some side to side hand waving seems appropriate or even matches up with the beat. But it has gotten out of hand. How did hand waving become the pinnacle of fun? "Oh my god here it comes. We are about to start waving our hands side to side, I am so excited."

Pretending I am a wind wiggler does not make me feel good. If I am really enjoying a movie or a good steak, I don't throw my arms into the air and start waving them around. I like to have most of my fun with my hands at my sides thank you very much.

And concert encores have gotten so predictable. Who doesn't know when an encore is coming? "Oh look the band stopped playing. Jeez, I sure do wonder if they are going to play an encore. Why are all the lights still off? I wonder if... oh my god the band is back on stage it's a MIRACLE!"

Just once I would like to see somebody come on stage and say, "Hey, I'm going to stand up here and rock your face off for 2 hours and give you the best concert I can. Screw the encore." That would be something I could get behind.

Light Beer

I understand that I am easy to make fun of. Seriously. Spend any amount of time with me and you will not be at a loss for material. But if you drink light beer you are no longer allowed to challenge MY masculinity. You know what light beer is? Diet soda for alcoholics.

Beer fills you up for a reason. It means you're done. And if you are full but not drunk, you shouldn't be drinking anymore. Drinking copious amounts of light beer while condescending to me does not make you tough. It makes you fat AND rude. Grab a real beer and leave the light beer to 10th graders and people who hate beer.

Teenagers

Speaking of 10th graders, it is really easy to hate teenagers.

That's it. Just wanted to mention it.

Flying

Every time somebody says "Have a good flight" to me, I always respond by saying thanks. But what else am I supposed to say? "Thank you, I'll try?" I know its just people being polite but my brain always wants to say "Oh yea, good point. I'm actually co-pilot for this one so I will be extra careful." Being on an airplane is one of those scenarios where you have absolutely NO control over the quality of your journey.

You don't get to pick the route, the plane, the pilot, where you sit, who sits next to you, how many people you travel with, etc. The only thing you are given the option of is whether you want the chicken or the pasta and even that doesn't matter because they microwave the hope out of everything so it all ends up tasting the same thing anyway.

Old Phone

How come in old movies when the phone rings and there is nobody on the other end of the line or they get disconnected, the person always hits the hang up button 3 or 4 times? Is there something in their mind that says hanging up on the person will make them reappear? Has this ever worked to get the caller back on the line? What is the logic progression that led to this? When you open the door and there's nobody there, do you close it and open it 3 more times just to make sure?

The Movies

When a film starts in a movie theater it is always, "MGM is PROUD TO PRESENT."

Well who is going to go see a film that starts out, "MGM IS SLIGHTLY ASHAMED AND RELATIVELY EMBARRASSED TO PRESENT:______?"

Food Network

I must I admit I am a little bit behind the times because I don't have cable but for some reason I get The Food Network. I been watching this channel a lot lately and holy crap I am addicted! Has anybody else seen this channel? Right, I'm sure you probably all have. But this channel is my crack!

I find it so inspiring. I go into my kitchen after watching some amazing concoction on TV feeling all ambitious and ready to create a masterpiece but all I have in there is peanut butter, spaghetti, and garlic salt. Here's an idea Food Network, instead of giving me recipes based on your suggested ingredients, why not base a show around the ingredients I have in my kitchen? You could call it something new every week. The first show would be called Peanut Butter, Spaghetti and Garlic Salt.

And the dish would be good. It has to be.

It's home made.

More Signs of More Times

Those of you who read my blog (all 6 of you) are probably aware of the fact that I am not that good at editing. While I love to craft a good story, and rework it until it shines with humor, I am practically incapable of spotting typographical and grammatical errors.

In fact I am positive that the ability to spot typos is dependent on a certain gene or chromosome that I just do not have.

But while I cannot edit very well, I am fairly decent at spotting signs that are extremely confusing or just completely asinine. For your benefit (all of 6 of you) I keep a running list of all the stupid that people feel the need to put in print for the world.

I would like to preface this first sign by stating that I love the superintendent of my building. He is extremely friendly, always says hello, and lets me know when I have a package. But his English is a bit broken. And when we were experiencing trouble with the lock at the entrance of my building, my super put this sign on the front door;

Door Open. Do Not Use Key.

I appreciate his commitment to keeping the tenants informed, but there are other ways to do this. Perhaps everyone who comes within spitting distance of my front door doesn't need to know that the door doesn't lock. I'm sure we could have figured it out on our own, because the sign my super put up sent the wrong message. It essentially could have been replaced with a sign that said;

Residents Vulnerable; Rob Them.

Luckily the sign was only up for a couple of days and nothing terrible happened. Inside my building however, there was another sign that concerned me.

My floor has a garbage chute. It is a small metal slot behind a full sized door. You can't put objects in there much bigger than a small grocery bag. There are rules posted about what items should and should not be put in there. But recently somebody, perhaps my super, perhaps an angry neighbor, left a sign up that had some fuzzy grammar that I questioned.



I don't really understand this message. Obviously whoever wrote it was feeling steamed.

I can relate to the desire to drive home a point. And by underlining certain words, you make people understand that this is important and this word should be focused on. But the quotation marks? I don't really understand what it is you are saying.

Are you using the quotation ironically? If you say "DON'T PUT" does that mean you actually want them to put? Or are you trying to use a word other than put?

Perhaps the note was justified, but it is the height of passive aggression leaving a note for someone else to find. It reminded me of the post its my pot smoking roommate my sophomore year of college used to leave me. He would leave a post it on the trash that said; Take out trash.

Oooh OK. Thank you for your knowledge contribution. This is a way better idea than actually taking out the trash yourself.

In retaliation I should have put a post it on our balcony porch that said; Don't smoke pot here.

Which, by the way, when I asked him to stop smoking pot on the balcony, he responded by saying;

I'll try and keep it down.

Keep it down? You know it's not the sound that bothers me right?

A friend of mine lives in an area in which there is a strip club between the train stop and her apartment. It is impossible to get to her apartment without walking past the strip club.

Honestly, I swear.

So the last time I went to visit her, I walked past the strip club and I noticed the doors were caution taped closed and there was a sign on the door that said;

The department of buildings has determined that the conditions in these premises are imminently perilous to life.

Imminently perilous to life? IMMINENTLY PERILOUS TO LIFE?

I don't think there was even a sign like this at Guantanamo Bay, and those premises really were imminently perilous to life.

I'm not sure what that strip club did to deserve such a stamp (I can only imagine) but whatever it did do, was enough to piss somebody off.

How on earth is that place ever going to do any bit of business again? What sign can they possibly put on the door after this one has already been up?

Hello fine upstanding frequenters of strip clubs. Remember that time when the department of buildings said the conditions in here were imminently perilous to life? Well, everything is OK now. Silly misunderstanding. No seriously, we're good.

I mean it's a strip club that presumably serves alcohol (Again I'm guessing because I never went in) so how good can it be for you in the first place? Strange naked women and booze was never something the doctor recommended as a cure for anything except maybe boredom.

I received a plastic Viking helmet recently as a gift for being a finalist in a contest. And on the side of the helmet it says;

Warning this is a toy. DOES NOT PROVIDE PROTECTION. MADE IN CHINA.

I have a couple of problems with this warning. First of all if someone is looking for general head protection be it for a bike ride or a construction site, I would hope their first inclination wouldn't be to purchase a plastic Viking helmet.

Second. Does not provide protection... from what? Actual Vikings? If you are being attacked by Vikings you have bigger problems than a plastic helmet, I mean, you might have accidentally gone back in time and that is something you should be concerned about.

And finally, a Viking helmet made in China? Can you imagine Vikings outsourcing the creation of their helmets to China? Perhaps if the Vikings had been willing to work with other nations to begin with they wouldn't have had to resort to the whole conquering, pillaging, and killing thing.

Then again, maybe the Vikings wouldn't have had to be so violent if the other nations had just put a sign outside their village that said;

Door Open. Do Not Use Key

Roommates

Living with people after high school hasn't really been something I've had much success with. Growing up at home was pretty normal. I mean the standard conflict about my messy room, or having not cleaned the bathroom existed, but that was pretty basic. And aside from those things, I survived without too much drama.

Once I left for college however, it was a whole new ballgame. I was not aware that some people could be so otherworldly oblivious, or that 2 people could have so many different things to disagree on. Here now, is a brief history of my college roommates.

My first college roommate took it up on himself to let his friend sleep in my bed the 3rd night I knew him. I came home late to find a strange woman sleeping in my bed. It is not nearly as cool as it sounds.

I left that situation after 3 weeks to get my own room, but I had a suite mate whose friend would take Adderall and bang on my window like a savage at 4 in the morning. I was too scared to even open the curtain.

Then my next roommate liked to smoke pot. So much so that he got taken out of our apartment in handcuffs by the police. I think that he thought I called the cops because the next day he took the TV out of the living room and moved it into his room. I never told him that the cops had been walking past our balcony and heard him say, and I quote, "This is some really good pot!"

Then I had roommates in Italy. One of which dropped a giant glass beer bottle next to my bed while I was away one weekend and didn't tell me until I found a shard of glass on the floor the size of a shrapnel grenade. I asked him what happened. He said he didn't remember.

So it stands to reason that by the time I left college I was done with roommates. (Aside from the 2 extra years I lived with my parents, which is a story for another time)

When I finally moved into my own apartment last year it was the greatest relief of my life. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and never had to worry about about anybody else cramping my style.

One of the benefits of having your own apartment is being able to open up your home to your dear close friends who need a place to stay when they come to visit. I have been more than willing to offer my pullout couch to the half dozen or so of my friends who have been brave/masochistic/desperate enough to spend a couple of nights at my place.

As I started preparing my apartment for my guests to arrive, I began having flashbacks to cleaning my room when I was a kid. My mother was so emphatic about every inch of the house being spotless before our guests arrived.

Did you vacuum under your bed?

No. Why? Will our guests be sleeping under the bed? Are they trolls?

Did you dust?

What do you mean did I dust? Of course I didn't dust. I never dust. Why would I dust?

All of this effort seemed extremely unnecessary. Would I ever really care if my home was that clean?

The answer of course, is yes.

I did not expect the neuroses I would develop about having my apartment being clean enough so that my friends wouldn't think I was some kind of filthy hippie when they arrived. I immediately began channeling my mother and putting everything away.

I found myself refolding the clothes that were already in my closet. Like my guests were going to throw open my closet doors, find unfolded shirts and say... "What is this? Unfolded shirts? I am outraged! I am leaving this dump!"

But some things can't be hidden. Things like 10 pounds of protein powder in a giant blue keg. I couldn't really put that away. What would my friends think when they saw that ridiculous purchase? Or the PedEgg in my bathroom? Try as I might I still can't find a great reason for owning that.

I tried to remember what it was like when I stayed at my friend's place in California last year. She is so sweet and when I arrived she told me to make myself at home. But instantly I knew she couldn't possibly mean that.

Even though we were good friends, I think she would have been quite shocked to find me sitting on her couch in my underwear at 2 in the morning drinking out of the OJ container while watching Britney Spears videos on YouTube.

I mean it's just a hunch.

Not that it is a normal nighttime activity for me, but ya know... sometimes.

But I didn't act like myself when I got there. I acted like a really awesome version of myself. And I did that by being as agreeable as humanly possible. I become a yes man. In order to make it easy as possible on my host, I just go along with everything.

Hey Rich I don't have a spare bed. Would you mind sleeping on our unfinished deck full of rusty nails and rabid cats?

No problem.

Hey Rich I wake up at 6 am and scream like a banshee for half an hour, do you mind?

Not at all.

Hey Rich for breakfast I always eat half a sheep brain, would you like one?

Give me a whole!

And sure enough the friends that came to stay with me were extremely flexible. Even though my neuroses had me making sure everyone had a different colored towel to use so nobody would get confused and use the same towel, my hosting screw ups went nearly unnoticed.

Like when I forgot to replenish the toilet paper stash before I went to work in the morning. Or when I forgot to turn on the A/C before they went to sleep in my sweltering living room. They didn't seem to mind.

But I did need to acclimate myself to having people in my home. I had to remember to do little things I didn't normally have to. Like close the door when I went to the bathroom, or put on pants when I walked out of my room in the morning.

As it turns out I really like being a temporary roommate to my friends for short periods of time. It is like a vacation from your own life.

And if you'd like to stay with me, I'd love to have you. Just let me know in advance so I can hide my protein keg and practice putting on some pants.

Oh and by the way, I actually wake up at 5 to scream like a banshee. I hope you don't mind.