On Desire: 3 Things All New Yorkers Want…

This week, I am getting my life together.


Cartoon by the amazing Aliie Brosh

Above is my “I’m feeling really good about myself” stance. I do it all over my apartment. (especially after laundry) The stance is making realize all kinds of things…

For starters, it is completely important that I finally learn how to ride a bike in a dress and heels.

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As an automatic mood stabilizer more powerful than Prozac, I am convinced that by doing this at least once a week, I will become a better person to be around. Even people who can’t stand me will find a new level of tolerance for my ridiculousness.

But more importantly, this exercise in responsibility has wrought a certain clarity… I’ve realized that there are 3 universal truths out there about what people everywhere want most in life. I used to think it was all just existential chaos, but New Yorkers (coupled with doing my laundry) have made me see the light.

1) A sandwich.

As Liz Lemon, my all-time favorite fictional writer, once attested… all of humankind just wants to sit and have a sandwich.

From the towering Rubens of Katz’s Deli to the impromptu doughiness of the Ethiopian hoagie, every culture wants a sandwich. No place on earth exemplifies this desire more than New York City.

My favorite sandwich, the combination falafel-lamb gyro with extra white sauce, is sold at carts everywhere here by The Halal Guys. I love The Halal Guys not only because they are the best street meat on this glorious island, but also because they have the best (and simplest) slogans ever:

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Many are exuberant run-on sentences:

“Yes we serve the masses Oh yes, we serve masses! They love our food You can too just come on down.” and “You can’t make up your mind between chicken and Gyro you don’t have to, have chicken and Gyro combo.”

My personal Halal Guy is the opposite of the soup Nazi. He’s like a sexy Forrest Gump. It’s never an issue of denial. He thinks I do not eat enough. Every time I find myself at the window, he says, “You must to eat more falafel! Deep Fry, my skinny friend. New York requires!” (Marvin would disagree with this sentiment, but no drag queen trainer from Queens will ever stand in the way of me and my street meat)

The other great is that The Halal Guys are only one $ on Yelp, which means I can still pay my student loans (which I will probably have until my next life kicks in, but I’ve come to terms with it SallieMae. You should too)

2) A T-shirt.

A t-shirt, worn without a light sweater or jacket, is a universal sign that the weather is perfect. Since, I am pigment impaired, I tend to like mine with sleeves. I also prefer uber honest messaging, so I’ve started designing my own:

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(I was so terrible to my ex-husband)

Also, this one’s a keeper…

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You could wear these all over the city and people would wish they had one too.

3) A neighbor.

Cranky or caring, every New Yorker needs to know at least one neighbor–even if they are like this:

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Manhattan is a place of intrinsic conflict. Everyone is always in your face. The consequence of this conflict is a certain brand of intimacy that allows you to say whatever the hell you want. This is why it’s always wise to keep a little bit of a buffer with one’s neighbors. To this is end, signs like the above are completely appropriate. Why? You’re not yelling at anyone, you’re simply expressing facts and desires.

So, there you have it… I am finally owning my Manhattan truth because, in the enduring words of The Halal Guys, “You can too… New York requires.”

Deep fry my friends…


A Guide for the Perplexed and Dirty: 5 things to do if you are sad…

I’m not sure how it happened… maybe it’s that I’m completely naive or just living a life of unparalleled denial… but I’m mostly a very happy person… I’m serious.  Even when things are really bad, I’m pretty much like this:


cartoon by the amazing allie brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

It’s true that daily life (and New York) can wear on a girl, but whether it’s missing a flight, or an epic subway fail, or being accosted an angsty Elmo on the way to work, or that Marvin (my drag queen trainer) keeps telling me I’m still fat, or that I accidentally washed and dried all of my sweaters on the super-crazy-hot setting, so that I can never wear any of them again… I’m pretty chin up.

Chin down would mean staring, full frontal, into the abyss and I’m a writer. We’re already maudlin enough… Between Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and David Foster Wallace…  writers are a grim lot and not usually featured in the above cartoon.

But WHAT do you do when you’ve messed something up so bad that you are like this?


cartoon by the amazing allie brosh – hyperboleandahalf.com

Perplexed, despondent, muddy… that’s me right now. (To add insult to injury, it’s also really cold tonight. As I write this… I’m in bed wearing a ski hat and fingerless mittens. Go sexy)

But back to dirt and despair… There was a great post a while back on the blog The Girl in the Little Black Dress called “100 things to do if you’re sad.” Excerpting, borrowing and adding my own little bits… here are 5 that the “me” in my inner Amelie have tried…

1. Let them eat cake. Go out to dinner with your friends (or friend, don’t be picky). Midway through the dinner, sneak back to the kitchen and tell them it’s your friend’s birthday (even though it’s not) and could they please do something involving cake? When it all goes down with the candles and singing, your friend will laugh his/her guts out and feel completely marvelous. My friends have had so many “birthdays” this way. And if, for some reason, your friend doesn’t appreciate the gesture, then cross that wet blanket off your Christmas card list. Jeeze.

2.  Vive la France.  Watch a French movie….Amelie, Populaire (both on Netflix) or May Fools (on Hulu). Amelie will remind you that cracking the top of creme brulee is the best thing ever, that people’s faces are more beautiful and true in the dark, and that the feeling you have right after you sneeze is amazing. If you don’t have the patience for the film, you can always just watch the motorcycle scene at the end… Remember when you last did that? I do…

With Populaire between the gorgeously designed opening titles, the pink typewriters that don’t work and Romain Duris transforming from pissy little asshole to a genuinely sweet person, you can’t help but feel more chin-up about whatever is bothering you. (GLBD)

In May Fools, it’s like a holiday in the south of France with a quirky family that you’ll want as your own, along with the old manoir they are skirmishing over. Spoiler alert… real estate is my porn…

3. Time Travel. Look up the time in another country. Any country… It could be Borneo, Paris or Peru…anywhere. Think about what the sky looks like there. Are the people eating breakfast? Is it dark enough for skinny dipping? Is everyone asleep except for people working the night shift in hospitals and heavy-lidded people in love?

4. Get Between the Sheets. Take a set of clean sheets (or just wash your sheets, why don’t you) and put them on high heat in the dryer (just like the sweaters). When done, quickly make your bed, take off all of your clothes and climb in with the sheets pulled up to your chin. You may not have fixed anything in your life, but you will feel instantly better.

5. Run Wild. Go to your nearest park (preferably Central Park), sit on a bench and quietly make fun of all/most of the runners passing by for about 20 minutes. Then, pick the goofiest one you saw and go run exactly like that person for a hundred yards or more. Screw what other people think. It’s New York. Anyone who is interesting at all is “at one” with their weirdness. You will be so surprised at how liberating it is to be a beautiful, full blown spaz. You will definitely want to do this more than once–in your apartment and with friends. You’ll see. Being a goofball is strangely addictive…

In the meantime, for the perplexed, the despondent and the dirty… it may seem discouraging, but sometimes there is no fixing… only distracting…