Then, that’s the best time for the window washers to arrive.
I got an email from LinkedIn today asking if my desk looked anything like Richard Branson’s. Excuse me, Sir Richard Branson. Ya know, the guy who owns anything of or related to Virgins? Having cornered that market (and with his finger potentially on the pulse of that chapter of Islam), the feasibility of our desk looking alike is nil.
Considering I bought my desk at Target in 2003, it’s materials are somewhat questionable. The online listing stated “like-wood material”. That’s like… whatever the hell this is:
My own desk at home with its prized punching skull light-up pen, robot pencil sharpener, and pink tiara amongst bits of paper and other shit I don’t know what to do with made me think Dickie’s desk accoutrements differ from mine.
Here’s what I decided Richard Branson likely has adorning his work space:
So, no, LinkedIn. No, my desk does not look like Richard Branson.
Thanks for reminding me of my shortcomings.
I’m living in a hotel suite, which is all well and good. The kitchenette is perpetually clean whether I wash the dishes or not. The trash vanishes when I leave the place in the afternoon like magic. You know, it’s like staying in a hotel, but for five weeks.
And I know what you’re thinking, “you spoiled bitch, you’re about to complain about living in upscale lodging for free?” Dammit, yes I am.
Maybe I’m dehydrated or maybe there’s not enough potassium gushing through my veins, but I’ve had more Charlie horses than you can shake a carrot stick at.
You guys know what a Charlie horse is, right? You’re sleeping soundly amid the cool air of night, perhaps enjoying an inappropriate dream about the guy behind the counter at the fish market (is that just me?), and BAM! Onslaught of paralysis stretches down your calf! The fish market guy is freaking out, “this doesn’t usually happen!” and you wake up leaping from your bed to aid your convulsing calf.
Now here’s the thing about the hotel where my inner George Costanza surfaces: every hotel tucks the sheets in such a way that the sleeper is bound like a Chinese girl’s foot. You’re thinking, “just untuck it, you lazy whore” and yes, I see the obvious solution, shut up.
The fact is, I get into the sushi roll that is this enormous king size bed and forget about the dangers that lie ahead. Upon Charlie Horse attack, panic washes over me because I can’t get out of the fucking sheets. Is it a devious hotel plot seeking revenge of those who make bizarre requests? “Yes, I’d like seven keys. And wifi access for nine devices. Oh, and can I get some different furniture in here?”
Can’t a girl choose her own upholstery? Vindictive bastards.
I’ve got to figure the chances of a celebrity sighting on the mean streets of Sydney’s Central Business District are slim to none. In New York, Letterman guests exit stage door within spit’s distance of your camera phone. In SoHo, you can spot what’s left of Meg Ryan’s face walking down Prince St. Tyne Dale mails her own letters at the Hell’s Kitchen post office. You can sip scotch next to a cigar-smoking Ellen Barkin at Hudson Bar & Books. John Lithgow will ask to borrow the salt at an Upper West Side bistro. And Julia Robert’s laugh can be heard at an Italian wine bar in Tribeca.* On the other side of the world, I’ve calculated exactly three “holy crap” local celebrity moments you could potentially encounter here in Australia:
And undoubtedly these guys are off shooting with mutant Hobbits in some other country.
I spent over two months in the Harbour city and saw more retail facilities and natural beauty than anywhere I’d ever visited.
I mean, look at this dump:
Living among this made the thrill of spotting some icon going about their daily life seem superficial.
Alas, Australia is brimming with an intense music scene. Since I arrived I’ve seen live concert advertisements for Aerosmith, Rihanna, Black Sabbath, Cyndi Lauper, Counting Crows and on and on and on.
The panhandlers, or buskers as they’re called here, are dripping with talent. I listened to more live music on the street via tiny portable amps than all fourteen years of living in New York.
Nevertheless, it was still a shock to walk out onto the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney amongst the crowds and the buskers playing their hearts out to see Gene Simmons of KISS taking video of this kid killing it on the guitar.
How’s that for a crap your pants moment? The Demon recorded for a good three minutes before collecting his wife and moving on. It had to have been seven seconds later that the young musician threw his guitar on the ground and blew up his twitter feed with this shit.
If you look closely you’ll see the urine streaming down this kid’s pants.
In Australia! Ah, gotcha. You thought you were in for a Game of Thrones post. Well, stay with me on this one. The twists, turns, bloodlust and bare breasts in this tale will blow your mind, too! Ok, take that with a grain of salt.
As I was saying winter is coming here in Australia, which really just means the locals will freeze their asses off in the frigid 60° daytime high.
I packed exactly two sweaters for my time here in Oz; both of which are in need of a bath. The hotel where I’m staying offers a dry cleaning service that includes “woolens” at $19.10 per item. Let me repeat that, $19.10 to dry clean a four-year-old sweater.
Could you justify paying a third of what the sweaters cost in the first place? In Manhattan, the nice Koreans down the block near my apartment would douse those woolens in toxic chemicals for $5.50 a piece! A near 300% increase is out of the question. I’m sure you’re thinking why not just buy another sweater, you cheap skate? Well for two reasons: Yes, I’m cheap and Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. And B.) If I add another shred of fabric, my suitcase will bust open in cargo.
With errands to run around Melbourne’s Central Business District, I packed my sweaters along assuming I’d stumble upon a dry cleaner in my travels.
You can’t walk two blocks in Manhattan without passing a sign that looks like this, and anything would be cheaper than the racket my hotel is running:
I walked around for a total of ninety minutes and found not a single cleaner. Ninety minutes seems excessive for twenty square blocks, but the layout of Melbourne demands detours; it’s a walking city filled with curious alleyways containing hidden gems unseen from the main streets. A tiny café, a great restaurant, or the unmarked door of an outright speakeasy – all tucked away out of sight from the main drag. I spent most of my time wandering down shadowed alleyways trying the knobs of interesting looking doors where in most other cities would seem like a recipe for rape.
I began at a tailor. Seems logical, right? No dice. He recommended the “news agency” around the corner. Skeptical, but willing to give it a shot, the conversation went like this:
“I hear you do dry cleaning?” knowing I sounded like a fool.
“Ehh? We sell magazines and newspapers.” As if to say, duh, you stupid American.
To which I mentally replied, Shut up, I knew I couldn’t get dry cleaning done at the same place where I could buy scratch tickets and porn mags.
From there, I visited the Ever-Unhelpful-But-Why-The-Hell-Not Information Booth on Bourke Street. A sweet older woman directed me to another tailor. Her directions were precise, “Cut through the David Jones department store, when you come out the other side, go down the alley on the left and head towards the alleyway off that alleyway and you’ll see a sign.” Uh, OK.
Actually, I know that sounds like swim through the Sea of Enlightenment until you approach the Bridge of Despair where you’ll meet the Troll King and answer his questions three, but I promise it made sense.
I got side tracked cutting through the department store because this…
Was advertised next to this…
…and I thought your twelve-year-old-boy sensibilities would appreciate that, Reader.
Once I found the tailor down the alley-of-the-alleyway who, no, did not do dry cleaning, he directed me to a lottery shop. I mean, what the eff?! Is there a different word for “dry cleaning” in Australia? One of the great wonders of the world!
Boiling over with frustration having completely failed in dropping off my sweaters, I finally decided to just go home and look it up the old fashioned way — on Yelp.com. I have a feeling there’s some cool 1920’s themed dry cleaner/speakeasy down an alleyway that’s just a door where you knock and give the password: “Lightly Starched”
Dear Ann Marie Taft,
Hope you don’t mind me publicly broadcasting your email address on my blog, but I wanted to show everyone your impeccable articulation. You left a rather memorable gem in the comments section of a recent post and I was so pleased to read your compliments.
I can’t be sure if you were aiming to jab me for not updating my site daily; I realize it’s a promise I break time and time again. But, honestly, I grew up with Irish guilt and married into Jewish guilt, so really, no skin off my back!
It does please the author to see you, you Ann Marie Taft of Germany with a peculiar interest in Finnish telecom devices, were so forthright in delivering such accolades towards Vile’s content. I’m delighted to hear you find my “data” pleasant. But as you already belied in your previous mention of my not-so-daily updates, I can only imagine in your country “data” means something different, like legs. Yes, my data are quite pleasant, thank you. I carry around my “data” just about everywhere I go.
That being said, I, too, am eager of reading this commenter’s reply to be updated daily.
So let’s get a coffee, Ann Marie Taft. Let’s talk about carrying data, if you catch my drift.
Adults who say words like “snackies” when speaking to other adults make me want to Darth Vader their throat. I am perpetually amazed by the correlation between the way people speak and their ability to hold down grown-up jobs. If say, around noon you’re feeling a bit peckish and turn to the guy in the cubicle next to you and ask, “Imma go out for some nom noms, you want anything?”, you should be dead. Death by Stapler.
I’ve worked in corporate environments with people who use words like “perf” and “terrif” and the one that gets under my skin the most, the ever-popular “cray cray”. If you’re abbreviating “crazy” then god damnit, why double up on the “cray”? Why say “cray” in the first place?!
Clearly I have issues with abbreviations and cutsie made-up words. We’ve chatted about it before regarding mommies and their made-up bullshit, but adults? No more! I’ve had it.
Last week a guy made his way into my office and introduced himself. He was the 40-something year old friend of a colleague. His age, in essence, told me he was a grown-up. Without invitation he proceeded to tell me just how fabulous he thought he was and mentioned a long-term move to Europe.
“I’m moving to Florence for ten months,” he bragged.
“La dee dah,” I replied, deadpan. Honestly, working abroad for four months now has only made me realize just how uncomfortable being away from home really is. Also, I don’t care.
“I know! Isn’t it cray?!” the stranger squealed. I wanted to kill him with the use of “cray” then and there, but he gave me further motive with a phrase that made my ears bleed. He added, “Smell me, huh!?”
Smell me? Did I hear that right?
What the fuck is that? My cooler-than-thou contemporaries overflow with bizarre unconventional colloquialisms and slang, but “smell me”?
As if the cray wasn’t enough of an assault, he had to suggest I nuzzle his armpits, too. In all likelihood, I’ll never see him again. That is, if I’m lucky.
While we’re on topic, my amazement also extends to how some seemingly functioning adults choose to smell. There’s always the one guy in the office who reeks like he just spent the night in a dumpster outside of a fish market. Either it’s outright body odor or a bad choice of cologne/perfume — and inevitably too much of it. Like anyone, I’ve been passed over for jobs, but if I were a hiring manager I would certainly instate a “Scent Clause” in every new hire contract.
I have reviewed your resume and credentials and feel you would be an asset to our company. However, I have also reviewed the sheer quantity of perfume you soused yourself in before our meeting. Therefore, we would like to hire you at Company X for a trial period. Your training will include an informative and crucial Good Scents Makes Cents® orientation* which will determine the possibility of a long term position here.
Sincerely Not Kidding About This,
Mrs. Blood Hound, CEO
*You like that? I thought that up just now.
Is it just me, or are people suddenly beginning every sentence with “So…”?
Is “so” the new “um”?
…and he lives in the touristy section of Sydney, Australia!
Ignorance is great, innit? All this time, I thought I’d get off the plane in Australia having been greeted by a talking kangaroo who would place a flowered lay around my neck and we’d hop off into the jungle and drink Fosters with the other talking animals. Ya know, normal stuff.
Come to find out, Sydney is like any other city except it has buildings shaped like Cubist movement Stormtroopers. In fact, I’ve been disappointed at the lacking wildlife. Not a single kangaroo populating the city’s pubs or hotels on business trips.
I took a walk at dust last night in an area called Walsh Bay. American tourists walking ahead of me abruptly stopped and began ooohing and ahhing at something just overhead. I joined in the voyeurism expecting to see some exotic bird or an emu sitting in a tree*. Nothing. I continued on walking the quiet neighborhood streets populated by a smattering of locals and people coming or going to the restaurants by the docks.
Talking walks is boring. Agreed? It requires an added source of entertainment. Music, cat calling, or just plain old talking on the phone. I decided to call a friend who I don’t think has slept since the 90‘s and sure enough he was awake for a chat.
It’s important to mention the people here aren’t fetish obsessed with their phones like Americans. Entire meals are consumed without your dining companion checking facebook notifications or basketball stats**. Overall I haven’t heard much of anyone’s public phone conversation which is absolutely fucking refreshing. Although, being used to the public and incessant yammering New Yorkers are so accustomed to, I am now the offender. I get it, I see it: I am the loud American I’m so piously judging. I’ve walked into grocery stores and pharmacies chatting on the phone only to realize I’m the only one doing it and I’m obnoxious for it, too.
In my now-hideously noisy American way while on the phone (a double whammy) I let out an unmistakably loud, “HOLY SHIT!” as I marveled at the Gotham’s superhero flapping above me. The flash of black soared overhead! A giant, dare I say, man-sized BAT. Undoubtably Bruce Wayne on his way to meet the tree-sitting Emu for a beer.
*I do not know what an emu looks like or if it sits in trees.
** That was a direct jab at my husband.
(Originally published October, 2012)
I’m writing to you from the corner of my kitchen floor where I’ve recently unearthed a healthy dose of paranoia. Some weeks ago, my husband and I made the executive decision to update our apartment starting with new hardwood floors. I’ve elected to stay home to greet the installers and ensure all goes smoothly. Certainly of our duo, I’m not the most apt to speak up if shoddy work is performed, but I need to ensure none of my Halloween costumes are tried on and/or sniffed. Most men are into the stale scent of petroleum-based body paint, right?
Four men arrived this morning at my door and with a heavy accent one began, “Sarah… Weeney?” “Actually, Sweeney,” but thanks for bringing me back to 9th grade all over again, “Please come in!” I’m never quite sure what to do with myself during repair or maintenance visits and my inner Donna Reed rears her uncomfortable head. “Could I fix you a cold beverage?” I’ll say with a fixed nauseating smile. And no matter what, I can’t help myself but to hover over the job; every leaky faucet or electrical mishap, I want to help during the process so as not to appear useless. In short, I overcompensate.
After completing the necessary paperwork, they began unloading the wood planks, tools, and saws to tear up the squeaky hardwoods to replace them with a rich caramel oak. With only a smattering of high school Spanish left in mi cabeza gringa, an intense game of charades commenced. Finally, I mustered the courage to conjugate some simple verbs to attempt better communication. This helped and we all appeared to be on the same page. Amid my feigned cheeriness, the men muttered to each other in hush tones in Spanish far too rapid for me to pick out any keywords. I realize with one comprehended exchange I have somehow tricked them into thinking I understand the language, “cuidado… ella entiende.”
And then it dawns on me, this project provides these men with all the tools in which to murder me, saw apart my lifeless body, and tell-tale-heart the pieces under the fresh new auburn floor boards.
From the untrained eye, I may appear to be the spoiled wife lounging at home whilst repairs performed by strapping young Latin men sweat about me. But then one may also notice I live on the fifth floor of a walk-up building in the Calgary of Manhattan, clearly not the lap of luxury. No afternoon martinis and cliché bon-bons here, but that doesn’t stop me from the overwhelming feeling of “white guilt” which in turn rises in my mind as motive.
Hours pass and I begin to see the signs of my untimely death. As a warning shot, they shrouded my television like a Taliban hostage:
I overhear their gibberish and it all begins to make sense:
The short compact man asks the younger stronger of the four, “¿Qué él hizo con el taladro?”
I translate this to clearly mean, “Please lay down that plastic tarp to keep the blood from staining the carpet. It looks imported.”
His response, “En el dormitorio al lado de la ventana,” likely meaning, “Shouldn’t we just put the body into the bathtub to ensure easy clean up?”
“¡Necesito el arma del clavo, también!” or as I assume, “This isn’t the Sopranos, she goes into the subfloor!”
The short man answers his ringing cellphone, the boss calling the shots from afar. Upon hanging up, he seems agitated, “Mi esposa guarda el llamar de mí.” Perhaps they’ve wasted time and have another “job” to do?
Their effort in this plot is admirable; the floors are coming along beautifully.
Alas, I’m no fool! As I sit here on the cold tile floor amid all of my belongings shoved into the kitchen with me, I await the Circular Saw of Death.