Thursday, July 28, 2011


Exes are pretty funny things.

I look at a picture of this one and I find that I'm still in love with him.

I see that one and want to smack him across the face.

I speak with this one and I feel that we speak instead through our eyes.

I hang out with that one and forget that we ever dated.

I avoid this one at all possible costs.

Exes are pretty funny things. You put them all in a lineup and discover that they bring out a totally different something in you. With this one, I was a goofball. With that one, I was a sex bomb. With this one, I was a best friend. With that one, I was a philosopher. With this one, I was a few forgettable first kisses. Hey, we're all bad at kissing when we're fourteen. If you're good at kissing when you're fourteen, you'd better take a step back and read The Giver instead. Think about something else.

Exes are great things because you can be glad the bad ones are exes. But exes can be great because you can think back on wonderful times in which you were leading a pretty wonderful life. I'm glad to know those times will likely come again. Until then, I hope all of my exes are doing swell. Except, you know, for that one. Just kidding.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My back to the Seine, and my front to the Samaritaine

From ages one to five, my best friend was a twelve-inch doll with waxy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a pink jumper, on which was embroidered the name Corolle. Actually, it was a brand name (Corolle Dolls remain popular toys for French girls), but I interpreted it as the name "Carol" in French form, and called my baby doll just so. In time, her hair fell out in fistfuls chemotherapy-style. Her clothing tore off. But her plastic skin smelled like something delicious, and I kept her with me always.

My father bought dear Corolle for me in Paris. When I was a squabbling, chubby little toddler with black eyes and hair to match, my dad accepted a job at a laboratory there. My mother took me at one point to visit him, and his tiny apartment was the site of the most embarrassing photograph of me ever taken. It's me as a toddler, naked, in the arms of my also naked father. Both of us are in the shower. Thankfully, only the upper half of his body is seen. In the picture I'm crying, because I know that in fifteen years I'll be subject to my friends' ceaseless taunts in regards to this slimy nude shot. Other less incriminating photographs from that visit include my waddling with the ducks and chomping on baguettes, but understandably, the Shower Photo is the most memorable.

This month, I returned to Paris for my first cognizant visit. My dad was there too, twenty-two years later. My fourteen-year-old sister was also in tow, shuffling her feet and shuffling her iPod. Together, we trampled the cobblestone walks and strolled along the Seine, chowing down on crepes at every possible opportunity. We took in the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame and Versailles. We stared up at the Eiffel Tower from the bottom, but didn't go up. Looking up into it, I felt like I was staring at the nose of an oncoming ship. "Can you take a picture of me?" English-speaking tourists would ask me in excruciatingly enunciated speech, pointing like clowns at their cameras. "Yes," I'd respond. "I speak English." Calm yourself.

On Bastille Day, my dad, my sister and I passed a dark building on the Seine with windows so gothic, it could nearly pass for a cathedral. "That's a department store," said my dad. "That's where I got your doll that you liked so much."

"Corolle!" I exclaimed. Instantly, I remembered her smell. She smelled like a dessert: fragrant, sweet, delectable.

"Samaritaine," announced my father. He likes to say French words. "That's the name of the store."

It was closed, so I remembered it and went back on a day when I was walking around by myself. I planned on tromping to the toy section to find today's version of Corolle, but to my disappointment the store remained dark. It was closed for good. With my back to the Seine and my front to Samaritaine, I imagined by stick-figure father in 1988, blindly putting one foot in front of the other amongst walls of boxed dolls, trying to find the perfect one for his young daughter.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Taking candy from strangers

Bar 83.

French dip in hand, I found a man with a giant Barnes and Noble bag, his eyes glued to the Wimbledon tournament.

"Sir?" I offered as I slid the plate in front of him. He tore his eyes away from Novak Djokovic and they lit up in manly hunger.

"Thanks!" he responded. I smiled at him and turned away, when he stopped me. "Hey. You a chocolate person?"

"What?" I asked. "Um, yeah."

He reached into the Barnes and Noble bag and pulled out three Godiva chocolate bars. Fanning them out in front of me, he said, "Pick one."

Pick one! Was this some sort of joke? This was literally taking candy from a stranger, the number one no-no. "Really?"

"Yeah. I had like a $75 gift card to Barnes and Noble," he nodded toward the bulging bag. "Pick one."

I carefully selected the dark chocolate, raspberry filled bar. Wow, this double just got a lot better. "Thank you! I can't wait to share this with the rest of the staff."

He grinned at me and picked up the French dip, ready to dive in. "Enjoy."

"You too," I said, and returned to the main floor, sliding the Godiva in the pocket of my apron. And I didn't share it with anyone. I kept it all to myself, savoring it piece by piece in the locker room over the course of the dinner shift. Eh, sorry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kitchen singing

There is a tall black man who works in the kitchen at my restaurant. He's got crinkly eyes, a wide smile and one of the most fantastic singing voices I've ever heard.

I made this discovery about a month ago when I worked one night that he was working. I was dumping some dirty dishes off by the dishwasher when I heard a stunningly on-point, a cappella rendition of Usher's "U Remind Me." I turned my head and saw this skyscrape-like figure bopping his head back and forth, his arms elbow-deep in uncooked ribs, serenading them as if it were 2001. He was Usher and the ribs were Chilli from TLC. (Remember, they dated?)

I shoved the dishes in the dishwasher and crept up beside him. He smiled at me and began singing to me, and I responded by harmonizing with him on the chorus. "You remind me of a girl that I once knew," we jammed together. "See her face whenever I, I look at you..." I don't think anyone had every acknowledged his singing before. He seemed so grateful to have someone to sing with.

In the nights that I've worked with him since, he greets me with a high five and a "Hello, angel!" I always ask him, "What are we singing tonight?" Sometimes it's Michael Jackson, other nights it's Rihanna or Beyonce. It's always R&B to get our spirits up in the stress---or tedium---of the dinner shift.

Tonight, as I stood in the back polishing silverware, I asked him, "Where are you from?"

He whipped out that huge smile of his and answered, "Jamaica."

It made so much sense. He's so carefree and easygoing. Of course, he's from the beach. "Oh, wow. I've never been."

"Man, oh man," he said, leaning up against the dishwasher. "It's paradise. The beach." He exploded his fingers, "and the sun."

I imagined him dancing on the beach with long-haired women in hula skirts. "How long have you been in New York?"

"Seven years," he answered. I wondered what his big dreams were. How he came to work in the kitchen. "I'll take you to Jamaica sometime."

"Oh, really!" I laughed. That's how all the kitchen guys are. They flirt with you, tell you they're going to take you home, meet their parents, take you out, give you a good time. "I look forward to that."

Later in the night, when I was about to leave, I bumped into him and he extended his arm for a hug. It was one of those hugs in which the two huggers don't actually touch bodies, they just place their heads in the negative space next to the partner's head, and wrap their one arm around the other, making as little contact as possible, as if they were a ghost. "Goodnight, angel," he said.

"Goodnight," I said to him. As I high-fived him and turned around to turn in my money, he said, "I'd like to take you to church sometime."

"Church!" was all I could say. "Church!"

"I'd like to hear you sing a Christmas song," he confessed. "Joy to the World. I think you have the voice of an angel."

Blushing, I responded, "No way. You're the star here. You have one of the best voices I've ever heard."

He smiled, and I saw him on the beach. "Thanks. Goodnight, angel. I'll see you tomorrow."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Birkenstocks, a bruise and a bona-fide Frenchman

I was blasting Fleet Foxes in my headphones on the 6 train tonight when the man seated beside me leaned over and inspected something: me.

Immediately, self-consciouness washed over me. Last week, I took a mighty fall and now there's a murky bruise on my thigh, brooding fiercely under the skin. It's the size of my hand and pretty scary-looking. Over the last few days, I've had a couple horrified people demand, "What happened to your leg?!" My hand raced to the bruise in an effort to shield it from sight when I realized the man hadn't noticed my bruise. He was looking at my feet.

He caught my eye and mouthed something. He mouthed it again. I took my headphones off. "Nice Birkenstocks," he said.

"Oh," I looked at my feet. They were dirty and calloused with hairy toes. Embarrassing. "Thank you."

"I have a pair myself," he went on. I detected a French accent. "They're like..." He held up his hand and made a crossing motion with his fingers. I knew exactly the kind he was talking about.

"Oh, right! Yeah, those look too manly on me," I replied. He had gorgeous gray eyes. His hair was dark brown, with specks of white around the ears. He wasn't clean-shaven, but his pink-and-white striped shirt was neatly pressed and tucked into a pair of gray jeans. On his feet, he wore black socks with brown loafers. I loved his style; he wore the kind of clothing I think I'd wear, if I were a man.

He spoke easily, and we continued to talk about shoes. I told him I'd recently gotten these Birkenstocks repaired. Oh, he asked, did you send them in? You can do that, you know. No, I didn't. I took them to a cobbler in Manhattan. Oh, he replied. They look very nice. These loafers are from a thrift store. You should wear socks always, I said. I do, he replied. It feels a little like someone else has worn them. That makes sense, I replied. Because you got them at a thrift store.

I wondered if he was visiting the United States, or if he lived here. I wondered what would happen if he asked me for my number. Would I give it to him? Should I give him my email address instead? I've never given my phone number to a stranger before. I was rapidly thinking of options when my Frenchman turned to his right and began conversing in French with his travel partner. I didn't even know he was with someone. He seemed so engrossed in me.

He and his friend continued to chat in French as the train arrived at my stop. As the doors opened, I thought, Well, he's not going to ask me for my number now. He looked up at me and smiled. "Have a nice evening," I said to him, and out the doors I went.


The Chinatown bus chugs along the expressway in the middle of the night. "I feel like I never meet anyone."

"Well, that's why so many of our friends are on OK Cupid," says Alex. He and I are slumped in our seats, eyes half-closed. I hope there aren't bedbugs on this bus.

I wrinkle my nose at the thought of finding love via questionnaires and games, searching for a man like I'm searching on Google. "I don't know. Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I like happenstance. Meeting someone on the street. Or wherever. Out of the blue."

"Yeah," he said. "Me too." And our single selves sat in silence, imagining lucky encounters.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"No sleep until Philly" and La Luz De Un Cigarillo

These next two days are gonna be crazeballs. Tomorrow, I'm getting up at my version of the crack of dawn, 7:30am, to be at a run-through of Alfridge, which I'm teching and opening next week in Philadelphia with some of my best friends and frequent collaborators. "No sleep until Philly," says my director, Andrew. This week, we're going to tech the show, rehearse the shit out of it, write the ending, and, oh, open the show. "Actually," he corrects himself, "No sleep until we're back in Brooklyn."

After the 9am run tomorrow, I'm jetting to my work, then jetting from my work to Political Subversities at the PIT, where we're kicking off our summer run with a brand-new show. Gadzooks! Then, of course, I have to stick around to watch some of my improvising friends, Gentlemen Party, who go up right after us at 11pm. Boy, am I going to sleep well tomorrow night.

Then Sunday, I head to work, then jet to Chinatown and take the bus to Philadelphia, where I'll be for a week. I cannot wait to be stationary in Philadelphia all next week with my buddies. For the past month, I feel like I've been running from place to place, having no time at all to take a breath. Last weekend, as I tore off my work clothes in the locker room, hastily shoved my sweaty feet in my Keds and wiped the lipstick off my mouth, I nearly burst into tears bolting out the door. Am I doing too much? I've asked myself this ten times a day over the past month. But when someone from Alfridge or Political Subversities brings in a brilliant piece of writing or tries a character voice that is the most ridiculous I've ever heard, I have to forget the tears and burst into laughter instead. Yeah, it's all worth it.

I had a moment tonight when all of the busy-ness slowed and I could sit, put away my phone, and enjoy a play. My dear friend and fellow Political Subversities cast member, Ismael Cruz-Cordova, is starring off-Broadway in La Luz De Un Cigarillo at Teatro LATEA. I attended his performance tonight, solo and totally nervous. I knew it would be completely in Spanish with English supertitles. Would I be able to keep up? I forgot that I have been reading since age four; so, actually, I can read supertitles pretty quickly.

The play was really beautiful. It's about a Dominican mother whose son returns home for a couple days for his father's funeral. They can't really connect with each other; she wants him to open up to her, but he can't because he rejects her conservative outlook on the world. They love one another but cannot respect each other. In the second act, the mother goes wild and slaps her son, calling him ungrateful, detailing for him the sacrifices she has made for him to be a happy child and successful adult. Something in the scene reminded me of my own mother, the most hardworking woman I know. In that moment, I saw my own mom, who has made an infinite number of sacrifices for me---working seven days a week, paying for nearly everything I desired, never remarrying to focus on her work---and myself as the son, who fears that his mother will be alone for the rest of her life. As these things clicked into place, I began crying in my seat. I missed my mom. I missed my childhood. I resented every hurtful thing I ever said to my mom. I resented the nonstop work in which she immerses herself. After the show, I called her before I even left the theater. She's the best. I didn't realize that as a kid. Boy, do I realize it now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Lady at Table 45

I see now that this has become a blog mostly about work-related incidents, about which I refuse to complain. Instead, I embrace it. I'm glad this survival job has allowed me to tell so many different stories about the strange and marvelous humans that walk the Earth with me. Now, wasn't that dramatic?

A few nights ago, I was treading my section in the restaurant on two very sore feet. I couldn't help but seethe about the couple I'm waited on earlier that evening: a young man and his young date, old enough to drink vodka-and-sodas but immature enough to give me a decent tip. It was his birthday, which I'd found out when I carded them. I'm a softie when it comes to birthdays---who doesn't love something free on their birthday?---and especially when it comes to twenty-somethings' birthdays. I'm pretty broke. I assume most twenty-somethings are pretty broke, as well. If I were to take my broke self out with my broke friend out to an expensive dinner and the waitress gave us something for free, I'd be over the moon! This was what I set out to do when I comp'ed their $14 appetizer: make them happy, happy, happy people.

Instead, when I presented the check and my my huge smile, they didn't seem moved in the slightest. "The appetizer was on me tonight!" I exclaimed. The dude nodded and said, "Thanks. Could you take a picture of us?"

Well, happy birthday to you. And they left me a 12% tip. After I gave them something for free. Dickwads.

Anyway, I was pissed and mopey and my feet hurt and I'd kill a man to sit down when I noticed the fifty-something, frizzy haired, bespectacled woman now sitting at my table 45. She had a cocktail in front of her, which meant she probably had come from the bar. She was plinking away on her Blackberry and barely noticed as I approached the table.

"Hello!" I greeted her.

She looked up, smiling. She had a kind face. I wondered why she was dining alone. Immediately, I asked myself silently, Is she married?

She knew exactly what she wanted. "I'll start out with a small salad, garlic dressing on the side. Then I'll have the cheeseburger, medium. Thank you!"

I smiled through gritted teeth as I took away her menu and thanked her. Walking away, I cursed the gods. Gods, I addressed them, if you're going to give me a one-top, can you at least give me a one-top who orders the $44 New York Strip Steak and drinks like a fish?

The gods must've heard. "Oh, wait!" the lady at table 45 called to me. I returned to her table, and she rested a hand on my arm. "I'll have another Casper after all. I'll just take two ice cubes. My teeth are so sensitive. I can't handle the cold!"

I chuckled. "No problem!" All right, at least she's a fishlike drinker.

Over the course of the evening, I checked back in with the lady at table 45. She seemed very sweet and bumbly. She praised the garlic dressing, asking for more and more of it. She fawned over the cheeseburger, claiming it was the best burger she'd ever had. She ordered Casper after Casper, two ice cubes only. Every time I swung by her table, she was cheerful as a toddler, having the time of her life at the one of the smallest tables in the restaurant, enjoying one of the simplest meals off the menu.

After I'd cleared her dishes and left her with a clean table and a near-empty highball glass with two melting ice cubes inside of it, I offered her dessert.

"Oh, I do love the key lime pie!" she exclaimed.

"Totally," I agreed, "I love it, too. Shall I order you a slice?"

She shook her head. "Sadly, I'm allergic to nuts."

"A tragedy!" I replied. "All of our desserts have nuts! Can I offer you a scoop of ice cream?"

She pointed to her teeth. "Too sensitive," she reminded me. "My poor teeth can't handle it! I'll tell you what. I'll have one more drink, please. And that'll be my dessert."

"Absolutely," I smiled at her and began to walk away from the table when she stopped me.

"Kim," she said in her soft, heartfelt voice, "thank you so much for a wonderful evening. You've really changed my mind about this place. I used to come here all the time, but then I stopped. I don't know why, I was just sort of over it. This is the first time I've come here in about a year. I work around the corner. And I must say, I have you to thank. You've given me a wonderful evening, and I'm looking forward to coming back."

I was stunned. And touched. I couldn't think of anything else to say except, "Thank you so much!" So I said that.

As I walked back to the wait station to re-ring her Casper, I couldn't help but feel very happy about the compliment she'd paid me, and how I'd made a difference in not only her night, but her attitude about the restaurant. I felt proud, but at the same time I felt limp. My dad always used to say, "There are some things you should be glad you're not that good at doing." It's weird to know that you're a good waitress.

After the lady at table 45 paid the bill, I took one last visit to her table to pick up the credit card slip and bid her goodnight. She was such a sweet woman, and I was moved by how great of a night she'd had with a cheeseburger and her Blackberry. I reached down and picked up the signed copy of the check. "It was lovely getting to know you," I said. "I hope to see you again soon!"

"I hope to see you soon, too!" she replied. "Thank you."

I smiled at her one last time, and walked away. As I slipped the signed copy off of the check presenter, two crisp $20 bills fell off, too. I stopped in my tracks and counted. Two $20 bills. I looked at the check. The bill was only $70 in total! And she tipped me $40 in cash? I was so affected, I couldn't even move. This one lady, this lady who only ate a salad and a cheeseburger, gave me the largest tip of my life. I almost started crying. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. It was right behind the first time a boy told me that he loved me.

I turned around and caught her before she left. I addressed her by name, which I remembered from swiping her credit card. "I really must thank you again for your generosity," I said to her. "Thank you. I'm really quite moved. Thank you."

She smiled at me and said, "Thank you. You know, people think that going out to eat is just getting food and getting drinks, but it's not. It's about the experience, and you gave me a great one tonight. I'll be back. Thank you."

And as we smiled at each other and hailed one another with mutual appreciation and affection, we parted ways. She waved goodbye to me and stepped back outside, and I headed into the kitchen, my arms full of dirty plates but my insides full of certainty that kind, wonderful people exist in this world.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Get OUT of here

Last night, I was at my restaurant job and I dropped off a bottle of tap water and six small plates to my friend's table, as she worked their first round of drinks. As I set the plates and the bottle in the middle of the table, the girl on the end looked up at me and said, "Are we supposed to drink water out of plates?"

I was so stunned by this Bitchiest Question I'd Ever Heard that I made her repeat it. "Excuse me?"

With eyes wide, she asked again, "Are we supposed to drink water out of plates?"

I fought between slapping her across the face and screaming, but finally I settled on replying, coolly, "Elizabeth is right behind me with your glasses of water." And then I walked off.

WHAT A BITCH. I've never heard anything so nasty! I was appalled, humiliated, pissed and also hysterical with laughter all at the same time. Get OUT of here, lady. Through with you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bumming all of a sudden over fake dessert

I was enjoying my late-night cup of Silk soy milk and a couple spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter---if you a cry a little bit, it all tastes like ice cream---when I read a surprising headline:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver Announce Separation."

I'm bummed to hear this. As someone with divorced parents who remain single, I'm always flabbergasted when I hear about the separations of longtime couples. Schwarzenegger and Shriver have been married for almost thirty years; why break up now? Is everything in the marriage really going that poorly? Anyway, I directed a full blog post to Political Subversities, click the link to read it in full.

All right, off to finish my milk. Maybe I'll also finish Ratatouille, which I've never seen and have been watching intermittently throughout the night.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Queen of the May: a Thoroughly Enjoyable Evening of Sharp Writing and Smart Jokes

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing The Queen of the May and Her Harvest Kings: An Evening of Competition at Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I'd never been to Galapagos before. When I got there, I was stunned. I honestly thought it was going to be a shack. (Aren't most Brooklyn theater spaces shacks? Zing!) It couldn't be farther from a shack. If you've never visited, Galapagos Art Space is a gigantic cabaret-style theater with luxurious table seating and a full bar. The seating areas sit on cement peninsulas that branch from a bridge. This bridge functions as the main aisle from the back of the theater to the stage. Underneath the bridge and seating areas, there's water. It's lovely, but don't drop your purse in there.

The Queen of the May... is a new play by Evan Watkins and Andrew Farmer, who portray (ridiculously fraternal) twin brothers in this absurd, 1920s "evening of competition" in which they fight for the heart of Eunice Cole (played by the incandescent, Dorothy-esque Valerie Graham). Eunice, the newly-crowned "Queen of the May" and heiress to the Cole Family Slaw fortune, must choose one of the brothers to be her man by play's end. With a twinkly piano score executed dapperly by Michael Lapinsky, the play seemed plucked directly from the 1920s. All of the actors' vocal choices were reminiscent of classic performers from the early 20th century. Roe Hartrampf, at the conclusion of the play, even threw the audience a "Merry Christmas!" to seal his take on Jimmy Stewart. The decision to mimic Stewart was not so timely to the play's 1920s era, but it was close enough and so entertaining that I just didn't care.

That's what the play was for me, in sum: ceaselessly entertaining. Among my favorite moments was the limerick portion of the competition, during which the twins recite their own limericks to impress Eunice. Another memorable scene was the seemingly-improvised idioms competition, in which Watkins and Farmer make up ageless sayings based on Graham's suggestions. I'll never forget Farmer's quip to Graham's proposal, jazz: "It's not just the notes that are black." I have to say, I loved every single one of the play's lighthearted racist jokes. They poked fun at the time in history when we all had our noses in the air when it came to immigrants. Blacks, Asians, Jews---Farmer once addressed an audience member simply by bellowing, "Hebrew!"---everyone was ridiculed, but so subtly it was sometimes not even addressed as a joke. Another memorable hidden joke arrived at the end of the play, when the twins encouraged each other that tomorrow's a new day: "October 29, 1929!" Everyone in the theater bellowed with laughter, but I admit: I had to look up the date. It's the date of the Stock Market Crash. I thought it was the smartest joke I'd ever heard, even though, initially, I didn't get it.

The Queen of the May... closed last Tuesday, but I hope it's remounted again soon. The story and its characters are incessantly funny and the way the plot unfolds is actually quite mysterious, despite its lightheartedness. I was impressed by the sly way Watkins and Farmer were able to execute their improvisation talents, but mostly, I was amazed by their writing. It was sharp and loyal to the time. The script simmered with nonstop, often-so-subtle-they-were-unaddressed jokes, which made getting them all the more satisfying. I had an enjoyable time, and haven't laughed so hard at the theater in a long time.

Postcard by Bowen Yang. Photos by Sasha Arutyunova.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day! Thank you for all that you've done for me and all that you continue to do for me. Specifically:

Thank you for following your dream, coming to the United States, meeting the sandy-haired guy with the moustache, marrying him in his parents' house and taking those thirteen hours to birth me. Thanks for giving me this dimple. You have two and Dad has none, so I guess it averaged out to one for me. I used to feel lopsided, but now I like rocking just the one. Thanks for paying for all those dance lessons, and for buying me those tan leather tap shoes once I realized the shiny, patent black ones were so last year. Thanks for the braces. I don't think I'd be where I am now if I had the out-of-control teeth that I had ten years ago. Thanks for the car that you got for me when I was a senior in high school. That was awesome. And thanks for being a mom who drives stick. That's awesome.

Thank you for being the strongest and most hardworking woman I know. How do you do it all? How do you stay so focused? How do you work so many hours in the week without taking a substantial break? You're a machine. Sometimes, I work many hours in the week but then oftentimes I flip out on someone (maybe even you) and cry. You don't do that. You just watch a BBC movie.

Thank you for shrugging off the dumb men who come into your life. I wish I could do that more easily. You know you're better than them. I wish I could respect myself in the way that you respect yourself. Thank you for not taking anyone's bullshit. I hope to be as confident in myself one day.

Thank you for being beautiful. I like to think that I inherited your smile. Thank you for making me drink milk when I was young, so that I'd be taller than you. Thank you for making me see that the little things are little. Thank you for saying, "I'll help you." Thank you for being the woman I hope to be someday.

You're truly the best. I love you so much. And I love this picture of you. I hope you don't mind that I put it up here.

Your loving daughter,

Friday, May 6, 2011

A story from my friend, the barista

I enjoyed rooftop beers tonight with two old roommates and dear friends of mine. I don't see them much anymore because we have crazy jobs and wildly different lives, but whenever I see them I realize how much I miss crowding onto one of our beds late at night to watch Arrested Development. I love these girls.

One of them works for a reality show. The other works as a barista at an Upper West Side cafe that I've yet to visit. She told us this bizarre, uniquely New York-ly funny story tonight that I can't stop thinking about.

At this tiny cafe on 94th Street and Amsterdam, she usually works by herself. She opens at 8 o'clock in the morning, but hey, she gets to play her own music. The cafe shares a window with an art studio. Sometimes, people call out coffee orders from ceramic painting stations. She can make one mean latte, she boasts.

There's a customer who comes in quite frequently: a man, who's balding, or maybe he just shaves his head. She can't tell. He looks vaguely European. The first few times she made his drink, she thought it strange the way he loitered so close to the counter, watching her work. Now that she's grown more familiar with him, she finds him actually quite hot. One day, she passes him his drink and says, "What's your name?"

He looks taken aback at this question. He thinks for a moment. She wonders why he has to think so hard about his name, and begins to regret the spontaneous "Let's be more than barista and paying customer" gesture she just made. Rewind. Rewind. Abort, abort.

"Well," the vaguely European, balding, maybe just shaven, actually quite hot man replies. "People call me Bun."

She stares at his reflective head. "Your friends call you what?"

"My friends call me Bun." He has an accent, but she can't detect what it is.

"Bun," she repeated. "Your name is Bun?" He smiles.

"Bun!" she cried out to us on the rooftop. "I wanted to ask him what his real name was. But I didn't."

The three of us sat in giggly silence, brainstorming what "Bun" could possibly stand for, or be short for. She leaned back and titled her face toward the sky, puffed on a cigarette. I took a sip of beer. It was growing strangely cold.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One of my favorite Steve Martin jokes

I'm re-reading Steve Martin's New Yorker piece, Seventy-two Virgins, from 2007. It makes me want to share one of my favorites of his stand-up jokes. One time in high school, I turned it into a monologue for an audition. It didn't translate that well.

"Actually, I'm kind of thinkin' about my old girlfriend, I guess. Sorry. It's just that I used to travel around and I'd be performing and I could kind of hear her laugh in the back. It'd mean something to me, you know and, uh...I'm sorry. You know how it is. We were together about three years and, uh, she's not living any more.

"I guess I kind of blame myself for her death. Uh, we were at a party one night and we weren't getting along and we were fighting and she began to drink and...I didn't realize how much she'd been drinking. She ran out to the car, she asked me to drive her home and I didn't want to and I refused. She asked me one more time, would you please drive me home? I didn't want I shot her."

--Let's Get Small, 1977

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us."

I'm not a Georgetown student in a tree, but I am pretty obsessed all of this Osama bin Laden stuff.

Mostly, I'm interested because this all seems like an episode of Alias, starring the abs-tastic Jennifer Garner, the should-be-more-famous Michael Vartan, the not-yet-famous Bradley Cooper, and Victor Garber, whose Titanic role will always hold a special place in my heart. Except the people in this real-life episode of reality are way less attractive and probably have way less sex with each other. Leon Panetta is definitely no Michael Vaughan.

When the news broke, I was astonished as to how dramatic the situation was. The CIA had been quietly tracking Osama bin Laden for years, and knew of his whereabouts since August. Over the past eight months, the plan was conceived, curated, and it ultimately culminated into what we know now as "Geronimo." And in under an hour, the U.S. completed what they (we?) set out to do in September 2001: conquer bin Laden. In one flawless take, the Navy SEALs ended him. And Obama gave the "go" on this risky plan of attack. Wow.

I can't get over that picture of Obama, Biden, Clinton and a dozen others in the Situation Room, overseeing the raid as it was happening. Clinton's hand is over her mouth. Obama leans forward. Everyone seems paralyzed. The tension is the room is clear. The possibility of failure simmers in everyone's minds. Somewhere offscreen, a speechwriter writes two speeches, one telling of success and the other of defeat.

"We got him," Obama will say. "We got him."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Earlier "funny women post" reminded me of this

Her name is Jenna Marbles. You've got to give this clip at least a full minute for it to become the most genius thing you've ever seen, but trust me: it'll be one of the most genius things you ever seen.

Thank God @allegradc showed this to me. It brightened my life in huge ways.

What I want to be when I grow up

My friend Ryann said recently, "Dear Tina Fey, I appreciate what you've done for women in comedy, but why did you have to do it first?" That's kind of how I feel about this new Judd Apatow movie, Bridesmaids.

From age seven through age twelve, becoming a cast member on Saturday Night Live was all part of my career plan. Right after I graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar playing opposite Tom Hanks (as my father). That's right, I was going to win an Oscar before landing a spot on SNL. Special, no?

Then I learned that you had to be a superstar at Second City or the Groundlings or whatever in order to even be considered to audition for SNL. Then I didn't even come close to getting Harvard-worthy grades in high school. I also didn't get cast in my school's production of Little Shop of Horrors, which pushed my Tom Hanks dreams even further away. And it all went to shit.

It really didn't all go to shit, but now I've meandered away from my point: Bridesmaids looks awesome, and I'd do anything to be on that poster next to Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph and Ellie Kemper. I remember confessing to my freshman year acting teacher that I feared women weren't funny; I am a woman, and therefore I must not be funny. This teacher told me to get it together and shut up about that. I'm glad she did---I was talking bullshit. These Bridesmaids women are funny. (They also happen to be beautiful and skinny, but that's another blog post.) And lucky for me, the women in my immediate working circle, those of Political Subversities and, until yesterday, The First Ladies Project, are indeed the most hilarious and smart women I've ever worked with. If I keep writing and performing with them, I imagine Bridesmaids 2 will someday present itself.

Or, you know, something original. Bridesmaids 2 already sounds like it'll be bad.

A huge evening

It's moments like these when I feel like I'm a part of history, a part of something huge. I also feel that Brian Williams must be really tired right now. It's 12:53 in the morning, for goodness sake! Does he live two blocks from Rockefeller Center? That'd be convenient for breaking news stories like these.

I feel like a lighter human being. Gigantic events remind me that the fucking annoying things we experience in everyday life are actually nothing in comparison to successes like this one. Let those things go. Remember that huge triumphs happen.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Favorite tweets thus far regarding Osama bin Laden's death

1. Obama obviously has the Elder Wand. (@sergioshorts)

2. Best part of twitter when things like this happen are people who don't know it happened yet and tweet "so crazy at the club right now!" shit. (@donaldglover)

3. #ManDown (@rihanna)

4. It is pretty awkard in my cab right now. (@natebargatze)

5. I heard Obama did only like 20% of the killing in the operation. #blackswan (@whitekidproblem)

6. Tonight, President Obama will announce that Clint Eastwood shot Osama Bin Laden. (@SteveMartinToGo)

7. Waldo: 1, Osama Bin Laden: 0. (@YourFavWhiteGuy)

8. ...Do you think we could get a national holiday tomorrow out of this? (@hellokerry)

Well, it's the end of an era, sport

This portrait, which I have unofficially titled "The First Latina First Lady, as portrayed by Kim Blanck," was taken by the magnificently talented and kind Andrew Williams. It hung in the lobby of the Fourth Street Theatre during the run of The First Ladies Project.

Well, of course I had to take it home. I know my dad wants it. I asked him, "Where are you going to hang it? It's such an absurd picture. And it's so large." He answered, "We'll put it in your room." Creepy. No, thank you.

Anyway, I took it home and have yet to figure out plans to mail it to my dad. This is how I'm storing it.

Can't very well have it upright and look at my own larger-than-life face all the time. And the back of the frame is sad-looking. Also, I like the teal color of my shirt. Just can't have the face looking out at me.

I wonder how long it will stay there before I send it off to my dad. It sure is kind of a scary thing to have in your room, a 3' by 2' portrait of your own self.

Chance encounters leading to non-chance encounters

One Tuesday afternoon, I was working at the restaurant when two gentlemen sat down at one of my tables. They looked like old friends, and were catching up on stories about work and wives when I approached them. One of them ordered a glass of wine; the other, a drink-drink, I can't remember what. I returned to their table several times before they finally consulted the menu and gave me their order. They seemed like the kind of guests who prefer to be as uninterrupted as possible. I took my cue and kept my distance.

After they finished their lunches, I sauntered up to the table with my Sweet Waitress Smile and offered them coffee and dessert. The man on the left looked up at me for the first time and asked me, "So, what show are you in? You must be an actress."

I laughed. "Yes, I am."

"I can tell," he replied with a grin. Lots of people can. Aren't most waitresses in NYC also actresses? He seemed friendlier than I initially pegged him to be.

"I'm actually in a show right now," I told him. "It's about the First Ladies of the United States." I opened my book and handed him a postcard. I keep postcards and flyers of all the shows I'm doing in my waitress book, for when people ask me, "So, what show are you in?" I've actually handed out quite a few.

The gentlemen seemed impressed. They proceeded to ask me where I was from. "California." The man on the left said, "Why, I'm headed to California next week! Is your play going on the week after that?"

"Yes!" I answered. "You should come! I think it'll be enjoyable and funny." I handed the gentleman on the right a postcard as well. They pocketed them, gave me well wishes, paid the check and left. What nice men, I thought.

Fast-forward to this afternoon: we had a matinee performance of The First Ladies Project, which went splendidly. I had many friends and some former roommates in the crowd, and was so happy to see them there after having gone many months without seeing them. After the show ended, I emerged from the dressing room, still in full makeup and costume. I greeted my friends and thanked them for coming, when a man approached me.

"Hello, Kim!" he said. "We met at the restaurant. I'm Charlie."

I looked at him blankly. Was he a regular? Had I ever seen him before? Charlie? Charlie? Finally, I remembered him from that table of two gentlemen on the Tuesday afternoon two weeks ago. Charlie!

I gasped. "You came! Oh, I'm so honored, sir!"

He cackled. "Oh, please don't call me sir. Call me Charlie. This is my wife," he motioned to a lovely woman with a silk scarf around her neck. He had brought his wife! I was floored, just floored. Overcome with gratitude and surprise and humility, I grasped her hand.

"We really enjoyed it!" she told me. "We really had a wonderful time."

Charlie added, "After I got home from the restaurant, I went to your website and decided, 'Yeah, I want to do this.' So Susan and I came. It was really wonderful. Did you write all of that?"

I felt so happy to hear these kind words. It was like my grandpop and grandmom had come to see the show. "Most of it," I answered. "The letters, those were all real. Real words."

"Well," he said. "It was really fantastic. I'm glad I came." And after two quick handshakes and one kindly pat on the back, they smiled and left.

Watching them leave, I felt warm all over. It's a fantastic feeling to experience such heartfelt support from people you only met once. From people to whom you were just their waitress. What a remarkable thing it is to simply meet other people in this world. Sometimes, a chance meeting can lead to a lifetime of friendship. Or, quite simply, an afternoon at the theater and a familiar face onstage.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

An amazing evening at my show

Tonight was one of those wonderful nights during which you feel so much joy and fortune and support and love. We had the best show of The First Ladies Project thus far, and the audience was packed with former teachers, best friends, roommates and family members. The show seemed to flow flawlessly, everything fell into place as it should have. Cues were called beautifully, scenes transitioned effortlessly, and the audience was so attentive, giving us so much energy and laughter.

I feel like the girls and I touched a lot of people tonight. What a humbling feeling. I'm giddy that so many people have come to see our show, put their trust in us and went along with us for the ride. I'm overjoyed that it has seemingly made an impact on people I respect. I hope that this weekend isn't the end of the show. I know there's a place for Edith Wilson in this goddamn play; next time, I'm not going to let it be a play without her.

It's a happy night. Signing off.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Re: the Royal Wedding

Do British people find British accents sexy? If not, which accents do they find sexy?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Queen of the May & Her Harvest Kings: An Evening of Competition

I'm extremely excited to check out The Queen of the May & Her Harvest Kings: An Evening of Competition next Tuesday night at Galapagos Art Space. It's the shared brainchild of two of my best friends, Evan Watkins and Andrew Farmer, and countless other people I know and love are performing in it. Also, how beautiful is their postcard image? It was designed by Bowen Yang, a star of the NYU improv troupe, Dangerbox.

Evan once told me that it makes him so happy to see his friends do what they do best. This is exactly how I feel about this project. I can't wait to see what he and Andrew have created together. That sounds sexy. Looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday night at 8pm for The Queen of the May at Galapagos!

Who cares about the Royal Wedding? I made an effort to...

...based on the following interactive Middleton-Windsor family tree, which you can find on CNN's Royal Wedding Extravaganza page:

Clearly, CNN put more effort into compiling Prince William's side of the tree, but no matter. The following link will take you to the Political Subversities blog: The Royal Wedding, and little kids with big names

Meeting one of my own over Mentos

I worked a double today at my restaurant job in order to get time off for The First Ladies Project (which is about to start its second weekend of shows!), the second one in a row. I am totally anti-double and almost never deign to work them, but I had to do what I had to do. Needless to say, my feet feel like they have been run over by a Mack Truck. By the end of my shift tonight, I would have paid money to be able to sit down. Finally, it was time to clock out.

After hobbling to the subway station, I uncomfortably shifted my weight on the train platform. The only thing that will make me feel a little better about life is a candy, I thought. Thankfully, the 51st street subway station has an all-hours mini bodega inside of it. Ah, the twenty-four hour bodega. Really, it's the little things that count.

I limped to the excruciatingly lit, severely small cubicle, where a petite Indian girl sat behind the counter. I surveyed the candy options. Did I want a chocolate, or a Sour Patch Kid? I typically go for the Sour Patch Cherries, which seem to only be available for purchase in subway bodegas. I've never seen them anywhere else. They're special to me in this way. And always an even $1. Candy at Rite Aid is never this convenient.

Ah, what the hell. Why not go for a candy masquerading as a breath refresher? I reached for the fruit Mentos, and as I did so, the petite Indian girl peered over the counter. "Hey," she said. "Do you have a nail biting habit?"

I froze. This is the question I fear most. No other sequence of words in the English language make me feel as vulnerable, disgusting, immature and self-loathing, all at once. I am a nail-biter. A really bad one. I have bitten my nails for as long as I can remember. And by bite, I mean knaw, ravage, rip apart and tear out. My nails are a shocking sight to anyone but myself, but I've become so sly at hiding them during everyday activities that people barely notice. (Or at least, that's my understanding thus far.) Friends who have known me for ten years have said, "Oh, you bite your nails? I didn't know that." Yeah, it's because I've become a star at hiding them from you. Oh, and I think your brother is hot.

The Indian girl looked at me with big eyes.

Clenching my fists and digging the tips of my fingers into my palms, I laughed, "Yes. They're terrible, aren't they?"

The girl smiled. "Mine used to look just like yours," she replied. I hesitated. I've never seen anyone's nails look as savagely ripped to shreds apart as my own.

Extending her fingers in front of me, she continued, "But I stopped biting them a month ago. I've started to paint them!" I leaned in. They looked pretty good. They were definitely still considered short nails, but they were smooth and curved at the edges.

"You've only been growing them out one month?" I asked. "How did you stop?"

She retracted her hands. "I just stopped putting them in my mouth," she said. "And you know what else? I said to myself one day, 'You deserve to look pretty.' So many times I looked down at my hands and thought, 'Are these a girl's hands?' And I decided I can be pretty. I started with my nails. Next is my tummy!"

We laughed together, and I heard the rush of the train outside our tiny bodega. I handed her a dollar bill. "It was nice talking to you," I said. "Inspiring." She smiled, and as I turned from her to stagger to the train, I felt oddly proud. It reassured me to know that all anything takes is one choice, one moment in which you say, "I deserve this." If you feel like you deserve it enough, you'll make it happen for yourself. After being a nail-biter for twenty-three years, what would my life be like if I had these keratin tools at the tips of my fingers? I'm curious. I wish I were curious enough. I'm not sure that I am.


Friday, April 22, 2011

A guy with a moustache

I know a guy with a moustache.

He's 5'10" but seems taller. He's nearing his mid-fifties, but doesn't have a gray hair on his head. The blue in his eyes has faded over the years, but the clearness and kindness remain. Pink cheeks make him look youthful. Sometimes he says, "I'm not a white male, I'm a peach male." He used to have a beard, but when I was four, I helped him shave it over the bathroom sink.

A bachelor, he loves his 52" television and afternoon scotch on the rocks. If he's not stretched out on the living room watching the NBC Nightly News, you can find him on the patio, where he's put his feet up on the table. He likes to listen to the pool. Sometimes, he convinces us to eat dinner out there. "It's too cold," I complain, even though it's never that cold because it's Florida.

He has a lot of love in his heart but the women have come and gone. If he's lonely, ever, he doesn't show it. Sipping his scotch on the rocks, he smiles from his spot on the couch. His pink cheeks brighten and he says, "All I can wish is for my children to be healthy." I want to be as optimistic and content as him, someday. I hope he ends up with a nice woman. When your parents are divorced and still single, sometimes you wonder why they don't just get back together. Sure, it would be hellfire on earth but at least they'd have some company, have someone to go to movies with. You wouldn't have to worry about them feeling lonesome.

I know a guy with a moustache, and he's one of the good guys. Tonight as we feasted over calamari in the East Village, I thought about how much I like having him around. I'd like to be more like him as the days progress. I hope he knows that. I mean, he should. I wrote it in his Father's Day card.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The First Ladies Project opens!

So excited for everyone to see this show! It's been an amazing few months working on this project with some amazing, inspirational, talented women. I'm talking about my fellow actor-creators and our darling First Ladies. I'm so proud of what we've made. "It's a fun good play," as Ryann Weir, another woman in the company, says. I think it's a fun good play. I'm 100% sure audience members will have a good time. I'm 98% sure you'll take away some information about a First Lady you have never heard of.

Hope you can make it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear Michelle Obama

Dear Michelle Obama,

Did you ever worry that you'd never be a successful lawyer? Or whatever you dreamed of being in your wildest dreams back in the day? Sometimes when I'm waiting tables and spilling horseradish on myself and scraping people's half-eaten prime rib into a trash can I have to hope to God that I'm not going to be doing this when I'm thirty. And that I'll actually someday be doing what I want to be doing. Did you ever feel like you were lost and completely hidden from view?

Also, when did you stop comparing yourself to other women? Or do you still do that? What's your greatest insecurity about yourself? You don't have to answer that, actually. You can keep it private if you like.

Thinking of you,
Kim Blanck

PS: I'm part of the First Ladies Project, if you're free to come by this week, or next. I can get you a comp ticket.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The First Ladies Project is nearing

I'm so psyched. With every rehearsal, The First Ladies Project is getting closer and closer to what it should be.

We also made our goal on IndieGoGo! But by no means stop contributing. The more wigs, the merrier; am I right? :) I'm so honored and humbled by everyone who has contributed to our show. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and see you next Thursday night!

Unanswered questions

Some questions I wish I knew the answer to. Sometimes, you just have to ask them out loud.

1. What is my sister going to be when she grows up?

2. Why did I eat so much of that brownie tonight?

3. Will I ever get to a place in my life when I don't have to worry about rent?

4. Will I ever get to a place in my life when I have actually saved some money?

5. Why are you a douchebag?

6. Am I the best big sister I can be?

7. Are people going to love this play?

8. Are they going to hate it?

9. Why do I have a little bit of a moustache?

10. If I drank more milk when I was a kid, would I be taller?

11. Why do unavailable guys flirt with me?

12. Why is Adobe Photoshop so expensive?

13. Am I going to file my taxes wrong and then get hunted down by the IRS?

14. When am I going to be harder on myself?

15. When am I going to join a gym?


Friday, April 8, 2011

What's that line from My Fair Lady about "life, something? It's quite a life?" Am I just thinking of It's a Wonderful Life?

I'm blogging so early in the morning because my sketch group, Political Subversities, is performing at Poly Prep County Day School in south Brooklyn today. We're performing a PG-rated version of our show for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and I'm psyched. I never would have thought our show could be tailored for children and young adults, but I'm extremely proud of the work we've done to make it so, and I think the kids are gonna love it!

So with this half cup of coffee and very full bowl of Raisin Bran inside me, I gotta say, in order to a) affirm the universe, b) make the Gods understand that I am grateful and c) to keep myself awake, it's a good life I lead. After the performance today, I go straight to rehearsal for The First Ladies Project and work on a play with some of the smartest, funniest and toughest ladies I've ever worked with. And you say, "Why, Kim, you could take a nap after that!"

Why no, I can't take a nap today, I'd respond to you. After rehearsal, I have but an hour to go home and change before I head back out for an audition I've been looking forward to all week. And you say, "Why Kim, you could take a nap after that!"

Why no, I'd respond to you, for after that audition I simply don't have time to go home and sleep. I gotta attend my dear friend James Monaco's one-man show, Do You Like That Man? at the Tank.

Oh, wait. Maybe I do have enough time before the show for a nap. Hmmm. I'll think about that.

Anyway, really, it's just not a day to be tired, because I have so many awesome things to devour on my plate. And I might just have time for a nap anyway.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The N'Harmonics are the KINGS of the final moment.

Last moment: um, yes. That's you, N'Harmonics, doing something that no other group would have ever imagined doing. Hoping to see you at Lincoln Center!

David Letterman - Steve Martin's Dueling Banjos

Earlier tonight, my roommate and I were fawning over Father of the Bride, both a favorite of hers and mine. We love how cute Steve Martin and Diane Keaton are together. We love how Steve Martin hates that hot dogs and hot dog buns are sold in differing quantities. We love how awkward it is for him when Kimberly Williams and that guy who's only in Father of the Bride mack it out after a big fight on the stairs. "Steve Martin is kind of sexy," we both admitted to one another. We weren't even drunk.

I remembered that recently I got an email from Joe's Pub alerting me that Steve Martin was among the guest artists in March. I scrambled to get tickets to see him perform with his bluegrass band, but all three of his shows sold out in mere minutes, so I was left out in the cold. However, my roommate and I went on a Steve-Martin-and-banjo YouTube spree and were IMPRESSED. Wow. He's really amazing. His fingers fly about like crazy, and his focus is so serious, you'd never even think he was a comedian or a writer or an actor or anything else than a banjoist. (I thought that maybe I made that word up, but no squiggly red lines appeared, so it looks like we're good to go.) Check out the duet below with his Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass award winner, Noam Pikelny. It doesn't address Mr. Martin's talents as aggressively as other performances do, but it's a fun one:

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Daddy's here thanks to an organ donor"

Sign Up Today

"Daddy's here thanks to you being NOT"

The father and daughter in this ad don't look alike

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A late-night subway poem?

Small boy, chewing on every accessible part of his coat
An even smaller version of him, his sister
Wearing an Apple Bottoms jacket
(I didn't know they made those for kids
Isn't "Apple Bottoms" kind of a sexy thing?)
Parents, just kids themselves
Dad sharing out into space
His little daughter's little hand in his
I can see his boxers, how is sagging still in?
Sharing an iPod Nano with Mom
The daughter fits into the crook of his arm
Small boy kicks his legs
Small girl sucks her thumb
"I think DeKalb is next"
Dad bops his head to hip-hop
Swing the purse
Grab the girl like a monkey
I want to say "You have a lovely family"
But I don't.

NYU N'Harmonics perform Kimbra's "Settle Down" at ICCA Semifinals

So proud of my college a cappella group. This won Best Arrangement this weekend at the ICCA semifinals!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A surprising incident on a Sunday night

I've really wanted to write this for a while now, but I haven't had the time to actually sit myself down and write it, so here it is.

I work as a waitress. It pays the bills, allows me to build up some arm muscles by carrying plates, and gives me insight on the curious humans that walk the Earth with me. This particular group that sat at one of my tables several Sunday nights ago were an interesting bunch. They consisted of two young women and a man who looked slightly older than them. He wore a huge gold chain necklace and sat one on side of the booth, while the ladies sat on the other side. The women wore deep cleavage-baring shirts; happy Sunday! I couldn't tell if one of them was with the guy, if they were both trying to woo him, or whatever. They all nursed Hennessy and Cokes. The guy ordered sushi, which I found surprising because he had mentioned that he'd never tried sushi before. He did go with the California roll, a safe choice: no raw fish, and the familiar mayonnaise-like taste and texture are easy to handle. One of the girls also ordered sushi, and the other girl outdid them with a huge steak.

Is any of that interesting? Anyway...

They were friendly to me and drank a lot over the course of the evening, their bill totaling to just over $200. I figuratively rubbed my hands together in glee, anticipating at least a $30 tip. After I dropped the check on their table, I eagerly watched the gentleman count a large number of $20 bills. Ahhh, I breathed with happiness, Cash. Having waited tables, cash now makes me really excited. Gross, right? It's because cash tips aren't taxed, whereas the credit card tips have taxes deducted from them before going into my bank account. Whenever I see cash, I'm like, Awww, yeah. It's a crude life that I lead.

I approached the table, tossed them a huge smile and picked up the check and the pile of cash. "I'll bring you back some change!" I beamed, but before I could walk away from the table the guy grinned at me and replied, "Keep the change." Oh, love it. I love the classic, sassy, I'm-richer-than-you "Keep the change." It makes me feel a little bit like a prostitute, but I like it. Yeah, I'll keep it. I'll keep it real nice. Thank you, sir.

I thanked them, wished them a good night and smiled brightly as I walked away. Returning to the computers by the kitchen, I fervently counted the cash. Oh, it was gorgeous. Twenty dollars, forty dollars, sixty, eighty, one-hundred...gorgeous, crisp $20 bills...

That's strange. I counted again. No way. I counted again. Yup, it was true. The asshole had left me $210 on a $200 tab. Actually, the tab was like $201.78, so really he'd left me about $8.

I sauntered over to my manager and showed him the cash. He counted it. He looked like someone at a Vegas casino, counting it and fanning the bills out in front of him. "What table was this?" he asked me, his eyes wide. I told him the table number, and he peered over his shoulder. Shaking his head, he handed me back the money. "Yikes. I'm sorry."

I stuffed the cash into my book and groaned. Come on. Eight dollars. Two hours of time for eight dollars? What is my life? Things would be so much easier if I were a toilet paper heiress. But before I could sink into total self-loathing, one of the girls from the table approached me.

"Hey," she said. "Did he only give you $210?"

Shocked, I looked past her to the table. The guy had gone to the bathroom. "Um," I said. "Yes, he did."

"I thought so," she shook her head. "I'm sorry about that. Here." She stuffed a $20 into my hand and turned away.

I was moved. I didn't know what else to think, except for That was a nice thing to do. She could've just let her man (or whoever) give me $8 and turn a blind eye, go home and go to sleep and forget the whole thing. But she waited until he went to the bathroom, opened her wallet, took out her own money and sought me out. Maybe she didn't even consult her friend. She wanted me to have that dumb $20 bill.

When the guy came back from the bathroom, I returned to the table, still touched by this girl's kind act. As I tried to find some way to thank her, I smiled and took away their napkins and empty glasses. "Hey," said the guy. With his dirty napkin draped over my arm, I looked at him, my mouth frozen into a grin. What came next is still a mystery to me.

"You like that tip?" He asked me. What the hell? "You like it? Was that OK?"

I didn't know how to respond. I just smiled. What was he talking about? Did he realize he gave me an $8 tip? Did he think that was generous on a $200 tab? Did he mean to leave me $250 or something? What?

I continued to smile. "It's because of that gorgeous smile," he continued. "You earned a tip like that."

I had to speak words. "Thank you, sir," I replied. "Have a good night." As I turned away, I caught the eye of the girl who'd given me the $20. She, too, had a frozen grin on her face, to match mine. I took one last look at her and tried to communicate my thanks before heading back to the kitchen. I imagine she left a few minutes later, and in the car ride home, thought to herself, "Man. This guy has no idea."

Friday, March 11, 2011

A good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it

Additionally: reading about Ronald Reagan made me research his assassination attempt, which led me to some other Wikipedia article, which led me to another Wikipedia article, which led me to Ted Kennedy's Wikipedia page. And then this picture, which I have seen at least 100 times before, bewitched me:

I love this photograph of the Kennedy brothers. The first thing I notice is, Damn, those are some sweet blazers. Is that wool? I want one. Secondly, I notice that they look so similar, yet have their minute differences. Ted looks the tallest, John is the broadest, and Robert has the widest smile. They look so proud to be who they are. They're making history and they know it. Looking at their young, bright faces reminds me of what Ted spoke at Robert's funeral. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not."

I Love You, Ronnie

When I returned home this evening, I opened my mailbox to discover that the two books I ordered from Amazon as research materials for The First Ladies Project had arrived. Oh, joy! One of them I'd especially been excited for: I Love You, Ronnie, a collection of letters from Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan over the course of their courtship and marriage, with dabbles of memoir-esque recollections by Mrs. Reagan. I flipped through it at a Barnes and Noble at some point and was stunned by how much of a softie "Ronnie" was. Each letter was so sweet, so worshipful of his wife, and, in the context of his cold-hearted presidency, were all the more surprising.

M - is for the misery of which I have none.
O - means only that without you I would die.
M - is for how very much (when we're apart) I miss you.
M - is for the million ways I love you.
Y - Yippie!!! I'm so happy.

Take them all together they spell
My wife, my love, my life.
Happy Mother's Day!

From an admirer (if you're curious
my name is at the top of the page.)
& I'm on the next pillow over.

I MEAN, WHAT IS THAT. IS THAT NOT SAP CITY OR WHAT. I'm obsessed with this book. Dare I say it? Ronnie Reagan is a dollface. That is what I'm taking away from this book. Oh, and also that Nancy Reagan was a size 2 her whole life, it seems. Damn you, lady.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When will collegiate a cappella tackle this?

Okay, this is about four years too late, but this is one of my all-time favorite Rihanna songs---hell, songs in general, I'll admit it---and it's basically WRITTEN to be covered by an a cappella group. Listen to those background oohs in that chorus. Trevor Bachman of the N'Harmonics, hello? Please tackle this for my sweet heart.

The fan video below is dumb, but try to ignore that.

AA to JA

I'm working on this new production with a few PHTS women called The First Ladies Project. It's going to be a historical-comedy about the role of the First Lady in United States history, fan fiction-esque with dabbles of reality. You know, once we finish writing it.

I'm currently reading this dusty old book that I found on my dad's bookshelf a couple weeks ago: The Book of Abigail and John, which is a compilation of selected letters from their courtship to their marriage to their political partnership. It's funny, they write as if they're characters in Shakespeare plays. Their ways of going about saying things are so extended, I actually burst into laughter at one point because John Adams closed a letter with "All right! I'm going to Bed!" True, Bed was capitalized, but it was so similar to contemporary speech it made me laugh.

I'm loving this one portion of a letter from Abigail to John:

Braintree october 16 1774

I dare not express to you at 300 hundred miles distance how ardently I long for your return. I have some very miserly Wishes; and cannot consent to your spending one hour in Town till at least I have had you 12. The Idea plays about my Heart, unnerves my hand whilst I write, awakens all the tender sentiments that years have encreased and matured, and which when with me were every day dispensing to you.

I imagine Abigail alone in a big house, her bedroom adorned with dozens of candles at night, so that she may feel lit up, visible in the dark. She sleeps in the middle of the bed so that she may feel bigger. The curtains she leaves wide open; she wants to be awakened by the sun at the earliest possible moment. I like that she capitalizes “Wishes,” “Idea,” and “Heart,” as if they are real beings who live, breathe and make things happen.

This post has no end, except that you should follow The First Ladies Project on Twitter. We try to make it fun for you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How does she do her hair like that? Is it a braid? Is it a braid-bun? Or a simple chignon? I need to know. LOVE the hair height.

I can't get over Adele's live version of "Someone Like You," which---excuse me for sounding like Adele's mom---is available for FREE on So go to that. And click, and open in iTunes, and cry at the sound of her voice.

I also just went ahead and said, "Fuck it" (figuratively, I didn't actually, because I am home alone and I don't talk to myself) and bought her album on iTunes. I hadn't bought it yet because I had a feeling Amazon MP3, my bestie, would put it up for, like, $3.99 one of these days. For those who don't know, Amazon MP3 is an angel doing work for the people. Not to sound like Amazon MP3's mom, but they have Daily Deals on top-selling albums for $3.99 or $4.99. It's amazing. iTunes can suck it.

Anyway, go download that Adele song. I made fun of it for being titled "Someone Like You (Performed Live In Her Home)"---because doesn't it sound like Adele was lounging naked fast-forwarding through Will & Grace or something---but it's not to made fun of. It's to be worshipped as a religion.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flying Delta for the cookies

I’m sitting on a Delta flight as I write this. Shaina Taub’s The Daughters rings in my ears and my fingers are sticky from munching on dried plums, a treat I picked up from Publix before I left. Publix, the big grocery store of the southeast, sells this giant bag of dried plums that is somehow incomparable to any other dried fruit I’ve ever had. They’re not even from Florida, they’re from California, yet somehow they are the perfect texture, contain the perfect amount of sweetness and moisture...whenever I travel to Florida, I always make sure to bring a bag home to New York.

I’m also enjoying another staple snack of my trip: Delta’s complimentary biscotti. These crunchy, ginger snap-like, brown sugar-encrusted cookies are some of the most delicious treats I’ve ever been fortunate enough to stuff in my mouth. (Insert dirty joke or “That’s what she said” here.) Their presentation isn’t saliva-inducing: red wrapper, I could do without you. They taste so homemade, I’d rather see them lined on a baking tray. The flight attendant could walk down the aisle wearing oven mitts and holding the tray out to anyone who was interested. “Biscotti? Biscotti? Biscotti? Don’t take more than two!”

I must find out this Delta family recipe, so that I may bake these delicious goodies at my own home. Or, I could just fly a Delta flight whenever I get the craving. Ah, anything for the $400 dollar (complimentary) biscotti!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hotties that are dead :(

Today I spent some quality father-daughter time with my dad. He likes to introduce me to old movies that he thinks should be integrated into my artistic mind (previously, we have screened 12 Angry Men, Rope, Dog Day Afternoon and Five Easy Pieces, to name a few), so today we watched The Ox-Bow Incident on his fantastic fifty-two inch television. The 1943 movie is about a group of townsmen, who, upon learning that their beloved horse-ridin', cattle-raisin', plaid-shirt-wearin' fellow rancher has been murdered, set out to find his killer. They stumble upon three men in the mountains who they believe to be the murderers; cowboy hats ensue.

But mostly the film is about how goddamn sexy Henry Fonda was:

Wow. The movie is black and white, but you can tell that Henry Fonda has THE MOST SHIMMERY BLUE EYES. Oh my wow. And what is he wearing around his neck? It's like an ascot, but yankable. The most important incident in The Ox-Bow Incident is at the beginning of the movie, when Harry Morgan tosses a bucket of water on Henry Fonda and his shirt sticks to his flawless body. If only Henry Fonda didn't die five years before I was born, because I'd be all up on that.

Anyway, you should see The Ox-Bow Incident. It's an American classic, as is this picture of Henry Fonda toying with the zipper on his pants.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chivalry is dead at USF

"Hey, I think I saw you in a movie! Weren't you the gremlin?"

Please read the above quotation with your eyes and ask yourself, "What are the circumstances in which a man would dare say that to a woman?" Now, I'm not the first to say that chivalry is dead. In all honesty, I support chivalry. Gentlemen who open the door for me: thank you. Gentlemen who allow me to enter the subway before they do: thank you. Gentlemen on the subway who don't offer me their seats: I kind of wish you would.

To answer the question that I asked you to ask yourself, the circumstances in which a man would dare call a woman a gremlin are that of a USF women's basketball game. USF and Georgetown are neck and neck, and a petite black girl from the Georgetown team with a stick straight ponytail and biceps for days is about to shoot a free throw. Five guys in USF T-shirts heckle her from the third row. "Hey! Weren't you the gremlin?"

Everyone hears it, and I'm sure the player does too. "Hey!" The guys call out again. "Aren't you the Brain from Pinky and the Brain?" The Georgetown girl on the court lifts the ball and aims.

I wonder what would happen if I stood up and yelled from across the court at the top of my lungs, "Hey, assholes, she's in better shape than you, so put down that sausage and shut up!" Would the guys actually shut up? Would they laugh? Would the crowd applaud? Or would the crowd ignore me? That'd be awkward. Then I'd have to live for the rest of the game knowing that I was the girl who tried to tell some guys off and no one cared.

But I don't have to do any of that because the tiny Georgetown player sends the ball clean through the air, where it curves gorgeously into the net. The guys shut up. "Chivalry" lives!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gentleman on the train

I get home very late on most nights, from rehearsal or waiting tables or seeing a show. Tonight, on my way home from a writer's meeting for The First Ladies Project, I noticed a familiar-looking man board the train two stops from where I get off.

I'd seen him at least three times before, on the same car, at the same time of night. Tonight, he carried a briefcase and wore a long wool coat. A dotted silk tie peeked out from between the lapels, and his pinstriped pants were cuffed to reveal navy blue socks printed with anchors. A newsboy cap sat on his head. I watched him as he interlaced his fingers together, closed his eyes and catnapped against the subway window. His moustache and beard, expertly and cleanly shaped, were a dark gray.

His stop is the same as mine, I remembered. He seemed to have discovered the same secret I did: if you sit in the very first car, the subway will roll up so that you're right next to the exit, allowing you to arrive at your apartment thirty or so seconds earlier than if you had been sitting toward the middle or end of the train. Hey, in this fast-paced New York City life we live in, thirty seconds here and there can amount to a lot. And that's a lot of time I could be spending in my toasty apartment, instead of speedwalking along the chilly sidewalks.

Slowly he opened his eyes, only to see me gazing at him. Oops. I tried to pass it off as though I were looking at everyone on the train. I wonder what he saw. Twenty-something girl with smudgy makeup in Timberlands? Why does she carry around a busted-up North Face backpack when she should be touting a leather Louis Vuitton tote like the other girls her age? Her coat looks like a sack. Is that a rip in her leggings? Who wears leggings in public? Disgusting. He closed his eyes again.

The train slid into our station, and I roused myself from my seat, inching toward the subway door. Hoisting my backpack onto both shoulders, I stuffed my hands, rough from the cold, into the pockets of my mother's old leather jacket. My eyes were sore. The first thing I'm going to do when I get home is take out this stupid contacts.

The gentleman was at my side, ready to disembark. The train skidded to a halt and the doors flung open. Immediately, the gentleman and I threw ourselves onto the platform and raced up the stairs. While my heavy backpack pushed me forward, his body remained upright, his spry legs carrying him up the steps two at a time. He raised his briefcase in front of him, as if he were a knight and the briefcase was his templar sword. His springy trot surprised me: firstly, how old is he? Damn, he's quick. Secondly, wasn't he just asleep five seconds ago?

He beat me to the top of the stairs and pushed through the turnstile, disappearing into the street. Some paces behind him, I seemed to follow his tracks on the way back to my apartment. As my feet hit the pavement, I spotted him a block ahead of me, walking briskly home. Does the newsboy cap keep his ears warm? I wondered when I'd see him next. And what kind of socks he'd have on.