Saturday, February 23, 2013

Redbox aka Dirtybox

Growing up, my family dubbed me the Movie Queen.  This title, which I proudly wear, came about from the fact that I love movies …. like a lot.  My favorite movie when I was a little kid was The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation.  I remember curling up on the couch and watching that movie on repeat like it was my job.  And when you’re under the age of 10, that pretty much is your job.

I watched it so much so, in fact, that I memorized all the words and would recite them with the characters.  My favorite part was when the Care Bears sing to pump themselves up while they go to defeat Dark Heart at the summer camp.  I would boisterously sing with them, “CARE A LOT, WE CARE A LOT (insert clapping here!)”  I imagine anyone who was a child of the 80s has seen this movie and likely loves it as much as I do.  I mean what’s not to love when you have a group of charming Care Bears making an evil boy find that he cares, he really cares.

As I got older, my love of movies carried on.  I lived for school breaks when my mom would take us to rent movies at Price Chopper or Blockbuster.  Those movies may have been a rip-off at around $5 a pop, but the joy they gave me was insurmountable, and those movies defined my youth.

I can still remember renting Scream when it came out on VHS in 1997.  My sisters really wanted to see it and although I was a wee bit scared, I figured, meh, how bad can it be?  Turns out, it actually was that bad and that movie literally terrified the crap outta me.  But one good thing did come out of that experience, it made me realize that I don’t like scary movies.

Throughout the years, movie rental stores opened and closed all around me (Hollywood Video, anyone), but I like to think that the ones that stayed in business have me to thank.  So you can imagine my delight when Redbox kiosks started springing up in my hometown.  $1.29 a rental, don’t mind if I do (please note, I love that they already increased their price from the original 99 cents, ah the economy never fails to disappoint).

I pretty much rent a movie (or five) every time I go home.  Watching movies relaxes me, or so it did until that fateful day February 17th, 2013.  I was home for my mom’s birthday, and we decided to rent a movie to watch after our celebratory dinner.

I strolled up to the kiosk as I always did, with a bounce in my step and a grin from ear to ear.  I just love the anticipation of not knowing what magical world I will be in that night …. Narnia with the Pevensie siblings or Hogwarts with HP …. ahhhh the possibilities.  What movie would my mom and I be watching that night, why, the Redbox gods would be deciding in a few moments.  As the movies starting dancing across the screen, I realized that I had already seen about 75% of them.  With limited options, I ended up deciding on Rock of Ages.  I have seen the Broadway show multiple times and loved it, so figured, why not see Tom Cruise slip into Stacee Jaxx’s tight leather pants.

But boy was I in for a rude awakening when this popped out of that kiosk o’ delight.

Seriously, gross.

It was so dirty, at first I was hesitant to even take it out.  I contemplated just pushing it back in there and hoping the Redbox gods would hear my internal cries and spit out a cleaner version of the case.  After a solid minute of reflection, I realized I may have been a bit OCD in my thoughts and I decided I was overreacting, so I grabbed the edges of the case and pulled it out for dear life.  But the thought of putting the dirtiness into my Blu-ray player was still plaguing my OCD thoughts.

OCD Thoughts: “Kelly, you can’t do it, that thing is all sorts of nasty!  Do you even know what those marks are?  I’ll tell you, they’re probably puke, dirt, or spit, or a combination of all of them …. do you really want that in your room?”
Me: “Damn you, OCD thoughts, back off, I am trying really hard to be less cray!”

When I got back into the car I showed my mom the disc:

Me: “Look at how nasty this case is, isn't it so gross!”
Mom: “Eww that's disgusting.”
Me: “I KNOW!  I don’t even want to bring it into my room!”
(OCD Thoughts: “Haha, gotcha!”)
Me: “Well I guess I can just take the disc out and leave the case in the kitchen.”
(OCD Thoughts: “Damnit!”)
Mom: “Gross, I don’t even want that thing in my kitchen!”

WHAT!  My fears were confirmed!  I was not overreacting when I considered not even touching the thing in the first place.

The most ironic part of this whole story is that my mom and I ended up hating the movie and stopped watching it about 30 minutes in.  Julianne Hough may be a force in the ballroom but girl can’t sing a note.  So I took the disc down to the kitchen where the case was deftly positioned on a napkin so as to not touch anything, and while putting it away, I noticed that the box says “Questions or Problems,” give us a call.  I considered calling them and saying “Oh hello, Redbox, or shall I say Dirtybox, not only did I not enjoy Rock of Ages as it is a lackluster take on the amazing Broadway show and Julianne Hough is a terrible singer, I was also not pleased that it looked like someone ran over the case with a garbage truck!  It’s called quality control people, you may want to learn to employ it!”  My better judgment led me to not make this call.

We returned the movie the next day on my way to the train station.  I didn't want to have dirty hands my whole train ride back to the city, so I held the movie with a napkin when I returned it, which made this Redbox experience a bit different from the others.  My bounce in my step and grin were gone and this time I strolled into Price Chopper with my head down hoping that no one would notice that I was holding the movie with a napkin.  I may or may not have gotten a perplexed and judgmental stare from the cart boy, but hey, I had to do what needed to be done.  No way was I going to sit on Amtrak for hours with a dirty Redbox scum hand.  I quickly shoved the movie into the slot, threw the napkin and cursed the day that I wanted to see Stacee Jaxx singing Pour Some Sugar on Me.  The only thing I wanted to pour was Purell …. all over my body.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Irrational Fears

Living alone for the past two years has led me to have some important epiphanies about myself.  My most recent revelation is that I have some irrational fears.  And by some, I clearly mean a lot.  Here is a sample of a few of them:
  1. That a person is going to hide under my bed, wait until I fall asleep and then kill me (this will be similar to the Sqweegel episode of CSI …. aka terrifying).
  2. I will be taking a shower and will look through my glass shower door and see a hand shutting off the bathroom lights.  Said person will then kill me (in the dark).
  3. A stranger will be watching me while I sleep and I will wake up with their face within an inch of mine.  This stranger will then proceed to kill me.
  4. I will go to take out my garbage and while I am down the hall a stranger will quickly dart into my apartment without me noticing.  I will come back and the next thing going down that garbage shoot will be my dead body.
  5. I will be brushing my teeth and bend over to rinse, and upon standing someone will be standing behind me and I will see their reflection in the mirror.  And you guessed it, this person will then kill me.
You may be noticing a theme.  Living alone in NYC has made me 100% Wuss Certifiable.  I don’t know if it’s because I've watched too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU where Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler are solving the murders of twenty-something year old women who are killed in their NYC apartments …. oh wait, that’s PRECISELY the reason.  It also doesn't help that I have an unexplainable obsession with horror movies.  I don’t want to watch them, but I feel compelled to.  If I’m flipping through the channels and see a movie that looks interesting and start watching it before realizing it’s a horror movie, I can’t help but keep watching until the credits roll.  It’s like I immediately form a bond with these fictional characters, and I need to see them find their happy place again, or at the very least know how they get the ax (literally or figuratively).  I imagine this characteristic would have made me quite valuable in times of war.

I have a similar obsession with ‘worst case scenario’ books.  I feel better about life when I’m prepared for every potential scenario that could come my way.  An alligator’s chasing you, be sure to run in zigzags because their short legs limit them from changing direction quickly.  Shark attacking you, why punch him in the nose not the eyes because sharks roll their eyes back when they attack.  These tips have clearly proven to be terribly useful on the streets of New York.

I guess my Girl Scout days have carried through though, because my motto remains, ‘Be prepared.’  So by reading these worst case scenario books and watching scary movies, I am getting ready for the day when something may go down.  The one thing I've never understood though about horror movies is when people run up the stairs to evade the killer.  I don’t need to read a worst case scenario book to know that when a killer is attacking you, do not, I repeat do not run up the stairs.  I mean isn't that common sense by now?  To this day it still blows my mind that Sidney made it out of the first Scream installment alive.

These horror movie scenes paired with Benson and Stabler’s exponential amount of NYC killer cases have forever left a fear imprint on my brain.  Sometimes, on Halloween, when people dress up as the Scream villain I literally start to panic.

Inside the OCD mind: “I mean, at the beginning of Scream 2 everyone thought the person in the mask was just a fake too …. until they realized he wasn't joking …. and that he was killing people …. like a lot of people …. gross.”

If he/she creepy mask killer even comes near me at a bar, I throw my drink at them and immediately start to run in the opposite direction.

But honestly, when you live by yourself every sense becomes heightened.  I walk into my apartment each night and it’s like my door opening is a cue for the Jaws theme to start. 

“Da da (quickly scan the room)....... da da (turn on all the lights) ....... da da (take off my coat so I’m more limber in the event of an attack) ……. da da ……. da da da da dadada DADADADA ….DA DA!!!!!!!”

The music usually stops around the time I've checked out the kitchen and bathroom because in my eyes these are the most likely spots that a killer would hide.  Well, that or in my closets, but I like to think that a killer wouldn't choose to spend that much time in a sea of wrap dresses and tights.

Reading all this, you might naturally assume that I have a reason to be this crazy ….  I assure you, I don’t.  My imagination is quite vivid, both a blessing and a curse.  The most realistic feeling (non)attack that I've ever experienced happened a few months ago.  I had to work late and ended up eating dinner at 11pm ….

Me: “I’ll take ‘Bad Ideas’ for $100, Alex.” 
Alex Trebek: “Alright, Scardey Cat McGee, what is the worst thing you can eat right before bed?
Alex Trebek: “YOU ARE CORRECT!”

And ravioli it was, right in my belly.  Feeling satiated, I was quickly lulled into a pleasant slumber until the ravioli decided to take its revenge.  In the middle of the night I woke up to an image of a stranger standing at the foot of my bed.  When he saw that I was awake, he said “Yeah, this is happening” and lunged to attack me.  I screamed bloody murder before waking myself up and realizing it was just a dream (slash night terror).  When I finally gained some semblance of composure, I still had a hard time convincing myself that it was just a dream.  I drew my comforter up to my eyes and lay completely still in the event that killer man was just hiding and waiting for me to go back to sleep.  Needless to say, my eyes stayed open all night.

In hindsight, I don’t know what was more upsetting about my night terror experience.  The fact that I woke up with every item from my bed sprawled out all over the floor or the fact that despite my blood curdling screams, not a single person in my apartment building called the police or even checked to see if I was alive or dead.  #NYCliving.

If you've seen American Psycho, then you know what I'm talking about.  When my brother was visiting a few months ago, he joked that my apartment floor’s hallway looked like the hallway from the movie.  While most of us watched American Psycho and couldn't help but laugh as Christian Bale chased a girl down the hall with a chainsaw, I now understand why this is viewed as such a sardonic take on NYC living.  A woman is literally pleading for help with chainsaw hums providing the melody to her cries and not a single person on the floor opens their door to help her.  Jaded New Yorkers may be an understatement.

I like to think that if I heard blood curdling screams in the dead of night, I would do SOMETHING.  At a bare minimum I would call the police.  I mean what’s one more case for Olivia and Elliot?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Subway Hand

After riding the subway regularly for 6 months now, I have a new motto: once my hand goes on that pole, it’s not touching anything else until I wash it (I sometimes wonder if that’s also a stripper’s methodology).  The second my hand touches that silver medal, it may as well be dead to me.

People often ask me why I am so crazy about touching the subway pole, and I find myself going through a little internal dialogue while preparing an answer.

Inside the OCD mind: “First things first, have you seen the caliber of people that touch the pole?  Now imagine the people that you AREN’T seeing touch it.  There are probably, boogers, sweat, blood, tears, dead body, filth, homeless people, drugs, human excretions etc. on that pole.  Scenario: what if I were to forget that my hand was on that cesspool of germs and I were to, dare I say, rub my eye, touch my iPhone, lick my finger (gasp) …. I wouldn't be able to live with myself.”

One coping mechanism I enlisted on my first day back on the subway was to designate which hand was going to be my subway hand.  What is a subway hand you ask?  Why it’s the hand that all New Yorkers inevitably draft to go to war on the subway pole each day, not knowing what foes it may encounter on the front lines.  I chose my left hand (sorry buddy, you had a 50/50 shot).  I’d like to introduce you to Leftie.

"Hi, I'm Leftie!"

"I am forced to touch the subway pole everyday!  GROSS!"

Lucky for Leftie, in wintertime I awkwardly give him a layer of protection by covering him with my subway glove (the subway glove is a whole other post my friends .... stay tuned!)  Sometimes I wonder if people question why I only have one glove on while my other hand goes au natural, but really, how much judgment can go down in a place where people urinate on themselves.

But for those summer days, Leftie is left to his own devices because a uni-glove in 100+ degrees heat might make for a funny story for another subway passenger to tell about me, and I don’t play those games.

I’ve seen people blow their nose with a ratty tissue, then switch hands only to then use that same tissue as a barrier to them touching the pole.  Really stranger, you just blew out your boogs in that ratty tissue, and NOW you’re concerned about potential germs from the pole …. I can’t!

There are many reasons that I hate the pole, but topping the list is when you touch the pole and it’s hot, so you just know some gross person probably just stopped touching it right in time for you to get your mitts on there.  That’s when I begin my search for the coldest part of the metal so at least I know the germs aren’t as fresh, but usually this is a fruitless search.

Then there is the very rare, but vile instance when the pole is wet ….

(gross, gross, ewwww, nasty, gross, barf, gross, ewwww, ewwww, gross, ewwww, nasty, barf, gross)

There needs to be a long pause there because it actually makes me feel sick just thinking about it.  It also makes me want to compulsively wash my hands .... like FOREVER (Sandlot style).  Those are the days when I think about if I really, truly need Leftie.  I could just chop him off and leave him on the subway to add to the other horrors that can be found in those tunnels.  If the police found Leftie they would naturally assume that something horrible had happened to me, but I would gladly let them know that my wound was self-inflicted.  I imagine the conversation would go something like this:

Me: “Leftie had to go, officer.”
Officer: “Who the heck is Leftie?!”
Me: “It’s semantics, don’t get caught up in the details.”
Officer: “Do you mean to tell me that you cut off your own hand?”
Me: “Hey, every war has sacrifices, and my hand was collateral damage on the battleground that is the NYC subway system.”

This would likely be the officer’s cue to bring me to the Ostroff Center, but hey, at least I could hang with Serena van der Woodsen.  Girl’s probably got some free time since Gossip Girl ended.

You know you love me, XOXO, Kinda OCD here J

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Subway Sweats

My morning started out like any other.  My first alarm went off at 6:27 and I proceeded to hit snooze for the next hour while simultaneously half sleeping through Good Morning America.  Sometimes I am so out of it while watching, I can’t remember if a story I saw was real or fake.  Then I’ll go into work and be like, “Did anyone watch GMA today, they had a story about how a man got stabbed with a carrot and lived, can you believe it!”  When people look at me like I have 7 heads, I realize that I may or may not have been sleep hallucinating through the news that morning …. whoopsie!

Today I had an extra barrier barring me from getting out of bed because I spent last night eating and drinking like a 14th century queen …. Queen Fatty, reporting for duty your highness.  Back in those days, the fatter you were the flyer you were.  I think it goes without saying that I would have rocked it back then.  But I feel like this form of gluttony is completely acceptable on the one and only Super Bowl Sunday.  In fact, I think it’s frowned upon to not indulge a little…. no, just me?

After rolling out of bed and getting ready for the day, I left my apartment hoping that it would be a swift commute to work .... spoiler alert, it wasn't.  Upon stepping outside, I was greeted by a cold wind that cut right through me, but thankfully I had about 10 extra layers of fat to protect me from the chill.  Sidenote, weighing yourself may top the list of the '10 Dumbest Things to Do the Morning After the Super Bowl.'

I headed down to the dreadful 4/5 and was greeted with an odd sight.  The train was in the station with the doors open, and people around me naturally started rushing to squeeze their bodies into the already packed cars.  I looked at the squalor and clearly decided to the wait for the next train which was right behind the one in the station.  While laughing to myself as people crammed and finagled into the cars, all of the sudden the subway car that was waiting to get into the station honked its boisterous horn. Um….  A) Since when did the subway cars have horns (cus I kinda loved it) B) Said horns are clearly underused and C) What is going on here?

The subway then quickly started to leave the station before screeching to a halt less than 20 feet later.

Subway Announcer: “Everyone get off of this subway train right now!  The 4/5 is having service problems so please use the 6 train.”
Me: “What the whhhhat!?  Don’t have to tell me twice!”

I literally dashed like a crazy lady back up the stairs to the 6 platform because it was just a matter of time before the hoards of people from the 4/5 would make the same mad dash.  This truly was a horrible start to my day already.  I started panting like the fatty I was as I sprinted up the elevator, but was rewarded with a 6 train already in the station.

At that moment though, I realized that my typical four stop subway commute on the express train had transformed into a local subway commute …. My Sharona, my wits were surely being tested this post-Super Bowl Monday.

Of course 5,000 of my closest 4/5 friends had also made their way up to the 6 platform before the train doors closed.  Sometimes I find myself willing the doors to close to no avail.  It’s like the subway door controller laughs in the face of reason and is conducting a daily social experiment to see how many people can fit in one subway car.  We are not a carnival game buddy where you guess how many tennis balls fit in a glass box.  We are people who just imbibed a whole lot o’ food and drink last night so packing us like sardines today is not a good idea!  Alas, my subliminal mind pleading did nothing to close those doors any faster, so sardines we became in a matter of seconds.

Whenever it’s super crowded on the subway, I semi-start to panic so it was only a matter of moments before I broke into the Subway Sweats (defn: I once ate an egregious amount of Jeanette cookies in one sitting and started sweating profusely.  I have since referred to the incident as the Jeanette Sweats.  So now I associate any amount of profuse sweating with the culprit that drove me to that point).  Unfortunately for those around me, it was buffalo chicken wing dip and Bud Light Lime seeping from my pores (to be fair, the shelves at Duane Reade were empty so Bud Light Lime was my only option …. #classybroad).   

I did everything and anything to distract myself, but seriously, the 6 train is a joke.  We made stops at 33rd …. 28th …. 23rd …. um seriously?  We are stopping every 5 blocks.  It’s no wonder Americans are obese when we can’t even expect them to walk 5+ blocks to get to their jobs.  These stops just added to the Subway Sweat proliferation and I needed a distraction, stat.

I thankfully found this in what can only be referred to as the best subway advertisement that I have seen in a long time.  

Hilarious, party of one.
The ad was a spoof on the Dr. Jonathan Zizmor ads that any New Yorker has seen far too many times.  This ad, however, was for canine plastic surgery, tail enhancements and all.  After laughing for a solid 5 minutes, I realized we were still only at Spring Street.  Is this what the players felt like during the 30+ minute blackout last night?  If my work performance suffers today, can I blame the City of New York?

After finally making it to the Brooklyn Bridge City Hall stop, I had another upsetting epiphany …. the 4/5 wasn't running, so I was going to have to walk to the Fulton stop ….. WOE IS ME!  Was this my fatty post-Super Bowl karma?  A sign that I needed to burn off the dips and crudités that I had so indulgently devoured not 24 hours earlier?  I get it world, Queen Fatty needs a workout, I can take a hint ….

After what amounted to a long day in the office, it was back on the subway for my ride home.  I feel like every time the 4/5 is messed up in the morning, the conductors try to make up for it in the evening commute because my subway car was literally moving like wildfire through the tunnels.  I loved every jolted swerve that nearly knocked me off my feet because it meant one less moment that I would need to be on the subway.  We were moving like Jacoby Jones and there was no stopping us.

Today wasn't a complete loss however, as I now know exactly where to take my future dog to get a tail enhancement or face lift.  I mean with results like this, how can you say no!

I feel your pain.  Try riding the subway everyday.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Ick Stik

Have you ever gotten that gift from someone that’s so perfect, it’s as though it speaks to your soul?  You see it and say to yourself, “This person gets me, they really get me!”  That gift for me most recently was the Ick Stik.

One of my coworkers happened upon the Ick Stik at a local drugstore and said she immediately thought of me.  While most people would be confused, possibly offended, I had nothing but adoration for that thing of beauty.  A stick to control the ick …. WHERE DO I SIGN UP!

What is an Ick Stik you ask?  Look and see for yourself.

My new best friend.
No longer must you sit on that subway car smelling the wretched B.O. of the un-showered passenger pressed against you, or question if the scent that your olfactory nerve is picking up on is urine (p.s. it is).  Alas, you can breathe (semi)free knowing that when you inhale, the only thing going into those nostrils is masked with a delightfully sweet twang of flowers mixed with joyous relief (cue the Ick Stik!)

The motive behind this gift also deserves an explanation.  My coworkers see me at my craziest, those vulnerable moments post-subway when I’m all fired up and still boiling with rage from that carriage ride of horror.  I sometimes try and cool down during my Dunkin Donuts run to get my morning coffee, but it rarely proves long enough to help me come down from my crazy subway high.

Not to make another Vincent D'Onofrio remark, but I almost feel like I am his alien character from Men in Black when I get off the subway.  If you've seen the movie, you’ll remember that he looked all discombobulated and would walk as though he was repulsed with his own skin.  And when he went to speak it was so incoherent and angry sounding, 99% of the time you were just like, “What?!”  That’s what I imagine I look like Monday – Friday at around 9:30am.  Unless you want me to go all alien cray cray on you, you best come back to see me closer to 10am.

Now that my coworkers have become very familiar with my blog, they love mimicking my subway exploits.  One of my coworkers has a simple take on my blog, and whenever he imitates me, he likes to use his best valley girl-esque voice.

His Interpretation:

“Someone sneezed on the subway today and didn’t cover their nose …. gross.” 

“I touched the subway pole today…. gross.”

“Someone on the subway had dandruff and their dandruff touched me …. gross.”

Add a little bit of humor and sass and this boiled down summary is not far off from the truth.  Gross things literally happen every day in NYC, and for some reason, I feel like I have a higher likelihood of witnessing them.  This is clearly ironic as I, of all people, don’t have the wherewithal to cope with it.

But perhaps my path in life is to witness all of these shenanigans so I can share them with you all.  It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.  So I've enlisted the help of the Ick Stick (aka my new best friend and subway sidekick) to help get me through it all …. odor, apply, relief, don't mind if I do!

Words to live by