Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is it just me or is something going on with the economy?

I am worried that something actually is wrong. As a New Yorker, being impervious to a weak economy is second nature. Or so I thought.

I didn't notice anything different among my group of friends and family so I have been living life like normal.

I still enjoy taking a car service everywhere even if it's just to the corner bodega. Well, I call it a bodega, but it is actually a world class Patisserie where I like to stock up on petit fours and gold flake truffles for breakfast. My trainer doesn't mind that I indulge in such sweets since he works with me twice a day, 7 days a week. It's my little allowance.

I haven't had to curb any spending habits although I must say I was astounded to find a pair of Badgley Mischka's had dropped from $2,200 to $1,800. Due to these tough times I scooped them up instantly to help "stimulate" the economy and do my part even though I would normally not be caught dead purchasing anything with a sale tag on it.

I have even decided to start washing my own hair. Instead of going down to the spa located in my building lobby every morning for a shampoo and blow out, I am now washing my own hair in my own bathroom. Yes, yes, yes this is very pedestrian of me, but actually I have coerced the maid into giving my scalp a good, strong scrub and every once in a while she will towel me off in an invigorating fashion.

But here's where it gets weird. I was having lunch at Balthazar with some other ladies in my building. I was astounded that we were sat immediately. Per usual there would be a crowd surrounding the host stand and as is custom, one of the ladies slips the host a crisp, $100 bill to get a table. It was my turn this week to do so and we all looked at each other in confusion for being able to sit down upon arrival. I gingerly clutched the 100 not quite knowing where to put it. Ew. How repulsive to not be able to buy your way into a coveted table so as to gloat at the commoners waiting in the vestibule.

Then, I was very startled to see that there was a lunch special. A LUNCH SPECIAL at Balthazar. I mean--- how embarrassing to have to have a combo of salad lyonnaise, steamed mussells, and foie gras tortellini with a dessert included for $55. I mean, i would expect this nonsense during Restaurant Week, but this was December.

The world opened up to me. I left lunch that day determined to spend the leftover 100 I had and thought I would maybe go buy a hand towel from Tag Heuer Boutique with it, but I felt strange. My beautiful, perfect Soho seemed....sad. I noticed that men and women were walking around with half the amount of shopping bags. I saw fewer mercedes pulling up to store fronts to let out throngs of beautiful SoHo locals. I smacked into David Bowie while I was rounding a corner and he had an Au Bob Pain carry out bag. I was reeling with shock and when I thought things couldn't get anymore disheartening, I walked by a little pizza joint and saw America's Next Top Model, McKey serving up slices.

I burst through the door (which I would never have done otherwise) to make sure it was her. Oh, It was her allright, there was no Annie Leibovitz photo shoot happening--- it was McKey serving up slices from a brick oven wearing a ball gown smeared with marinara. I looked over and saw Yoanna taking down orders over the phone. It was too much. Much too much.

I instantly hailed a yellow cab, since I didn't have time to wait for my driver, sped home to the penthouse and immediately fired my hairwasher. Yes, I admit that instead of going down to the salon anymore I decided to hire my maid's cousin to start washing my hair because she does it for half the price of the woman downstairs....I mean, I need a little luxury in my life. Don't we all? But I panicked after seeing models and large pizzas in the same space. Those two things are not supposed to occur in nature under the same roof and now I know that something is wrong with the economy.

I am writing this entry from my anti-aging chamber as I decided this is probably the best place for me to be right now. I had not intended to induce the vitamin/nutrient filled coma for another few years but if SoHo is going to be a veritable wasteland, I do not want to be lucid. Until someone else figures out how to fix all of this, I am going to rest. Wake me up when the economy is back to normal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Depression Do's and Don'ts

With the current clime of the economy, the cold grey expanse of winter closing in around me, and a career that won’t crack open, I think it’s safe to say I am backsliding into some depression. Ah, familiar, all too cyclical depression folks---it’s not just for Brian Wilson anymore.

Being no stranger to the blues given my unstable lifestyle, lack of control over income, and one of those temperamental “creative” personalities, I have experienced varying degrees of “sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, withdrawal from social situations, lack of interest in sex, decreased or increased appetite…” and so on and so forth from the laundry list of symptoms found in a Zoloft brochure. How do you deal with it? Do you seek out a professional? I say nay.

Sometimes what you need most is a good kick in the pants, maybe have your chops busted a little bit. Maybe you need to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth instead of from a melanchoy little animated blob on your T.V. screen pretending to be sad. I don’t trust a skinny cook and I sure as hell wouldn’t take depression advice from someone who’s never lived in their bathrobe for 3 months. So that’s why I am stepping up to the plate and offering advice to you the reader from a field I am well versed in. These pointers have worked for me over the years and helped me through the lowest of lows and helped bring me back up to…well…what is normal anyway?

1. DON’T: Spend time with lively, attractive, industrious people who are turning their dreams into reality.
DO: Spend time with your 93-year old grandmother and challenge her to little feats of strength, cognitive & verbal reasoning quizzes and eating contests. Trust me, you’re going to leave feeling like a champ and she appreciates the visit.
2. DON’T: Continue to account for yourself by paying rent, working and contributing to society. It’s hard and you need a break!
DO: Move back in with your parents. Nothing says “adult” like your mom waking you up while you’re sleeping in the hot tub to ask why in god’s name you drank all of the wine in the house.
3. DON’T: Meet new people.
DO: Cling desperately to failed relationships, marriages and friendships and then drop in for surprise visits. People love surprises! You can’t change the past but you can re-visit it over and over and over again.
4. DON’T: Accept any employment that is beneath you. You are an artist, people need to recognize that and they can find you if they need to. They WILL come to you.
DO: Continue old spending habits because it feels good. Going out for every meal and hobnobbing at the bar every night is good for your soul. Your little brother works very hard and you can borrow money from him.
5. DON’T: Get stressed about the 20 pounds you’ve gained. Sometimes little changes in our body happen when life isn’t all peaches and cream and we decide to stop exercising and start lying around a lot.
DO: Continue to force yourself into your old clothing, go out to the bar for White Russians and end the night right with a combo platter at Taco Loco. It’s important to feel normal.
6. DON’T: Admit anything is wrong. Humility is weakness and you’ve got a reputation to uphold dammit! You are self-important!
DO: Go about your regular schedule and interactions despite your instability, but be sure to periodically excuse yourself to the bathroom to scream, cry, and punch yourself in the gut. Nobody wants to see you cry. *** Be sure to carry eye makeup remover, astringent and mascara with you to re-apply after you’ve had your head in the toilet to muffle the screams.
7. DON’T: Take advantage of free counseling or group therapy. You are better than that. Do you really want to surround yourself with poor, stupid, crazy people?
DO: Wait to be hospitalized. It’s far more glamorous to be rolled out on a stretcher while wearing a scandalously low cut slip screaming, “I can afford this!”
8. DON’T: Stay put in one location for too long and allow a routine to develop.
DO: Bail out the moment something becomes hard or unfavorable. That’s no good. Abort, Abort, Abort! Besides, moving is exciting and there will be a whole new group of people to eventually leave behind, disillusioned and shaken.
9. DON’T: Accept invitations to relax with friends and family. They say they love you, but the minute you have a drink and start to relax they’re going to start prying about your health, finances and sanity. They will offer help. You don’t need anyone’s help.
DO: Spend all holidays and special occasions alone listening to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” or any track off of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. These tracks sound good year round. People admire your independence.
10. DON’T: Make goals for yourself. They’re so constricting and people talk shit about you when you don’t accomplish them.
DO: Wallow in this creative and financial lull. The only way out of depression is through it. Be prepared to feel this way for a loooooooong time.

I hope these tips have helped you recognize how best to deal with unfortunate bouts of depression. You just need to realize there’s NOTHING you can do about it and it’s not your fault. Medication is for the weak and/or insured. So live your life how you like to and eventually things will change. Or they won’t. So unplug the phone, grab the clicker and cozy up in your favorite flannel onesie; you’ve got some down time ahead of you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'll fleece 'em all

Has anyone ever spent 14 hours at LaGuardia? I highly recommend it as means to push your patience to the limit. I do realize that we had a very brutal amount of snowfall last wednesday and that it made flying "dangerous". Fine.

New York does not know what to do when it snows. When it hits, everyone freaks, a state of emergency is declared and the numbskullish behavior begins.

I watched my life slowly slipping through my fingers like sand while I paced awkwardly around the terminal. I was flying on a thrifty airline called American Eagle which had a makeshift outpost next to security. It was almost as pleasing as the waiting room for the DMV. Almost.

We were a raggity group of travelers flying economy from NY to Detroit. A chirpy, midwestern school teacher and secretary were among the group. I listened as the teacher kept going online to modify that week's hotlunch menu and read it outloud to her friend. "Monday will be double cheese lasagna, french fries, caesar salad and fudge brownies. Tuesday is grilled cheese, tater tots, salad bar and fudge brownies. Wednesday will be type 2 diabetes, hypertension and attention deficit disorder...." and so on.

I listened as she rattled off 2 weeks worth of mediocre, vein clogging menus. I turned my gaze upon her as it became apparent she was my age but dressed like my 52 year old mother. She had been thrashed very violently with the midwestern frumpy stick. She was by all rights an attractive plus size woman but it was obscured by a kicky Lane Bryant number, sensible shoes, one of those short, razored, moussed up haircuts and a "purse" that looked like a diaper bag made out of a quilt. I was terrified of ever becoming that. I was born and bred in the midwest and it was deeply ingrained in my heritage. It could happen without my consent or knowledge.

I got up to stretch my legs and go wait in a food line for a change of scenery. "Hmmmm, what kind of health conscious options do I have at the airport? Oh, none? Allright. M&M's and chips it is. Screw these people, they have no idea how incredibly healthy I am all the time and normally scorn this kind of eating. In public anyway. They eat like this all of the time and I am having a momentary breakdown and will bravely do so in public and join the ranks of gross, uneducated Americans. No one will even notice probably."

I fished around in my bag for money as a king size peanut M&M wrapper fell to the floor, ravaged and greedily drained of it's contents. "Oh fuck. When was this? Think, think, think. Oh right, Monday you stayed out really late thinking you had a chance for a fling. You KNEW you needed to go to bed but continued to suck down beer and drag out your time with a person who you know you shouldn't spend time with, got angry about the situation and stormed out of the bar and straight into a pizza joint followed by a trip into a bodega for a GIANT bag of M&M's.I remember now. It's all coming back.Jesus, Brooke. You're not supposed to eat wheat but you drank beer, ate pizza and had about 5 garlic knots at 3 in the morning. NO wonder you have such a bad stomach ache."

I got up to the cashier and quickly exchanged my gross snacks for an apple and bottled water. That would have to be my punishment. Besides, I didn't want anyone to know that I was secretly a fat person. A fat, midwestern person. Dammit, if I was going to pass as a bitchy, sadistic New Yorker I was going to have to try alot harder. They were going home to Detroit, I was going to Detroit to perform.

No one would ever know I grew up there. They would look at me as a style icon sent from the future, poised and graceful, unaware of how confident and coolly put together I was yet demanding attention everywhere I went. I would say things like, "Oh, how interesting... I didn't know things like that happened in Detroit", or "So, you don't have a subway system?" or, "Oh, me? I live in Manhattan. Yes, as in New York City."

I went back to my gate. The flight was cancelled. Snow was wildly whipping against the windows and I could't really make out the runway. Things were not looking promising. I looked at the departures monitor and flights were being cancelled left and right. I had my first show that night at 8pm and even though it was a Wednesday show, I didn't want to miss it and get $50 precious dollars knocked off my paycheck. I started to get angry but then realized there was no point. I just had to be hopeful that I could even get to Michigan that night.

The flight was terrifying as the plane served up a whopping 70 minutes of arctic turbulence and I was a shell of a person when we landed at 11pm---just a cool 13 hours later than anticipated. My parents were waiting for me in the parking lot and it was way past their bedtime. I quickly scurried to baggage claim to get my crap and get out of the damn airport. Okay suitcase, any minute now....any minute now. I watched and waited hopefully for the sight of it but knew in my heart it was somehow in Des Moines or some other retarded place undeserving of the only fashionable attire I possessed. The conveyor belt grinded to a halt and there was a small group of us who were empty-handed and giving each other the "No fucking way" look. We all bolted to the baggage claim office where the clerk was no longer sensitive to the bristlings of enraged travellers. It was very cut and dry. Our luggage had gone to Chicago. We would fill out a form and maybe receive it via UPS the following night.

I took my forms, climbed into my parents car, sprawled across the back seat and immediately started balling. Since I have lived in NYC by myself, this has been the typical greeting and departure hysterics they have come to know from me and think NYC is evil and causing me to lose my already threadbare sanity.

And on top of that, How, HOW was i supposed to gallavant around Metro-Detroit without my suitcase full of NYC garb? I couldn't afford to buy anything new because this pay check from the comedy club would be my sad, meager income for the week and I had already lost a night of work no thanks to La Guardia. I balled even harder.

Now, I know that I was blowing everything out of proportion. Yes, the 14 hour stay at the airport, terrifying flight and lost luggage added up to mental illness for anyone, but my biggest fear/annoyance was aimed at the prospect of seeming like I had nothing to show for living in NYC. The idea of borrowing an Eddie Bauer sweater from my mother to wear on stage the next night was too much to handle. I left the Midwest to chase bigger dreams and even though nothing bigger had happened yet, I could at least appear to be a New Yorker. I could at least wear an outfit that raised questions like, "Is that Joan Jett?",or "Who is this profound post-modern artist frequenting our humble bar?"

The next day I paced around the house waiting for UPS to show up before I had to head to the club. I had unfortunately worn something like a fashionable sweatsuit for travel purposes the day before so that was also not an option. I reluctantly opened my old closet in my childhood bedroom. It was full of prom and homecoming dresses. Maybe....No. I also had a ridiculous soccer jersey I had purchased in England when I was 17. Maybe....absolutely not.

I moved on to my mother's closet and looked at her age appropriate clothing. Sensible, comfortable and well, frumpy.


I realized that I soon would be dressed exactly like the woman I had been judging at the airport. Maybe she would even be there at the club and think to herself, "Now there is a comic I can relate to---I wonder who emroidered the teddy bears onto her vest?" I tried on the sweater vest and thought to myself that this life was easier. It made more sense. Why get dressed up to the nines when life revolved around church potlucks, and watching TV every night with your husband? Everyone was a good person and judged you for your piety and virtue, not how much your handbag cost. I mean, would anyone care or even notice since I would be blending in anyway? Aren't female comedians supposed to be fashion disasters? Who did I think I was fooling anyway? This is where I am from and it was about time I started having a little bit of hometown pride. The urge to eat casserole was overwhelming.

I was debating between a floor length, plaid jumper with a turtlneck underneath it or a spunky,floral 2-piece pant suit when the doorbell rang. It was UPS. Oh thank Christ. I had some skinny jeans and a military jacket to put on and some people to fool into thinking it was my first time here

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Prior to living in NYC, I had been blessed with the apparent privilege of having laundry located somewhere in the same vicinity or actual space in which I lived.

Oh man was it ever a CHORE to go down 3 flights of stairs into the basement of my Chicago apartment building if I wanted to do laundry once a week. Oh the agony of waiting comfortably in my own living room while the cycles completed and egad, the utter pain of folding my unmentionables in the privacy of my clean bedroom! Booooo hooooo hooooo hoooooo.

Now after 3 years of living in NYC which can only be described as all out war, I have a new attitude toward laundry. It is something that maybe happens once a month; no longer a commonplace chore but a hard won battle to have clean clothing and I dread doing it. Washers and dryers are for the wealthy. And even wealthy people don't have these appliances but can at least afford to have someone pick up their laundry and do it for them. I am left to the world of laundromats; a world where you spar with tiny Polish women for the good dryer. In this world, people steal your belongings, ram you with wobbly carts, and yell at you for taking up too much counter space.

Considering I don't have a ton of garments anymore, I somehow acrue mountains of dirty laundry that sits in the corner of my room and mocks me as I turn a pair of socks inside out to wear another day. I sniff the seat of my jeans while shrugging my shoulders; "Someone on the F train is definitely going to smell worse than me", I often think to myself.

Living in my part of Brooklyn there is one laundromat an avenue up the street which apparently services the entire neighborhood with it's 4 washers and 4 dryers. All of this is crammed into a space the size of a walk-in closet and it's easily 110 degrees inside. Screaming children run in and out of the laundromat and whiz by on scooters out front. And of course there is a line to even use the machines. NO. Give me a mother scratching break.

After dragging an awkward, 30 pound bag of laundry for almost 20 minutes and sweating profusely, it dawns on me why everyone has those little push carts. This is the NY equivalent of a vehicle.

So, instead of buying a metal cart, for almost 3 years I have sneakily borrowed my neighbor's during the day when they are not home. I get everything ready to go for my 3-hour outing and push off from my apartment to wheel my filthy apparel over half a mile away to the more remote laundromat I found. Without fail, I always hit a pothole in the road as I am crossing this one intersection and either my laundry jumps out the top of the cart into the street, the cart gets stuck and i tumble over it hitting my shin, or both happen at once but usually only on a rainy day.

By the time I get to the laundromat, my mood can only be described as "foul". Sure, this laundromat is far more spacious than the local one, but somehow 1 little old lady has taken up every washer to launder bedspreads covered with cat hair. The smell of a dirty diaper hangs thick in the air even though there is no baby in sight.

Telemundo blares on the TV and the vending machine is broken.

Man, I don't belong here. But then I ran across this ad and it angered me.

It makes me wonder, how on earth did someone get the idea that a laundromat is a place for sexy, young adults to gather and wear $300 pairs of jeans?

Goddammit, let that old lady in, you trust-fund brats! As much as I can't stand her for taking up all the dryers, I am one of her and if you mess with her, you mess with me!

This director has clearly never spent a day with real people doing laundry in a laundromat; disgruntled, defeaten and certainly not above stealing your designer jeans.