Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary to ME!

Since I’m usually looking for an excuse to drink, today I’m celebrating the anniversary of the trip that changed my life. Bitter and disillusioned from a summer in New York City that involved a 10,000-to-1 ratio of cranky restaurant customers to job interviews (seriously, it sucked), I flew down to Charlotte, NC to drink away my troubles see old friends and get a respite from the city. 

It was the best three days

I spent those seventy-two hours rocking on front porches, sailing on Lake Wylie, and washing it all down with $1 beers and fried pickles at night. (Much better than the $6 Bud Lights that ol’ New York has to offer. And fried pickles are a delicacy the northern US has yet to appreciate.) 

Mmmm...fried pickles. There are none in this picture because I ate them all. 

To top it all off, the guy I’d had a schoolgirl crush on for the past two summers was suddenly single and by my side. We spent every waking minute of those three days together, sitting on the lake’s edge at night, and were dating by the time he drove me to the airport on Friday.

I kid you not-this was the view from my NYC apartment
In Charlotte, I saw the chance to work to live instead of living to work. I wanted to drink sangria on porches and spend summers on the lake. I wanted to spend less than a $1,000 a month on rent.

A month and some change after my wheels touched down back in New York, I was looking at the city in the rearview mirror of my Craiglist-purchased Toyota and headed south. I had quit my job, sublet the room in my apartment, and packed every belonging into my little black Yaris. I never looked back.

(Naturally, I was offered a job as an art assistant at a teen magazine (not Seventeen) the week I was leaving. They wanted to pay me $10/hr. for forty hours a week. Which according to my precise calculations would pay my rent and leave me with about $200 for utilities, transportation, and everything else. Did I mention they were based in New Jersey? How about hell no. )

Just like people, dreams change too. By September I had a teaching job and was single once again. Eternally undecisive, I’ve never once doubted my choice to leave the city when I did.  Now summer has almost come and gone again. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve lived in Charlotte longer than I ever resided in New York. This year has been more than I could have ever hoped for.  For the first time, I have everything I need and (almost) everything that I want.

...and a year later
In the words of ol’ Frank Sinatra: “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” So I didn’t make it there. But that’s ok. Where I am is just fine. And it sure doesn’t smell like garbage.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hotel de Haughty

Martha Stewart Living has been magically showing up in my mailbox recently. I didn't subscribe to it, but I sure ain't complaining. (Perhaps it’s a hint from the decorating gods? Or maybe someone in the subscription department seriously effed up.)

There's only one problem: reading it knocks my (rather high) self-esteem down a notch. Everything is so cute! And original! And colorful! I could never come up with those kind of ideas. Though, in some cases, that could work in my favor. I’m pretty sure pom-pom fringed curtains are about as attractive to men as naming a love fern and blabbering about your cayenne pepper and lemon juice cleanse.

In all seriousness: when it comes to home decorating, I have no taste. If I weren’t roommates with Elise, who picks out everything from my furniture to my color scheme, I would probably have a mattress on the floor and a beer can pyramid in the corner. (I did sleep on a mattress on the floor for the first six weeks in our apartment, until we hosted a dinner party and I realized Elise’s room looked like something out of House Beautiful and mine looked more akin to Animal House.)

Part of this might stem from a hesitation (or disbelief) in putting down roots. I grew up a Navy brat, became a nomadic college student, and then disillusioned New Yorker. Renewing my lease this fall will be the first time I’ve lived in the same place for twelve consecutive months since I was twelve. It’s time to put some pictures on the walls.

That said, I did a forced march through IKEA yesterday, where I stuffed a cart full of picture shelves and frames that were meant to make my room look like it was staged for a Pottery Barn catalog. I had a mild panic attack on the way to the checkout, however, and ditched my cart, saying I “just wasn’t ready” to make the purchase. What if there were cuter shelves out there? What if I could find cheaper frames? (Hey Ensley? It’s a trip to IKEA. Not a marriage proposal.) Maybe decorating, like my putting down roots, requires baby steps as well.

Below are some inspirational images I blatantly stole off the internet. Maybe my room will be decorated by 2013. For now, at least my mattress is off the floor. 

Carrie's revamped room in SATC: The Movie

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to Break Into Your Own Home in Ten Easy Steps

Last Thursday started off like any other. (Dun dun duuunnn.) Get up, brush teeth, contacts in, get dressed. Only this week I was dog sitting (see previous post for photo reference) for my dear roommate Elise, so I also had to take the dogs out for a quick tinkle. I rounded up the voracious hounds, put their leashes on, untangled said leashes from around my legs, and locked the door on my way out.

The only problem? My keys were inside. As was my phone. Ka-ching! 

In shock, I stood staring at my door while I questioned myself. Did I REALLY lock myself out? (Yep.) Were my keys actually in my hand and I didn't realize it? (Nope. But thanks for asking.) Who else had a key? (Elise, but she was in New York. Elise's mom, but she was in the mountains. Check and check.)

Then I realized my landlord would have a key, but I had no phone to get in touch with him. He seems pretty active in the HOA, especially since we got that letter about not being allowed to have parties anymore (what? don't be mad just because we didn't invite you). Maybe one of my neighbors would know my landlord from the HOA and be able to call him! Perfect plan!

Except that my neighbors are apparently all party poopers workaholics who are already gone at 7:45am. And no, they weren't just “not answering the door" because I aggressively pressed my face against each and every one of their windows to check for movement inside. (It's not creepy, it's being thorough.) In fact, out of my whole three-story apartment complex, only ONE of my neighbors was home. She looked a little like this*:

*Image has been exaggerated to show resentment
While I assumed that a twenty-something female toting around two little dogs would seem non-threatening, the way she cracked open the door and peered at me suspiciously proved me otherwise. (Hey lady? We live in Myers Park. I’m pretty sure the worst crime ever committed here has been teenagers stealing beer from their parents.)

Once she realized I wasn't going to brutally murder her on the spot, she opened the door all the way. Over the blaring voices of Regis and Kelly in the background, I (politely) explained to her that I lived upstairs, had locked myself out, and could I please use her phone?

Her response: "Uh, you need to do something with those dogs because I don't want them in my apartment." Fine. I could tie them up out here, put them on your balcony, heck, I'd put them in a box marked "Free to Good Home" at this point. Just LET ME USE YOUR PHONE LADY.

Finally, she offered to hold the vicious beasts outside while I went in and cased the joint used the phone. But not before she asked me to “make it quick” because she “had eggs on the stove”. Being 137, she didn't have a cell phone, and naturally the only number I have memorized is my parents', which is long distance. At short range, the volume on Regis and Kelly was beginning to make my eardrums rupture. Facing the elements alone sounded better than spending one more minute in that apartment.

I went back outside, told her to suck it thanked her, and said I would try to find someone with a cell phone. Being the kind, helpful soul that she was, she left me with a few pearls of wisdom to carry me on my journey:
“This is why I never lock my doorknob automatically behind me. I’ve always wondered what I would do if I got locked out.”

Wow. That IS helpful! Between the suspicion, lack of sympathy, and overall rudeness you’ve shown me this morning, have you ever thought of writing a book? It could be called “Old Hag’s Tales: Tips and Tricks for Getting Rid of People When You Desperately Need to Change Your Depends.” I bet it would be a large-print bestseller!

Seriously though. Now I am soooo not even sorry that the icy beer-foam water our keg sat in at Elise’s birthday party dripped down onto your patio. In fact, I’m elated about it. You’re lucky the HOA said we can’t have parties anymore, because I would definitely tell some drunk dude he was free to take a leak over the side of our balcony.  Karma, baby.

I sat down on the steps with the dogs to go over my options. Turns out, without keys or a cell phone, there weren’t that many options. I thought about how robbers break windows to unlock doors. Genius! Making an executive decision (the dogs weren’t being much help anyways) I grabbed a loose brick from downstairs and headed up to my apartment. After tying up the dogs a safe distance away, I grabbed the brick and braced for impact. I held the brick like a shot-put and slammed it into my bedroom window.

Nothing happened. Except it left a wicked scratch in the glass and made a weird nails-on-a-chalkboard sound to my poor Regis-and-Kelly traumatized eardrums. So I smacked the window again. And again. On the third time, it shattered, with glass raining down all over my walkway and into my bedroom. Did I mention I was in sandals? Oh yeah. Now I was trying to figure out how to get through the window without fatally impaling myself.

All of a sudden, my luck changed.
(Can we say F-I-N-A-L-L-Y?) Out of nowhere, a young, NICE couple was just coming home and came over to help me. The woman tried to open my door with a credit card (which thankfully didn’t work considering I’d just tossed a brick through my window), while the man became my knight in shining armor and climbed through the Window of Certain Death for me. If his girlfriend hadn’t been standing next to me, I probably would have given him an open-mouth kiss right then and there. (I still considered it. He was hot.)

I was mentally calculating all of the ways I could say thank-you to this sweet couple (a bottle of wine! Flowers!) until they told me they were moving out. That day. Crap. In denial, I tried to bargain with them, offering to let them help me pull pranks on Ms. Cranky Pants McGee downstairs if they stayed. Unfortunately they were unwavering. I guess I understood. All the neighbors here are either rude or throw non-stop ragers. You aren’t in the HOA are you?

Within two hours, my new friend Brian from Binswanger Glass was at my apartment. While he made me feel better by telling me that “people did this all the time when they locked themselves out”, he was also going to have to special order my glass. It would be here in 7-10 business days.

Awesome. Luckily he gave me a piece of plywood to stick in my window. I didn’t think Elise would find it funny if I spray painted “BEWERE OFF DOG” on the outside, but I considered it. Welcome to the trailer park roomie!

In closing, I will leave you a short checklist on how to break into your own home in ten steps easy steps.

1.   Lock yourself out
2.   Curse the day you were born.
3.   Get choked up and begin to cry
4.   Realize there is no one around to feel sorry for you, and stop fake crying
5.   Ask neighbor for help
6.   Curse the day, 487 years ago, that neighbor was born
7.   Throw brick through window
8.  Get hot neighbor to climb through said window
9.   Shamelessly hit on hot neighbor
10. Pay your new friend Brian $150 for glass you won’t see for at least a week.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Whippet, a Bichon, and a Shorkie walk into a bar...

My captors: Sophie, Lilly, and Amelia

Dog sitting for the past few weeks has forced me to accept some cold, hard truths about myself. Like the fact that I'm a cat person. This is difficult for me to accept, since up until a month ago searching for pooches on Petfinder was my #1 time waster favorite activity.

(And any of you who feel the need to roll your eyes or try and tell me why cats suck can just put a lid on it.)

First of all, dogs are stalkers. Every time I turn around I see three sets of beady eyes staring at me as if their evil plan is finally working. (See above photo for reference.) Getting up to get a glass of water? Just what they wanted. Going to the bathroom? Walking right into their trap. 

I appreciate how cats do their own thing  sleep for 20 hours a day, appear just long enough to let you pet them, and then fall asleep again. That sort of time management is hard to come by.

Also, cats are nice and quiet, unlike these barbarians. Not only do they howl at the slightest hint of a noise outside, I'm pretty sure Lilly just belched. Belched. She didn't even say excuse me afterwards. Also, her doggy breath is so bad it could kill houseplants. 

Cats don't jump up on you when you walk in the door or lick your legs when you've just come back from a run, which is a sensation I don't particularly care for. Yesterday Lilly mistook our lovely green couch for a patch of grass and whizzed all over it. Sick. How about I just sit on the floor while you treat my antique furniture like your own personal toilet. 

 Cats are independent, lazy, and a little bit bitchy-all qualities I admire in myself. 
Hello? Relatable! 

 Bottom line: If I wanted someone to follow me around and drool all day, I'd get a boyfriend.  In the meantime, I have three puppies to take outside who will attempt to assassinate me by wrapping various leashes around my legs, rendering me helpless while they plot against me. 

Wish me luck.  

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