Thursday, September 9, 2010

the holy invasion

I figured out how to get onto the roof at work and went up there one morning witih a coworker to look at the skyline. We noticed a strange airplane flying low over the city. It seemed to have only one wing. Then we realized it was carrying a large payload that looked like a missile but turned out to be a large cargo helicopter, strapped to its underbelly. When the plane released the helicopter, it hovered over the building next to ours and landed. Dozens of people streamed out of it and spread out over the other building's roof. They figured out how to get over to our roof and started crowding around us, too. They appeared to be college fraternity brothers, all wearing matching tie-dye shirts with Christian slogans. My coworker was worried they were aliens and ran for the door to the stairs. I got the nerve to ask one of them who they were. They claimed to be a service club airlifted in from the east side to protest rising heating bills for all the poor residents of the West Village. There were hundreds of them---I could see helicopters landing on other roofs nearby and letting off even more of these boys. Before I could ask them another question, the helicopter morphed into an all-terrain land vehicle and kind of climbed over onto our roof. The group leader driving the land-helicopter turned on a megaphone and instructed everyone to head inside for a pizza party. I took a different stairwell and ended up at a study party where my friends from high school had apparently been waiting over ten years for me to show up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

creative fundraising

A group of literary agents decided to take over a struggling elementary school and turn it into a graphic design firm. Things weren't going so well---the kids just weren't producing creative enough work to justify their mission statement of unprecedented creative innovation. And public school just don't get enough funding these days. So they decided to take me hostage and set a price on my head to fund their budget for going after new clients. Things were looking pretty grim. Turns out the government doesn't negotiate with graphic designers. But then I got a phone call from my mother, who informed me she had worked out a deal with the agent teacher designer terrorists to pay off my ransom in monthly installments, like a mortgage. My mom is the best.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

republicans make horrible backseat drivers.

My mom and I were trying to take the subway back to my apartment, but the roof of the platform was leaking steadily no matter where we tried to stand. I was convinced it was acid rain, but before I could get too freaked out our train arrived. At least, it was supposed to be the F train, but the flashing screen on the side said it was the B6 bus. Close enough.

I found a couple of seats for me and my mom, but a young, well-dressed woman with a perfect ponytail and a pearl necklace shoved onto the train in front of my mom and sat down next to me. I said, "Excuse me, but my mother was going to sit there." The women said, "Oh," and didn't move. Luckily there were two more seats on the other side of her, so I just got up and sat down next to my mom. "Thanks for nothing," I said, against my better judgment. The woman proceeded to shriek at me for being a rude bitch for the rest of the ride.

At some point the train/bus morped into a shared car that I was driving. My mom was in the back seat and the horrible woman was sitting up front next to me. She criticized my driving constantly, from not taking a tight enough right turn to not using my turn signal early enough. My mom and I tried to figure out the best route home. The woman interrupted us, saying, "But I'm not going to your house. You have to drop me off at work." I asked her where she worked, and she said, "I work for the Glenn Beck show. That's G-L-E-N-N-" I cut her off and told her I knew who Glenn Beck was.

I was trying not to let her get under my skin, but the road signs were really confusing and I was worried about getting lost. When I tried to get onto a highway ramp that she disapproved of, I accidentally turned onto someone's driveway. She smirked through all the three-point turns I had to make to get us back out. And then she was gone. I'm pretty sure my mom shoved her out of the moving car when I wasn't looking.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

doctors and nurses

I was a doctor working at a hospital, which was an absolute nightmare. I mean, the outbreak of the plague was one thing; they barricaded all the doors and wouldn't let anyone leave so we wouldn't spread the infection. But I also didn't really know how a doctor should behave.

I walked into the cafeteria, full of friends and family members of patients whose moods seemed to range from tired to anxious to visibly distraught. In my mind, being a doctor was kind of like volunteering at a children's day camp or a retirement home, and my job was to go make small talk with all these people and prove to my supervisors that I was making myself useful. But no one wanted to talk. And then the nurses started yelling at me for annoying the visitors.

The nurses kind of ran the place. I kept asking which patient was staying in which room, but the nurses would grab their charts away from me and tell me the information was confidential. I tried to go out into the courtyard for a minute to clear my head, but yet another nurse blocked my way, scolding me for not putting on my coat. So I decided to go fill prescriptions, the one mindless task I knew I could do correctly, and one that would take up several hours of time where I wouldn't have to pretend like I knew what I was doing. But the nurses were having a secret conference in the pharmacy room, trying to decide what to do about the plague, and they shooed me away.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

yet another apocalypse

When the bombing started I was on the road in Nebraska. I stopped in at a bar and watched on TV as the bombs descended on Berlin and London. They fell slow and placid, looking like a swarm of giant fat black jellyfish that turned to bright orange flame when they landed on buildings and public squares. The other people in the bar stared blankly as panicked Europeans ran at and around the screen.

The response across America was hard to gauge. I stayed with friends in Nebraska, a family that lived on a compound in the middle of nowhere. One woman there was worried about her children, who her good-for-nothing ex-husband had shipped off to boarding school in England. She wondered if her children were still alive, if she should begin to mourn. I wondered how her ex managed to afford boarding school on the limited salary of an unemployed alcoholic.

I stopped off in a high-end mall on the way back to New York. The associates at the Nordstroms there seemed more upset about a new competitor who had taken over the bulk of the under-occupied mall at half their rent, drawing away their customers with fancy white pillars and warmly glowing display cases. But that was the result of another catastrophe, well on its way and nearly forgotten by the time this other situation arose.

Back in New York, we carefully moved the tomato plants from the roof into the bathroom, just in case. But I kept going to work. Everyone carried on almost like normal. The TV stopped getting an international feed. The military started up the draft again, but it was only to stop domestic violence, the potential looting and pillaging that one expects when it seems like the world is about to end.

At work I engaged in some emotional looting and pillaging. I'm not proud of it. But for some reason a few of us in the editorial department felt justified in going down to the production department and intimidating their staff. We acted all tough and entitled. We messed up paperwork, drew mustaches on design mock-ups, played around with people's computers. A supervisor came by and asked just what we thought we were doing, and we fled back upstairs, ashamed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

zoo party

This crazy old rich guy built a private zoo downtown just for whales and dragons. On cleaning day, he had a party. People would sit in the viewing galleries and watch as workers drained the whale pool and scrubbed down the walls of the dragon cages. Then there would be a parade through the city streets as the animals were carted back from their temporary holding facility. For this particular cleaning day party, the guest list included me and everyone I used to date. Everyone got pretty drunk in the viewing gallery, so I popped open one of the windows into the side of the empty whale pool and climbed down inside. It looked like an old city pool, just ten times deeper and so wide I could barely see the other side. The bottom and sides of the pool were lined with light brown tiles and skylights shot down beams of sunlight at random angles. I sat in one corner, breathing in the slightly fishy air, until alarms went off to signal they were going to fill the pool back up and dump the whales back in. I rejoined the party, which had moved up to the roof so everyone could lean over the edges for a glance of the purple and red dragons being carted down Broadway.

Monday, March 29, 2010

not the best day to play hookie

I skipped work to meet my friends for lunch in the East Village and buy some new soccer cleats. Lunch was great, but unfortunately an alien from an alternate dimension was also shopping for some new cleats. It ripped through the space-time fabric of 9th street on a Tuesday afternoon. All anyone could see anywhere were these giant purplish tentacles, which started grabbing shoes and people who looked like they might be good at soccer (apparently this was also a recruiting trip). Luckily, I'm not such a hot player these days, and I escaped with my shoes and headed over to Troy, Michigan to meet my friend Steve for a drink. He took me to this members-only hipster bar on Big Beaver. No one seemed happy to see me. No one there seemed that happy to see anyone, actually. There was a walk-in clinic next door, so I decided to go get some alien-related injuries checked out while I was there and then head back to work to at least put in an appearance.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the worst

I was hanging out with my coworker Maureen in a park near an old chemical factory. We were having a great time. The sky was an ominous deep gray, but we weren't too concerned. A group of construction workers were loitering nearby, also enjoying the park, and occasionally making lewd remarks in our direction. We chose to ignore them.

All of a sudden, the construction workers started yelling and pointing at the chemical factory, which appeared to be imploding on itself. Maureen and I stayed where we were. Inexplicably, the men all ran toward the factory to get a closer look. Debris was flying all over the place, and I was sure some of them were bound to get hurt, but they seemed to be just out of the way of danger. That is, except for a large white bucket attached to a freestanding structure next to the rest of the factory. Maureen and I watched in horror as the bucket toppled sideways, falling directly on top of the men and trapping them underneath. We both started screaming and I started running. Then I realized that was not the right response, and headed for a pay phone to call 911.

As I tried to get through, Maureen came running up, screaming, "Oh my god! The chemicals are burning their skin off! We have to do something!" The operator picked up the line and asked for our location, but I drew a blank and just started screaming "At the factory! The old chemical factory!" The whole situation was just totally awful.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

really bad day

My coworker Adrienne and I took a break from work to try out a new bakery down the street from our office. The place was basically someone’s apartment, with all kinds of delicious looking baked goods on display in the kitchen. Before we put in our order, we tried to find a seat on one of the couches in the living room, but it was already filled to capacity with the extended family of a grumpy patriarch with a terminal illness.

The old man’s children appeared to be arguing over his will. He was threatening to disown the whole lot of them and give all his money to some more deserving cause, like the Humane Society or his hot young girlfriend, also present. We decided to get our baked goods to go.

I ordered some strawberry bedtime loaf (a large thick cake intended to be eaten right before you go to bed) and a bear claw. Instead, the pastry chef gave my bear claw to the old man’s angry old wife, who gulped it down in a single bite before demanding to be shown to the bathroom. The chef led her off, tossing me a single plain croissant as he went. It was tasteless and dry. I looked longingly at the cases full of raspberry tarts and brownies and truffles, but it was time to go.

The rain was coming down outside. Adrienne and I opened our umbrellas and parted ways, and I fell into step with a group of super douchey bankers who were comparing the sizes of their recent deals. At some point they decided I was one of them, and the weakest member of their tribe at that, so they started mocking my inadequate dealmaking powers.

It was crazy windy out, and my umbrella almost blew away several times on the way to the parking lot, where my new friends and I had left our fancy banker cars. They all had Porsches and Lamborghinis and Maybachs and whatever other cars bankers drive these days. I had my old Dodge minivan from 1994.

The alpha-asshole of the group pointed at my car and laughed in my face, just as I finally did lose my umbrella. It flew up in the air and landed handle-first on the asshole’s shiny tank-like car, making an unpleasant scratching noise. Whoops. I tried to get in my van, but it was too late. The head jerk was already in his car and heading right for me, steam pouring from his nostrils and ears. He smashed into my van as hard as he could, and I figured that would be it, but he was actually just trying to plow the van out of his way so he could run me over personally.

So I started running, realizing it was one of those days when I just couldn’t win. This guy was going to run me over and then back up over my body until I was nothing but a bloody stain on the pavement. And then he would probably spit on me for getting his tires dirty. He was just that kind of asshole.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

i just came for the fjords

My brother and I went to visit a former coworker of mine who had moved to a small Scandinavian town. Everyone got around on rollerblades, which my brother loved and I found terrifying. I kept plowing into walls whenever we had to stop or go around a corner. Our host took us to a vegan food court, then back to her house for tea.

Her house was full of statues and expensive-looking antique knickknacks. We had tea on uncomfortable couches in the front parlor. Beyond the front parlor, separated from us by a glass wall, was yet another, fancier, back parlor, stuffed with all the antiquities and statuettes that were just too valuable for everyday use.

It was pretty fucking awkward. I don't think I was ever even really friends with this woman---I just wanted an excuse to come to Scandinavia. We ran out of small talk after about five minutes and just sat there pretending to admire all the crap in the room.

Then her younger brother burst in at a sprint, followed by six of his friends, all carrying futuristic hunting rifles. They passed right through the front parlor into the forbidden back parlor and started shooting at birds that had come to roost on the ceiling. The birds swooped down, flying out of the back parlor, through the front parlor, and out the door the brother came in through. The men followed them back out, and my ex-coworker gave us a pained smile as she took another sip of tea.

Monday, March 8, 2010

car + car

Oh, right. This blog. So my friend Adam and I were walking down Marcy, and instead of the Marcy Playground on our left, there was a big parking lot with a few broken-down old cars rusting miserably, fenced in with barbed wire. Then all of a sudden this VW van driving down the street next to us sprouts wings, bounces over the fence into the parking lot, and leaves a bouquet of roses on the front fender of one of the cars before flying off into the Brooklyn sky. I turned to Adam and said, "If you weren't here, I would have sworn I just dreamt that." He said, "I know, right?"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

a rough night

I thought I was just going to the Y to play some basketball while I was waiting for my laundry to finish, but it turns out they wanted me to be the manager for a new teen pop sensation. I can't tell you his name, for reasons that will soon become obvious.

Part of my job was to monitor his movement around the stage during shows. It was a pretty complicated set up, with hidden harnesses and elevated platforms and various large pieces of moving machinery. I followed him around the stage like a mother hen, carefully keeping out of view of the audience, making sure he didn't accidentally fall to his death and take out a few tweens in the process. We were halfway through the night's performance, in a large warehouse space in rural Florida, packed full of near-hysteric teenage girls and quite a few very enthusiastic teenage boys as well, when it was suddenly revealed to us and to the audience that the pop star and his entire staff (myself included) were actually clones, distant copies of the real pop star and his original entourage.

I didn't really have time to deal with the unhappy implications of this revelation for myself. The tweens were in near revolt, and one of my many duties was crowd control. So I took the mic and said the first thing that came into my head, which was that we were changing the format of that night's show. In half an hour, members of the audience would be given the opportunity to wrestle a clone. Five clones, five matches. I know this was an idiotic idea, but the crowd seemed to like it. They happily filed out of the warehouse to let us reconfigure the space for the impromptu fight night.

Now we were faced with the conundrum of what to do if our pop star was crushed, strangled, or otherwise damaged in the upcoming bouts. Of course, it wasn't actually that much of a problem, seeing as there were apparently additional clones of all of us waiting in reserve. All in all, it was a stressful night all around, and I completely forgot to take my laundry out of the dryer.