Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hector the Brave

When I first saw the tail whip out of site as the little guy scurried under the refrigerator, I’ll admit I was freaked out. Though I didn’t scream or anything – I never yell when I’m afraid. My instinct kicks in and I go as still and quiet as possible. This is how I know that instinct and reason are in entirely two different camps, because if I were being rational, I wouldn’t be afraid of something that is immeasurably smaller than me. If anything, I should be afraid of the diseases that can accompany mice droppings.

Anyway, so I scurried back into my room much like my newfound roommate scurried under the fridge. I had curled into the corner of my floor mattress, convincing myself that said mouse was actually a massive rat (at this point I had only seen the tail), who would find a way to come bite me as I was sleeping and give me a disease that’s some mix of polio and vampirism. Which I guess would be zombiism.

A few hours into the day, and I had almost forgotten about the mouse. He didn’t encroach on my bedroom territory, and I gathered enough food from the kitchen in a mission-impossible style display to last me through dinner. This I was grateful for, not only because I had become afraid of the evil vampire rat, but also because I didn’t know what I would do should we meet face-to-face. At this point, I can kill a cockroach without blinking an eye. But a rodent? No way. I do have some morals. Also, I’m not a big fan of blood.

Just as I was hoping the little guy managed to escape our apartment, I looked over to see not a vampire rat, but a minuscule mouse staring at me. We looked at each other for give or take three seconds before he scampered toward the wall. I hoped he found a way back into the kitchen, but I had no idea how he had breached the walls in the first place, and I couldn’t see where he had gone.

Five minutes later, I got up to go check the kitchen when I looked down at a thick black sweatshirt that has been living its lonely life on the floor since the heat wave started to suffocate me every night. Curled into a tiny, grey ball in the center was the mouse.

My heart melted instantly. My new goal: get Hector (its physically impossible to witness something that cute and not name it) out of the apartment before the roommates get home and try to destroy him.

At first I tried scooping him into a plastic bag. Unfortunately, Hector woke up and looked up at me alarmed, but he didn’t run away. Instead, he nestled himself deeper into the discarded sweater.

Plan B decided, I scooped up the sweatshirt with Hector in it and ran him downstairs. Propping the door to freedom open with my hip, I shook Hector from the fabric. Part of my felt guilty for letting him out into the rain, but his chances are far better out there than in an apartment complex with angry mice-killers. I stood in the entryway, watching Hector as he scampered over the brick, through the bars of the gate, and toward the subway.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cure to Writer's Block

Attention, all writers! Finally, the glorious day has come. I have discovered the cure for writer's block. The ingredients? A faulty door lock, a screwdriver, a hammer, and three Indian engineering students of Columbia University.

In other words, a good story.

Obviously, I've been neglecting this blog. Like with so many of my hobbies, once I've done it a few times, I begin to procrastinate. But it was more than that -- I haven't written anything (on here or otherwise) since my last post. It's been the longest, steady writer's block that I've had since I began writing regularly. Every time I sat down to write, the words wouldn't flow.

And then a horrible, and simultaneously wonderful, event happened: my room locked me out.

I discovered this after working a 10 hour shift (as I do every Saturday and Sunday) at my weekend job. It's not an exhausting job by any means (unless you count my coworkers, which I'm sure I'll write about in the near future). Mostly I sit and read my book whilst answering the phone whenever it rings. Still, after 10 hours in an office and the 45 minute trip home, I was not overly pleased to discover that my room had decided that we're not on speaking terms.

After figuring out that none of the keys I have work for the door, and kicking it a few times for good measure, I finally asked for help. It started with the one roommate that I always go to for the key to the post box. We spent maybe three minutes shoving knives, forks, other keys, everything we could think of into the key hole (yes, get your "that's what she said"s over with) when the other two roommates came to see what the commotion was about. They rushed to help -- something which had very little to do with me, and a lot to do with the irresistible urge inside all engineering majors to solve a problem.

At first I tried to help, but soon I found that I was more useful standing on the sidelines as the three young men jabbered between English and Hindi. From what I got of the English parts, they were discussing angles and degrees, as well as the amount of force needed to break open a lock. Next thing I know, Roommate #3 (as I so call him in my head -- they've told me their names, but A. It's something I can't pronounce, and B. I'm horrible with names anyway) ran next door and came back a minute later with a screwdriver and a hammer. Within five minutes, the door was open.

I thanked them profusely, telling them that they were my heroes, and telling Roommate #3 that he should join the CIA as a professional lock breaker. His strange forced laughter accompanied by his slow nodding told me that the cultural barrier goes both ways.

Roommates number 1, 2, and 3, I may never know your names, but you will forever be the three men that put an end to a most suffering case of writer's block.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Message to Catcallers

There hasn't been a single day when I've walked home this week and haven't been catcalled at least once. For the first two days it was funny. By the third and fourth, it became expected.

Wait, expected? In what world is it okay to expect to be sexually harassed?

Yes, catcallers. Sexual harassment. You're not being funny. You certainly aren't being charming. There is nothing innocent about it.

What goes through the heads of these men? I don't mean "I'm too good for them, so what are they thinking?" because, honestly, the guys in my age range are usually attractive. Until they open their mouths.

I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to think that the thought process is something like, "My, that is a rather attractive young lady. I have taken an immediate fancy to her, and would like to get her attention. I'm going to approach her casually and strike up conversation." But, because of some brain malfunction that's attributed only to the Y chromosome, they accidentally say something like, "Yo, sexy! How you doin'?"

I figure it's one of two options: A. They legitimately think that calling to a girl like she's a dog will get them action or B. They like seeing young girls walking alone down the street look uncomfortable, because they think it's funny.

There are so many things wrong with option B, so many ways that it contributes to the sexist attitudes of our current society, that I don't even know where to start.

So don't call me "Red." Definitely don't call me "white girl." Let me walk the three minutes from the subway to my apartment in peace.

If, on the other hand, you're actually an incredibly insecure boy who just doesn't know how to handle a situation, here's a tip. Walk up. Say "hello." Ask my name. It's not rocket science.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Internships and Cockroaches

Survive first week of internship. Check.

I got coffee, delivered things without getting lost, answered phones. Proper intern stuff. I even got to read a few scripts, which is why I’m actually there.

Yesterday, I got put on the scanning project – they’re working on scanning all of the hard copies of scripts into the computer. So, for seven hours, I stood in the back cursing at Oberon.

Oberon is the name I gave the scanner/copier. I named him such because he is temperamental and likes to make an ass out of people. He’s also the jealous type, as every time I tried to step away from him to throw something away -- or, God forbid, eat -- he would get a paper jam and call me back. And, like Oberon, he finally started to cooperate at around Act 4, which for me was an hour before I left.

Every time there was a paper jam, Oberon would beep at the same pitch as my high school alarm clock that used to wake me up at 5 a.m. every day. The one that screamed “Wake up, Carrie! Dream time is over! BEEP BEEP BEEP!”

Obviously, interns are meant to do the grunt work that no one else wants. I’m free labour, after all. I’m not a real employee. But when I’m standing for hours feeding paper into a machine, I can’t help but let my thoughts wander.

Of course, my thoughts wander to, “Shit. What if this is it?”


My supervisor is the assistant to the higher-ups She used to be in my position. It would be so easy to become an assistant. The issue is, I don’t want to be an assistant. I don’t want to go through the motions and be in a successful office just to be there. That’s only a step better than standing outside with my nose pressed against the window (metaphorically speaking – the office is on the third floor).

On a completely different note, I killed my first cockroach today. It was a horrible experience that I hope never to repeat. But, hey, check another thing off the list. I’m on my way to becoming a New Yorker.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 1 – 22 May 2011, 11:10 p.m.

I’m sitting on my floor mattress in my first apartment in New York City. My hair is wet, Hispanic music is wafting through the window, and I’m wearing the ratty, old “I <3 NY” shirt that I bought on one of the Broadway adventures with my mom in high school.

If you had told 14 year old me that this is where I would be when I was 21, that little annoying teenager would have jumped around like a hyperactive Chihuahua on crack. Now it’s surreal.

New York was the city I wanted to move to because it had pretty lights and musicals and was the first city I went to that was bigger than Boston. Now I’ve been to Los Angeles, San Diego, Berlin, Prague, Rome, Venice, Dublin, Cardiff, and Edinburgh. Now I’ve lived in London. London has my heart unconditionally, and being here makes me realize even more how much I miss it. London is...cleaner. More comfortable. Full of British men who are too awkward and self-conscious to make eye-contact, let alone start cat-calling (seriously, male populace of NYC: come up with a more original nickname for me than “Red.” It's not even my real color).

That’s not to say I’m not happy to be here. When I came down for my interview over a month ago, I couldn’t help but feel a little rekindle of my old teenage Broadway dreams as I walked through Time Square.

And I can check this off my list: live in a crappy apartment in New York. I’m fairly certain I saw my first squashed cockroach on the stairs today. I live with two students who go to Columbia and are majoring in areas so intellectual that I didn’t even understand the titles. They’re also both male and from India. The kitchen looks like the behind-the-scenes of an ethnic restaurant that failed the health exam. The elevator is straight out of a horror movie.

The sane part of me knows that these things should bother me. But I can’t stop smiling and laughing. It’s like I’m already at that point in the future when I can look back on this and laugh. In a completely ridiculous, slightly masochistic sense, it feels amazing to be living somewhere that I know would make my sister cringe. I had a laughing fit in the shower after the water turned from scalding to ice that was so strong that I had to lean against the wall, naked and shaking with laughter. You know, leaning against the wall naked was probably not the best choice in retrospect...

I’m a writer. I can hardly afford food and I moved to NYC for the summer. I’m an intern at a film and television studio. I’m here and I’m doing this.

You know, if I can’t be successful and famous (and if I can’t be Jennifer Lawrence) then this is exactly where I want to be.