Friday, February 20, 2009

You Need an Alternate Exit

Ten minutes back in my apartment from a great one week trip to Texas, and pure panic sets in. The dance with the cute, sweaty-palmed cowboy, the thrill of finding deep-fried okra at a Texan dive called Dickie's BBQ, the strong bonds of female friendship renewed thanks to my awesome travel partner- not even the taste of a running comeback in the form of an unexpectedly fast marathon time on a hilly course could wipe away the fact that I'm living in the city, I have no job, no prospects, no direction- and it's just me here to get through this. Instead of unpacking, I drowned my fears of the future in mindless searching on the internet. Going to sleep meant having to face the morning and a life that expected some drive from me which seemed to have evaporated. The next day my friend Andria tells me she's in town, and she's got my olive oil. She threatened to buy me some when she learned how expensive my daily habit had become since moving South. I didn't have the heart to tell her I'd already adapted to canola. Wow, she lugged one of those heavy 4-quart tins of olive oil for me? Life was already starting to turn around. We were trying to incorporate a fun get-together out of the olive oil drop-off event, but the thought of dragging that container all over the city was starting to depress me again. Then I found it: A free comedy show in Williamsburg. Perfect. Andria and my olive oil were relaxing in her sister's homey little apartment not far from there. I emerge from the 7 train to a freezing 35 mph wind in my face. Immediately a short blonde woman stretches her arm out and hands me her camera. 'Hi', she says with a heavy nasal Brooklyn accent, 'Can you get a picture of me? Try and get those buildings in there, too.' I don't mind, as my friend is not here yet to meet me. The wind promptly snatches the cover of my newspaper and whips it down the street, too fast for me to chase. Darn, the cover was the best part of this paper today. It was the one with the bizarre story of the woman whose 17 yr old chimpanzee mauled her bestfriend, and forced her to kill it. I took a few pictures of Brooklyn lady, and then noticed my fingers were completely numb from the cold. I told her I'd have to bow out of the job. She forgave me, and as I descended back down to the subway station to avoid the wind as I continued to wait for my friend, I heard her unsuccessful attempts to recruit new photographers. My friend arrived and we walked many blocks to her sister's subletted apartment in Greenpoint. They were making fried chicken and rice, and there was a relaxed, warm atmosphere. Of the four girls in the apartment, only one was employed, and that was in a funeral home. I asked Lea, Andria's sister, who was not employed, if she was stressed about it. She said she was, but she did not look the least bit stressed. Somehow we got into a conversation about depressed people, and she said they were annoying. I was intrigued with her laissez-faire attitude over a community that's familiar and confusing to me. I asked her how she dealt with them. She waved her hand and rolled her eyes, and said, 'Oh, they're easy. You just gotta keep 'em busy.' I thought about every depressed person that I ever knew. She was right! They didn't seem depressed when they were busy. I opened the bottle of French Gewurtraminer I had picked out several weeks earlier. I was curious if I had picked a winner or not. I was kind of heartbroken the last time I'd found a Gewurstraminer that I'd loved, and then found out the winery discontinued its production. I could tell from the first sip of this new one that my luck was indeed starting to change. Sweet clover and tea roses danced in the air. I wished there was someone there without a stuffed nose who could appreciate it with me, but the girls said they liked it. We rushed off to our comedy venue. Ah, the crowds in Williamsburg. Reminded me of Berkeley in the '90s. Gentlemen with James Dean perfect hairstyles, pinstriped longsleeved shirts, and smoking clove cigarettes. (Outside, of course). The bartender was wearing an oversized red-striped dress, thick horn-rimmed glasses and not one stitch of make-up. She smiled at me when I ordered my drink, and reminded me of a shy church girl. What a culture shock from the jaded set in Manhattan. I really enjoyed the first comic the best, laughed the hardest- but it was the last comic with his forced audience participation bits that probably made my night. I discovered that hipsters, despite appearances, do not all have their acts together. Underneath the smooth veneer of hipsterity often lies one more unemployed New Yorker. OK, so fast-forward to the next day. Back in my little bachlorette pad, once again checking the pages of craigslist for that elusive teaching job. I come across an appealing gig. Someone offering to do all the paperwork to get me registered as a family daycare worker in my own apartment. Hmmm. Do I really need them to do that? I investigate further, and find a number of an office where you can apply for a license to work in this field. I leave a message, and receive a return call within 5 minutes. This is very surprising. The woman tells me she's from the office of family daycare registration. How many kids was I looking to care for, 4-6 or 6-12? Sounds like a Kentucky Fried Chicken order. I opt for the smaller size, wondering how I can bring more than two children to a park? Do I tie them together? On the kibbutz in Israel they would stick them all in a shopping cart that they called an aggala. As I'm imagining my new life as Mother Hubbard, Luz on the other line asks me if I have an alternate exit. Hmm. Well, sure. I have my front door and my windows, those are alternate exits. 'Do you live on the first floor?' she asks. 'Well, not technically,' I answer, 'but my apartment is considered 1A.' She pauses. I can feel her smiling. 'Are you on the street level?' She asks to humor me. 'Well no,' I answer slowly, 'I have to walk up a little flight of stairs to get to my apartment.' I then walk over to my window and look down onto the sidewalk below. I imagine passing kids out the window during an unexpected fire. 'It's not much of a drop,' I tell Luz. We both laugh, and then as soon as it begun, my new career has ended.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tamar: Good to get an update from you. Sorry that you still have not found that elusive teaching job, but it does not appear to be for lack of effort.

Enjoyed hearing about your various endeavors and it looks like you've been keeping busy.

Kevin

tamar said...

hi kevin, well, things happen when they're supposed to. hopefully that will mean I'll have found a job before my landlord kicks me out on the street :-)
Hey, are you running Celebrate Life this weekend? If so, enjoy, if that's possible.

paz13 said...

Tamar: I ran the Celebrate Life 1/2 today and enjoyed it. The weather was great. They changed the location and course and were better than previous. I really enjoyed it and from a running standpoint did well.

How is your running going? Are you doing any races.

Kevin

Just_because_today said...

Now I know why I must always be busy! I must look that wine up as soon as Lent is over, you know the deal: me, Lent and wine don't mix