Saturday, October 08, 2011

Updated Blog Link

If you're looking for my "Daily Dose" blog, you can now find it here on my new and improved website


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Give Me Two Sticks

Working from home presents challenges. "Challenges" are represented in the following Exhibits A and B:
Ren Beggar

Trying to work around Exhibits A & B is like trying to wrap a gift with tissue paper during a tornado. I found a possible solution, however, and if you've followed my blog for any number of years, you'll never guess where I was today...

...with Jack. Remember him? He's the attorney I worked with in Rockefeller Center when I first moved to NYC whose hilarious (or inappropriate to some) office banter kept me from hating the 9-to-5 grind. Jack & his partner have their own law firm now and offered me one of his empty offices at Penn Plaza next to Madison Square Garden whenever I needed it. Jack recently said about me, "I swear, I could give you two sticks and you'd tape them together and find water." So I found some "water" in the form of prime office space in Manhattan for free. Yes...NYC real estate gratis!

This is my view. That's lower Manhattan and the Hudson River. It's hard to see with my crappy camera but that's the Statue of Liberty on the island between the World Trade Center and New Jersey. And the office is quiet. Oh so quiet that you could hear a mouse fart three floors down. Ahhhhh...heaven.

I'm so out of the pattern of getting up to go into an office* that it took me two hours to get ready this morning. I had no appropriate shirts to conceal my Exhibit Cs and only one pair of clean, pressed slacks. I packed two giant bags of stuff...laptops, chargers, phones, notebooks...afraid that I wouldn't have something I needed. How did I do this every day? And get to work by 9:00 AM? What an ungodly hour. I got in by 11:00 and was sufficiently spent and sweaty, overloaded with bags, no food in my stomach but still, somehow, got some coffee and logged on to the internet to stream CNN coverage of the Casey Anthony trial. Kambri translated must mean a real mensch.**

Hopefully this office space will whip me back into a more productive shape. At the very least it means I will shower and brush my teeth more often. I'm gonna try it again on Friday.***

*A real one, not a fire trap in a comedy club's basement kitchen without windows or protocol but with a fully stocked bar and unlimited french fries.
**Actually, it means nothing. The internet and baby naming sites have diluted the answers but back when Geocities was a legit home page, a search yielded little to no results for the meaning or origination. The best answer way back then was that it was the original name of Wales. Also, I have never found a Kambri older than me but do know for certain a few girls named Kambri because of me. That's cool. As long as they don't fu*k up the good chi.
***Wish I were joking.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Strip Clubs & Other Playgrounds

As I watched live coverage of the NYC Marathon two years ago, the announcer said, "Now the marathoners are entering the less than picturesque part of Queens." That's where I live.

There is zero in the way of outdoor park space except for a tiny playground that is across the street from a strip club. Yes. The only playground is across the street from a strip club.

Most mornings the playground looks post-apocalyptic as if zombies had raided Queens and I survived till morning to witness the carnage. Garbage cans overflow and needles, used condoms, beer and liquor bottles, and broken glass litter the ground. Just this morning, Christian took this photo of a bloody t-shirt next to an empty Four Loko can.

For a year, the door man at the strip club Riviera barked me to come in. Never mind that I would  have a dog in tow or would be carrying groceries or wearing gym clothes.

"Why would he think I'd want to go in there?" I would wonder even as I wore the lesbian uniform of jeans, Chuck Taylors and a softball t-shirt. 

Finally, he said something that made me reconsider: "Ladies drink for free!"

Whoa. Beep, beep, beep! Back the truck up.

"Free? I'll be here Tuesday. What time do you open?"

Prepare to lose your rent money Mr. Jiggle Joint Owner because my pal Jenn & I will clean out your stash of white wine. I imagined the bar manager taking inventory Wednesday morning and firing someone for swiping bottles of Pinot Grigio. Because, really, how would they go through so much so quickly?

Without consulting with each other, Jenn and I both wore summery dresses and had on makeup. Something about being around naked women made us want to look our best. We arrived so early there were only two other men there wearing suits and seated at the ring of seats around the stage.

The doorman escorted us to a table of our choice, away from the stage. We didn't want to take a seat from a legitimate customer looking for thrills. He also introduced himself to me officially. His name is Abdelaziz Essafoui and he is a Greco Roman Wrestler who competed in the 1996 Olympics for Morocco. In addition to serving as security for the strip club, he competes in cage matches in the Bronx.

We pulled out our notebooks and had a great time brainstorming, catching up on gossip and, of course, drinking free wine. As we were new customers, a dancer was sent to the stage and took off her clothes. It was like Jenn and I were hanging out in the locker room at the gym with one of those particularly extroverted women who stands around with her top off for a long time for no real reason except to show off and/or make me uncomfortable.

Soon, two casually dress guys in their late twenties came in and took the table next to me and Jenn. Again, a dancer was sent to the stage to welcome their arrival. According to the emcee who sounded like a morning radio DJ, her name was Licorice. (To answer your question, Licorice was black.) She was wearing a one piece, stretchy bodysuit which, to me, seemed like an odd choice. If I were a stripper, I'd want more piece to take off as part of the tease, but what do I know? I put on pants on after I put on shoes.

A few more gentlemen came in while Licorice was finishing up her song and the DJ called for Candy to take over. Hmm...theme night? The song ended but Candy was no where to be found. "Candy, make your way to the stage. Gentlemen be ready for some delicious Candy." Licorice looked positively bored, maybe even irritated that she was still on stage without anyone paying her any mind, and moved with the least possible effort required to simulate writhing. The emcee beckoned again, "Candy, has anybody seen Candy?" Still no Candy.
Licorice had had enough. She picked up her body suit and began to get dressed. On stage. Now, ladies and gents, seeing someone take off clothes might be titillating, but watching someone get dressed is not. In fact, it is an unequivocal turn off. Especially in something like a stretchy bodysuit. Licorice didn't care.

Picture a woman trying to put on pantyhose or, worse, Spanx. She wriggled and squeezed and clenched and thrust her body to squeeze into her outfit.

Jenn curled her upper lip, like she'd just smelled someone fart after eating nothing but sauerkraut for a week and said, "She really should do that elsewhere."


Finally Candy appeared, as did a large group of men. The music got louder, the lights dimmer and strippers took men to back rooms. The shift in mood was palpable. It was like hungry lions lounging lazily in the sun were suddenly tossed a lone, bloody carcass. And Jenn and I were like caribou whose fellow herd mate got caught and ripped to pieces. Do you stay behind to try to save them and witness the slaughter? Absolutely the fuck not. So we asked for our check.

Turns out Mr. Olympic Greco Roman Wrestler Turned Doorman at a Strip Club / Cage Match Fighter lied. Ladies don't drink free. He only bought us our first round. Shocker! And, how could we argue? Present the contract?

Luckily the wine was priced at typical NYC prices and not the jacked up rate strip clubs often charge. To split the bill, Jenn needed to break a $20. Because the place had gotten so busy with men dropping loads of cash, we were not high priority for the staff. Jenn grabbed the first available stripper, handed her the bill and asked, "Can I get change for a twenty?"

A stripper? Giving change? Maybe in Heaven. Maybe.

When a barmaid came by Jenn asked, "I gave that stripper $20 and..." I waved frantically and mouthed, "Don't call them strippers."

"Oh, excuse me," Jenn continued. "I gave that 'exotic dancer' $20 for change and she never came back with it."

The last time I had been to a strip club was with a famous billionaire. Let us just say, we were treated differently that night. Jenn never recovered her missing $20 which made me feel terrible. The main reason I invited her was for the free drinks and to save her money. Abdelaziz* was conveniently missing in action.

Now, when I need my thrills, I go to the playground.
*When an Olympian says free drinks, one expects free drinks. I mean, isn't there some Olympiad code of ethics?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The More Things Change

Ten years ago, I turned thirty. In my first year as a 30-something in New York, terrorists attacked the city, I co-founded a business, and Dad tried to kill someone again.
September 11th from our Roof by kambricrews
I moved to New York City in the fall of 2000. I knew one person. I entered my thirties to little fanfare. After finishing the work day as a legal secretary, I enjoyed a few drinks with co-workers at the Rink Bar, the outdoor restaurant in Rockefeller Center that serves as the infamous ice skating rink during cooler months.

Afterwards, I headed home to Queens on the N train where a tiny Latino man assaulted me under my skirt. His height topped out at my waist, at best; an excellent access point if you're prone to fingering slightly buzzed women on public transit. Being from Texas and new to the city, I sized up my assailant and chose to run after him while wearing my 3.5 inch heels. He looked positively terrorized that I'd given chase. I was double his size with a fury in my eyes and death threats spewing from my lips. In his desperate attempt to escape, he pushed people aside and jumped a turnstile, losing me.*

A decade has passed and the goals I've accomplished and wildest dreams that have come true are too numerous to count. I've pinched myself silly. I ain't dreamin'. I blinked, and now I'm forty. The next ten years has a lot to live up to. I mean, in my thirties, Erik Estrada was involved. Twice.

Still in New York City, I know more than one person now, but again celebrated a milestone of life with little fanfare. I've never been the birthday bash type. I guess I prefer producing fun for other people. But it was very special and spent with my favorite people without assaults by any miniature men.

I don't know much, but I do that in my first year as a 40-something, I will celebrate five years of marriage, my memoir will be published and Dad will be up for parole.

The rest is a mystery. And isn't that the most thrilling and frightening thing ever?

*To this day, I wish I had caught him. It's probably for the best that I didn't.