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This Is How Arguments Start

May 29th, 2014 4 comments

People ask me if Gina and I have argued yet, and I’m proud to say we actually have. Thus far, they haven’t been over anything deep, but of course, they have been caused because one of us or both of us were being petty. Below is an example of what I’m talking about. This actually happened and I’ve rehashed it as accurately as I can remember.

BACKGROUND

Like most New Yorkers, Gina and I travel around the big city mostly by public transportation, but every couple of weeks, she travels out to her parents place in New Jersey to pick up her old car and use it for a week.  Save for an easier trip for a grocery store binge, going on day trips out of the city, and moving large items from one place to another, the convenience of a car is minimal. As much as I love to drive, doing so in New York City is a hassle not worth the time or the energy, which kind of doesn’t matter in this instance because I can’t drive Gina’s car anyway. She uses a stick shift and I only know how to handle an automatic.

But that is not where the inconvenience lies. The biggest frustration with driving in New York City is a bitch named parking.

In New York City, the more residential neighborhoods have alternate side street parking. On Monday and Thursday and Tuesday and Friday, you must move your car and park on the alternate side of the street generally before 8 AM until 11 AM (Wednesdays and the weekends are exempt in most areas). This means finding parking the night before or in the hours before the alternate side rule takes effect is  like trying to find a spot in a mall parking lot the day after Thanksgiving.  Imagine feeling that anxiety and frustration four days out of the week.

Now try to picture two people in this situation trying to get along.

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For the Girl Who Asked You to Write

May 28th, 2013 4 comments

“New faces,” he said finally, “don’t tell me about new faces.” It seemed that the last time he had gone to a party where he had been promised “new faces,” there had been fifteen people in the room, and he had already slept with five of the women and owed money to all but two of the men.

Joan Didion from “Goodbye to All That”

There is a sea of people in front of the actual sea. You are standing at the bar looking out at both, in a slight daze, waiting on your boy, who is somewhere in this crowd. The music is loud, making the outdoor space feel like an indoor one. The crowd noise is a quiet hum underneath all that bass and treble, and squeaky electronic sounds. How the speakers can take over all of outside is fascinating.

“Hey, you, YOU!” A girl, sitting at a table with friends a good 20 feet away from you stand, is waving her arms in your direction. You make eye contact with her and she confirms it is you she’s waving at. “Yeah, you,” she says. “Where’s my blog? I’m a big fan, you don’t update as much.”

Thank you. I know. I need to get back on it.

“Yeah,” she says. “Get back on it. I used to start my mornings by reading your blog. I need that.”

Thank you. I promise. I will write something this week.

“You better,” she says with a smile on her face.

You have no idea if you’re going to write anything that week, because lately you’ve had no idea what to write about. You built a following by writing personal things, and being honest, but over time you started holding back. It used to be easy, writing five days a week, back when you were actually getting out old feelings about girlfriends in your past. All those thoughts and emotions have been exhumed, and therefore you’ve written less, but there hasn’t been less to write about.

There’s been less you’re willing to share.

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The Night of the Non-Believers

February 6th, 2013 8 comments

Your mind is going crazy, and it’s only 8: 17 PM. It’s way too early to go to bed, and unfortunately it’s a night where nothing on television is entertaining enough to quiet the inner voices. So you start texting her, telling her she has to get her stuff from you, asking the same questions you’ve already asked using a different combination of words. You’re right there, at the edge of a free fall into a pit of things you might regret saying.

Then your dad calls. You have to pick up, because usually you two talk on Sundays. Tonight is not a Sunday, so it could be an emergency. Besides, perhaps this is a sign to back away from that edge from which you were looking down. You stare at the number, thinking, Do I pickup? Do I let it go to voicemail?

“Hi, Dad.”

“Oh, hey,” he says.

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The Truth About Yesterday’s Post, the Girl who Broke Up With Me, and Personal Finances

January 31st, 2013 21 comments

First thing’s first: A warning that today’s post is a little all over the place.

Second thing’s second: I owe my readers an apology.

As most people who read this blog know, the success of UIGM can be attributed mostly to its honesty. Yesterday’s post (“Don’t Let Her Marry A Starving Artist”) wasn’t completely honest. Don’t worry, I didn’t Jayson Blair/Steve Glass/Manti T’eo things. I watered down the truth and for that, I’m genuinely sorry. I changed some things for the same reason I sometimes change the times and places of events and leave other characters nameless in my posts: For the purposes of creative license and to protect myself and others. Those who know me in real life can usually piece together details, and know the real story, but there are more people I don’t know who read this blog, and it is why I put up this wall between them and myself along with the people I write about.

I don’t turn up the drama on anything I write about (what we call James Frey-ing it); if anything, I turn it down. Whether it’s because I’m embarrassed by the more non-fiction version of events or I’m concerned with what the reaction might be, I temper things down because the truth is sometimes too much for even me to share. And maybe what I should do, when I know I’m writing about something that I’m sensitive about, is not write about it at all. Maybe I should wait until I’m comfortable with whatever has happened and then share with you all.

I didn’t do that yesterday. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and most of it has been about my finances. I’ve been opening up to more people in my personal life about it, and I knew it would be good to open up about it on this blog. So I decided to write what I wrote yesterday.

It was a fairy tale version of what actually happened, written in the more romantic second-person voice, because when done right, it sounds pretty. So I apologize to anyone who read the post and connected to it in a genuine way.

Ninety percent of the post is true. Everything from what my mother said to me before I moved out and started my first job after college to the money problems I faced with my first girlfriend. Those things happened.

The portion of the post that wasn’t true is as follows:

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Don’t Let Her Marry A Starving Artist

January 30th, 2013 3 comments

BEFORE READING: Click here to read the more truthful version of this post.

Your mother tells you, when you and your sister were children, she supported the two of you with less than the money you will be making at your first job out of college. She just wants you to know that, and even though what you’re making is typical entry-level salary, to her, that’s still no excuse. There should be no reason you can’t make ends meet on your own in the world.

When you enter the world, you go about things carefully at first, blessed to have a job you love, working for the kind of company that looks cool on a business card. You’re in your early 20s and you don’t think about anything beyond whether or not your name is on a list and of course, the women you’re dating.

They, the women, are a necessary expense. You have to take them out to eat, buy them drinks, pay their cab fare, buy condoms. You also have to be out in the city where these women are at, keep up appearances to make yourself look desirable.

This goes on for a few years. You’ve hit some bumps in the road at times, but you’ve maintained gainful employment. You’ve even graduated in some areas to a more mature form of adulthood, going from a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate, to a one-bedroom apartment by yourself. You’re no longer entry level, you’ve moved up the ladder some, the checks have more digits.

The irony is, this moment has come at a time in your life where you were beginning to reassess your value system. Of course it has to do with a girl you meet. That’s how all these things work. This girl is your future, so you move her in with you, and you make an attempt to provide everything for her, but you couldn’t afford to do that and she, bless her heart, refuses to let you try. As a matter of fact, not only does she not let you deal with all the finances yourself, she pointed to the fact that she could tell, you didn’t know how to deal with them in the first place. One night, she said to print out your bank statements from the last three months. It was the first time you saw fear in her eyes.

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A Reminder That You’re Still Alive

November 28th, 2012 7 comments

You look at yourself in the mirror, one scar sits on your lower abdomen.

The scar is not a reminder that you can survive anything. It’s not like the situation from which it stemmed was life or death.

Hardly.

Still, it is a mark representing how life will make you feel alive. It’s an inch long, but like most scars, it can tell a crazy story.

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She Will Always Tell The Truth

June 14th, 2012 8 comments

You dug Esile from the moment you saw her in sixth grade home room. For the next two years, you were in pursuit, took the back door approach starting off as friends first. You had a couple of girlfriends in that time, got your experience up with that one girl who was older than you in seventh grade; the one your mom caught you making out with under the tree in a public park. But as crazy as you were over her, she had nothing on Esile. She was the one you always wanted, even though you were telling others, they were your Esile.

In eighth grade Esile was finally ready to be your girl. This came after you showed off on a class project you two partnered up on. You did most of the work, not because you were soft and wanted to make it easy for her, but because you wanted to show her that if she was on your team, you’d always run the point. She could trust you to handle things and get them done. She liked that about you, because even in eighth grade a girl wants a boy who will do the heavy lifting, and if he can’t, he will do the necessary amount of pushups and come back to try again.

So Esile and you started going together and that first night you ccouldn’t sleep. You two talked on the phone for two hours even though you two lived three blocks away from each other. But you know parents, they just don’t understand how real that eighth grade love is, so you had to wait to see her the next day at school, in first period, where you two took algebra together.

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What Happens When You’re In The Same Room As Tyra Banks?

April 11th, 2012 4 comments

All your life you said if ever you were lucky enough to just be in the same room as Tyra Banks, you would take your shot. That’s all you needed was proximity. When you used to have her poster up on the wall in your childhood bedroom, you would talk to the poster and say, “One day, Tyra. One day.” You meant it too, because you knew she always wanted just a regular guy. That’s what she would say in interviews over and over again, “I just want a regular, normal nice guy I can bring home to my Mom.” And you knew you would always be the epitome of normal: an everyday guy who woke up, worked, had a little fun, and took showers on a regular basis just like everyone else.

So the other night, you are at The Darby (a spot I highly recommend for food and drinks), sitting at the bar with one of your boys, enjoying a Manhattan. The place isn’t too crowded. As a matter of fact, it was a rather quiet night in what is currently one of New York City’s most popular eateries. The friend you are with, one of your best friends who has known you for 12 years, knows exactly how you feel about Tyra Banks. He remembers how one year you actually tried to do a paper on the significance of Tyra Banks’ Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover but because your professor was a hater, he didn’t allow it, but whatever. That’s all in the past.

You and your friend are having a conversation, about what, you can’t recall and it really doesn’t matter because all of a sudden in walks Tyra Banks. Your friend sees her first, hits you on the shoulder, and says, “Tyra Banks, Tyra Banks, Tyra Banks, dude Tyra Banks!” Before you even can turn around you smell the beauty and then as your head turns, she’s walking right past you, headed straight to a table with some guy we’re just going to name Whatever aka Non Factor.

Now was your chance. Here it was, the moment you had been waiting for your whole life. Tyra Banks sitting at a table approximately 15 steps away from you. Even with Non Factor sitting next to her, if you would be so bold, you could approach the table politely and say hello, and what a big fan of hers you are and that you used to have her posters all up on your wall. You could tell her that she looks just as beautiful in real life as she does in pictures and on television. You could tell her all the things you’ve ever wanted to tell her like how you think Chris Webber is an idiot and no one could love her like you could love her.

But instead, you do the exact opposite. You do nothing. Absolutely nothing. We can count the effort you made to try and not stare at Tyra Banks for an inordinate amount of time, but we won’t. You froze up and tried not to drool on yourself and by the time you came to your senses, and realized you missed the opportunity of a lifetime, Tyra Banks, the woman you’ve loved from afar ever since you knew what love was, was gone.

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Second Grade Valentine’s Day Story

February 14th, 2012 12 comments

For Valentine’s Day, every student spent the morning making a heart shaped folder out of paper, then taping it over the side of their desk. After lunch recess, everyone got out their cards they made at home and dropped them in each other’s heart shaped folder. When I saw her drop a card into mine, it took every ounce of restraint I could muster for me to stop what I was doing, dig through my pile of cards, and take hers out.

But I finished handing my cards out, then along with the rest of the class, sat down in my seat. Our teacher said opening could commence, and the sound of second grade hands tearing open paper and crunching stale, chalky Valentine’s Day candy filled the room. I saw hers, pulled it out and set it aside, deciding I would open it last.

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A Man To Man Lesson On Faith and Family

January 25th, 2012 8 comments

I know I said today’s post would be football term’s for ladies to apply in their dating life, but I’m postponing that topic because something else is on my mind.

This is hard for me to write about without giving some context, bare with me as I unpack a couple of things before moving forward.

I never write about my dad. My late biological father has been written about at length, so has my pop. The man my mother is married to, I refer to him as my step-dad. In my own head, these men are clearly separated and compartmentalized. To the reader, things are probably a little more jumbled, largely because I don’t write about my life in chronological order. I hop around, jumping from memory to memory.

So when I say my dad, understand I am not talking about the men I mentioned above. I am talking about the man whose last name was given to me after he adopted me as his own. He brought my sister into this world. He and my mom were married, but divorced when I was 5 or 6. From then on, he was more of a weekend dad, seeing us about twice a month.

I’ve had my issues with my dad. They’re not as deep as the issues I had with the absence of my biological father or the troubling and complicated relationship I had with my pop, but issues nonetheless. Most of these bore out of how little we saw him even though he never lived too far away. He never raised us so much as he visited us, and there were times my sister and I both resented him for it. The other issue is, how remarkably different he is from my sister and I.

Our dad is a white man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who listens to The Doors, wears Wranglers, votes Repubican, loves Pittsburgh sports, the Steelers especially, and watches Nascar. We could not be more opposite if I was night and he, day, which made the physical distance between us feel much farther than it ever really was.

Thankfully, over the years, my issues with him have subsided. We talk most Sundays on the telephone, the conversations mostly brief check-ins, but I am proud to say, occasionally they run long.

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