I had no idea what to call this episode. I was going to call it Adrift in New York, which is my blog from when I lived in New York NINE YEARS AGO (we'll get to that later). Then I thought something cheesy like New York State of a Crazy Mind, New York Minute (of Agony) or You Can't Go Home Again. Maybe I'll change it before I finish, I don't know.
We were going for Joey's birthday, and I am the poor irresponsible friend and he basically subsidized my entire trip. It was an amazing time and I fell in love with the city all over again! Most displeasure I had was entirely my own fault. I had been a tightly wound ball of anxiety before the trip, about things that were really stupid, and I was worried that the trip would only exacerbate these worries.
As we talked about last week, something snapped in my brain when it turned 30 and it hasn't been put together yet. In Minneapolis, I am disgusting but I am D-list famous if I am at The Saloon and occasionally at The 19 -- depending who is there -- so I don't have to worry about not getting attention. In New York, I was going to be with Joey (who looks like a model), Steve (who is masculine and laid-back, two things I AM VERY MUCH NOT), James and Marco (who are a happy and drama-free couple), and Barney (who is older, handsome and just doesn't give a shit). I had convinced myself that I was a hideous troll and no strangers would want to talk to me the entire time. Nobody told me this, by the way; in fact, Joey and my friend Angie had tried to convince me otherwise. But it was in my head. I am not sexually active. Sex is currency. I am not having sex with anyone and therefore I have no value. Also, I had never hung out with everyone as a group before, and I didn't know what the dynamic was going to be like. Do I leave when the party starts? Should I find a nice older man to bring me to Staten Island?
The first snafu happened the night before the trip! I was going to to hit up the '90s to cheer on Autumn Vixxen in the amateur contest with Woody, who was back in town for just a few days, but Joey was on his way over and Steve had gone to the 19. Joey finally arrived after midnight (it took forever for him to find a parking space that would last him until Monday), and we played darts at the 19, where I reunited with man about town Todd O'Dowd. We got home at bar close and had about two hours of rest before hitting the airport. Joey and I had a flight that left at 8 AM, and Steve and his crew were on a flight that left a little bit later. Also, Joey and I had a layover at O'Hare and the other group was flying direct. The plan was that we would meet at Barney's apartment in Eagan and a car service would bring us all to the airport. This is what I was told.
Again, I spent a better deal of the trip with horrific NYC flashbacks. Nine years ago I transferred to Brooklyn College. I was incredibly depressed and had been suicidal my entire sophomore year, and this transfer came out of nowhere. I was going in completely blind. My mother and I weren't even speaking to each other, yet she was flying with me in August of 2007 to help me move and get settled in (to the expensive apartment that she was paying for, yet I couldn't appreciate anything at that point). This was the Monday after the 35W bridge collapsed. We missed the flight and had to go on stand-by. It was not a good time.
Anyway, I was convinced we were going to miss the flight and that I was cursed. We got to Barney's apartment on time and he didn't answer the door right away. When he let us in, he was going through his beauty routine and we were watching Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race. He graciously made me a Screwdriver to assuage my nerves.
And then the clock ticked. And ticked. And ticked.
And now we have been there for half an hour and nobody feels like moving and our plane is leaving in 90 minutes and my mother has always told me to be at the airport at least two hours early and Barney is still in the bathroom.
"Calm down," Joey had said. "We'll make the flight. Stop worrying."
"Is Barney coming?" I asked Steve.
Steve rolled his eyes. "I don't know," he said. "You ask him."
Children, the combination of anxiety, lack of sleep and the possibility of missing a flight had pushed a button!
I went from 0 to 100.
"Barney, are we leaving yet?" I asked.
"We're leaving in ten minutes," he said.
"YOU SAID THAT TEN MINUTES AGO!!!!" I shrieked. "THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!"
"Fuck you!" Barney yelled. "Don't you come into my house and speak to me like that!"
"We're getting an Uber," I snapped at Joey, and I stormed out of the apartment.
Two minutes later, I texted Barney apologizing for my actions. I didn't want him to be mad at me the entire trip! I had the right to be anxious and upset, but not to scream and swear at anybody. I tried explaining that I was under a very different impression of how our morning plans were to be conducted. He agreed. With that bullet now dodged, we were on our way to the airport, where we got on our plane ten minutes before boarding ended.
We landed in Chicago and I was still stewing. "I have to let it go," I said. "Don't hold your breath if you're waiting for an apology from Steve Howell. You'll pass out."
Immediately after I said that, my phone beeped and it was Steve saying he was sorry and that they made their flight just fine. Well, then. I wrote and deleted a response about 12 times and decided to leave my anger in Chicago. We had landed and that was all that mattered.
We landed at LaGuardia and Joey had paid for a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. I wanted to tell him shuttles never work (I paid for a SuperShuttle when I first visited Brooklyn and it was a big scam), but he had already bought it and it had also been nine years since I had been here! I was no longer some expert at New York City life. Anyway, the shuttle dropped us off at 42nd and Bryant, and our hotel was on 51st and 3rd. We waited forever in the Manhattan heat for this mystery second shuttle that was supposed to drop us off at the hotel. In the minute we debated walking, we got on what we believed was to be our shuttle.
Now, I had been a little rusty with my NYC geography -- especially Manhattan -- but I knew something was off when the numbers were descending instead of ascending. Maybe we were pulling a U-turn at some point?
Then we were by Madison Square Garden which is on 34th, and that wasn't right. Then a transit authority agent started asking us for tickets, and people without tickets were gladly paying $35 cash. Wait, what?
The burly ticket-taker finally got to us. "Where is this shuttle going?" I asked.
"Newark Airport," he gruffly said.
"Yeah, we're on the wrong shuttle," I said. Good God! We almost ended up in Jersey!
He let us leave without incident and a kind angel of a woman let me know that I had dropped my phone. I did not lose ANYTHING this trip and it is a goddamn miracle. They say Los Angeles is the city of angels, but I say it's New York.
Joey and I got off the bus and looked up the never-ending street.
"I think we can walk," Joey said gamely. 20 blocks later, we were fine with our decision.
We stayed at The Pod 51 hotel, and I couldn't recommend it enough! Our room was like a dorm room. That was why Joey kept asking if I wanted to be the top or the bottom all week! Every floor had four water closets/bathrooms, and the best one was room #3 because it had faucets right where your ass goes. It might not be for everyone, but I was totally fine with this arrangement. We weren't going to be in the room very much, and I could pretend that Joey and I were besties at college. He could be a film major and I could be a theater major waiting for my BIG BREAK even though I can't sing or dance.
We planned on meeting up with the boys at a RuPaul's Drag Race viewing party at Boxers Hell's Kitchen. All of us were convinced the show started at 9 -- yay for Eastern Time television viewing! I checked my Grindr even though I knew I wasn't getting laid, and then I checked my newly re-installed Scruff even though I don't think I've ever been woofed at once on Scruff. Thank goodness I did, because there was an ad on the bottom that said that RuPaul's Drag Race was on at 8/7 central this year. What???? I frantically texted Steve and Barney and made sure they changed their plans. We went to a ramen place where I had sake for the first and last time, and stopped at Duane Reade where there were no Fleet enemas. This island must have been full of bottoms.
Anyway, I think the viewing party might have been the highlight of my trip. It was impossible to get a drink because the small bar was PACKED, but there is nothing like a Drag Race viewing party in a different city. Joey and I got there during the entrances so we missed some of them, but it was almost like watching wrestling when we gauged the audience reaction. Phi Phi got silence, and Adore Delano by far got the biggest "pop", as they say in the biz (which made her departure all the more of a bummer ...). Steve said sorry again about the plane thing and I would have hugged him but didn't want to be mushy in public.
Joey and I finagled our way downstairs and it took me forever to get a drink, but a trio of gays enjoyed my "What Are You Doing Here Without Dorinda?" shirt. At one point we were next to the most beautiful man I HAVE EVER SEEN, who was wearing a broski snapback and a baseball jersey. I didn't get his name but I did ask him what he thought was going to happen. I forgot his prediction because I was lost in his blue eyes.
Anyway, after the show ended, Boxers completely cleared out and I don't even remember what we did for the rest of the night. We must have gone somewhere because I do remember spending about three times as much as I planned on, and I was already on a limited, Loretta-subsidized budget while on my Joey-subsidized trip. I don't deserve anything I receive, really.
I think the other group was doing more tourist-y stuff (no shame in that game), so Joey and I did our own version of sight-seeing. My two favorite things about New York -- the ferris wheel at Toys 'R' Us and SPLASH NYC -- are long gone, so my list was considerably shorter.
This place used to be called The Limerick House and it was the first time I ever performed stand-up comedy, in October 2007. The audience consisted of four other comedians. I was convinced I was going to become super famous. Nevertheless, it's the first place I ever got a comped drink, in my vodka cranberry days. On one night, I almost lost my virginity to a man from Metairie, Louisiana, the hometown of my high school Internet boyfriend. It would have been like osmosis. Across the street was a building that says "TERRI" and I took a picture of it for my friend, wrestling legend Terri Runnels.
While downtown, we stopped at Zara. For everybody super excited about the Zara coming to MOA, I'm gonna tell you that I waited 20 minutes in line to buy a super cute shirt from the boys' department. I passed the time by sampling all the colognes and talking to the people next to me in line.
We went to Nordstrom Rack because we always have to go to Nordstrom Rack!! I bought two t-shirts and we shamelessly flirted with the thirsty fitting room attendant (he was thirsty for Joey, not me). If I ever move back, I think I have found my new dream job. Y'all know I could do that in my sleep!
We went clubbing at Industry or Therapy or both? I don't know. They go together. At one club we ran into people from Minneapolis. One of them was tall and I had to jump to hi-five him. We ran into Joey's old friend Luke, who I hadn't seen since my 29th (!) birthday party, and he was just as sweet as ever. Then we went to a club that was really crowded and there was only one bathroom and I hated it, and we left at 2:15 but then walked around Manhattan and went back in at 2:40 and maybe it was my age, or the fact that I was in this weird place between agitated and tired in part because Barney had given me medicine he takes for jet lag that is probably illegal in seven states, but it just ... was not my thing.
Joey and I went back to the hotel at 4 A.M. but I couldn't sleep! I played on my phone forever, and this was the only time I felt bad about the bathrooms not being attached to the room because I think I had to get up to pee about 11 times. I took a shower out of boredom. Nothing was working. Joey finally woke up at ten and I wanted to talk about the thousands of feelings I had, feelings about feelings.
"If you're not mad, then why am I still mad?" I asked. I had been mad in part because I thought Joey was mad about something and I am a quasi-empath that way.
"I don't know," Joey said, half-asleep. "But get over it. Bitter doesn't look good on you."
Bitter that I was called bitter -- ironically, in Brooklyn, at the height of my Mommy Issues, I had imagined writing a memoir called So Not Bitter, about how I overcame my issues and became a comedian and best-selling author and reconciled with my mother and all was well, and maybe it was just the word "bitter" that was such a gut-punch -- I took the 6 to the village where I reunited with my friend Rance.
I think Rance literally moved to New York like, a week after I left. Anyway, we knew each other in high school because he was in a community production with a classmate in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and it was one of those things where your friend has a gay friend and is convinced that if the two of you will meet, you will fall in love and have a lot of gay sex and get married and have three adorable kids and it's because OH MY GOD YOU ARE BOTH GAY THIS IS PERFECT.
Anyway, that didn't happen. Now I like broskis and Rance likes hipsters. Nevertheless, we instantly hit it off as good friends like the past ten years didn't happen. He speaks very affectedly, to the point where if you didn't know him, you'd think it's an act, but, no, it's a real deal. His voice dips between British and Brooklyn even though he's from Hilltop, Minnesota. He showed me his neighborhood and remarked how transient everything seemed to be. There were broskis walking around. At one point we walked by the fire department and oh my god, I can't believe men actually look like that in real life. We blushed and giggled and they fucking knew it. Oh, New York. I could never quit you.
In Rance's three-bedroom apartment, we enjoyed wine and he gave me a bunch of free samples courtesy of his day job at Sephora. By night Rance is a drag queen. "Only in the Village, though," he said. "Uptown it's a bunch of show queens. They'll pretend they're not, but you know they all know every word to Liza with a Z, bitch." Rance's room was the cleanest. His two roommates are girls and their rooms were approaching Hoarders level. He explained that one of his roommates is the daughter of an Oscar-nominated actress and has had maids her entire life. We listened to songs off of Me. I Am Mariah: The Elusive Chanteuse, which was such an underrated album! I could probably only do that with him.
After getting into an argument and then a hug with a construction worker telling us to back up as to not get hit by a cement mixer, Rance hugged me good-bye and I was headed back uptown to reunite with the boys. I felt absolutely refreshed by my afternoon with him, and felt that I could finally let all of the (mainly self-created) bullshit go.
I never saw any of the Real Housewives!! I would have died. I didn't see any celebrities. Barney, Marco and James saw Emmy-nominated actress and trans activist Laverne Cox in line for a Broadway show. Kelly Bennsimon liked my Instagram picture of the RHONY bus tour, so I guess there's my line of separation.
Joey and I headed to Brooklyn that afternoon to view my old stomping grounds. The 2 train wasn't running to Brooklyn so we ended up walking FOREVER. I found out that my old college now has student housing, and the lack of housing was one of the many, many reasons I dropped out. I will always consider it to be the biggest mistake of my life, but I am also trying to remind myself of this:
If New York had worked out, my life would be very different.
Good or bad? I don't know. I would have been, at best, a "struggling actor", and that's a very difficult life (I was never going to be the next Brad Pitt / Channing Tatum; my acting teacher saw my potential as a character actor, and I agreed). At the time, the NYC comedy scene was entirely based on "bringer" shows if you didn't know anybody; I would have had to work much harder than in Minneapolis (where I still don't work hard enough!). And at the risk of being incredibly sappy, I wouldn't know the people that I do right now. I have a ridiculous, almost shameful amount of friendships, and some of them are deep as hell. Jared is really the love of my life, Joey is my bessssssttt friennnnndddd, and I have learned so much from Steve about work ethic and being responsible for your own happiness. Yes, I wish I had a degree and more money and didn't waste three years of my life living at my parents' house, thus stunting my adulthood even more. Every now and then Steve will say "I don't want to be 30 and _____ .... oh, no offense", but I can't be that offended because a) he doesn't mean it personally and b) his life is not mine. I cultivated a nice little corner for myself in this little part of the world. Nothing is forever, though.
That night, Joey, Steve and I went to the rooftop bar at YOTEL, and I absolutely loved the ambience. We sat on these really big comfy chairs, and the drinks were sweet without being crazy expensive (Steve graciously paid anyway). We discussed future goals and dreams and they talked about sex and then I got weird but then I decided to just be quiet for once (I know, shocking) and take all of it in, that you're with your two best friends in your favorite city in the world. Also, my new shirt from Zara looked banging, gosh darn it. We went to a lot of bars and didn't like any of them, Steve went back to his hotel, Joey and I went to Boxers for two seconds, and tomorrow was to be our last day!
We walked to Central Park and played Pokemon Go and I finally ate a meal. Then I rode the carousel while Joey REFUSED! I don't entirely blame him because a) I think Donald Trump owns it and b) it was ridiculously long. I got bored at the end, tbh.
We went back to the room and tried to start packing so our leave the next morning would be more efficient, and then we watched the VMA's. Both Luke and Rance had made plans to meet up with us, but they live way downtown and have jobs and it unfortunately just didn't work out. Upon finding out that Beyonce was going to perform ALL OF LEMONADE, I frantically texted Steve and he made his way to The Saloon to watch it live. Joey zoned it out because he is not a fan of it. Nobody is perfect.
After the VMA's, we headed to Boxers to meet up with James, Marco, and Barney. We played Pokemon Go on the way. You're not supposed to play it, late at night in a strange city, with your cell phone out, but I had caught a Bulbasaur!
"Wait," Joey said. "My GPS is screwed up. Let me go get it."
We were the only two people on this street, on a Sunday night, somewhere in the upper 50's, and I just kinda got this feeling, y'know? I felt like Demi Moore in Patrick Swayze's death scene in Ghost, and I certainly didn't want to re-enact that scene.
A man was looking at us and muttering to himself. And then he was walking toward us. Fast.
"Joey, put your phone down," I said.
"I almost got it," he said.
The dude walked up to us and -- in like two seconds that either felt like two hours or just the two seconds -- sized Joey up like he was studying him, WALLOPED HIM IN THE FACE and then ran off.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?!!!" I shouted. "Jesus fucking Christ!"
Joey wasn't bleeding, but we walked into an opulent hotel nearby to look in the mirror.
"Oh my god, are you okay?" I kept asking. I seemed to be worse off than he was, and I wasn't even assaulted.
"Yeah," he said.
"Do you have all your shit? Your wallet? Your phone?"
"Yeah, I dropped my phone but I still have it."
This made no sense. Why would someone come up to us and cause an act of violence but not take any property? I mean, thank God he didn't take our wallets -- how would we have flown out the next day? -- but I couldn't explain it at all. We met up with the boys at Boxers and explained everything. It was dead in there but our bartender was from Colombia and was in his underwear, so who was I to complain?
"Wait," Joey said as he pulled up his phone. "Look closely at this picture I accidentally took when I was getting hit. Does it look like I'm wearing glasses?"
And there we had it. The fucker had sized up Joey on the side to see if the Tom Ford logo was real (and it was, you asshat) and that's why he had decked him.
"I hope he dropped them," I said.
A man next to us explained why all the gays have moved out of Chelsea and now live in Hell's Kitchen. We watched the VMA's again. Finally, we went to a second, divey bar, the name of which escapes me but I had the most fun there because when I walked in, Emotions was playing! It was a hug from baby Jesus.
You get two Mariah Carey songs in this post! You are far too lucky.
There was an older masculine dude but he wasn't into me. Meanwhile, Joey was hitting it off with a boy who was very attractive in a WASP-y, Vineyard Vines douche kind of way.
"I'm just talking to him," he said. "Do not let me leave with him. He's weird as hell."
"Hey, I recognize you," said Douchebag. "You guys were at the airport in MSP."
"Um, maybe?" I asked.
"Yep, that's you," he said. "You were bitching at him about allergies." It's true! Joey kept sneezing and I was trying to get him to buy overpriced Claritin!
"He was sneezing," I explained.
"My god, it's totally you," Douchebag laughed. "You and that whiny-ass voice!"
The two of them went outside. Jesus Christ. Whiny-ass voice? I'm getting heckled by someone from the airport.
"Can I have a shot of Cuervo?" I asked. Unfortunately, the gorgeous Ukranian bartender didn't understand me and poured me a shot of Fireball instead. Oh no! Fireball turns me into a raging thunder c**t!
Joey came back in, then went back outside. The bar was closing. I was very confused! He had explicitly told to not let him leave with Douchebag, but I was trying this new thing where I would be sex-positive and not cock-block my friends no matter how awkward I may feel ...
...And the trip ended just like it began. With me screaming and shouting at everyone, this time in the middle of the sidewalk as Joey was making out with Douchebag.
"JOEY!!!!" I screamed. "WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!!!!"
I grabbed his arm.
"WHY ARE YOU PUTTING ME IN THIS POSITION WHERE I HAVE TO LOOK LIKE A PSYCHO CLINGY IDIOT?!!!!!" I cried so hard that people in Astoria could have heard and dogs in Bushwick would start whistling.
"Oh my god, you're totally right," he whispered. "You did exactly what I told you to."
"THIS IS SO UNFAIR OF YOU! DON'T DO THIS TO ME!!!!"
"I said you're right," Joey said, and then he turned around. "How many more times do you want me to say it? Huh? You want to stick it in already?"
Anyone who can successfully read me at 5 AM in a new city is a friend for life.
The next day was absolutely hell! So here's the deal: I was supposed to perform at The Saloon for a fundraiser to benefit the victims of Pulse Orlando. Since our flight was to land at 7, I told the organizer I would go during the back half. I was nervous because the line-up was, literally, 50 drag queens and me doing three minutes of hacky dick and sex jokes, but it was an honor to be included.
First, Joey and I walked to Grand Central Station, where a kind worker informed us that no subway goes to LaGuardia, and that you have to take the bus there. He told us to get on an Express 7. We met a little girl who asked if we were brothers or friends and we pointed out on the subway map where we were going. She talked about gymnastics. Her little sister was shy and her mother spoke no English. She was my favorite person I met all weekend.
I liked being able to look at neighborhoods in Queens while on the subway. I imagined it would be where your boyfriend takes you to meet his family, and his Italian mother makes you eat far beyond your calorie limit but ultimately decides that you are good enough for her sweet boy, even though she doesn't really understand the whole homosexual thing. Oh, fantasies.
Okay, so after the train, we had to find out how to get on the BUS to the airport, and signs were everywhere about how bad traffic was going to be because the US Open was occurring that weekend. Joey was overheated and dehydrated and I was worried he was going to collapse at any given moment.
We got to the airport with about an hour to spare, printed our boarding passes, and everything was smooth sailing! If I ever go on The Amazing Race, it will be with Joey.
Then we found out that our flight to Chicago was indefinitely delayed.
IT WAS AWFUL.
I don't even remember ... I think LaGuardia we were delayed about an hour, and then we were in O'Hare for a week. We got on the plane, off the plane, switched gates ... it was terrible. I realized if I was going to be stuck at the airport with anybody it would be Channing Tatum, but my second choice would be Joey. He was really chill and understood it was no one's fault. Steve sent us live play-by-plays of the show that I wasn't at. The plane was turbulent at the end and I was convinced we were going to die. I was upset with myself for being so obsessed about the stupid stuff. Is all of this going to matter when the plane goes down? 95% of it is not going to matter. Tell people you love them, order top-shelf vodka, and learn to let go.
The plane did not go down. St. Loretta picked us up from the airport at 1:50 A.M. She stayed awake because The Wedding Planner was on.
And did I mention the opened the next five days in a row? It was a rough week, children.
I got a new job!!! Still with the same company but I am no longer trying to sell. I thought my paychecks would greatly improve, but they haven't, because Capital One is getting 25% of my wages even though I am also paying $370 a month to lawyers in Florida who were supposed to prevent such a thing from happening. All aboard the struggle bus.
Life got back to normal when we returned to Minneapolis. I even sober cabbed to a party in Plymouth! It was fun except I yelled at Steve and Joey while stone cold sober because I thought they were making fun of my celibacy and it turns out they weren't. It was like LuAnn in the finale of The Real Housewives of New York City this season when she walks up to the girls and tells them to stop talking about her and they were really talking about the veggie platter or something.
It was actually rather scary, because I used to think I was only anxious when I was drinking (which is often), but now my outbursts of paranoia are happening when I haven't had a drop. Joey even recommended I have a sip to calm my nerves, but I was adamant about being sober while driving. The party was in a suburb that I'm not familiar with, and I had already almost killed us on the way there. Anyway, it's weird to talk about your (undiagnosed) mental illness without sounding like you're navel-gazing. I am not more interesting than I was just because I am now bonkers. If anything, I've just become more annoying. It's a miracle I have any friends, really.
Next week: Peter comes back to visit! Sundays are not always Sunday Fundays!