NYC Story of the Day – 10/27/09

Let’s begin this latest entry by quoting the great Romantic poet Robert Burns:

The best laid plans of mice and men usually end up getting tossed aside for a quick nap or a few hours googling the names of middle school enemies.

Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but I think his words still hold water. What the fine Scotsman was trying to say is no matter how dedicated you are to an idea, or how hard you prepare, you’re probably going to say “Screw it,” and go watch Hard Rain on Netflix. The man was a revolutionary, ahead of his time.

So, logically, it follows that I am just like Robert Burns: An exceptionally gifted person that just can’t get it together. What’s that you say? Robert Burns was wildly successful and you’re just lazy? Oh, well color me embarrassed.

Almost four months into the New York experiment and things are not quite following my best laid plans. I am not entirely sure what those plans were, but they certainly didn’t involve sitting in a Starbucks all day binge drinking espresso. I could do that in Kentucky, and at least then I wouldn’t have a random 13 year old kid calling me a faggot on the street. Well, that could happen in the Bluegrass, but that’s just heresy at this point.

I spend most of my days job searching, still. What I somehow forgot to remember is that ten percent of this city is also looking for work. No matter how much education I have, or how over-qualified I am for the job, there’s always twenty recently laid off stock brokers applying for the same position. Thankfully, it’s only twenty. It would have been much worse if the other Wall Streeters hadn’t plunged off the Williamsburg Bridge.

I feel like I’m starting this with too much negativity, which is not my intention. I do not regret moving to this city. In fact, it is still the best decision I have ever made. What has happened here is simply further proof that real life hardly ever matches up to the future you’ve mapped out in your head. For me, I envisioned a city that handed out careers once you stepped foot off the tarmac. Call it Midwestern gullibility, call it flat-out stupidity, but my optimism was genuine. If Kenneth Parcell has taught me anything, it’s not to vote Republican or Democrat, because choosing is a sin. Always just write in the Lord’s name. And if he taught me something else, it’s that even country boys can make it in the big city.

And I’m going to leave my complaining at that. The job will come when it comes. No need to expound any further. That’s the last you’ll hear of this. Instead, I’m going to try and tell a story every couple of days. To begin, here’s an interesting tidbit about my first month here:

My one month stay in Brooklyn was an experience. I am not entirely sure how to explain how odd it was without sounding like a liar. It felt like I was living in an Orwell novel — a character being carefully watched, studied, toyed with, by some unseen figurehead. I rented out a room in Prospect Heights from a teacher headed off for a European adventure. When I first visited the apartment, his two roommates were not around, so when they finally came home, I was going to be the strange man eating Pringles on their couch. There was to be no formal “How do you do’s,” no “Nice to meet ya’s” —  just a handing over of keys and a “Have a good month” from the one person I wasn’t going to live with. I was informed that the two other residents were hardly home due to work, and I took this to mean they would eventually come home in the late afternoon. After a few days in the place, not once did I see another person. There was no commotion from their rooms, no clatter in the kitchen, nothing. This wasn’t incredibly disconcerting, because I was gone most of the time as well. Just several days of bad timing for proper introductions.

To settle their possibly troubled minds about the random guy sleeping in the next room, I left a note in the kitchen saying who I was, and that it will be nice to finally meet. One morning, I found the note with fresh ink at the bottom. It read, “Nice to meet you.” That’s it. The man/woman/child/thing with proper penmanship had met me through kitchen table correspondence. Was this to be the extent of our communication? Every night, I’d write down the trials and tribulations of my day on scrap paper, and in the morning I’d find their response, something like, “You and me both, brother!”

Days turned into weeks, and even with my staying at home more often, not one time did I stumble upon a roommate. I started to draft conspiracy theories, the next more absurd than the last. The most unrealistic one involved my taking part in a scientific study. I was now involved in some PhD student’s thesis entitled, “The Phantom Roommate: Are We Ever Truly Alone?” There were cameras in that room, hidden in the futon and record collection. I found myself staring at the ceiling, listening for any sounds of movement that weren’t the screams of the mother of eight next door. At times, I heard rustling about in the bedrooms, and I’d make a habit of making loud noises in the kitchen, as to make them scatter out into the world. But nothing. These people were a myth, or they were simply uninterested in an awkward introduction.

This had to be just as unnerving for them as it was for me. I was there for five weeks. FIVE WEEKS! They played a game of hide and seek in the comfort of their own home for 35 days. You read that right — I lived in a smallish apartment for an entire month and not once did I meet the two other people living there. On my last day, I packed up all my stuff, left the keys on the mantle, and concluded their scientific study by leaving one last note. It read:

Thanks for letting me use your shower.

Love, Matthew

I never heard from the guy after that. I imagine two possible scenarios for the day he returned. His roommates told him a bold-faced lie; that we had a great month bonding over our mutual appreciations. But what’s more likely is they told him I was the weird guy that did weird things in his room. “I’m telling you, bro. We heard weird things coming from the room, inhuman noises, like death rattles muffled by bubble wrap.” I suppose I’m lucky he sent me my deposit. I mean, I did wash his sheets.

More stories to come. Probably.

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3 Comments

Filed under New York City, roommates

3 responses to “NYC Story of the Day – 10/27/09

  1. Finnigan

    Entertaining as usual. If I were enjoying a beverage, I might have even spit up at a couple points in the story.

    P.S. Maybe you should try to be an NBC paige.

  2. Tiffany Stephens

    Leathers! Long time no see! I just wanted to let you know Julie D. Littrell and I were recently talking about how funny/sweet/honest your blog is. And how much we miss spontaneously attacking you with our boobs and watching you squirm. Oh memories!

    This is probably a stupid question, but have you looked at serving/bartending jobs? I hear servers make bank in the city.

  3. just so you know, this is one of the best posts you’ve written. very funny, reminded me of a sarah vowell vignette or something.

    you could have gone hitchcock with it for the A+, though. just saying.

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