Dating

September 3, 2011

A lot of annoying things happened to me this week, but the worst was done by someone who didn’t even mean it. Who meant well. I’m sure of that.

Then again, when people make me feel bad, I’m sure they don’t usually mean it. I wrote a tweet coming home drunkenly on Thursday saying “In real life, people can be cruel but they’re rarely mean”.

I then proceeded to vomit up a bunch of red wine, try to shower the puke out of my nose, played another half an hour of video games and went to sleep.

But the point wasn’t lost on me; Not since middle or high school to people just come over and push you or call you a faggot or something like that. People aren’t mean often, in ways that are transparently so, save for a crazy person or an angered pedestrian/driver.

No, more often the people are cruel in doing actions that might seem normal, but that hit the emotional crux of what someone is feeling in a way the person enacting the cruelty doesn’t necessarily know or empathize with.

Being mean is just saying or doing something obvious to effect your feelings on to someone else. Being cruel is making that person hurt while they believe they might deserve it.

This “worst thing” was real bad in that way, in that it seemed so obviously to come from a place of concern.

A fellow improviser had sent me an email telling me that “from reading your blog and your tweets it seems like you’re fixated on the idea of having a girlfriend”. They made it very clear that they didn’t presume to have the knowledge to help me as such, but here was their friend’s blog complete with “dating tips for nerds”, a self-help style odyssey in eight parts. This person now writes for “OverthinkingIt.com”, they told me.

The subject article was “Thought you might want to read this”.

I should specify that on this day, Thursday, I had already gone on a first date with a nice-enough girl, made plans for second date and then had her email me telling me:

a. “I am not available on Saturday, I told a friend I was around that day so she takes priority.”

and

b. “I didn’t feel that spark when I was with you so I’m not interested in continuing things romantically. I am sorry I didn’t express that when I was with you.”

As I walked along that Thursday, everything seemed to pile up on top of each other.

The date seeming good, having to reevaluate as bad. The curt email. The unconnected/connected email suggestion that I needed “dating tips”.

The fact that was the third girl in two months to tell me she wasn’t “interested romantically” in me.

By the end of the day, I was calling my father angry about my job somehow, for some minor shit, enough that he had talk me down and I had to admit that I had had a bad date.

I went to drown my sorrows on Thursday in improv. I went to the Magnet and sat there and watched show after show. Sebastian Conelli, an improv friend from Staten Island, showed up there, with two even more Staten Island-y looking people in tow. Andrew Parrish showed up and caught a show.

I was wrestling with whether or not to drink, but decided on the red wine, not to break my diet and drank about four glasses over 4 hours, enough to make me sleepy and a little more ready to laugh.

The vomiting was unexpected when I got home (probably a result of my relative abstinence and diet), as well as the tweeting, though I guess it shouldn’t be.

When you set your conscious mind at avoiding something, your unconscious, just like a good improv partner, goes straight for, attacking it.

Because as I walked home that night, as I got off the phone with my dad earlier, as I thought about in the spaces between shows, between drinks, or just zoning out into my mind as thoughts took over, I just kept wondering: what’s wrong with me?

That’s that picture, that thought going through my head as I used the Photo Booth feature of my computer to take a picture of me looking at other Photo Booth pictures from my computer.

There it was: I’d lost weight, I could see my face narrower. I had a decent job, in a creative field. I was performing in New York City. I was on television in a bunch of big and small ways. I was a sweet guy and odd and self-conscious. I was present and not looking to fuck a bunch of people behind other people’s backs. I was me. I had these good things. What didn’t I see?

The sadness in my eyes, pretty apparent. I took a few pictures before I was able to weed out ones that at least seemed appropriately sad without being weirdly angled. But it was always the same way, smile or no.

When I was walking around on Thursday, I thought I would write this post and it would be angry, a diatribe against women, singling out all the people who made me feel bad that day, all the women who’ve ever made me feel bad or less than who I am. A giant fuck you to these bitches, these dumb cunts who wouldn’t fucking look at me now, preferring someone more forceful, but once they hit 28 or 9, flocking to me looking for that guy who wouldn’t treat them terribly, victims of their own love-hangover. I was their B plan, I thought, that must be it, a thought only confirmed by the married women who come up to me on the street or in front of bars and flatter me and tell me “Women must throw themselves at you, you’re so handsome” because they want that attention from me that they no longer get from whoever the fuck they’re stuck with. They see the sadness in my eyes. They know I’m easy prey.

But having written that and being unexpectedly taken back to that swell of emotion, I know the fallacy of it. That any such “theories” or “dynamics” about women or anyone really, are just ways of rationalize and making sense of the irrational, the many and countless ways that selves can interact and touch. If someone isn’t attracted to me, that’s great and they should own it. And I too.

These things I talk about, that I’m angry about, not only should I not be angry about them, but they don’t exist.

There is no grand overarching theory, there are no rules or “what women want”.

In short, there is no centralized problem with any of this, which means there’s nothing I can fix, no “thing I shouldn’t say”, “shirt I shouldn’t wear”, no “girls are crazy” or any of that.

Which is both freeing and awful, because it means I’m not doing anything wrong.

It’s just life.

No tips necessary.

Which means, conversely, that all those women have their own reasons, their own world, their own individual natures and specific whatever that ends up as it does to me.

That’s cool.

No apology necessary either.

When I said that the “dating tips” email that I got on Thursday was the worst thing that happened to me that day, it was because it made me think that it must so obvious to people that there’s something wrong with me. That I’m damaged, or crazy, or out of control.

But the truth is like my friend Andrew Parrish told me over GChat the other day, when I asked him how he was coping in the wake of his recent breakup.

“I’m feeling okay.” He said.

“I feel like shit.” I told him. “What’s your secret?”

“Nothing.” He said. “Just don’t feel like that isn’t normal. Because whatever you’re feeling is normal for you.”

***

So how do you get over a day like Thursday, going everywhere bad from bad dates, to unintentional belittling, to throwing up a bunch of red wine and some leaf-like things I didn’t know were in me?

I don’t fucking know, but I feel a bit better.

Sure-fire non-lame-o Matt Chao sent me a text and we got breakfast at the Sullivan Bistro, a Goat Cheese and Spinach Omelette with Wheat toast and Home Fries I ate maybe 5 of, if I’m being honest with myself.

I had a nice iced coffee with milk and splenda.

I did some improv and fooled around with some friends.

And a bunch of us hung out after and ate some food.

And I got good lunch too with Matt, from Pepolino, the place my boss had wanted me to try last week, but I had ditched in favor of a hotel Mexican restaurant (Sorry, Jason).

It was a little pricey for me, and a little cheat-y in terms of my diet (Pollo Milanese is breaded, after all), but it was a nice big meal, on a nice fall day.

Fall, my favorite season, had come to New York City, as we sat outside, in the sidewalk cafe.

And there I was, caffeinated and sleepy.

Sitting across from a great friend, hearing his dating problems and references to web comics and Nathan Fillion from “Serenity”.

And for that meal and for the day that came after it.

Things returned, as they do, to being right with the world.

Thanks guys.

-Nick

And P.S.- Don’t take that lady stuff so seriously. I don’t actually think you’re all cunts.

Alright, just saying.

Thanks.

***

SULLIVAN BISTRO

Goat Cheese and Spinach Omelette w/Home Fries and Toast- $10

Sullivan St. bet Houston and Prince Sts.

1 to Houston St. ACEBDFM to West 4th St.

PEPOLINO

Milanese di Pollo w/Marinated Leeks and Wild Rucola- $17

West Broadway bet. 6th Ave and Canal St.

ACE to Canal St. 1 to Canal St.

 


In Which I Try A Diet

July 27, 2011

This is dessert now.

What a world.

I woke up this morning with a Google Offer in my email box, which is sort of a non-shitty version of what Groupon, ScoutMob and all of those other companies have quickly become.

What it offered me (and what I took) was a chance to spend 10 bucks for 20 bucks worth of brownies at Fat Witch Bakery.

Now, I was still excited for this, but as I hobbled over to redeem my coupon with crutch-bowler Matt Chao, who’s house-sitting my parents’ apartment, it occurred to me, I didn’t even know when I’d ever be able to eat a brownie again.

Maybe I should back up. This is all so much for me. So many changes.

Even as I write this right now, my hypoglycemia is flaring up causing me to feel dizzy and strange, like some sort of sense of primal danger, no doubt caused by the carb-reduction of the diet I’m on, meaning I haven’t had a wheat, rice or corn product in over 24-hours, nothing with sugar added either.

My body must think something strange is going on as I attempt to trick it into digesting all the crap in front of my ribs and stomach. This was not the plan it thinks.

I think that too.

***

I used to tell people that I have a semi-hedonistic philosophy of eating and life, pretty much, too.

Do things that make you feel good, it goes, trying to adjust that directive for things that will eventually make you feel bad.

For instance, it might feel good to eat all of my delicious Alfanoose Chicken Shawarma platter at once, stuffing gob after gob of Chicken, cracked wheat, hummus, hot sauce and pita into my face and belly, but near immediately after, I feel stuffed and awful.

As simple of a realization as this is, it’s one I definitely didn’t realize until at least 18-19.

So, I had been growing in this pattern reaching ever so tentatively toward the future in my “what would make you feel worse” adjustments.

I realized my own latent lactose-intolerance and cut down on my dairy intake. I started eating smaller meals in shifts or phases in stead of eating one dinner, splitting up into multiples.

Always, I’d err on the side of that semi-hedonism if it teetered. Better to try the dessert or someone else’s food, or the new cart or shop on the block you were exploring, better to gain that knowledge and have the potential for discovery or transcendent experience.

Obviously, this is also a lot more difficult when applied to life and relationships and all the rest. The future of a job choice or classes or move is much less fixed than knowing how you’re going to feel when you eat something.

But the philosophy is the same: go with your instincts, do what seems fun, but also consider what might not be over time, as a ratio.

(I’m fond of ratios.)

So what could change this philosophy? What could cause me to seek some change, or a diet? As many have noted who know me well, a diet seems particularly ill fitting for someone who is frequently labelled a “foodie”.

The prompt was as epic as the world, a universal theme shared around countries and nations, repeated clandestinely from caves to huts to tall buildings, over the long arc of human history. Among all things that divide us, what drove me was something elemental, striking and true:

I had a bad date.

***

Actually, the dates themselves were pretty good.

We talked for a few hours. We made plans after the first date. We both were excited. We laughed at some funny shows. We even did some kissy stuff (that last part makes me feel pretty cool).

But at this Live WTF with Marc Maron taping, that I attended four beers deep after running through Alphabet City and Park Slope, out of breath, annoyed at the subway and somewhere in the back of my mind wondering if my ex was going to be there, I got a text message saying that “we should just be friends”.

I had many feelings about this text message. On one level, I was relieved and thankful. I wrote a gooddam article about this stuff, clarity and all that. This was an ending, I didn’t have to worry about what she felt about me, what I felt about her. I didn’t have to decode our last date, looking for clues. It was clear and it was over. And if she’s not attracted to me, it’s much better that I know than her trying to awkwardly work it out herself the next time we meet.

On another level, fuck her.

We met on an online dating site, she’s saying to me that’s she’s not into me, but she wants me to be her “friend”? How shitty and emasculating is that? No one being honest with themselves joins an online dating service to make friends, they join it to find someone, to get fucked, or to send naked pictures of themselves to strangers and everything in between.

The thought that you’re asking me to be your “friend” reveals an amazing assumption that I frequently see when talking to women, namely, that the same person who finds that yin/yang of mind/body in you appealing enough to make an asshole out of themselves pursuing, would just be cool helping you move things or taking care of your cat.

It’s an assumption of astonishing vanity to assume that someone who seeks you out on a dating website is also in the market not to be dating you.

It was in this state, receiving my first “let’s just be friends” since the age of 17, at a show run by Marc Maron, a man who open antagonizes happiness and constantly brings up his weight, that I decided, much like I did when I started dressing better and taking care of myself 4 years ago (after much-worse lady issues), to turn to the funny friend beside me who’d invited me to the show, show him the text message and ask him for more advice on how he lost 120 pounds.

I just needed to lose 20. Just to know that I could look better and possibly have enough dates to not care about this sort of shit.

Also, for anyone at that taping or who hears it later, Seth Meyers was pretty boring.

My opinion.

***

So that’s how I ended up on a carb-restrictive diet, eating “No Sugar Added” Fudgsicles.

I can’t remember the last time I’d had one. It tasted pretty good, though as my “sweet treat” for Phase 1, I am allowed one of them per night.

Huzzah.

When I went in to get my brownies from Fat Witch, including a special PB+J “Google for You-gle” Brownie that came with my coupon, I ended up balancing them to get a bunch of the “baby” brownies thinking that whenever I did get in that next stage of the diet, maybe they’d let me eat the small brownie, since I didn’t know if I’d have the self-control not to eat the big one.

My therapist is of the opinion that I’m not fixated on my ex, which I worry about sometimes, but rather that I’m fixated on the idea of having love in my life.

“Before you had a relationship,” She told me. “You had a hole in your life, but you didn’t know what a relationship could be, so it wasn’t so big. The one you had was loving and full and unexpected. So, it’s only natural that when it leaves, it leaves you with a bigger hole than before, now that you’ve experienced what you can have.”

The whole thing sounds like it could be about butt-sex, but it’s true.

In doing this diet, which on the second (first official) day I have not yet broken, my friend told me to keep my reason in mind for doing it. That that would help me from breaking.

“To feel good.” I told him. “To feel better.”

In the only two days since I’ve started and since I’ve told people about the diet, I have people telling me on all sides it’s not enough, talking to me about lifting weights or bicycling or rock climbing or just cardio. My book recommends 20 minutes walking a day, which I already get, but everyone else tells me more.

When I confronted my friend Bobby about why he offers this advice now he said:

“Well, before your philosophy was not giving a fuck. And I guess there’s some respect for it. But now that you do, well, you should do it right.”

Such arguments seem well-founded but have yet to have had an effect on me. I’m not a superman like my friend Frank, who wears an armlet that tells him that his metabolism has so increased that he burns 4000 calories a day just walking around.  I’m not skinny or immune to food, like some of my friends. I’m not even that down or unhappy about who I was before.

I guess, in a way, that dumb fucking text message at the Marc Maron show brought me back to the biggest fear of my life: the regression into “Loser Nick”, the Nick from high school and middle school, the Nick who hated and protected, who stood no chance of finding love or happiness outside of an occasional weekend in Park Slope, an occasional trip to China Town or, later, a night holed up in Sam Carey’s apartment drinking crappy Rolling Rock and not knowing what to say.

I don’t want to be that person.

I want to know that I can love and be loved in return.

I want to feel good about myself, or feel better.

I felt like something should change.

So I grabbed some Fudgsicles from Gristede’s on my way home from a show.

I packed them into my mostly broken mini-freezer one-by-one.

I took one and had it, last night.

And it was good.

And it was.

***

If you wondering what my last meal for a while as a carb-eating free-man looked like, it looked like this.

It’s from the “Village Pourhouse” truck, which sounded pretty ludicrous to me as a truck did not sell beer should not call itself a “pourhouse”.

But what can I say: I wasn’t full after the Bistro Truck’s free but calorie-light turkey burger giveaway and this was 5 dollars.

What it is, is what you see, a small-ish Buffalo Chicken Slider and what appears to be some beer-battered french-fries, large wedges with a crunchy-ish crust.

For a pretty ridiculously premised food truck, the food was pretty good and befitting the last dance of a pre-diet fix.

My sense is that they should charge 7 dollars for 2 buffalo chicken sliders and fries and then they’d be in business.

Right now, as they themselves admit, they were just taking out the truck to see if it worked.

But for just food that’s bad for ya, but doesn’t taste bad.

Well, you want that sometimes too.

Even if I can’t eat it.

***

FAT WITCH BAKERY

$10-for-$20 Google Offer, including a “PBJ-for-You-gle” Witch- Here’s the link

In Chelsea Market (9th Ave bet 16th and 17th Sts)

ACE to 14th St-8th Ave

***

VILLAGE POURHOUSE TRUCK

Buffalo Chicken Slider w/Beer-Battered Fries- $5

Really no idea for location. I hope I see them again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lady Problems

April 14, 2011

I sent this picture to my ex the other day, after taking it, passing by a window on Bleecker St.

It’s been around 5 months now since we broke up (since I was dumped, since she left me, what have you) and often I question the effect she still has on me.

After seeing “Puppy Whistle”, Rob Malone’s film at the Anthology, that we were both in together, I was taken on some sort of awed walk by Dan Dickerson, of the sometimes-mentioned-here PA-style Dickerson Bros, who wanted to talk about my still uncomfortable reality “fame” and how I was doing in life.

When I mentioned how hard it had been for me to see her up there on the screen like that, pretty, idiosyncratic, herself and looking me, the me in the film, with loving eyes, her arms around me, Dan took a step back on 13th St.

“Really, bro?” He asked, biting a grin. “After all this time?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “It’s probably normal if you love someone like that.”

“Shit, I haven’t felt that way since high school.” The Dickerson replied. “I mean that girl when I was 16, she really fucked me up.”

And I nodded as we walked both back to the karaoke bar, as Dan kept smiling goofily and I just questioned what it was.

For sure, looking back at my history, I’m a case of emotional and romantic arrested development, having practically hibernated throughout high school in newspaper offices and libraries in order to keep the world and my own insecurities from hurting me.

Apart from strange experiences at a multi-program camp at the age of 12, my awakening to the idea that anyone could even be attracted to me didn’t come until I was 17 and a girl stuck her tongue down my throat while we were sitting on the sidewalk in front of the old Joe’s Pizza.

This explains, or rationalizes to me how I got this way, experiencing a high-school level heartbreak at 23, but it doesn’t wrap things up, not wholly.

As I told my therapist, after the sort of introspection that comes out of not having anything listen to while walking down New York City sidewalks, the times I call out for my ex, pronouncing her two-syllable name into the air or out-loud, softly, are not the times necessarily that I want her to be near me, or that I miss her touch or the way she talked about “floppy ears”, though those times come too.

Nowadays, it’s more the times that I think about the things in my life, I’m not proud or am uncertain of, the moments I regret or my anxiety about my future or lack of direction.

The rushes, or panic attacks, where bad moments flood my eyes and I’m taken out of body back to relive a time where I made that bad decision, where I embarrassed myself, or felt shame.

I realized, I say the word “Eva” where I used to say the words “I hate my life”.

When I used to say the latter phrase, it was like a ward or a dismissal against those bad moments, a disavowal of a time I made the parents of an autistic teenager uncomfortable, or when I made a glib remark at my old, haunted job. When I think about embarrassing myself in front of my agents, or just sitting alone, feeling alone, feeling like no one loves me or wants to be with me right now. That loneliness.

I reach out for the word “Eva” in those moments like I once reached out to punish myself with dismissal.

There was a sense, especially towards the end of our relationship, that seeing her, that having her near me, that knowing there’s that someone who loves and accepts you, that knowing it was someone you felt the same about, like that could be something that could turn around a day, or an hour, or a year.

That reliance of love, on someone else’s, on that phenomenon, is both symptomatic of my low self-esteem (the “miracle” of someone I love loving me) and a difficult to break as I focus on not backsliding into self-hatred in the wake of it all and the loneliness.

Still, it’s made me more weary as I go out in the world, even more a somewhat-misogynist than when Eva would sometimes comment on my stirring-angry statements about unrequited love, about the women who didn’t return my affection, or the ones who hurt my friends (or who I perceived to).

Now, I even shy away from people who seem to flirt with me without affection, who wear it as part of their bearing, or use it for friendliness or charisma. Walking from a screening one night, an old friend tried hanging off me, hugging my neck, putting her cheek next to mine. A girl on set stroked my face as I said good-bye, gave me a hug when I wrapped shooting, asked me questions and looked into my eyes. When I went to see a show alone and lonely last night at the theater, a young lady hugged me, recognized me, put her hands through my hair and invited me over with ebullience and charm and a smile.

In summary, I felt revolted at these experiences. I feel shame when I look back at them. Partly because of my lack of quick understanding of sarcasm or irony, of intent and intentions, of a need to to be loved that feels shaken and confused by these cues. But on the other hand there’s that proximity, that feeling that the dark parts of my life might be re-averted, at least temporarily. That something might come from you looking at me that will help me be better at least for a while.

But that’s not what those people were offering. So instead, I have nostalgia, as I call out my ex’s name, once or twice, as I walk down Bleecker St.

As I take picture of floppy-eared loaves in the window of a bread-store.

As I wish for the absence of love, or whatever it is that still binds me.

As I want something to replace it, this misogyny in me.

Eva, I don’t blame you, for feeling like this was too much to bear.

***

Alright, Chadd Harbold asked if I was going to write about this and I really neither care nor understand this, but I guess let me try to explain.

Jenna Jameson called me a “fuckknob”.

How did this happen? To be honest, I don’t even really know who Jenna Jameson is (weird enough to admit that probably means it true, guys).

Here’s her Wikipedia page (apparently she is pretty interesting), but I didn’t know most of that until just now.

So, anyway here we go:

When I woke up on Tuesday, April 12th, I did what I usually do, which is check my phone, my email and my twitter (and maybe my online scrabble games).

I took a look and saw that friend, Buckwheat Groat and extremely prolific tweeter Ben Perry had tweeted something dissing someone for saying Bethenny Ever After was their favorite show.

Now, regardless of what I think about my own situation and my weirdo relationship to reality television, I am ON that show and Ben knows that and so he shouldn’t be dissing people for liking it like that.

But Ben Perry is not just a prolific tweeter but a wordy one and, given Twitter’s limit on how long a message can be, instead of writing a full rebuttal and erasing his message, I just quoted what he said with a little online frowny face.

Now, as those of you who read the blog can tell, I’m not one much for “emoticons” so my use of one here was probably a mistake, but the intent was something like “Ben, don’t do that, I’m on that show”.

And in fact Ben got that message later tweeting something like “Well, maybe she’s not so bad for liking that show because my buddy Nick’s on it.”

But Jenna Jameson did not appear to get the message and ended up calling both me and Ben “fuckknobs”.

What is a “fuckknob” you ask (and probably rightfully so)? I have no idea, just as I was somewhat weirded out by being called one.

I tried to explain to her the intent of all of this, but it seemed to no avail. She went back to tweeting about parties and LA restaurants and posting pictures of her shoes.

Ben, on the other hand, engaged in a full-out twitter blast war with her, posting salvos and earning hate from her legion of followers including one particular message from her calling him “not worth my time, cocksmoker, go watch pornstar that actually care about your idiot driven awards” for whatever that means.

A couple people tweeted in my defense. Some people on Facebook appeared to celebrate the occasion. I mostly felt confused and somewhat violated.

I felt my twitter account mostly non-offensive and was unsure if she was such a fan of the show why she called me a “fuckknob” (or even, again, what that was). Probably she couldn’t tell or remember that my account was the same as that nerdy, chubby kid on the show wearing his ratty hoodie. I don’t blame her, I suppose.

Mostly, I just wonder of the significance of it all. One girl told me I should feel honored she acknowledged my existence, while someone else asked me if I “printed out and framed” the tweet. I just asked “Why?”

But still, I feel somewhat victimized. Even if my friends seem to celebrate my “fuckknob”-ery.

As it now had entered all of our lexicons.

***

The Kimchi Truck stiffed me the other day.

I thought I could do it all, heading out on an early Sunday morning, racing myself, to finish the first type-up of a sketch for class later, all so  I could go out to the Sunday morning flea-market where the Kimchi Taco Truck was bound to appear.

All I had been hearing about this place from blogs and chowhounders were raves and awed stories of 40-minutes waits braved for a fresh collision of flavors.

But they didn’t show up. Engine trouble, I heard, or something about the battery.

Still I was pissed and unleashed a marginally tamer twitter rant against them after talking it out with my friends at the Schnitzel truck and realizing it probably wasn’t their fault.

So I waited. I bided my time. I’d tried to find moments even in this semi-jobless free-floating existence of mine that I could be set to go down to wherever the truck was early enough to avoid a line, try it out and flee back home for writing.

Today they were finally  in SoHo, I had no morning plans, no shoots or dalliances, I took a shower and was there.

And was honestly, mostly disappointed. The Kim-Cheesesteak, the much-blogged about semi-centerpiece of the truck (apart from the nominal tacos) was merely an average sized affair, with a good roll, but not enough flavor or punch to distinguish it from the clearly superior “99 Miles to Philly”, who provided me comfort food and shelter from bad love-less nights when I lived up by Union Square.

Worse though were the “Spicy Rice Cakes”, which were advertised as grilled, but were in fact wanly boiled in a pot, served rubbery in a red-glop not even warm. They made me feel a little sick even.

Still, I felt like giving the truck one more chance (and was still hungry from not eating all of the rice cakes) and tried the “Kimchi Arancini” which, in fact, were excellent.

Three small Jawbreaker-sized golden nuggets came with a red-spicy dipping sauce and a sensible bed of lettuce to cool them off and to soak up the debris.

Dipped and bitten into, the balls revealed a melange of gooey parmesan, mozzarella and some red-pepper flavor, which made them hard to eat slow.

Perhaps the disappointment and the tease of missing out on the Kimchi truck so many days led to my let-down.

But at least I grew some balls and got some there.

(sorrythatsprettylame)

***

KIMCHI TACO TRUCK

Kimchi Arancini- $4.00

Location varies (Follow @kimchitruck on Twitter)

***

BONUS- WARM-WEATHER SPECIAL

Coffee does strange things to me, even still, but I do get a hankering for a nice iced, especially to lift me out of the drudgery of an unknown day.

Jacques Torres’ Mochas are known for their cocoa-fab excellence in the ‘hood, but they’re too hot for the upcoming weather and JT won’t be sporting their impregnable “Frozen Chocolates” for at least a couple more months.

Instead, try to finagle an Iced Choco-Coffee like I did. It’s an iced coffee with their milk-brewed hot-cocoa instead of regular milk.

It gave me a caffeine buzz with a mellow chocolate pillow-y sensation walking down a sunny King St.

At the same price as a nearby Starbucks’ regular iced coffee, it could for you too.

***

JACQUES TORRES WEST VILLAGE

“Iced Choco-Coffee” (off-menu item)- $2.18

King St bet. Varick and Hudson Sts.

1 to Houston St. CE to Spring St.


Big DSing

April 8, 2011

For all of my moaning and complaining about the tumult and inadequacies of my continuing (perhaps even inaccurately named now) post-collegiate existence, my weeks and days can really be divided up into two categories:

When I have a video game I’m playing and when I don’t.

Those weeks I don’t are sometimes more intellectually productive or cathartic. When there’s no video game in my pocket, there’s no doubt that the week’s New Yorker will be consumed like a freshly toasted hoagie; quickly and with sadness that it’s gone. Perhaps I’ll find a book and latch on to it, or even read a play, which tend to be shorter and easier to get through, with their sparse barbed dialogue, without sacrificing the intellectual imprimatur of the Young Man Reader.

But the weeks I am playing video games, I have something else that is tangible: peace of mind. I know I’ll never go without stimulation, without distraction, forced to feel the world and feelings I’d rather not experience (my ex, my sister, my lack of any real job or sense of what might be my career, etc…). In the improv class I took last weekend with guru Dave Razowsky, he spouted at us Buddhism-isms, applicable to improv, one of which was that “lack of acceptance is the root of all suffering.” If such is true, so be it. But video games make for pretty good Tylenol for such suffering then, floating you by even if you know the crash might come.

There also the sense of the lack of “kick” the world has, that threat of impending “being” one faces with its disappointments. In improv classes (among a LONG list of others), I often turn to my phone, not because there is any sort of interesting thing to experience, but usually because to be present is to face your own discomfort in being you, to accept your writing for its flaws, your acting or comedy for its misses. Instead of being present where you are vulnerable, you’re back in that screen, your mind in another world.

Much has been said, I feel, about the part of our brains we’d lost upon the advent of the first Blackberry: the organizational part, remembering dates and calendars, sacrificed upon the altar of more reliable electronic notifications, a buzz in your pocket, instead that feeling of unease or remembrance in our heads. Now appointments are like childhood memories, faded into the background, unsure, as we turn to our phones or cloud-electronic calendars for confirmation of what our own memory cannot tell us.

Is there something to be said then about our emotions, our beings, the rest of ourselves being there? When I go elsewhere to protect myself, into my phone, where does the rest of me go? Does it atrophy, like those memories?

I’m not sure, I can say, nor do I think such thinking might change my behavior, just as the recognition of it hasn’t seemed to throughout the years. Even if we know our memories of dates and times will fade, the phone storing them is more convenient, more reliable, more of an extension of the self. I don’t intend to give such things up and when I hear people forgetting their phone, I feel in shock, as if someone just said “I forgot my arm.”

I don’t know how much of me I’ve lost or am losing or where I go or what I’ll become, which was my state of life without thinking of electronica.

I do know though, that now that I have a Nintendo 3DS, I carry a little virtual being, a “Mii” around in my pocket, named Nicky, a facsimile of me. As I pass people on the street, my Mii is beamed to whoever else has a 3DS as there’s is beamed to mine and when I next open my machine, I see their small facsimiles, their electronic selves meeting me on a virtual grassy plaza somewhere.

We shake hands. We interact. We share twitter-sized greetings. And then they stand in my plaza, for as long as I’d like, to play games with, to interact. They reappear in other games, like confabulated dreams.

Who is that other self, that Nicky?

And what does he have of me?

***

Keith Haskel drew this picture of me on a table in Williamsburg with crayons provided for children.

Well, children or the overgrown children that make up the hipsters of the area.

As we sat down for a brunch I owed him as part of a remunerative effort for missing out on his birthday party, a young woman stopped me, recognized me and invited me to join her at her table.

“Thanks,” I told her. “I’m flattered. But I’m here with a friend.”

Keith made arms up as if I should “take her”, but I smiled and she walked off.

The event was unexpected, but somewhat frequent even as my expiration date passed as part of the airing of my reality show appearance. It is perhaps testament to Ms. Frankel and her popularity that I am still stopped on the street as an implied member of her totemic circle.

“Duder, you just gotta play it up for all it’s worth.” Keith said doodling. “Use it. Use it for something.”

“What?” I replied incredulously. “Improv shows? I think even people who like me on TV don’t want to come see me do 1900s-era Austrian-play-inspired improv on the second floor of a methadone clinic.”

“Sorry,” Keith replied. “Didn’t hear that. Was too busy drawing this picture of you surrounded by a floating FEITCLUB hashtag.”

Seeing Keith doodling reminded me that while I had no idea what to do with this suddenly still-lingering pseudo-fame, that I still expected to drop at any moment, Keith Haskel was the sort of man who could have spun Bravo-fan Twitter followers into gold.

Keith had the sort of drive and energy I always admired out of film school, working on the funniest shows with up-and-comers like Human Giant and Delocated, taking time off school when necessary and getting hired repeatedly by Viacom and Adult Swim for both his funnies and his professionalism.

What’s more, doing these full-time stay till-9pm gigs, he managed to put out a sketch or viral video every month or two to his awesome website, as well as somehow becoming friends with street artists, leading to his footage being used in Exit Through The Gift Shop.

When I encountered him doodling, he was taking a hiatus just to write, not in the sort of way that people do it, depressed, miserable and mostly unemployable, in a post-collegiate haze, but as some sort of Writing-cation, to see what he could make or learn in the time before “The Man” came knocking back on his door.

As it did, Keith got promoted and rehired to a TV gig that doodling day and when we ate our food, he just kept throwing ideas out for sketches, for editing things he’d made before, for whatever could be of his in this real world.

As we got a little buzzed and went to see Rob-Beardo Malone’s screening of Puppy Whistle, it felt nice to unwind with someone who contained so much energy.

“Duder, you just got to not worry, every once in a while. Just keep doing what you’re doing and mostly ladies and some men will keep stopping you in the street for pictures. Life is great!” Keith exclaimed.

And wandering around the blocks with him to the Anthology, waiting for a Malone-filled movie it kind of was.

Until I saw my ex on screen, in the film we’d starred in together, Rob’s film.

But moments like that, they exist, but they don’t erase everything else.

Even if you think so, at the time.

***

In my recent adventures in food-blogging (“For what? For who?”), I have found somewhat irk-some-ly, that my stomach space is no longer entirely my own.

While this might seem like a slight or trivial thing to you, or even a luxury, in my own massive indecisive adventurousness of lunch-hunting (often the high point of the day), you might understand such a let down.

While I don’t have any excuses or any explanations (those are owned by others), I can tell you that I sneak a meal when I can.

And one of those meals snuck was, luckily enough, from the Bistro Truck.

The Bistro Truck was a place I had been jones-ing to go since I saw them inexplicably parked outside McNally Jackson as some sort of culinary accompaniment to a New Yorker festival book-signing.

That day I was just on break from work, I ordered a special, it was too expensive (but good), but STILL– I felt that I had not experienced the true essence of the truck.

Imagine my surprise then, without seeking it out, in-between writing-motivated meals, I found the truck in its (I later learned) constant location, off Union Square, serving up its tasties.

Despite minimal room, I couldn’t resist the 6-buck Dijon Chicken, cooked in the nominal mustard and craime fraiche, served over cous-cous or rice (“COUSCOUS ARE YOU CRAZY” I told the amused truck-man.) with a nice spring-greens salad on the side.

This was no Chicken and Rice Halal-Food dinner.

Instead what I found were the nuanced French-Moroccan flavors of the truck, with subtle spices standing in for obnoxious hot sauce, mayonaise/yogurt nowhere to be found, and delicate cous-cous absorbing every bit of the jus the Chicken came in and stirring in well, for bit-coated goodness. That the salad had a well-thought-out vinaigrette was not lost on me, either.

When I was done with it, I found myself, over-full and over-content, resting in my back-meshed chair and submitting to yet another Netlflixed X-Files episode.

The pounds would be worried about later.

I’d put them on my virtual Mii.

***

BISTRO TRUCK

Dijon Chicken w/Couscous and Side Salad- $6

5th Avenue bet. 16th and 17th Sts. (Mon-Sat 11:30-6:30 only)

NQR456L to 14th St Union Sq. 1 to 18th St.


Following

March 15, 2011

It had already been kind of a stressful night.

Not that it should have been. As my mother told me later, I was doing everything that I should be doing, in the sort of way that I myself make checklists for myself, take stock at myself, travel the way my internal compass points however inexplicable or wrong it may end up being.

I blame improv as the enabler: in improv, you make a big choice and then deal with the fallout later.

In life, the big choices are less easy to make and the fallout doesn’t go away when the teacher says “scene”.

Anyway, it shouldn’t have been stressful. It should have been fine.

I found myself on set on a PBS documentary set at the Waldorf, in a situation that itself could have been stressful, I guess.

There was the feeling of a return and the sense of duty or need to succeed that comes with that, the idea that I was returning to a day job in the film industry after my experience running from my last job that had tender-and-brutalized me before sending me into the scuzzy arms of an art-house movie theater, which now seemed mostly filled with coworkers who found me neither funny nor attractive.

There was the sense returning on to set, setting up C-stands awkwardly, curling them on the floor, that I was being watched with everything I was doing. That they would see my inability to wrestle with these steel objects and expel me to movie theater hell.

But none of this happened. Everyone was perfectly nice and supportive of me. The shoot went smoothly. They let me go home early and gave me a bag of cookies to take home, like I had gone to play at a friend’s house.

But it was also not permanent and the truth was, I was back to doing a double at the theater tomorrow.

Results: inconclusive.

But nice enough for now.

Still, even with my somewhat dreamy time on set, Firewire download-transfers speed up for no man and I was late to my improv practice group.

Along the way, all day, I had been getting text messages and emails from people in my practice group, jumping like from a boat, while  one, sadly deluded, member was sending me Facebook messages about the performances my group could be doing.

“We’ll see if any of them show up.” I told her.

Enough of them did, though the lamest excuse I got was an email from the person who was supposed to be running the group saying he “had to be at a concert”, a sentiment whose earnestness I questioned, given that he didn’t tell me he “had to be at a concert” after any of the last three emails I sent him.

Anyway, I yelled about that to my whole group, wasting more time and then again on the street and then again later when Matt Chao took me out to Hill Country Chicken to calm me down.

“11 minutes in!” I told him. “Who has to be at a concert anyway?”

“Who cares? Isn’t this more your improv group at this point? You’ve been going to more of them?” Matt said with his big Matt grin, staring stoop-down at the sidewalk. “Also, you have a job now. Isn’t that cool?”

Actually, Matt had set me up with the PBS job, a signal of how well he was doing after his two years of slave (intern) labor at PBS; he was now such a public-tv hottie, he could pawn off producers wanting him on his less-attractive friends.

“Maybe, but I’m not much one for the improv coup d’etat.” I replied, before we reached the chicken-bone door.

I had been struggling also at that point to deal with the tweets and the other things that were coming my way as the Bravo episode I wasn’t watching unfolded.

I had gotten into a fight already (and made up) over my mother’s anger at how I was portrayed on the clip from the episode that was online (she was angry B was “snarky” to me), but now I dealt with everything from people asking me for vegan recommendations to Facebook girls telling me “I’m your soulmate let’s meet up immediately” (“Who said that? Can we see this girl? Where does she live?” My quasi-returned quasi-roommate John Beamer asked.)

“I dunno.” I told Matt as I dipped my chicken tender in three different kinds of sauces (Honey Mustard, Hot Sauce, Ketchup) “I guess I appreciate it, but it’s not what I’m looking for.”

“Which is what?” Matt asked me in a dead-pan near un-interest as he picked the chicken out of his “Kickin’ Chicken Salad”.

“Fuck if I know. Someone who meets me to just like me for who I am. I don’t know what to do with virtual affirmations.”

“That’s cool.” Matt replied as I dipped another tender. When I turned around to toss out some empty containers, Matt grabbed my phone and started pining over his crush, looking at her on facebook.

“Stop that.”

“I’m just logging out!”

“Is she in a Super-Mario costume?”

“THOSE ARE MY PICTURES!”

I logged Matt out as we walked together toward the train, shuffle-stepping like at least, for whatever else, we still didn’t know what, really, to do.

***

And then for everything else, my ex-girlfriend came strolling into my subway car on the E train back from Grand Central.

And she said “Hi, Nick.”

“In all the subway cars, in all the world…” I thought, making poor-man’s Casablanca references of my life.

My love-life, rarely a topic of jubilance on my behalf, has been going not much better since I got dissed by two girls in a week and realized that I was the sort of guy my taken lady-friends wouldn’t set up someone they knew on a date with (I heard that’s how dating used to work).

But other than the ladies sending me amorous arrows from across the webs, I only had a couple girls say they might be up for meeting me and in all of the discussions the word “creepy” came up though, to be fair, I was the one who used it.

But then there was Eva sitting next to me, wearing lipstick and a dress, looking good.

“Hi Eva. You look good.” I told her. A test. What would she say?

“Thank you.” She replied. She didn’t tell me I looked good. Why did I need that from her, all of then now?

We talked for what could only have been a couple minutes as we sat on that E train, as we talked about stand-up comedians and I told her all the run-ins I’d had, since I last saw her.

It was my stop too soon, or just soon, I had barely looked at her. She had moved to touch me a couple times. There were the spaces where she would have touched me to congratulate me.

Hanging out with Andy Kindler. Having Colin Quinn recognize me on stage.

“Wow,” She exclaimed. “It sounds like your life is going great!.”

And she finally touched me, a punch to the shoulder.

“Yeah.” I replied. “Bye Eva.”

“Bye Nick.” I heard from behind me. But I didn’t turn around.

I exited the station.

Then went back downstairs as I heard the train leaving and took that picture.

Sometimes we want to capture a moment without risking ourselves.

Sometimes it’s just easier to take that picture when the doors closed.

And then the train was just, gone.

***

Andrew Parrish is a douchebag.

I should just say that up-front.

Now, I have a long standing, really meaning-less beef with the guy, stemming back from a time we both starred in an experimental film made by Ro-bearded Malone (his future roommate), called Our Friend Baldwin where I played Baldwin, a romantic novelist who is writing a pice of historical fiction set between the two Kennedy assassinations and he plays my hot friend who fucks a lot, sometimes while wearing a Richard Nixon mask.

The beef is this: We were both on set, we were sitting in a hallway-staircase and in a burst of spontaneous confession, I told him that I had been crushing on a girl from my playwriting class and asked his advice on how to woo her, which he gave willingly, never revealing that the lady in question and him were hooking up and soon dating.

Flash-forward, the girl’s gone, he apologized profusely and admitted his mistake, I forgave him and was the bigger man.

But now here he is still with a six-pack and a hot-ass haute-theater girlfriend and here I am. writing tweets from my work-place about the cost of water-bottles.

Dick move, amirite?

Anyway, Andrew is still endless sorry for it, or at least he likes hanging out with me, so while usual suspects Rob and Chadd Harbold (who drunkenly/loudly confessed his love for me and my potential as “the next that tour guy whose name sound like Skeet Ulrich, except it isn’t”) were out of town living it up at SXSW, Andrew came out and supported me at my improv show, saw a movie with me on a Sunday morning no one was awake for and even met me at Faicco’s to get some food before the flick.

It was the first time I’d been back there in a while and the first time EVER I’d noticed a “Daily Specials” notice listed on their board.

Faicco’s, for those of you who don’t know, is a wonderful Italian specialties store, like the kind that runs around Bensonhurst and is all but extinct in Little Italy. It is one of a few relics on Bleecker St (Ottomanelli’s Rocco’s) of the old West Village, an Italian WWII-era nabe. As such, it’s real/authentic down to the early close Sunday for mass.

“Chicken Parm!” I exclaimed to Andrew and the bilboard and the sandwich man under the board. “Impossible! You guys don’t have a toaster here! I’ve been told!”

“Actually, we do have a small convection oven.” Sandwich Man said in a wise-guy-movie accent.

“Nuh-uh! I would always ask you guys if you could reheat the Chicken Parms from the display case.”

“Yeah, we don’t do that.” He replied cryptically. And somehow that was the final statement on that.

“I’ll have the other special.” Andrew said, looking up at the board, at an offer of a 9-buck Chicken Cutlet, Pesto and Fresh Mozz Hero.

“Me too! Can we get it toasted?” I asked, eager.

The sandwich man nodded.

“You want a meltdown?” He asked Andrew.

“Uh–” Andrew replied.

“Yes!” I interceded. “His answer is yes.”

The Sandwich Man nodded sagely and in minutes our sandwiches were handed to us warm, foil-wrapped.

“Where do we go to eat these?” Andrew asked as we strolled down Bleecker, sandwich-bound.

“Father Demo.” I replied. “Old as hell.”

I could say that the ‘wich wasn’t as good as my classic (Chic. Cutlet, Fresh Mozz, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Garlicky- Oil from SDT, Vinegar) but it was also damn good as Andrew and I both experienced sitting on that pigeon-nested bench in Father Demo.

The unseen toaster gave it a crunch and a new vitality that would have come too if we had arrived an hour earlier, when the cutlets were fresh-fried off.

“This is great.” Andrew commented.

“Fuck you, Andrew. Your girlfriend’s hot.” I replied food-in-mouth.

“You know, Nick, you’re right,” He replied in his “I’m the professor who fucks my students” kind of way. “That really has a lot to do with the situation at hand and what I said. Also, I don’t know, thanks?”

“No problem.” I replied, food-stil-in-mouth.

At least we got good seats for the movie.

***

FAICCO’S PORK STORE

Chicken Cutlet w/Homemade Pesto Sauce and Fresh Mozzarella on a Toasted Seeded Semolina Roll (that last part is important)- $9.00

Bleecker St bet. 6th and 7th Aves.

ACEBDFM to West 4th St. 1 to Christopher St.

 


Periods of Frustration

January 24, 2011

What are you supposed to do when you no longer know why you’re at a place?

Me, I go try to find food.

I’ve been at this “internship” for quite a few months now, hooked up by my mom, as a bulwark I guess, to doing nothing.

My dad keeps on insisting it’s for the best, that these people are “connected” and that somehow, they’ll find some way to “hook you up”.

My experience has been though, that internships never “hook you up”, they use all they can out of you until they use no more, or failing that, hire you out of desperation for everyone else quitting.

One might call this cynical, but considering that a woman I worked a year for, for free, didn’t cast me as “Sleeping Roommate”, a part which would have gotten me signed to my agency, you’ll forgive me for having a dim view of internships.

At this current one, I don’t even know what I’m doing or why I’m there, failing even the pretense of “advancement in my industry” which appeals to so many people who seek these things out.

At some point, I just wanted to get away.

So I went to Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s true, I didn’t mean to. I wanted to go to the Empanada cart, staged over by Atlantic Terminal, that gives good-fried-packets for just around 2 dollars, but they were gone, maybe driven away by whatever frost there was that day and so I tried the place I’d heard about, thinking that if they advertised Chicken, they might not be so objectionable.

I was pretty wrong.

The nuggets I brought back (“boneless wings”) to the office, were crispy, sickly-sweet and over-spiced. Frank, my best friend, a Brooklynite, had tried them before and mocked me for thinking they’d be anything else.

“McDonalds is better.” Frank tossed around harshly.

I told him I thought they were better than the McDonald Chicken Nuggets (which now contain no chicken), but not by much.

I was excited for some celery that came with it, which I dipped a little in the bleu cheese dressing.

I did some research that day at the internship.

But I don’t know what for.

***

When I went to Union Hall last night to meet Eva to see a comedy show, she sent me a text message that I got when I was two blocks away and I sent one back in reply.

Just checking in with each other, seeing where we were.

The comedy was good, some funny people. Eugene Mirman, A.D. Miles and Mike DeStefano, whose fame from his recent “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast seems to have given him a worthy boost in a career that seemed doomed to pigeon-holing, playing wise-guys.

I kept looking over at Eva though, checking to see that she found the same things funny as me, seeing that she liked her drink, or the atmosphere.

Wanting to know that she liked being with me.

“Sure, I saw my ex plenty of times after we broke up.” Andy told me, changing in the locker room. He had gotten off to a bad start that day, combating the hangover he seemed ever-locked in struggle with.

“It’s the same sort of thing every time. They dance around the decision they made. ‘Did I do the right thing? Was I right? Is this better?’ Until they realize: ‘Oh wait, I guess I did make the right decision. Cool then.”

“I’m worried.” I told Andy, “I’m worried I’m not ready for this.”

“Well, you already said you do it.” said Andy, straightening his shirt. “Just be aware of it. See if you’re getting in to the same routine. Realize she’s not that for you anymore. She’s just an acquaintance.”

I wanted to say when Andy said this that I couldn’t do that, but he was out, gone to fresh air, to feel better, away from work.

And of course I couldn’t feel like Eva was acquaintance, just another friend. How do you look at someone who you shared so much of your life with, taste and trust, someone who accepted you fully and you helped them– how do you look at that person and see them as anything else?

In the end I couldn’t. I made jokes and enjoyed the comedy and drank too much and bought her a few.

I told A.D. Miles “a toast to red-heads”, when Eva told me he was pretty sure his hair was blond, a testament to my color-blindness.

We talked and took the same train and played the same games as she kept trying to pay me for drinks and I kept trying to hide the money in her bag and down her dress.

Yeah, she wore a nice dress and looked very pretty.

We talked for a bit about the dating websites we were on and looking for other people and she told me her “headless body” had gotten a lot of messages, while I told her I hadn’t been too happy with what I’d found.

I gave her my stand-up set, I laughed at her jokes, I admonished her when she self-deprecated, or said people didn’t think she was pretty.

“Well, they’re going to see your face eventually.” I told her. And she agreed.

We sat together on the train and talked some more and right before her stop, I had already started crying, though I don’t think she noticed.

The whole night had gone through and there I was with her about to leave, still not loving me.

It’s hard to see someone’s face, their same face, their same expressions and know that their happiness is no longer for you.

I cried home, on the subway and in bed. To the public, I blame the whiskey.

In bed, Dan Pleck got on the phone with me, texting fast, telling me that trying to recapture first love is like “chasing the dragon”, a high that never comes again.

Mostly, I just felt like a junkie.

I woke up and watched the second-to-last episode of Deadwood and was fine.

***

When I introduced myself in my Writing for SNL class, I blew myself up a little bit.

“Well, I’ve interned for The Colbert Report, pitched some web videos and acted in one, have done some web comedy, was on Letterman, made a short film, that kind of stuff.”

I then followed that up with: “All of this might sound like I’m a pretty good sketch writer, which unfortunately is not the case.”

In fact, I’m a terrible sketch writer, much worse at it than I am even at improv, which I once also felt terrible at.

In my Writing for SNL class, people have started to come around to me, but in my arguably more important Sketch Level 2 class at The Magnet, where some of our sketches will end up in a show, I’ve written something new every week and brought it in, only for it to die.

In some ways, I’m grateful for this. I understand the necessity of learning a craft and, particularly, learning from failures, as early successes can bolster you towards levels of confidence unearned.

It also afforded me chances to run away from class during breaks, where I found a nice Italian deli for a low-cost Chicken Parm, some consolation.

When I went out this past week, with some co-workers after a long shift, I told a beautiful young lady I work with, still in college, not to be so hard on herself, as she told me of her depression and her art.

“What’s there to feel sorry about?” I asked her. “What you do now might not be what you do later, might not even be what you want. As you change, so do your desires, naturally. And there is no shame in that. So for now, take the gift that’s offered you and experiment and try and work hard, as you can and enjoy yourself. The stakes are low, or only as high as you set them, so live with the passion you have.”

Or at least what I hope I said. I had drunk a couple beers at that point.

Anyway, I was ok with dying in that class every week, though I felt like I let my teacher down, Armando, who said he saw in potential in me: “the funny midi-chlorians”, as he put it.

So I wrote him an email, which I got a reply to last night on my… I don’t want to call it a “not-date”, with Eva.

I had acknowledged that I had much to learn about writing sketches and that it was frustrating, given that I felt more confident about my other forms of writing. I told him I knew I had to learn, but that I was worried about the upcoming show and writing something that was good enough.

“Isn’t there anything I can do,” I asked him. “To learn this faster, to be better at this, in time?”

“Nicholas,” He replied. “There is a time in any learning process where there is a period of frustration. The key is to keep plugging away. Eventually comes the day when you wake up and it comes together. But all you can do is keep at it and have faith. There is no special step, just persistence.”

Not to make a metaphor out of a molehill, but I think you see what I mean.

***

SALUMERIA BIELESE

“Small” Chicken Parm- $6.50

SE Corner of 29th St and 8th Ave. (near The Magnet Theater)

ACE to 34th St- Penn Station. 1 to 28th St.


Stood Up

January 19, 2011

I posted this picture to my dating profile the other day.

I had only recently gotten back this sweater, one given back to me when Eva had come over for our talk a couple weeks back now.

I hadn’t had occasion to wear it, in the morning tussle that usually started with either writing or pulling myself together for work and ended, largely, with wearing the same clothes I did yesterday.

But it was a Sunday night and I felt like maybe going out and my green sweater smelled like beer anyway, which is the peril of going out in sweaters to bars in the wintertime.

I had always thought I looked good in this sweater though, a real cashmere affair that was given to me by either my mom or my grandma. Somehow, I felt skinnier in it, felt I looked cooler in it, somehow felt like it made me more attractive or more put together. I’d imagine that much of that is the belief as opposed to the wear, “the man not the clothes”, but whatever gives you confidence is probably worth taking some note of.

My online dating profile got this picture because I still had big hair on the picture I had there and I hadn’t heard back from the girl I’d gone on one good karaoke date with, so I figured, “on to the next one”, as it was and that I’d have to be looking my best to try to attract the ladies.

I wrote a bad sketch which I was proud of writing (since I wrote anything at all) for my Saturday sketch class and it died rightfully in the class, but the sketch in my Wednesday class went over well, which was almost harder to take. It was a fake commercial for a pill called “Ex-static” which “triggers off that unique blend of sadness and arousal” brought about by thinking of your ex to provide a shock to one’s testicles, as a sort of Pavlovian method for break-up redemption. The premise, which we are required to read at the end of all of our sketches, was that “guys who talk about their exes all the times bring everyone else down and should be treated like dogs or goats or something”. I believe that was it, verbatim.

I’d like to say I’m not sure where that leaves me, but I’m pretty sure I do know: in a puddle of barely disguised self-disgust.

“Shouldn’t I not be feeling this way, 2 months out?” I asked my therapist, in the increasingly interrogative tone of our sessions.

“A year out, I might say that’s a very extended bereavement period.” She replied. “For now, I’d just say, you really loved her. How you feel is how you should, for that.”

I find myself reaching every day towards Eva, her popping into my mind, in the blank moments of walking or waiting where I would reach for the comfort of her love, of my love for her, confirmed or returned. It’s when I shunt these thoughts away that I go online to try to find people, that I feel compelled to make a connection.

I need something to fill that gap, so I’m not just reaching for what’s not there.

I felt good wearing that sweater and good about the picture. My hair’s looking ok on a day-to-day basis.

I’m not smiling there, but I don’t know if that’s ok. It’s hard to put yourself out there like that, talking to people you don’t know, pitching you.

Why should I be smiling, for the thought of that?

***

I tried stand-up for the first time last night and I wish I’d had someone take a picture.

They put me on second and I think I did pretty well.

I’d been seeing stand-up shows for a while now, the free ones at the UCB and people had often told me I had the right personality for it, a thought only countervailed by the many “wannabe-stand-ups” I had seen in my time and at open mikes. It was a profession that seemed, if possible, more painful than “wannabe actor” a position I found myself somewhat in the role of, after mocking it for my whole film-school career.

I texted a few people to come out and support me, the opposite of few-times quasi-roommate John Beamer, who shied away from anyone but me coming, so as to not have that social pressure.

I, on the other hand, am a multi-dependent mess and I appreciated the company.

Zach Weintraub, Andy Roehm and a surprisingly supportive Jonny-Jon-Jon Fostar all came out to see me and sat through my 3-minute set and everyone else’s at the PIT’s Tuesday open mike.

Robert Malone and his beard were notably absent, later telling me they was too busy “watching Snake Eyes on the couch with roommates”.

It was nice to see Andy there, since I felt like the more I worked with him at the Angelika the less time I had to be friends with him and Zach, who one of my coworkers hit on the last time he came by my work, was notable for showing up after a series of “maybe-no”s to other plans I’d had for weeks.

Jonny-Jon-Jon though came early, talked through a bit of my set with me and kept giving me reassurance, even laughed at all my jokes from the back.

“Would it be better if I fake laughed or just tried to laugh anonymously along with other people?” He asked.

“Just do what’s in your heart.” I told him.

To which he replied: “Right, nothing!”

“Hello, everyone. I’m Nicholas Feitel, it’s nice to meet you.” I said up there on stage.

“I should just say, I’m not a stand-up. I’ve never done this before. My girlfriend was an aspiring stand-up. And, uh. Then she dumped me. So. Here I am then. Good for you guys, I think.”

That got a good laugh, which was nice because I thought it was funny, practicing it that morning in the movie theater box office, but I couldn’t really figure out why.

My set was only 3 minutes, but I had a fair amount of laughs and I beat my “1 solid laugh” expectation that I had been holding. By the end of the night, I was trying to not to be pissed I didn’t get nominated for the “best joke” award that came with a free beer, just trying to remind myself it was my first time.

“I was solidly depressed by it!” was Jonny-Jon-Jon’s review as we walked out of the PIT. But my friends all backed me up and said it was good.

We all ended up walking for a while as Jonny-Jon-Jon turned off first, to undisclosed locations, Andy talking about projecting at the movie theater, before hopping on to the L. I had the longest time with Zach, while we discussed his own girlfriend, a Michig-onian named Jenny, who was pretty cool, but was now in Kalamazoo for two more years, while Zach was bound to Argentina in three weeks.

“I’m a little hesitant to say this, given past accusations.” I said. “But did you guys discuss this?

“No.” He said, but in the sort of optimistic way I couldn’t help but admire while judging it for stupid.

In the end, the last stretch. I walked home alone, trudging in boots, video-game system in hand.

The decision to try stand-up hadn’t come with much pre-meditation, or long thought or a career choice.

It was more just feeling like I wanted more to happen in my life.

It’s nice to know when you feel that way, that they’ll be more people onboard.

***

I had lunch with J-Sam Bakken the other day, whose been dating on-and-off with more success than I have.

After all, he plays the guitar and teaches children.

He’s a regular Raffi or Mr. Rodgers or something.

We met at Torrisi Italian Specialties, a place I’d been before, but was suitable for an inexpensive lunch with sit-down elements and no tip required.

J-Sam was excited to try the place, but he also was grilling me for tips on an improv comedy mini-curriculum he was planning for his inner-city 6th grade class he was going to teach.

“It’s pretty simple.” I told him. “It’s just like conversation, agreeing with people and adding what you have to say. That’s what improv is, the same way.”

While I didn’t know if I was the best person to explain it to him, I at least went through some of the structure of the things I’d done in shows and classes before with him, while waiting fo our meals to come.

J-Sam got, at my recommendation, the house-roasted turkey, the shop’s specialty, which is probably the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever had, beating even Katz’s. I tried the Eggplant Parm, alone, no bun, since they only had it in the winter and I’d already had the Chicken Parm and the aforementioned turkey sandwich.

We both got a side of brussel sprouts.

The eggplant parm was surprisingly excellent. “Surprisingly, you say?” a reader might ask, but I don’t look to eggplant parms as a real solid meal, more like a delicious appetizer before a bowl of pasta, as I’d had it in Italy.

But this eggplant parm was made like lasagna, layered with delicious fried eggplant and mozz and sauce, and doled out in hefty slices, that gave it a textural interest, like a casserole.

J-Sam was jealous. “I’ll get more of that next time.” He said enviously, as we swapped small bites of our food as I’m oft liable to do with fellow eaters.

The brussels sprouts were good, with red onion and a parmesan-like cheese, but lacked the toasty warmth that would have made them excellent.

“It’s all about getting people to agree, to not be self-conscious.” I told J-Sam. “To just let loose and accept what they’re going to do, without self-criticism.”

“And look how well that’s worked for you.” J-Sam said, un-ironically.

“Yeah.” I replied and finished my food.

***

TORRISI ITALIAN SPECIALTIES

Eggplant Parm w/side of Brussels Sprouts- $14 (Winter months only)

Mulberry St. bet Prince and Spring Sts.

NR to Prince St. 6 to Spring St.