It’s Not Easy Being Green

In honor of Earth Day, I downloaded a book I’ve been meaning to read for months called ‘The Zero Waste Home’ written by one of my favorite bloggers Bea Johnson.  It’s all about sustainable living and creating less waste in our daily lives.  Zero waste, in fact.

Marjory the Trash Heap

[Remember Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock? Real trash is much less adorable.]

Because I am the highly suggestible type, this book got me all sorts of motivated to embark on a greener lifestyle.  For example…

  •       I donated all my plastic storage containers and replaced them with reusable, environmentally friendly, microwave safe glass.  (Okay, so I haven’t actually done that yet, but I fully intend to – and that totally counts.)
  •       I bring a reusable travel mug with me every time I go to the coffee shop…except on the days when I forget, or my travel mug is in the dishwasher.
  •       I recycle the heck out of my trash. By which I mean that I try really hard to put my recyclables in the designated bins in the trash room in the basement of my building, but it doesn’t always happen because the recycling bins are pretty far away from the trash room door and our trash room is REALLY gross and smelly and full of feral cats so I won’t actually set foot in there if I can help it.  I usually just stand in the doorway, throw the bags in the general direction of the bins and hope for the best. Because I care.

So yeah, I’m pretty much the best environmentalist ever.  I am all about the greenness of my environs and that of the wider world…or at least the parts of it that I hope to visit someday.  Which is why I got so mad this morning when I was confronted with an ALS – Active Littering Situation.

I’m walking down Broadway on the way to my favorite café, reusable mug in hand, when I noticed the man walking in front of me crumple up the wrapper of his disposable drinking straw and casually drop it on the ground.  I am instantly enraged, especially because on this particular section of Broadway there is literally a trashcan on every street corner.  There were two of them not twenty feet from where this lazy, careless, d-bag dropped his trash.

Naturally, I seized the opportunity to flaunt my newfound environmentalism.

However, because I was full of righteous indignation at the time and have very little patience in general, rather than engage this individual in a thoughtful conversation about his choice to sully our fair city with his refuse, I bent down, picked up the straw wrapper and yelled at him.

Hey, asshole!  Is it really so hard to throw your trash in a garbage can? I mean, it’s literally right there.

Then I marched past him, nose in the air, and in a totally passive aggressive and exaggerated manner, placed his trash in the can.

Only then did I turn to look at him to see if the message had been received.

What I saw was a thoroughly confused Mexican man…who also had Down syndrome.

Sarah – 0

Universe – 1

Even when I try to be good, I’m the worst.  Kermit was right.  It’s not easy being green.

Kermit mad face

I’m pretty sure that John Wayne Gacy Jr. is living in my neighborhood and that he’s stalking me.

You heard me. Seems unlikely, you say? Well let’s take a look at the facts: JWG lives in Illinois, prefers the company of teenage boys, looks nothing like the neighbor in question and has been dead for nearly twenty years.

Okay so it’s probably not him.

IMG_3826But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve encountered a creepy-looking clown on the subway no less than three times this week. Always at the same times, too (around 9:30am or 6:30pm). That can’t be a coincidence. I mean, I lived across the street from my friend Jim for three years and we never ran into each other even once! Now I suddenly run into a sketchy sad clown-man three times in as many days? No way.

I think the only reasonable explanation is that I am definitely being stalked and I’m probably going to wind up in a dumpster behind some greasy spoon diner out on Staten Island.

That, or he’s some poor middle-aged schmo staring blankly at his fellow train passengers through dead eyes wondering where his life went wrong…and we just happened to have the same work schedule. Either way.

Oh, that reminds me! I forgot to tell you that I found a job! Well, ‘found’ probably isn’t the right word as it implies that I was actually looking for a job, which, of course, I wasn’t. This job sort of found me. A friend of a friend’s mother’s cousin’s business partner was looking for a ‘reliable and trustworthy’ person to work as a temporary receptionist at her small law firm, and since it’s only for two weeks, it pays really well and requires almost no effort on my part, I jumped at the opportunity.


[Look how office-y I am! I have a stapler and everything!]

Today has been pretty slow so far. Neither of the bosses are here so I’m alone in the office. I had to open and close all by myself. I know, right? They gave me a key after knowing me for only five minutes! I guess I must exude reliability and trustworthiness or something. They’ll probably come to regret that decision when they come back on Monday to find their supply closet thoroughly depleted. (I’ve always had a weakness for school/office supplies.)

No, I’m not really going to steal anything. I’m far too busy and important to be pilfering pens, post-it pads and binder clips.

Speaking of, I’d better run out the clock get back to work. Lots to do. I’ve got to finish this blog, re-organize all my paper clips by size and color, and nudge the mouse on the office computer to keep it from falling asleep in case I have to use again later. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I might try to move my stapler over to the left side of my computer. Sit with that for a while. See how I feel.

Then I’m going to reward myself for all my hard work with some online shopping. There’s a super cute vintage yellow dress that I’ve had my eye on for a few months now and oh my god I think it just went on sale…

Sorry. I got distracted by something shiny. Back now. And I have a new dress to wear to my friend’s wedding!


Here’s hoping I don’t get stabbed by a killer clown on the subway and I get a chance to wear it!



p.s. It took some serious effort to post this. Because I’m way too paranoid to use the office computer for anything non-office related, I had to turn my phone into a wi-fi hotspot so I could use my laptop. What would the lawyers think if they came back on Monday and found ‘John Wayne Gacy Jr. sill alive,’ ‘NYC subway clown killer’ and ‘killer clown images’ in my browsing history? Maybe I should find out…

You a fat ass ho!

That’s the delightful manner in which I was roused from slumber this morning.

Picture it: Harlem, 7am – an irate man screaming obscenities at a young woman in the middle of the street, directly beneath my open bedroom window.


From what I could glean in my sleep-dulled haze, Rhonda* has been cheating on her longterm boyfriend Jamal* for the past several months and Jamal just found out about it.

[*Names have been made up on account of I don’t actually know these people.]

Rhonda, waiting at the bus stop, is either not speaking to Jamal, or is speaking in a reasonable tone rendering her inaudible from my vantage point.

In contrast, Jamal is screaming his fucking face off.

‘I been wit you for five years! FIVE YEARS! And this is how it is?’

I don’t know if Rhonda responded or not, but she briskly walked away from the bus stop (and Jamal) to the street corner in order to hail a cab. (Yes, obviously I was spying on them from my bedroom window. What?)

Jamal follows and continues to yell.

‘You don’t walk away from me, bitch! You don’t walk away from ME! I don’t need this! You a fat ass ho!’

Then Rhonda hopped in the cab, Jamal moved on to another block and the show ended rather abruptly, which sucks because I hate unresolved love stories.

Sadly, this sort of thing happens all the time. It’s par for the course when you live above a Mexican restaurant/bar that serves drinks until 4am, because drunk people LOVE yelling.

It is slightly rarer, though not unprecedented, to be treated to a screaming match in front of the bus stop (also conveniently located just outside my window) first thing on a Wednesday morning.

On the bright side, situations like this really make me want to sing:

‘It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Please won’t you be my neighbor?’

Good morning, Harlem!

Laundry Day

Just so you don’t think I’m totally gross after my last post….

There is one chore that I’ve managed to keep up with this month – laundry. I actually really enjoy doing laundry. Mostly because apart from loading the machine, I don’t actually have to do anything. (Oddly, this same feeling does not carry over to loading the dishwasher, but that’s a subject for another post.) Also, laundry fresh from the dryer is one of my all time favorite smells.

Even on the days when getting out of bed seemed like too much effort to bother with, I somehow managed to get my laundry done. I guess that is a testament to my frugal personality rather than some insatiable need for clean clothes. See, I’ve been driving back and forth from New York to Massachusetts a lot lately, and no matter how sluggish I feel, I can’t seem to pass up an opportunity to do my laundry at home, for free.

That’s right. I would rather drive my dirty clothes across state lines than walk them around the corner to the Chinese Laundromat on the next block. I absolutely loathe not having a washer/dryer in my apartment. We tried to get the owner of the building to put in a washer/dryer hookup in the bathroom when they were renovating the apartment back in 2008, but they wouldn’t do it. Something, something flood insurance, blah, blah, business downstairs…you get the idea.

So in the weeks when I don’t have any immediate plans to go home for a visit and a massive laundry-doing sesh, I go to the dirtiest, darkest, ghetto-iest Laundromat in West Harlem.


[Note: there is a newer, cleaner, nicer laundry place just a few blocks away on Amsterdam Ave, but every time I stop by, no one is working there. (I tend to do my laundry at night.) Their machines use cards instead of quarters, but the stupid card dispensing machine is always broken so I’ve never been able to buy one (the two times I tried.) So unless you’re lucky enough to be able to purchase a card with like…$500 on it because you’re never going to be able to refill your card using the stupid, broken machine ever again, then you’re shit out of luck. I have no patience for such things, so I vowed never to go to there again. Also, you have to walk uphill to get there so….]

Chinese laundry it is!

I’ve outlined a typical trip to my neighborhood laundromat in the following handy twelve step program:

rolling cartStep one: Pile all your dirty clothes into a collapsable, metal, rolling cart. (All the old ladies in the hood have one – mine is red.)

Step two: Maneuver said cart down the steps of your apartment building, through the most ill-conceived entryway known to man.

Step three: Roll your rickety, piece of shit cart around the corner, up one block and down a ramp to the dark and decidedly sketchy laundry place.

Step four: Hand over some cash to the mute Chinese lady at the counter and receive a plastic detergent cap full of quarters in return.

Step five: Find an empty machine. This step can prove daunting if you prefer to do your laundry during times when most normal people are awake. On weekends? Forget about it.

Step six: Stand around and wait for a machine.

Step seven: Once a vacant machine is acquired, try not to notice how disgusting it is (and how much money it costs) before putting your clothes in.

Step eight: Guard that motherfucking machine with your life. Most people pull up chairs and sit directly in front of their machine(s). It’s not that people will steal your shit (they will) it’s more of a territory thing. This laundromat isn’t one of those places where you can throw your clothes in, go next door for a cup of coffee and come back when it’s done. Oh no. God help you if that machine buzzes before you get back because people will take your shit out and throw it into a random cart, or on the floor, or wherever. One time I left for a few minutes while my stuff was in the dryer and some unsupervised, asshole kid threw a wad of chewing gum into the machine. Ruined my best sheets. Lesson learned.

Step nine: Repeat steps six through eight.

Step ten: Sit around for what feels like an eternity while you wait for your clothes to dry. This part is always the worst because at this particular laundromat entertainment options are rather limited. Much of your sitting around time will be spent shifting your chair and about a million carts around the impossibly cramped room in an ever-changing game of laundromat Tetris. This activity is always more frustrating than entertaining for me. You’ll also have to fend off the roving bands of Asian ladies selling bootleg DVDs. There are two televisions in the room, but one is always tuned to strange Chinese game shows while the other alternates between telenovelas and Mexican variety shows. I usually bring a book.

Step eleven: Remove your clothes from the dryer. Try not to be discouraged by the fact that they now inexplicably smell like a combination of burnt rubber and wet dog. DO NOT fold your laundry at the ghetto laundromat! I cannot stress this point enough. You really don’t want your clothes touching any of the surfaces in that place once they are (marginally) clean.

Step twelve: Maneuver your heavily laden cart back to your crappy apartment and wish you lived in a better neighborhood.

So that’s what it’s like to do laundry in West Harlem. Now do you see why I’d rather let my laundry pile up for weeks or go out and buy new underwear than do my laundry in the hood?

And yes ma, I will pick up more detergent the next time I come home.

Adieu, notre petite crêperie

Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Plick’s Waffles and Crepes, my confectionary mecca, the place I would go to pray at least once a day – sometimes twice – has closed.  It is a sad, sad day in Harlem.

Actually, it was a sad day about three weeks ago because that’s technically when it happened.  I’ve just been so badass about my paleo diet that I didn’t notice until today.  My roommate said that they closed sometime during the two weeks when I was at the Cape…coincidence?  I think not.