About Me

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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

3.31.2008



When I was a teen looking for a summer job the only real option was to work at the Gilded Pigeon Beach Club.* One of two beach clubs at the western-most tip of my peninsula, it was the closest to my house and within reasonable biking distance for me. Nearly everyone I knew worked there at some point in their life, whether as a lifeguard, maintenance worker, or cafeteria staff, and I spent my first year in the club as one of the camp counselors. I worked with "3" year olds, who were adorable, enjoyable, and most definitely not potty trained or actually 3 years old yet. I loved working with the kids, but the hourly pay was low. we relied mostly on tips, but a majority of the grimey parents would simply not send their kids in on tip days. This made my weekly pay sometimes around $80. At 16 I didn't have many expenses, but that was the summer I started to deposit my salary into one of the local brew halls around town, and eighty bucks for the week could not afford me many Amaretidori sours or Smirnoff ices or whatever it was I drank back then at the Tap and Grill. Also, I was growing tired of getting peed on. After one summer in the camp, I made the decision to leave the kiddies behind. I decided to take a chance and interview for what I considered to be my dream Golden Pigeon gig--working the Gate. I wanted the gate job because it was a step-up from camp counselor--a job so hated by the other workers that we weren't even invited to the employee party--and a good chance to continue my rise on the Gilded Pigeon ladder of success.

The hierarchy of coolness with the jobs went like this : Camp Counselor & Maintenance worker tied for bottom, Cafeteria Worker (and within that had it's own subsystem--if you worked in the Kitchen or in the Ice Cream Stand), Register, Gate, Reception, Lifeguard, Cabana Boy/Girl, and Valet. Another reason I wanted to become a Gate Girl was the improvement on wardrobe. The polo color (maroon) was a lot more flattering than that of the camp counselor (pee yellow, in more ways than one). The club also gave you this really heavyweight sweatshirt that said SECURITY on the back--fucking badass. It was enviable. Long story short, I got the job, one of my greatest accomplishments at the age of 17. I was moving up the ladder, albeit slowly. It was only a matter of time before I was parking all the members' cars!

But before I get into that, let me go a little bit more in-depth about the Pigeon. It's a private beach club that takes their private status very seriously. Their claim to fame is that the 80s classic Flamingo Kid was filmed there, and there's a huge movie poster in the bar showcasing this. It's owned by Mr. Dom July*, a sad, lonely old man who owns a bunch of other clubs in Queens and Long Island. He was rarely seen, a seemingly mystical character who hardly ever comes out of his office; and when he does, it's to yell at a pimply deck cleaner for mopping wrong or complain that the cafeteria coffee's too weak. A favorite story of one of my friends involved him getting caught slacking off at work by July--a fate feared by many, and almost assured to get you fired. Instead of getting yelled at, he asked him if he wanted to watch the Met game with him in his air conditioned office. I don't know if this is true or not, but it just added to my own image of him, to this aura of someone so rich yet so unhappy. Below Mr. July was Ted McNulty*. Mr. McNulty was a handsome, middle-aged man who enjoys wearing pastel Polos and short khaki shorts; he is living proof that it takes a real man to wear lavender, or coral, and is high on my list of HOGs. He, too, had an air of mystery surrounding him.

The guy everybody saw too much of--from the interview, on--was a guy name Dan Ortom.* His confusing name was the first thing people remembered about him. "Did you meet with Dan Or Tom?" someone would inevitably ask after an interview. "I think I interviewed with Dan. I don't know who Tom is" was the usual response, and then someone would explain that it was one dude. Dan was a short, stocky guy who rode around the small club in a ATV: radio at one hip, Nextel at the other. As soon as you start working at the Pigeon you hear all the stories about him--how he supposedly knocked up one of the cleaning ladies, how he used to ban the female lifeguards from wearing another bathing suit under their see-through orange LG ones, how he was just a self-important whooping boy of the club. As a counselor you could hear Dan coming a few minutes before he even parked his go-kart, and the exhaust pipe helped serve as a warning to start looking like you were paid enough to care. He was moody and impossible to please, an adult bully picked on for years by those above him and now taking it out on teens. And to perhaps sum up all of his deluded, narcissistic tendencies, he used to wear monogrammed Nike Shocks--DAN on the back of both sneakers.

Once I started working inside the gate, I saw a lot more of these three men, for better or for worse. Looking out for them was just one of the many tasks I had throughout my day in that box. Besides swiping in membership cards, selling guest passes, and casually checking trunks and backseats for hiding guests (members would do almost anything to scheme the club out of the $50 guest fee), I'd have to look out for one of Mr. July's many Cadillacs as he drove in, knowing not to stop him for a card. and remembering to look busy, pleasant, and happy to be there.

Even with all the looking-out, I enjoyed the job. The gate was like a private sanctuary, and the 4 other workers and I pimped it out with a TV, fridge, and posters. I planned my lunch breaks around All My Children and Maury; we were given free food by kind guests, stuff like Wendy's and pizza from New Park and antipasto salad from Ragtime. Sitting in that 6'X6' foot box, making small talk with the members, watching my VHS copy of Zoolander five times a day--it was my dream job. If St. John's offered a "Gate Guard" major (and snap, with THIS major now being offered, it could be possible ), I would have gotten a degree in it.

Not that I 100% got the whole point of the beach club. I never understood why people would pay such exorbitant amounts of money ($60 for a one-day guest pass? $4000/summer for a 12X12 cabana?) for something that was essentially free 2 miles down the road (especially for those members who lived in Rockaway to begin with--you got a beach on our corner!) The pools weren't even that great. And with the money most families spent paying to have them all spend the summers there they could have built a nice pool in teir own backyards. But the members loved that place. They loved their routines, their little shacks and the complaining about the stupid rules. The Gilded Pigeon was a place built on tradition and loyalty, on generations passing down the same car ride from other parts of Queens and Brooklyn. I was proud to stand guard.


My second summer working I was home from college by mid-May and as a result was one of the only gate guards working for most of June. This month, spent mostly alone, working overtime, as barely anyone came into the club, allowed me to gain some sort of clout in the gatehouse. Although it was never spoken, and it was never reflected on my paycheck, with all the responsibility I was given (making the schedule! fixing the computer!) it was clear to me that I was now The Head Gate Girl. And I took this never-discussed position very seriously. I tried to accommodate all workers when it came time to make the schedule, but I always made sure to give myself off the day after Wacky Wednesdays and the early shift on Saturdays, so I could try to be on my beach before it closed. I even started doing some work on the computer, mostly database entry, which Dan was very impressed by. All this new-found responsibility made it seem like the Club really needed me more than I needed it, which is a very good feeling to have. And I was making a little more money, hanging with my new friends, and rocking the Security polo with the collar up. Life was good

One Friday in late July I was working the early shift. It was pouring rain, but it was also Free Guest Friday, which meant the diehard members still came ("It was sunny in Brooklyn!"). At around lunchtime one of the Cabana boys came up to the gate to pick up a large pizza order from someone in his Court. When the pizza guy came, the order turned out to be bigger than they originally thought--6 or so pies, a few bags of garlic knots, plus soda and cutlery. Cabana Boy had no idea how he was going to get the pizza inside the club. "Wouldn't it be easier," the delivery casually said, "if I just drove us in with the food?"

Now the biggest rule at the Gate was to never let in any outsiders. A lot of different things were implied by the term "outsiders": people not possessing a member pass, a guess pass, or the money to pay for either; people who were too ethnic (I was honestly told once by one of the top three guys that "a good rule of thumb when deciding whether to let someone in for a tour of the club is 'no accents'"); and any food delivery people. This was the clubs way of forcing people to eat in the overpriced caf--by making it so inconvenient to order in cheaper food that they'll just give up and get the $12 Spicy Chicken sandwich. This no food rule was drilled in my brain from day one, and I was reminded of it every day as I reminded countless members of it, regardless of how big the order was.

But this day was different. Or maybe it wasn't, but I was just feeling different, because I agreed with the driver, took his license as collateral, and let him drive with Cabana Boy into the club. He returned 10 minutes later, grabbed his license and drove, and I went back to my seat and my TV. No harm, no foul.

That was until a few hours later, when the same pizza guy came back with another order. This time the actual club members were waiting for him at the gate, and they hopped in his car. As soon as they got to the window, I knew what kind of shit they'd pull.

"We'll only be a few minutes."

"Come on, you did it with him before."

"Look, he already has his license out."

"We have so much pizza!"

"Please?"

To this day I don't know why I let those assholes browbeat me into letting them drive in. First off, they didn't even offer me any of their pizza. And second, they were never that nice before--I think I might have even caught them trying to sneak a guest in once. On any other day I would have said, "I'm sorry, I'd love to, but I can't." On any other day I would have reminded them of my favorite saying--the saying I had posted on the wall of the Gate House--:"I don't make the rules, I just follow them."

But I didn't. I let those grimey-ass, pizza-grubbing heffers sit shotty as an Outsider with a Papa's Pizza sign on his car drove into the private gate of the Gilded Pigeon Beach Club. Within minutes the phone rang.

"Gate, this is Katie..."

"Who?! What?! Why do I see a delivery car? What's wrong with you?! Argghwk! Rarrrr!!!"


It was Mr. July, screaming, then hanging up, the phone. I forgot that I'd seen him drive through about an hour before. He must have been in his office, watching it all on the security cameras.

Moments later the phone rang again; this time it was Dan, asking the the other gate girl who it was that let the pizza guy in.

"He wants to see you," my coworker said, and I began the walk to the main office in the rain.

It honestly never once crossed my mind during that walk that I'd be fired. I was The Head Gate Girl. Without me, who would make the schedule? Who else would have the same witty conversations with the members? Who else would remember kids names, remember to ask about Grandma Esther who had surgery? I figured I'd get yelled at, or, at the most, moved somewhere else in the club. I was, after all, the first line of defense and a valued member of the Gilded Pigeon : Forty Years of Fun In The Sun. I was too important to get fired. Right?

Dan met me halfway in the parking lot. He didn't even have the decency to do it inside.

"Katie, why did you do it?"

(don't you just hate when bosses ask you that?)

"I'm sorry. I just...there was so much food. They couldn't carry it all."

"Well, you know our rules."

"I know, but..."

"You know we can't keep you there."

"I know, but..."

"Go back to the gate and bring me your keys."

"But..."

"... and your hoodie."


With that I turned around and started walking furiously back to the gate. I knew it then--I'd been fired. Fired. Motherfucking fired for letting in a pizza delivery guy in the rain. I felt like someone came up from behind and hit me over the head with a frying pan then punched me in the face.

Giving up the hoodie was the worst part. There are few things in your life worth carrying with you. Family and friends are one; a good, strong, comfortable hoodie is another. I started crying on the walk back, thinking of what I'd do for the rest of the summer, how it felt to get fired, to no longer feel irreplaceable, to loose a treasured piece of clothing. When I got back to the gate I made my announcement loud and clear:


"I JUST GOT FUCKING FIRED."

All the other gate girls looked shocked; I ranted and raved until I noticed Dan at the gate, looking terrified.

"Now Katie, calm down.."

"WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING CALM DOWN?!"

"Now, come on..."

"NO. FUCK YOU. THAT'S THE MOST PETTY SHIT I'VE EVER HEARD."

"I...I..."

"THEY DON'T EVEN SELL PIZZA IN THE CAFETERIA!!!"

The best part about getting fired is that you're finally given permission from the universe to say everything you've ever wanted to say to the people you've had to be quiet around for so long. There was rage in my voice, anger in my eyes. For the first and last time at the Gilded Pigeon, I had the upper hand.

"I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS!"

"NO YOU LISTEN TO ME. THIS IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS!"

He finally left and I called my mom to pick me up. When I told people later on that I got fired they'd laugh and then say, "Really? I didn't think you could get fired from there." It gave me some satisfaction knowing I did the formerly impossible, all with the added bonus of bitching out Dan Ortom. And once it all settled I learned an extremely valuable lesson.

There are few situations in life where you are truly irreplaceable. A summer job at an overpriced beach club is not one of them. Neither is any job, most athletic teams, and more relationships than we'd like to admit. I've kept this lesson with me as I've continued on since that Free Guest Friday. The Pigeon was fun while it lasted, and ended a lot differently than I hoped it would. I left that rainy afternoon angry and confused, but I moved on and got back up and accomplished bigger and better things. I'd say I never looked back but I'd be lying because this is one of my favorite stories to tell, which is something else I got out of the deal. And another thing--


I never gave back the hoodie.

3.28.2008

Archived Out Of My Life

My relationship with the internet began via AOL 2.0 and a clever yet misunderstood screen name, UltraKatie. Back in the late 90s there wasn't the social stigma for people to go in chat rooms; in fact, it was one of the only things for a 11 year old to do, other than reading TV message boards, once I finally logged on (remember back in the dial-up days? Sometimes it would take half an hour and at least 10 phone numbers to get through). With a SN like UltraKatie, though, I encountered a lot of advancements that were a little too...advanced.

"A/S/L...let's see whats so ULTRA about you ;p"

"i'm pretty ULTRA myself ;p....m/19/10 inches & a webcam..."

And so on and so on. The reason I was usually in these chat rooms in the first place, besides the fact that I was a bored preteen, was because there is something pretty cool about being able to connect all over the world. Yes, even those packing 10'(which, of course, was always a little confusing since I never knew what they were talking about). This opportunity to connect was often lost on me, however, as I usually just used the opportunity to pick chat room fights. Clare and I used to go into various rooms--Toronto Singles, Goo Goo Dolls Rule!, Vive Guedelajara--and just talk smack about whichever the focus was on. For example, a visit to any Atlanta chat room would involve things like "THE BRAVES SUCK!" and "YOU GUYS LOST THE CIVIL WAR!" and "ANDRUW JONES SUCKS!" This never went over well and we'd usually get kicked out, but we'd just move on to the next room, having our fun ("you like alanis!").

I eventually grew out of the internet taunts. I eventually grew on to bigger and better things, like profiles and AOL Homepages, and later, this blog. And if there's one thing I've learned about the WWW is that what you put on this thing never goes away. The internet is like a never ending filing cabinet of shit, of photos, of profiles, of everything; and as email services keep adding to their hard drives and expanding, it'll become even easier for certain things to never go away.

I'm addicted to my Gmail. It's an addiction that is slowly starting to wane since my job blocked the internet (!) and I can only check it at 7am and after 7pm. That's 12 hours of mail and GChat time that I'm missing out on putting in orders for spot times in Peoria, 12 hours of emails I can be sending or possibly even receiving. As you may have read a few days ago the emails I think I'm getting are actually not being sent, but you get the idea. I miss it.

I used to look forward to emails from people--friends I haven't heard from and have since started a long, cleverly-organized-by-Gmail convo with, even friends I hear plenty of but still like seeing their bolded message as I open up the page. There's something nice about a full inbox or a RE message. There's something even nicer about old emails I've never deleted, because Gmail gives me so many gigs I probably never have to. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Some of these old emails make my heart swell or make me think of different opportunities or just plain make me laugh, which is nice, and it's nice to know they are there. Some of these emails, though, just make me a little sad.

That's where Archive comes in.

Knowing me I'd never have the guts to delete these emails, but seeing them displayed on the pages of my inbox started pissing me off. So one night while sitting in bed, I went through my pages and pages of emails and Archived all the ones I didnt' want to look at anymore. And in a second they were gone, sort of. Always there via a search or a click of the "all mail" button, but for the most part, filed away in the great Google file cabinet in whatever it is the internet is made of. It's stupid of me to pretend that I'm not sitting here right now hoping for some movement in my Inbox, for a mail that'll make me smile or make me sad and that I'll read a hundred times over. But at the time it felt good seeing them disappear, even if i hope it won't be forever.

3.27.2008

<3<3<3<3<3<3





LUKE: Is that so bad? I mean, you got Rory.

LORELAI: Yes, I do.

LUKE: You got friends, you got a house, a job, apparently an iron stomach.

LORELAI: No, it’s not so bad. I’m lucky, I know. I just. . .I feel like I’m never gonna have it. . .the whole package, you know? That person, that couple life, and I swear, I hate admitting it because I fancy myself Wonder Woman, but. . .I really want it – the whole package.

[Luke puts a donut on a plate, then slides it down the counter to her]

LUKE: You’ll get it.

LORELAI: How do you know?

LUKE: I know.

LORELAI: How do you know?

LUKE: Because I know, okay? I know. Now eat your donut.

LORELAI: I’m really not very hungry.

LUKE: Well, take it with you. You will be later.

[Lorelai wraps up the donut and puts it in her purse, then pulls out some money]

LUKE: Forget it, first time customers are on the house. Mimi, was it?

LORELAI: Yeah.

LUKE: Come again, Mimi.

LORELAI: Thanks, I will. Seems like a very nice place.

3.23.2008

Stuff This White Person Doesn't Like

I'm sure you've all by now visited the Stuff White People Like website (I just read blurb about it in Time Magazine, proving that it's past the point of saturation). When I first found out about it I read all the archives, agreeing and laughing and being reminded just how white I really am, as if my pale February skin wasn't reminder enough.

It did get me thinking about all the things white people usually like that I despise. So here's a brief list.


SKIING
I feel that everybody (and by everybody I mean everybody who lives where I live) reaches an age in their life when it seems as though you're supposed to start spending every winter weekend up at Hunter Mountain. I'm not sure at what age this starts--probably around the 21-21 mark--but I just remember all of a sudden being bombarded by the word. "You going to Hunter tomorrow?" "You rent your house up in Hunter yet?" "Dude, Hunter's so fucking awesome." "Yea, I'm so sick of the Rockaway/Bay Ridge/Manhattan Rockaway Satellite Bar scene, I'm fleeing to Hunter."

Yo, first off, fuck Hunter. Why would I want to waste thousands of dollars to rent a house a few hours away just so I can hang out with the same people I'd usually see at Connolly's on a Tuesday in July? What, for the powder? Fuck skiing! That shit's terrifying. I've gone skiing three times in my life, and each experience was progressively worse. The first time was in the 1st grade (I still have my diary entry proclaiming my excitement for going "Skeeying" in "Pencilvainya"). My family rented a ski house for a few days along with a bunch of other families, and I remember having fun on the slopes. I was fearless down the mountain, and mastered the pizza/volleyball skiform. I enjoyed the indoor pool and my purple bubble coat. I remember it being an exciting time.

My second ski experience was the Stella ski trip freshman year of high school. Besides the fact that my ski boots couldnt close and I walked around with snow wetting my socks, the day ended with Brigid Shea on a stretcher. True story. I skied a total of 10 minutes that day, forcing myself one last run before our bus trip home just to get my money's worth. This ended with my walking down the mountain holding my skiis. Juliette Geary found me halfway and encouraged me to give it another go, but I was just too scared.

My third and final ski trip occurred Junior year at St. John's. Kerry's family has a house upstate, so she, Mary Cait and I decided to spend a few days of our spring break at Belaire mountain. I fell of the ski lift a lot; I had panic attacks at the top of the mountain; once I gained speed, I'd fall to the side, scared of hitting a tree. I spend 75% of the day in the ski lodge, waiting for my friends to finish. What's fun about speeding down a mountain with your feet locked into giant poles, surrounded by trees? If I needed a rush I'd chug a red bull or go on a roller coaster. Skiing is not my jive.

BOWLING
Another shitty thing white people can't get enough of! Back in HS, when my friends ad I were feeling particularly adventurous, we'd suggest going bowling on a Friday night. This was a big deal since the closest bowling alleys were over many bridges and many bus/train rides away. But besides the traveling, there was always an issue on reserving a lane.

"Sorry, our league's playing tonight," the rude lady would say when we called up Gil Hodges Lanes. "And we don't let kids under 18 in on the weekends."

Oh really? What the hell? I know there's a bar inside, but it's a bowling alley, first and foremost. What's the harm in letting kids inside to throw some balls?

Speaking of throwing balls, am I the only one who has an extremely hard time releasing the bowling ball from their fingers? I understand that I have chubby hands, but I see fat guys whirling those things down the lanes, with no fingers getting stuck. The last time I went bowling I felt like I was in a Will Ferrell/Ben Stiller physical comedy--my body dropping with the ball, the ball clunking on the floor, my fingers getting stuck. Not cool. And not fun.


NOT DANCING AT CONCERTS


A few weeks ago I went to the Plug Awards. This "Grammy Awards of Indie Music" (obviously not my quote) featured a bunch of really cool indie act, notably The Forms, who I went to see. However they also featured Dizzee Rascal, a rapper from England who is awesome at his ability to pump up the crowd. Not this crowd, though. This crowd, full of ironic white kids just waiting to cream their pants at the site of Nick Cave, could not get pumped up. Everybody just stood around being sarcastic and cool. What the fuck? I'll dance to anything. I mosh to The Forms all the time and danced so hard at Daft Punk* that I went to work the next day with a sore back. Even at the Justice show at TErminal Five the dancing was minimal. When I go to predominately black bars and clubs there's always dancing; you never see anybody standing in the corner with their arms folded. Whats the harm in letting your arms go and moving from side to side or something? Or does it have something to do with that other thing white people are known for, which is sucking at dancing?

*Actually, the Daft Punk show was one of the few concerts I've been to where everybody was dancing like they were all alone doing the robofreakout in their bedrooms. Maybe thats one of the things that made the show so memorable.

3.18.2008

Poll

What's worse?:

Working a 9-5 where the internet is blocked

or,


Coming home from that 9-5, running up to my computer to frantically check my email, and only finding The Biggest Loser newsletter and a folder full of Spam.

3.17.2008

Ridiculous Shit

*Please keep in mind that when I see any of you reading this in person I will re-tell this story, even if you say you already read it. It's brief and crazy enough so that you won't mind.

So this past Friday night I was driving home from a party at my friend's house. I'm driving my car down Rockaway Beach Boulevard at around 2am, when I see a Q22 making the turn from 101st street onto the Bouley. I also see, illuminated by the buses headlights, the shadow of a figure running in the middle of the street, zigzagging between the yellow lines. The person is running, and zigging, and zagging. I couldn't tell if he was really, really drunk or actually suffering from some physical problem that would make him swerve like that; judging by the location (between the Circle and the Tap&Grill) I chose the former. The kid--I'd determined by now, as he got closer, that he had to have been about 16 or so--keeps running, fast, bus behind him, and I have to stop my car as so I don't hit him. Up close he looks familiar but I can't place him. He stops in the middle of the street with a grin on his face, and kind of taps the hood of my car and then reaches for the handle of my door, which I had locked. I didn't know if he was in trouble, but he didn't look upset. I'm gonna stick with my original assessment of him being really, really drunk. I didn't let him in the car, which I think confused/upset him, but the whole thing gave off a weird vibe and I didn't know if he'd rob me/throw up once I let him in my car. I drove off, noticing that the car behind me also stopped and actually let him in.

The next day I go on a bike ride with Kerry and we stop in Boardwalk Bagels for some coffee. I'm telling her the story, and one of the guys working there seems really interested.

"Wow, are you ok?"

"Yea," I told him. "It was just weird."

"Did you know the kid?"

"I don't think so."

"Wow, that's crazy."

"I know, right? I don't know what he was doing."


"Was he colored?"

.....

.....

.....



"You know, like was he black?"

....

....

....



"Uh no, he was white."


"Well, then you should have picked him up. He coulda been getting chased."


Ok.


Let me remind you that this is not Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935. This is New York City, 2008. No joking. No smiling. Just a serious question of whether a kid was "colored" or not. I left the deli with my jumbo ice coffee really amazed that people still use that term in a context outside of making fun of racist people. I kinda always joke about my neighborhood being sort of funny, but this here is proof. And I don't know if it's all that funny.

3.16.2008

who knew removing a cat would create such sadness?

My friend Elona alerted me of this website, Garfield Minus Garfield, which removes Garfield from his comic strips, leaving behind only Jon Arubckle--that and his depression and loneliness.

3.09.2008

i can't live without my radio

I thought I'd seen it all with iPod abuse. Kids listening to their rock & roll while out to dinner with their families, the usual loud & embarrassing music on the dude sitting next to you on the subway, that sort of thing. But earlier today I went to get my hair blown out and watched as the girl in front of me, about to get her hair washed, began untangling her headphones.

"No," I thought. "There's no way this girl's gonna listen to her iPod while getting hear hair washed."

But she did. Put those buds right into her ears, which just so happened to be in a SINK getting WASHED. She also started taking cellphone photos of herself in the sink, which I'm sure got immediately uploaded onto MySpace. The shampoo girl eventually asked her to take her headphones out as she continued to wash her hair, but I couldn't believe this girl actually thought that'd be cool in the first place. Don't they teach kids about the dangers of electricity + water anymore?

I wonder if my writing has even improved?