This is Your Brain on Cheese

What I make, do, think, dream and eat.

www.danastalker.com
Inspired by Starbucks and an email chain gone wrong, and in collaboration with Rachel Frederick, I give you…SLOTH SIP FACE.

Inspired by Starbucks and an email chain gone wrong, and in collaboration with Rachel Frederick, I give you…SLOTH SIP FACE.

Tragedy

Apparently New York is “too good” for ranch dressing. I’m not ready to talk about it.

My Favorite Least Favorite Topic: Religious Terrorism

Today I witnessed an act of terrorism. A man in high-waisted track pants, wearing a backwards, red kangol hat waltzed into my subway car and started posting extremist religious materials. Then, in a surprise twist, abruptly began “dancing” “enthusiastically.” I suspect he was high on Jesus. Now, I don’t have a problem with his passion for god or house music, but I’ve seen the shit that’s in those pamphlets, and I do have a problem with him perpetuating ignorance about homosexuality and human rights in general. Or spreading rumors about whether or not I’m going to “El Infierno,” which may or may not be true. So I beg you, religious fanatics, keep your beliefs to yourselves and leave us sinners to enjoy our lives. Until we meet again…in hell.  

Ode to 42nd Street-Port Authority Station

42nd Street-Port Authority Station, you are the bane of my existence. 

Each new trek through your twisted bowels more hellish than the last. 

Each staircase longer and steeper than the first. 

Each subway bum more haggard and piss-soaked. 

42nd Street-Port Authority Station, each time I breathe in your stagnant air, a beluga whale baby goes blind. 

42nd Street-Port Authority Station, you’re a real dick.

Acorn Street in Boston.  (Taken with instagram)

Acorn Street in Boston. (Taken with instagram)

No slack for the slacker.

It has been ordered that I return to the world of blogging. The fact that I now have a real full-time job and an unrestrained compulsion to prove myself was not reason enough for my slacking. You win, minions. You win.

So, what’s going on with me? I’m sure you’re dying to know. I’m loving my new apartment and roommate, and my room is so big that it makes me guilty. We’re talkin’ a 9x17 footer, boy howdy! And, like in any healthy relationship, I have the urge to give this dream job of mine a swift kick to the groin. I guess the honeymoon’s over. Sigh. Not really, it’s just been a difficult week. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. You can’t win ‘em all. The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain. You get the idea. (And if you’re not my Mom and you get the “rain in Spain” reference, you win ten gold stars.)

In more exciting news (no, this is not a Feline Update), I got to see my parents this weekend! On Friday we met at my office and had pretentious tartines at Le Pain Quotidiente, then an even more pretentious dinner at Maze by Gordon Ramsey. For those of you don’t excessively watch food programming (shame on you), he is the star of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. The guy who refers to everyone as “f**king donkeys.” Real charmer. But I don’t care what he calls me, the food was great. Any occasion that allows me to stuff my face with duck confit is a winner in my book. After dinner, we saw The Lion King on Broadway - what a visually spectacular show. Plus, it’s The Lion King, so you can’t really lose.

Saturday we roamed around Chelsea and hit up Highline Park and the Chelsea Market. Both highly recommended if you are ever in New York. And, if you are in New York to see me, I will take you there and buy you a lobster roll.

On Sunday we wandered around SoHo and had dinner at a great little place called Le Pescadeux, where you have the option to chose two preparations of fish (pesca…deux). I had grilled black bass in a verte sauce and herb-crusted cod. Very nice food and a great atmosphere. Plus it was the owner’s birthday, so there was a great keyboard player who sounded just like Louis Armstrong. After our meal, the owner bought us champagne, then proceeded to kiss every female in the restaurant. (It was a double cheek kiss. Relax, Zach.) My mom wasn’t anticipating the second cheek kiss, so she almost got one right on the mouth. I’m always wary of cheek kisses. You can never quite trust that that sweet old man isn’t going to go in for the kill.

On the subway ride back uptown, I sat next to a schizophrenic who started singing Broadway tunes, then gave me a lecture about having a healthy diet, referencing his swollen ankles. And now a note to my father. Daddy, when you’re on the subway, never EVER choose a row of seats next to a fat man wearing tight overalls and a sombrero. NEVER. 

The Apartment in the City and the IKEA Blues.

We’re going to take a little trip back in time. Three weeks ago. GO! Great, everyone have all of their appendages? Oh, you’re missing a toe? The pinky? Okay, well no one cares. Three weeks ago I went apartment hunting in Manhattan. 48 hours later, I signed a lease and spent almost all of my savings. Welcome to New York. The upside is that my apartment kicks ass. It’s in a safe, nice pocket neighborhood of Washington Heights called Hudson Heights. Not the hippest spot, but let’s talk about my gorgeous, renovated, huge apartment compared to the dingy shoeboxes you get downtown for the same price. I’m right by an express subway, so the sexy New York neighborhoods are but 45 minutes away. And I have a great roommate. Jess is an actress, specializing in musical theater, and a close friend of my laundry-room friend, Robby. Connections, connections. We’ve been settling in since Sunday, and by “settling in,” I mean breaking our backs over IKEA furniture assembly. Let me first say that, yes, IKEA is a magical place full of lovely, cheap items that I aspire to clutter my room with. But with this awesomeness comes the not-so-awesome self-assembly. And the even less awesome two-holes-missing-in-this-goddamn-piece-of-wood-for-my-dresser. Two silly little holes keeping me from putting this bitch to rest, and I’m on the verge of a conniption fit. So I rented a drill from Home Depot, and, bitterly, lugged it (it was heavy) SIX avenues (that’s a lot) to the subway. Then I made my own damn holes. Ha! You tried to break me, IKEA. You tried real hard.

Umm…interesting tile pattern in my new apartment building. I didn’t realize Nazi Chic was “in” when the building was designed. (Taken with instagram)

Umm…interesting tile pattern in my new apartment building. I didn’t realize Nazi Chic was “in” when the building was designed. (Taken with instagram)

Kitchen in my new apartment! More to come…as soon as I get some furniture.  (Taken with instagram)

Kitchen in my new apartment! More to come…as soon as I get some furniture. (Taken with instagram)

Ah, those were the good old days of advertising. (Taken with instagram)

Ah, those were the good old days of advertising. (Taken with instagram)

NYC Day #83-#86: Hiatus.

Life changes fast. This morning I signed a one-year lease in Manhattan. Who’da thunk? It’s scary, but it’s good. And I have all the support in the world from my loved ones. This blog has been the best possible outlet for my experiences here - I’m so happy I stuck to it. I’m not giving it up, but I have a job now, so my posts will have to be less frequent. But there will still be plenty for me to say about pigeons, subway bums, traffic and pretentious lunches. Not to worry. And when winter comes, expect some epic rants. But for now I’m going to go float away on a cloud, because I’m going home for a week, and there are some people I’ve been itching to see. :)

NYC Day #81/#82: What day is it? And where am I?

That’s how you feel after a week of 15-hour work days. But it’s worth it. I’ve been too busy and tired to really celebrate my hiring, but I’ll have these moments where I think: Wow, I actually got my dream job. I’m that person I always envy. It’s really strange. But awesome. And it means that anyone can do it. I’m not trying to get all middle-school guidance counselor on you here, but it’s true. Three months ago I had no opportunities in sight. Sure, it took a luck and a very well-connected mentor to get my foot in the door, but that’s the business. The point is that, no matter how frustrating and I got or how much doubt I had, I never stopped visualizing the job I wanted. I never settled, even when other people thought I should. And I was myself. Always. That’s so important. The reason people always tell you that is because it’s true. My boss has never so much as glanced at my portfolio. It’s about who you are and how you rise to the occasion. Your book is what gets you in a situation to do those things. And luck. There’s always a bit of that.

I never EVER thought I’d move to New York. It’s incredibly bittersweet. Bitter because I can’t imagine living away from my boyfriend, family and friends. It’s going to be really hard. But I know this is what I need to become the writer I want to be. And I’m proud that I can make it here. I can’t wait for everyone to visit me (HINT, HINT) and I know I’ll be able to go home every few months. I just can’t believe my career is finally starting. Thank Zeus.

NYC Day #77/#78/#79/#80: HIRED.

The past four days have been a whirlwind of work that I don’t even want to get into right now (but I promise a rant is in your future). I want to tell you that I got my dream job. It’s surreal. My boss is the most awarded copywriter in advertising, but more importantly, she’s an amazing creative director and person, and she’s going to help me become the writer I want to be. I don’t know how I got so lucky. Luck, I guess. But more later, I have to continue slave laboring until all the papers are signed. :)

NYC Day #75/#76: Friday/Saturday Recap.

I suck, I know. You’re thinking: “Oh, now Dana thinks it’s okay to just combine days willy nilly to make one blog post. What a lazy jerk.” I’ll make this right, promise.

Day #75 was Friday. I got into work and immediately headed to Cesar’s office to pick select images from the Art of Shaving shoot the day before. I can’t wait to see the finished posters hanging in Grand Central - they’re going to be beautiful. When I returned to the Icebox, I noticed the office was deserted. It was a half-day, meaning that nobody bothers to come in at all. We can all work from home - just one of the perks of being a creative. So I followed suit and went home to relax a bit before meeting Kelly and Renee at a bar where we could play beer pong. Let me just say that the best beer pong is played in Harrisburg, Oregon. This beer pong was just okay. I mean, six cups? No bounce shots? My friends would be outraged. And then no one wanted me to do my signature defensive move “Crazy Arms.” What the F? But the inside of the bar was kind of cool. It had a nice log cabin vibe - I imagine it would be a good place to hang in the winter. We called it an early night and I stayed at their place to avoid the hellishly long subway ride home.

On Saturday, I went to brunch at Harry’s Cafe in the Financial District with Kelly and her friend Chelsea, who flew in on a red-eye and arrived early that morning. Harry’s is a Wall Street institution. For years it was THE destination steakhouse for the financial set to take their clients. We’re talking the kind of place they’d feature in Mad Men. I’m told that after 9-11, business plummeted. Understandably, no one wanted to take their clients to a steak dinner three blocks from the World Trade Center. So Harry’s changed their business model - they started offering the lovely brunch that I went to, and traded the elitism for something more inclusive. It doesn’t mean that Harry’s is any less stylish. It’s one of those places where you can feel the history. If you’re ever in New York, go there.

After brunch I went home and took a nap. I didn’t sleep well the night before because Renee’s air conditioner was a blast chiller in my face all night. The bottomless mimosas didn’t help either. When I woke up, I hurried down to Union Square to watch the Duck game at Side Bar, the New York destination for Duck games. The place was PACKED with Duck fans. Spencer Paysinger was there! And I even saw people I’d had classes with at the U of O. It didn’t compare to being in Eugene, but it was nice to be surrounded by fellow Ducks, even though I felt like a canned sardine. The downside was that we lost. Not a great feeling, but we’ll do better last time. I’m one of those overly optimistic fans who, until the last 60 seconds of the game, still thinks we can score 14 points and win. Someday I’ll be right.