Winter Magic and Glow

15 Mar

Hello friends! It’s been ages!

I’ve been hibernating for the past few weeks. Trying to outsmart the cold by hiding under my blankets watching so many late-night episodes of Law and Order SVU that I’ve started having weird hyper-consensual sex dreams about District Attorney Rafael Barba. I know you were all wondering so now it’s out of the way and we can move on, OK?

I’ve been doing a couple of open-mics since last I was on stage. Trying to feel comfortable with the shrouded faceless blob staring back at me when I’m under the lights. But as I said, it’s been hella cold in NYC and I feel 60 degree and above weather is much more conducive to comedy and me voluntarily going outside.

Unless you are a walrus of course.

     Unless you are a hilarious walrus of course.

But LUCKILY I did get an internship at the cult that started it all, Upright Citizen’s Brigade. I started last Thursday and I was super jazzed to clean the bathrooms, scan tickets and sit at the front booth looking all cool and bored (and please know that the previous sentence was not sarcastic at all! I really was jazzed! Because I’m a weirdo who likes doing menial tasks in super rad places. Like that time I had to give out bumper stickers for that Israeli TV station! I liked it!) I showed up at 4:59 pm to a seemingly empty theater. I wandered around. I picked up a mop and started looking for water. I saw the tech guy and was like “Hi? I’m Aviva? I’m new? What am I doing now?” and he was like “Here’s a tour of the theater!”

Eventually I found the other interns and the house manager and tried to bond with them but apparently everyone was not that into it. Not that they weren’t nice, they were a normal amount of nice. They were just not the same hyper “tell me your life story!” level I was up to. I don’t know why I’m like that –  maybe it’s the journalist in me, maybe it’s me overcompensating for never talking to anyone until I was 15 years old. Maybe it’s lingering side effects from that weird growth in my neck that I got from watching my food cook in the microwave all the time. Who knows.

The main jobs during the shows are divided into three – sitting by the front desk, standing in the theater scanning tickets and making sure people turn off their phones during the shows (one of my ultimate joys), and sitting by the door in the bar making sure people don’t enter during a show. I got to see two shows, Thursday nights are stand-up night and the first show was great, talented people, good audience. The second show was horrendous and I begged my house manager to not make me watch it again. It was four bros on stage doing a power hour and talking about the worst ways they were ever dumped. And then they called up people from the audience (who were actually part of the show and ALSO doing shots) to come up and do a sketch or set or whatever. One guy’s “jokes” were all about how 9/11 was a super exciting day if you forget about all the dead people and another guy’s “”””jokes”””” was him taking off all his clothes and throwing chocolate donuts into the audience. A big no-no in the UCB theater if you were wondering.

I was in the bar for the second to last show, sitting at the little booth on the lookout for any shenanigans to shut down when I see John fucking Mulaney. Standing arm’s length away. I could have reached out and never let go! But something about my boss being right there told me that maybe that was frowned upon even more-so than chucking chocolate donuts in the theater. I’ve always prided myself as someone who was like “Ugh celebrities, they’re just NORMAL people – no need to freak out, they Febreze their clothes when they’re too lazy to do laundry just like everyone else.”

Or am I ONLY one who smells like "Winter magic and glow"????

Or am I ONLY one who smells like “Winter Magic and Glow”????

But embarrassingly enough my only thoughts were “Oh my goodness I’ve seen you on my television! And now you’re alive! In front of me! It’s amazing! You were on my Netflix! And you’re so tall” So I just stared, not saying a word. Until he saw me, made a weird smile/grimace and walked out of the bar. I’m sure he’ll think it’s a funny story when I retell it to him in a few years when we’re hanging out backstage at the Comedy Central Roast of Siri, or whatever they future is like.

That’s enough of an update for now! These SVU episodes aren’t going to watch themselves!

Have a wonderful Sunday you weirdos! XOXO

The Comic Gotham (Barely) Needs, Not the Comic They Deserve

6 Feb

Guys – today has been one of the BEST days and that’s saying a lot because one time I MET JOHN STAMOS. And he tickled my neck. It was weird. Also, I had a wedding one time. So it’s a big deal.

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Didn’t believe me about John Stamos       DID YOU?

I had my Manhattan Comedy School graduation on Monday. The classes were more of a workshop than a class. Everyone prepared something and read it. The first day, my teacher Karen Bergreen said, “I know this might be hard to believe but you all will become really good friends by the end of this class.” And in my head I went, “I hate everyone here with the passion of a billion burning suns.”

But you know what? She was (partially) right. I did bond with (some) people. (Other people can still go die in a million burning suns). We went to open mics as newbies. We exchanged emails about our lives. We got beers at the end of shows. We cheered each other on at our show. It was worth the million dollars we paid and Monday nights spent sitting in a cold studio listening to Book Of Mormon rehearsing next door. We were all in it together. So I guess stop judging everyone you meet is what my lesson is.

THE SHOW:

6:15 p.m.:  My classmate Kim and I got to Gotham an hour early. It was snowing and freezing out, so not such a huge crowd was expected. I had never been to Gotham before and we explored the stage. It was smaller than I expected but surrounded by TVs playing Kat Williams, Louis CK, Wanda Sykes on a loop. Intimidating. We put our stuff down in the back and thought of ways to sneak our material onto the stage in case we blanked – Kim wrote hers on her hand. I wrote mine one a piece of paper and stuffed it in my bra (I guess because pulling it out in the middle of the show would be less surreptitious than reading it off my hand??).

6:22 p.m.:  The man filming our show came over to talk to us, his name was Michael. He was telling us about how he had met everyone back in the day when he was still a comic as well: Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Amy Poehler (“Yeah, she’s as nice as everyone says she is.”) I forgot what someone said but Michael goes “That’s a lie. Everyone lies in show business, I could be lying to you right now. You should know that. Everyone lies in show business.” I gestured to Kim and myself and jokingly said that some day we’ll be on Conan and say that at our very first stand-up, our only piece of advice was that everyone lies in comedy.

“No you won’t,” Michael said. At first I was taken aback. I thought he meant that we’ll never be successful enough to be on a late night show. But he followed up with “You won’t remember me. Do you know how many people I’ve met here? You’re gonna meet a lot of people too. You think you’ll remember but you won’t.” So I am making it a point to write about it here to ALWAYS REMEMBER SO I CAN TRACK HIM DOWN IN 10 YEARS AND SHOVE IT IN HIS FACE MICHAEL. Remind to talk about it in 10 years OK?

7:04 p.m.: My parents, their friends, Ari, my brother, our friend Ben, my friend Jessie are all here front row. They are reasonably about 40% of the audience. The show was supposed to start at 7 p.m. and they are still playing Uptown Funk. WHY MUST THEY TOY WITH MY ALREADY RACING HEART?

7:04-8:13 p.m: They have a MC and some pros mixed in with the students. It’s a small crowd and it’s a little rough for even the pros to rouse people, which makes me feel a bit better if not because of a little schadenfreude, “They’ve been doing this for YEARS and it’s still a little hard for them!” It may have also been rough because they decided to riff with my parents’ friends asking them stuff like “So yo man, you even heard of sexting??”

8:15 p.m.: I’m go after Kevin. My heart is beating so fast. I casually hold my drink and napkin (that I’ve written all my jokes on just in case too). All I can think of is West Side Story. Not just because it’s a classic play and movie but because when I was 18 I played A-Rab, a forgettable Jet, in my senior year production of the show (aka 30 white Jewish kids producing the most racist shit you will ever not see). I didn’t have many lines – I was mainly background and singing but there was one scene that was just me and another boy. We were running from the cops and it was just me and him on stage. His line was something like “What do we do now?!” and I forgot what I supposed to say. Like really, I forgot what i supposed to say. So I just pretended to still be out of breath from running. Much longer than was believable. It was just blank blank blankety blank. Until the boy playing Officer Krupke just came on stage and saved my ass.

Why my brain decided to bring up nightmares such as this one right before I went on stage is just another reason that proves your own brain HATES you and sabotages you whenever it can. But soon, as I was ccasssuaalllyyy leaning on the wall waiting, the MC goes “Now, a very funny girl AVIVA WOOLF.”

I wish i could give you more insight about my 4 min on stage but it’s fuzzy. I remember looking at my own hand and going STOP SHAKING YOU IDIOT. I had my material down pat but I hadn’t practiced what to do with my hands while I was rehearsing in the shower or on the subway. I gripped that pole like I had just realized I was allergic to gravity and didn’t want to float away. Unlike my  improv shows, where everything was up in the air and you relied on your teammates to help, I was alone up there. And it was just a totally different experience. Better or worse I haven’t decided yet. Just different. Like going to a restaurant vs cooking at home. I didn’t pay attention to what people were laughing at until I watched the tape they sent me today. I just thought “keep talking keep talking keep talking.”

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I watched it when I got the e-mail and thought “What the fuck is happening with my hair?” and “WHY DID I SAY MARCH INSTEAD OF FEBRUARY?”

But I didn’t think “Well that was a disaster so let’s pack it up and relegate this time of my life to the back of my closet along with those overalls I always think I can pull off and I can’t.”

I thought “I can do better. This is OK and I can do better.” And I will.

After I put my video on Facebook (with the disclaimer that I absolutely didn’t want any criticism, just praise), people were SO sweet. They asked when they can see me perform. I think it won’t be for a while. This is a new craft and it’s going to take a looonngg long long time getting really good at open mics before I’ll be paid to do anything anywhere. Time for me to fade back into the shadows until I can get up in front of an audience without feeling like I wanna throw up.

I was never a public speaker. I was always the kid who muttered observations under her breath, never broadcasting them for the whole class. Time for me to fix that.

And as always, I’ll be here documenting it 🙂

(And here it is FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT)

Tuesday Snoozeday – A Catch Up Post

27 Jan

HELLO FRIENDS!

Happy whatever you’re doing today! Complaining about the snow? Complaining about the lack of snow? Complaining because everyone is annoying you with their posts and opinion about whatever weather they’re experiencing? We’ve got it all!

Sorry I took a little break from blogging. Mostly because my post about my Bubby went a bit viral and everyone was commenting about their bubbies and loss, and it felt less-than-monumental to get back to writing about weird things people tell me when I’m working at the supermarket but enough is enough – time to get back to silly.

To catch you up on my journey on the comedy/writing front: My graduation from my stand-up class is at Gotham this Monday at 7pm, I started Improv 301 at UCB and applied for their internship position, I started a sketch-writing class with Ali Farahnakian at the People’s Improv Theater. Sketch writing is really hard and also really weird. I guess I’m still in college mode because even though Ali isn’t a professor, just some comedy genius sharing his knowledge, it’s weird to have your teacher be like “Hm, what other funny words could we use for vagina? We have va-jay-jay…maybe we’ll go on Urban Dictionary and see if they have any other funny suggestions.”

I actually did an open mic a couple of weeks ago. I had been putting it off for a while since it seemed more insane in my head than it actually was. Doing an open mic has been on my bucket list for a long time (and apparently crossing something off your bucket list does not in fact, make you “one step closer to death” like I thought). It was up there with skydiving and being honest about how ugly people’s babies are. I got to Revision Lounge with a few of my classmates. Revision Lounge is a cool bar downtown where every piece of furniture was originally something else. A table used to be a TV set, a couch was an old bathtub, the stage was literally a converted coffin. **~Trendy!~**

I dropped my name in the vase and noticed a man hanging by the stage who was in a play I reviewed a couple of months ago called Awesome People. I went over to him and re-introduced myself. He didn’t remember me but he remembered being in that production which was a good start. I mentioned to him that it was my first open mic ever. “Don’t even worry,” he said. “Everyone here is terrible.” That actually made me feel better. It wasn’t true of course, some people were great – and some people made jokes about how grapes give them diarrhea so WHAT IS COMEDY EVEN? LET’S DISCUSS.

And it wasn’t the disaster I thought it might be. I was prepared for crickets, for forgetting all my material, for sweating profusely and spouting nonsense – ALL stuff I’ve actually seen people actually do at open mics. I kept thinking “No one is even listening to you anyways. These are all just other comedians trying out stuff. If you’re bad, they’ll be happy they’re better than you and if you’re good they’ll hate you for being good so just GET UP AND TALK AT THESE PEOPLE SOLDIER.”

And it was OK! My friend filmed it on my phone (for posterity). People chuckled which is basically LIQUID GOLD for beginners (or regular gold if that’s the direction you wanna go – or imaginary gold if you wanna be realistic.) I was happy!

Then literally the next day at my standup workshop I was doing some bit about the subway to a bunch of dead-eyed crickets. I was not as happy.

But I read something interesting the other day. BuzzFeed had an article about a dude named Pavel Sokov who quit his job to become an artist and how that eventually lead to a gig painting a cover for Time Magazine. He was writing about how he would get really discouraged in the beginning, painting all these pictures that he didn’t think were good, or not as good as his teachers. Then he said:

“Being upset that your first oil paintings aren’t turning out is almost rude in a way, because it is saying that you don’t think you need to put in the work to get your teacher’s results.”

That really struck me –  since apparently I’m one of those people who are like “Well I tried this and I’m obviously terrible at it – time to give up and do something else with my life.” When I started sketch or improv, or even stand-up I would say or do something that I immediately felt was a stupid idea and say something like “Ah never mind – that was really dumb, sorry. Forget I said anything,” and then shrink into my chair feel bad about myself. Now I try not to berate myself for trying something different or stupid. In the words of my former UCB teacher, “Never apologize in Improv, if you take a shit on stage you say ‘You’re welcome!” Which might be a little extreme but you get the gist, which is ‘If you’re a beginner, BE a beginner! It’s gonna take a while for you to find your groove. Don’t beat yourself up for having super high expectations! Lower your expectations. Now. Do it. You’re welcome.”

Now you’re all caught up! I can get back to writing about what really matters. My cat.

My Bubby the Maccabee – A Eulogy

23 Dec

My Bubby died. Friday afternoon if you want to be technical. She wasn’t in good shape for a while but it was still a shock to the heart, I guess you always expect death to happen in tiny increments like filling up a measuring cup to the line you want – bit by bit by bit by bit until you’re at a whole complete measurement.

But it’s not like that. It’s alive. Then gone. Alive. Gone.

And it’s strange to think that she’s just not here anymore for me to call on Friday afternoons before Shabbat to hear her tell me she loved me. That there will be no more Florida visits every June which I’ve been doing every year for the past five years. She was 90 years old and I seem to keep focusing on what she might never see, as opposed to all the amazing things she had the ability to witness – a gift that was denied to many not just in her generation, but in her own family.

Today was the funeral. The whole day was an exhausting mix of hugging visiting relatives, crying, laughing, eating, hugging, reflecting, more eating, running out to Starbucks after the funeral, more laughing. So many friends and family came, I whispered to my sister that if Bubby were here she’d be demanding to know why all these people came here – how did they get here? Who invited them? And then she’d wave and smile and blow kisses to everyone, adoring the spotlight. I assume she’s bending God’s ear with these interrogating questions and comments now.

I had offered to speak at the funeral. For those of you who asked, I have put it here. For everyone who texted, called and FB messaged me sweet thoughts and condolences I thank you from the bottom of my heart – I am so lucky to have caring and considerate friends and family. I’m sure Bubby would agree (and then tell me that it was time to say goodbye to those friends since my husband was my only friend now).

Here is what I said at the funeral:

“I’ve never given a eulogy before.

But then again, there’s a lot of things I’ve done this year that I’ve never done before. I graduated college, I got married, I got various jobs. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without my grandmother, my Bubby.

I don’t just meant that in the sense that if she had never been born neither would I but in the sense that Bubby believed that I could do anything. That all her grandchildren could. You could tell her you were going to be a doctor and she’d say “Great! You can operate on me,” or “Bubby I’m going to be an accountant” and she’d reply “Wonderful  – you’ll make a lot of money and send some to me.”

My Bubby was friendly. She had to stop and talk to. every. single. stranger, neighbor and waiter. If only to tell them that her grandchildren were visiting….and maybe did they have a Shidduch in mind for us?

My grandmother was also stubborn. She refused to accept the fact that if you turned on the TV during a thunderstorm you wouldn’t get electrocuted – or that men could competently take care of babies.

I believe that she survived the Holocaust because she was too stubborn to do what Hitler so wished she would do – give up her life and heritage. He only made her dig her heels in harder.

In that way, my Bubby was a maccabee. I truly believe she would have fought right along side Matityahu – as long as it wouldn’t ruin her manicure. Bubby was all about having perfectly painted nails.

It’s almost fitting that she passed on Hanukkah because there is a story she once told me that I have come to associate with the holiday.

When she was a young girl  in Czechoslovakia, she told me, she had found a bag of gold coins and gave them to her parents. Instead of spending it responsibly on food or shoes for their five children, they took them to the circus – a rare and wonderful treat for the poor family. Years later, when the Nazis and fate had taken their shoes, taken their food – she still had those glorious memories of that happy day at the circus – that was something no one could ever take away.

During Hanukkah – when the Jews found the small jug of oil that would only last a day when they needed a week, they could have done the “responsible” thing and just lit a tiny bit each night to make it last but they didn’t. They spent it all and hoped for the best. They decided that the inspiring and wonderful sight of the menorah burning was more important to a tired and torn family – that sometimes people are more important than protocol.

My Bubby was a Macabee but she was also a flame. She warmed others with her food and her home. Her smile lit up when family and friends visited. She kindled Shabbat candles.

She might’ve burned too hot at times or scorched those who didn’t deserve it but Bubby was like that stubborn menorah flame that refused to conform to logic or nature.

In the circumstances surrounding her birth, she should have lasted only one generation but instead lasted many more.

And like the miraculous oil, only once she saw that her family and the Jewish people were going to be okay did she finally fade into a small spark and leave this world.”

My Bubby was a complicated lady who could be difficult and impossible sometimes. But she taught me that it’s good to have convictions, it’s even better to have something to fight for, its important to have family, it’s vital to have confidence in yourself but sometimes all you can do is try, and have faith that everything will work out in the end.

And it’s essential to always have perfectly manicured nails.

 

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More Bubby posts, here.

Happy Holiday! It’s an Olog!

18 Dec

 

 

 

Well, it’s finally come to this. An Olog (the CORRECT term for video log, since a blog is a weBlog a video log should be an videOlog. Shira knows what I’m saying)

 

Happy Holidays you weirdos!

Street Life Part 2

3 Dec

Buckle in for a long blog post sailors because things. are. happening.

Some weird. Some uncomfortable. Some delicious. And it aaallll started way back yesterday.

I had four supermarkets to stand in front of giving out protein bars, mostly in the Upper West Side. It was strangely warm out and people were pretty receptive to someone shoving protein bars in their face. Well most people. One scowling dude stomped down Columbus and when I held out the free sample he grabbed it and threw it on the sidewalk. So rude. But I let it slide because really, I don’t know these street people – as much as they desperately try to tell me their life stories.

A woman passed by and asked if the bars contained peanuts. No, I assured her, just cashews. “Well Im allergic to all nuts!” she yelled. “You should really tell people before you give these out.” To which I kind of nodded to but thought like, I have precisely one second to grab these people’s attentions – I don’t have time to read the label to them – also, if a stranger on the street was giving me food, I might take a second to glance at the ingredients if I was so deathly allergic, just a thought.

Some people act as if I’m their doctor and I’m prescribing them something horrible. An elderly blind woman stopped me to lecture me on the dangers of soy. I nodded for a while until I realized she couldn’t see me and was taking my silence as encouragement to keep telling me about how “Orientals, except the ones on the Western diet will DIE from too much soy! It enriches the blood! It clogs up the arteries!” Which was like, yeah problematic, but even more problematic because we were standing outside an Asian supermarket and I really didn’t want to be associated with the woman yelling about “Orientals.” I thought maybe I could just sneak away and she wouldn’t know. But I stayed and told her I was leaving. And then just waited until she was out of earshot to keep giving them out. Sorry America if I kill all of you with my soy.

Today I just had two supermarkets. I was on the corner of 23rd and it was chilly. But it didn’t stop people from coming over and talking to me. Around 10 a.m. a guy comes up to me and takes a protein bar and one for his wife. And says that she’s 75 cents short for the subway do I have change and I’m like yeah OK and he’s like thanks! I’ll help you with your bars. And then he walks up to some kid at the corner, gets in his face and goes “Hey man! Go take a protein bar from that girl! Now!” And this kid nervously takes one and the guy says “Now say thanks!” And then the man smiles at me and walks away.

At my last corner on 14th, a unkempt looking fellow came over and in a slurred semi-Italian asked me for directions. I tried to mime them out for him. He started speaking about a fire and showed me some bad burns on his arm. Not *quite* something I had asked for. I nodded while he said some more things. Then he leaned in (“Well this isn’t a red flag” I thought) “Can I kiss you?” he mumbled. “Uhh…no.” He leaned in and I hurriedly took a step back. He laughed and started walking away. “Be careful!” He yelled incomprehensibly. “It’s scary out here!”

(When I retold this story to my friend she replied “Didn’t he see the ring?!” Like, seriously, right? If I wasn’t married I would be macking all the dirty strange people who cross my path – curse the bonds of marriage!)

However, for all the weirdos I meet, there are a lot of very nice and pleasant New Yorkers I meet. Like the very sweet teenager who offered me gummy bears. Or the woman from Florida who was concerned about wether I was freezing my ass off. I wait for the day when HONY inquires about my insights into the NY psyche.

Yesterday was also the first of my stand-up class. It was at the Manhattan Comedy School. It was highly recommended by a comedian friend of mine who started out there. It was …interesting. It’s more of a workshop and then we have a graduation show at Gotham.

Stand-up is so different than improv – it’s so intense and personal. My class is about 12 dudes and 2 other girls besides me. At the beginning of class our teacher assured us that “by the end of 6 weeks we were all going to be very close friends.” I have to say that I doubt that. I really do.

Because not to be a cynical asshole I kind of hate many people in my class already.

There’s one kid who’ve I’ve met a million times. Maybe not *this* specific dude but you’ve met him too. He cant stand silence. He makes really loud jokes and then looks around to see if anyone laughed. He is always looking for approval and has the loudest laugh. There’s another guy who thinks THAT guy is amazing and will respond to every rhetorical question he asks.

Everyone else is kind of meh too. I may be judging them too early. Next week there is a “mandatory” bar outing hosted by the director of the school. I’ve never been to a mandatory bar event but maybe some alcohol is what I need for this class. No wonder comics are always drinking on stage – it’s part of the learning process.

I hadn’t had too much prepared for my two min at the mike. I had wanted to tell a story since a lot of my humor is anecdotal. I talked about my broken arm and some jokes about my job and Fox. I was shaky and faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr from amazing but some people laughed.

Mostly though, it was very different from a LOT of the stories other people told. A lot of older guys (30-40) spoke about how they live at home, hate their lives, don’t have girlfriends, are unemployed. It felt….sad. They’re self deprecation was a little too bitter. I totally believe that comedy can be found in pain and I really do hope this class is therapeutic for them but in my unprofessional experience it’s going to be painful watching them turning these heartbreaking stories into worthy material. One guy actually talked about how his dad yells at him, “You’re a fucking worthless piece of shit and I wish I never had you!” Hilarious?

Some guys told awkward sex offender jokes or groaned when the instructor “banned” rape jokes (“at least for beginners”). It’s a good thing I’m not this teacher – God bless her – because either she really believes everyone has potential to be successful or is a really good liar.

But back to me. This was the first time I ever did any sort of material in front of strangers. I would say it went better than I thought it would in my head. It wasn’t an open mic or a venue in ANY means but it’s been a bucket-list since I was 16 and would illegally download all the Comedy Central specials on my iPod and parrot them back to my friends.

It feels cool to kind of get it out of the way and hopefully onto bigger and better.

Tomorrow I’ll be at West Side Market on 76th and CP Yang on Columbus and 73rd. Come say hi! (And maybe save me from another conversation about GMO’s)

 

 

 

 

Working the Streets of Manhattan

26 Nov

Yesterday I had a “street team demo” for this job I now have, which means I stand on the street and give out protein bars to people. My gig was at 9am. Which my sleepy brain thought meant 10am. So I was looking at the clock going “Well it’s 8:45am. And I have to be there at 9. So I’ll leave 9:30 and it takes half an hour to get to Madison Ave. Cool.” Then I did a double take at the email and then at my clock. Then back to my email and then to my own brain like WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?

I hadn’t done a “street team demo” yet and was a little apprehensive. I didn’t have a table or even a poster to stand next to. I was just handing out stuff to people and yelling facts at them. “Protein bars! 8 grams of fiber! 1 gram of sugar! Gluten free! Non-GMO! Kosher! Made in Canada!”

Sometimes I got all the facts mixed up and was yelling “15 grams of sugar! 1 gram of protein!” And when I realized my mistake it was like ‘whatever, those people are gone and new people are walking down the street! Hi new people!’

I’ve realized that if you ever have a fear of rejection, try handing something out in NYC. It’s just a steady stream of “No, no no, no thanks, hmm, what?, no, *shake head on phone*, nah, no thank you sweetie.” Even 10 min of that and you’re like “I can do aaannythinggg cuz no one is even looking at meeeee – let’s make up a song about protein bars!” And once in I’d say 15 people, someone will take a protein bar from your hand. Which you will drop. And cause a backup of walking traffic while you pick it up.

I had gone to two different places yesterday. I was finished up the second one (very early, since I vastly underestimated the amount of samples to bring). I got to the corner when an older man with a glass eye who I remembered from my first demo saw me. He was getting coffee at a cart at the corner.

Glass eye: You’re leaving already?

Me: Ah yup, all finished.

Glass eye: Come here, come here.

Me: What’s up? *walk over*

Glass eye: *Turns to the guy making him coffee* This is my wife.

Me: Umm…nope. Not his wife.

Glass eye: You want a donut? I’ll buy you a donut.

Me: Naaahhh…I’m okaayyy…I gotta goo…

Glass eye: You wanna hang out?

Me: Nnnooo…that’s okay. I’ll see ya laterrrr byyeee…. *awkwardly backs away*

Because really, that was weird. Like his commitments were in the opposite order of intensity. Also the leap between married and donut is a lot bigger than between hanging out and donut. Maybe he was just using a bargaining tactic. Like, okay you don’t wanna be my wife how innocuous does a donut sound then?! Didn’t work.

Either way. Mild sexual harassment in this job seems to be pretty requisite.

After work I had improv class. I was kind of in a blah mood which is a rough mood to be in when you’re expected to be all silly and into it. I did manage to do a pretty good alligator impression though for one game.

Luckily, we worked on monologues which I am pretty boss at. My suggestion was “bathroom.”

I told a story (stop me if you’ve heard this one) about how when I was in 2nd grade I was a really shitty student. Instead of studying or doing homework, I would go into the bathroom (!!!) before a quiz and punch myself in the nose REALLY hard and come back with a nosebleed and be like “I’m bleeding can I just go to the nurse?” Which worked for a long time. A few years at least. It was foolproof. And easier than doing math.

But then when I was in 3rd grade my nose muscles (capillaries?) got really weak from my stupid self-abuse so it would bleed whenever. We were supposed to go see Les Miserables as a class but my doctor (whose office was down the block from my school so I just walked over with my teacher which was normal) was like nah don’t go. So the class left (and now that I’ve seen Les Mis (the movie) 12 years later, I’m kind of glad I skipped it – also who takes 9 year olds to see that?!) and my principal, instead of sticking me in the library to color or whatever, was like “Well, Gloria the receptionist is out so why don’t you just fill in for her,” and brought me to his office.

I sat at the desk playing with a stapler when someone called. “Yeshiva of Central Queens!” I answered all chipper. “Hi this is Robert Cohen. Can you please tell Sarah Cohen to come downstairs with her coat? I’m taking her out to visit her grandmother.” I guess he didn’t realize the women on the other end sounded extremely young, one might say *too* young to be answering phones but whatever. I put the phone down and walked into the principal’s office.

“Umm..Rabbi..?”

“What? I’m busy!” He snapped at me. And if I had any idea of how messed up this situation was at the time I would have been like “I AM NINE. I DONT KNOW HOW TO BE A RECEPTIONIST. THIS IS INSANE. HELP ME.” But instead I was like “Uhh…nothing. Sorry.” And just kept the phone off the hook for the rest of the day. A little tactic that helped me when I was an actual receptionist 11 years later at UMD’s student union. Jobs!

Speaking of jobs. My job was cancelled today because it’s snowing and if you think it’s hard to get people’s attention on a nice day, try to get theirs when they’re hustling through with umbrellas, bags and grumpy toddlers.

So I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, my little acorns! I am thankful for all of you!

 

 

November 20th. An Update.

21 Nov

Like what even is my life anymore? I was supposed to work this week with more cookie sales (“Hi, my name’s Aviva Woolf-Manas and I’m an overgrown girl scout”) but due to some wacky mix-up, they were cancelled. And now it’s Thursday and I’m listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album and reading a HuffPo article about dogs who don’t understand how to carry sticks through doorways in a manner that doesn’t get them stuck (well *reading* might be a little generous since it’s like 4 words and a GIF).

I did however get my legs waxed today (I *know* in the WINTER – but I’m going to Florida for Thanksgiving next week so I’ll allow it.) This woman is a bit of an over-sharer to begin with, once spending a whole session telling me about how her jealous husband is probably going to kill himself because he found some incriminating pictures on her Instagram (“Like, could he just kill himself already and stop calling me, I swear, he’s so annoying. It was a kiss who cares. And I took a pic of it and put it on Instagram what a drama queen.”) Keep in mind that I asked her how she was doing not “So has your husband overreacting to any infidelities you’ve committed recently..?”

Today I came in and she said, “The weirdest thing is happening. I will think of someone and then like within 24 hours they will call or text me. Randomly! And it hasn’t happened like one or two times. It’s happened TWENTY TIMES.”

Me: Wow, 20 times. That’s like an X-Man level super power.

Her: I know. And I heard that if it happens, that means they’re going to come into some money or something. Sorry I didn’t think of you. And I can’t even control it! If someone pops into my head, they’re going to call me. I should tell them to buy a lottery ticket right? I don’t know what’s happening to me! (stares at me in wide-eyed wonder)

Me: Well, obviously..magic?

Her: Maybe.

In other news.  I joined an improv practice team that will meet on Sundays, I signed up for a stand-up class that starts in a couple of weeks. Improv 201 is going swimmingly, thanks for asking.

I went to a show at UCB Monday night for credit and at the end they had something called an “Improv Jam” where you sign up and anyone can do it. I hadn’t planned on it since it was already 10:30 and I hadn’t watched last week’s The Blacklist yet but my improv class friend Edith said, “Go sign up!” and not being one to argue, I did. Last time I went to a jam I had never been on stage before so I was like eeeehhhI’ll just sit this one out. But I had experience now. I had been on stage that one time. So when they called my name (Well, not *my* name but “Anna Wolf” which was like, whatever close enough – they’re improvisors not literary publishers) I was like yup, I’m coming up there.

Somehow I initiated a scene where this dude was my boyfriend but also obsessed with Jennifer Lopez (the suggestion was “maid”) and I said something about how last week he was her in Maid in Manhattan and today he was Jenny from the Block. Thirty seconds into the game I realized I could not name a single other movie Jennifer Lopez was in in order to move the scene along to anything else. It was not the best. But a lesson learned: Don’t commit to a J-Lo centric scene if you don’t know shit about Jennifer Lopez. That is my free advice to you all today.

Another scene was a lot better. It was about me being a 5th grade teacher inappropriately assigning an essay about murder. My humor is getting so sophisticated I can’t even handle it.

That’s all. That is all my updates for today my little candy-coated balloon animals. Later!

America – Land of the Free Candy, Home of the Brave

14 Nov

Shalom kiddies! Friday, Friday, getting down on Friday. Oh man, remember 2011? I just rewatched Rebecca Black’s video and I have to say, it’s not a good song, but like, I can’t remember why it was *such* a big deal and all over the news for some reason? Or why people send death-threats to children they find annoying. Like, why is death-threats something the internet is now becoming known for? We have this amazing machine that can be used to learn literally anything in the whole world, learn Farsi or how to give your cat a bath or how to make a friendship bracelet  –  or you can spend your time screaming death-threats at anyone who is even vaguely different than you I guess, that’s fun too.

Aaaaaaanyways. Yesterday was my first day in my part-time gig I have to subsidize my little projects and it. was. interesting.

I got to the Kosher supermarket in Brooklyn at about 12:30, met the dude who supposed to tell me what was going on. He took me to a little table at the front of the store, covered in candy jars and containers of the same candy for sale. He asked me what I did as a day job, and I panicked. I didn’t want to be like “Uh…this…?” but I also didn’t want to explain how I was exploring different avenues of creative writing at the moment. So I just said I worked at Fox and he seemed sufficiently satisfied with that answer.

Basically my job was to offer people samples of the candy, advertise the product, persuade them to buy. Not too hard. I was there until 6 pm. I got to be on my feet (work those calf muscles), talk to people, and not be yelled at or called a “retard” so it was already a step up from F-O-X.

My very favorite part were parents who came in with little children whose eyes grew wide when I offered them a free sample. “For free? Can I have one?” they said and looked at their moms/dads. “Oh candy! Look Sarah, aren’t you happy you came food shopping with me?,” they all said back – and gave them a candy because I’m sure taking your baby grocery shopping is not that easy so they were glad they could get the bribe out of the way early (and for free at the same time).

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this guys, but giving out free candy is a great way to get people to like you – you should give it a whirl sometime.

Also, this is the first supermarket I have ever been in that wasn’t playing music. Not even Jewish music. No Miami Boys Choir or nothing. It was very unsettling.

Early into the shift an old man (maybe like 70 or so) came up to me. I offered him a sample and he said, “How bout I leave the sample and take you home with me?” I laughed because I didn’t feel like explaining to this man about how that’s kind of a creepy thing to say to a woman you don’t know. I said I wasn’t for sale and he shrugged and said something I couldn’t hear. “What?” I asked. “Haha…nothing nothing, I’ll try to behave myself.” Awesome, I’m sure it was very appropriate as well.

Then he said his grandchildren would probably like the candy and I asked him how old his grandchildren were.

“They range from about your age until 2 years old”

“Wow, that’s really great.”

“How old are you?”

“Me? I’m 24”

“Ohhh…no, no. The oldest is 20, I thought you were young. Much much younger.”

Hm.

He left reluctantly when I turned to help other customers.

I would say the most interesting thing about yesterday were the reasons people gave to not take a sample. Like, you don’t owe me any excuse as to why you’re not taking candy, that’s not my business. But so many people would say something like, “Oh no thanks – I just went to the dentist.” or “No, sorry, I’m gluten free.”

So so so many women looked sadly at the candy and said “No thank you, I’m on a diet.” One man joked, “Nah I’m watching my girlish figure.” One woman was on the phone when I asked and she gestured to her curvy body and mouthed “Do I LOOK like I need candy?” I’m not sure what I was supposed to say to that, I wasn’t comfortable making judgements about who should be getting candy or not. I didn’t want to be some sort of stingy candy gate-keeper, I was an equal opportunity sample-giver.

A few people looked at me angrily and said something like “I am diabetic” or “I am allergic to corn syrup.” Well, OK then, I’m not your doctor I don’t know your medical history.  One cute older gentleman said with a Polish accent “No no it iz for zeh children! it is for for behbiez.” Like sorry bro you’re in AMERICA now, land of the free candy, home of the brave – get on board.

Two dudes wearing Hatzalah jackets came in and I offered them a sample, or a container for $2.49 for their families. Dude said “I don’t let me kids have candy…or my wife.” I didn’t know if he was joking or not. Oh, those Jews and their dry senses of humor (or Oh, those Jews and their weird micro-managed home lives.)

By 6:00 pm I was wiped, I sold about 50 containers. My tongue was blue from candy and my feet were sore from my poor choice of footwear for the day. However, I was in Flatbush and I wasn’t letting an opportunity to go to to Pizza Time on Avenue J go to waste. I went to high school on Avenue J and am hardly ever in that area. It’s entirely too weird walking around down there – I feel like i’m back in 11th grade, getting food before a debate team tournament (full disclosure, I was too shy to debate, I was always a time-keeper and would give less time to those obnoxious MTA boys – I think it’s safe to finally admit that now).

I got pizza and the guy behind the counter was being all flirty/friendly like “Oh, it’s to-go? You don’t want to eat near me?” and “Of course I have a bag for you Kapara! Do you speak Hebrew?” I wanted to be like “Ugh can I just have my pizza so I can go home and take off these dumb fry boots?” but I smiled weakly instead. I’m working 4 out of 5 days next week and I need to keep my smiling game up.

Talking to Strangers in NYC is Always a Good Idea

6 Nov
A Fancy Business Dog I Saw At Starbucks Yesterday

A Fancy Business Dog I Saw At Starbucks Yesterday

Today is Thursday. National Nacho Day ya’all! So, do what you will with that information.

Yesterday, I got my work schedule for this new part-time gig I’ll be doing so I don’t feel completely useless when it comes to contributing to household finances. It’s only fair since I spend the most money on cute knit hats and grande macchiatos. But to be fair, Ari spends an unreasonable amount of money on Magic cards and ridiculous cat toys (such as catnip flavored bubbles and a packet of 40 ping-pong balls for Whiskey to chase. Now they litter the floor and it feels like I live in the aftermath of a frat party). Cest La Vie.

All I know about this job is that I’ll be giving out candy in supermarkets in Manhattan on Mondays and Wednesdays and cookies in Brooklyn on Thursdays. My new boss seemed very excited to give me the sugary stuff. I think she assigns food based on people’s personalities or how much she likes them. “Oh, you want to take off Friday? Here’s some onion work out bars to shill. Good luck getting people to eat that, spaghettihead.”

Either way, I’m bizarrely excited for my “supermarket theater” I am planning on developing. I have also been working on my stranger A-game.

I used to be a very shy child. As my parents like to point out frequently, I would scream and scream as a baby if anyone except my mother held me – a fact that my father has not yet forgiven me for. I have come to realize that my parents met me as a baby, gathered impressions of me, and have not changed their mind since. Which leads to comments like when I was 18, “Traveling? You hate to travel!” “What, no I don’t.” “Oh really? I guess it was someone else who screamed all the way to Pittsburgh when we went for a bar-mitzvah” “You mean, when I was two?” But I digress.

So I have been trying to speak to more people, strangers, for no reason or to learn something new. Yesterday (sorry if you already this story on Facebook), I was at a Starbucks in the city. The one at 39th and 8th – where I met Ari. I like to sit at the table we met at because we have a dumb meet story (internet dating – which is fine and good at very 21st century. But mostly when people ask us how we met we become a poster couple for online matchmaking.) and this is the only thing I have about it. So I go upstairs and I see the seat is free with some cutesy biker guy sitting there so I’m like can I sit here? And he’s like well I’m waiting for a friend but you can sit here til she comes so I’m like yeah cool, I like sitting here cuz this is where I met my husband and he’s like wow that’s a lucky booth then! And then eventually his “friend” comes and I’m like okay I’ll leave and he’s like nah nah sit we’ll find somewhere else and I wanted to be like fine, don’t get married see what I care! I gave you a magic chair and you gave it away! But I wisely did not say those things. Nevertheless, I felt very HONY. (Later, I was near their table and overheard her explain why she loves kale – I was like, yeah man I get it now)

I reviewed a show last night for the theater website I freelance for. I invited my friend Mel, who is my theater buddy (as well as my try-to-win-Newsies-lottory-NINE-times-before-we-win buddy). This show was called “Awesome People” and it took place at this teeny tiny black box theater called “Under St. Marks” in the Village. I think the Village is my favorite part of Manhattan. Each neighborhood in NYC feels like it’s own little city and the Village, especially when I’m down there late at night, has a campy, college town feel to it. People sit on benches outside tattoo parlors and smoke, teenagers skateboard, young adults spill out of bars and smoke, there is a couple on every corner making out. The girl is always wearing some sort of black fedora and knee high socks, the guy in boots. It’s wonderful (the area, not having to push romantically intertwined people out of the way because seriously guys, it’s rude, move to the side).

This show was four people, telling stories about other people who have inspired them to be “more awesome.”

The performers were seemingly very random, an author and former reporter for the NY Times, a UCB dude, a lady who wrote a book on Joss Whedon. I have never been to a story-telling event. Apparently it happens all the time. It’s not quite stand-up comedy and it’s not pure acting. It looked fun. And I learned a lot. Like the fact that Napoleon became BFF with a little girl named Betsy when he was exiled on St. Helena and that the child actor Sean Astin might be a psychopath.

After the show ended, I did something I never do after shows I review – I went up to talk to the actors. Jeff, this big guy in a leather jacket who told a story about his dad, was super friendly and we talked about UCB and ‘All About that Bass,’ I jokingly said he couldn’t say he liked Megan Trainor and look like a scary bouncer. He said “I’ve built up enough music cred throughout the years that I can say whatever I want.”

The former reporter for NY Times asked me if I ever heard of the child actor Sean Astin. I said I didn’t, and he said “Really? You never saw Goonies? Rudy? Lord of the Rings?” “Oh, yes, I vaguely recall being forced to watch LOTR by my husband.” “Well, he’s Sam.” “Oh, I remember. I’m very proud of myself for remembering any other character besides Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.” He laughed. I told him I had never heard of “storytelling” as a thing people did and he said it was”getting really huge right now” and that I should “look into MOTH – a competition and event they hold all the time.” I nodded and added that to the long list of things I wanted to try very soon.

I grabbed my notes and Mel and I walked back to the subway – passing more couples making out, a guy selling belts and eating Indian food from the Yoga/Indian food/book store he was standing in front of. I sat on the A train uptown. Across from me was a couple in big sweatshirts leaning on each other. They were eating popcorn and staring – straight ahead – at me, like they had paid to see my sit on the subway. I felt like I should be at least a little interesting if they were going to spend the ride watching me. Instead I closed my eyes, continued to listen to Amy Poehler’s “Yes, Please” on audiobook and thought about what kind of story I would tell on stage one day.

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