Freaking Out Squares

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sting Would Be Ashamed

Okay, here's some more Keystone Kops antics to keep you chuckling. (At me? Heaven forfend.)

I think I mentioned that right before Christmas, my dad and I went to my local precinct to report a case of grand larceny (that's the worst case of grand larceny I've ever seen! Take two Cipro and call me in the morning. Ahem.) that the bitch who stole my wallet perpetrated in the Bronx. The Astoria cops said, well, since the crime was committed in Precinct X, and we're Precinct Y, you'll have to go up to Precinct X and file the report there. As I had an audition later that afternoon, and neither of us had the smoggiest idea where Precinct X was, we asked Precinct Y to fax our material there. They complied, we spoke to Precinct Y, they told us they were on it. End of Act One.

Act Two, Scene 1. My dad calls Precinct X to find out the status of our report--like, did they give us a case number, for starters. Ummm...let's see. Rustling of paper, checking in system. Well, you know, Mr. Karla's Dad, it's the damndest thing, but...we kind of sort of "misplaced" your report. Oh, I know! It's terrible, and we are so. Sorry. Ummm...would you mind coming up here and filing the report in person...? (I'm imagining that big goofy oops-I-fucked-up-but-don't-shoot-me grin Homer Simpson got on his face that time he was heckling Ned Flanders at the Little League game and then Flanders made Homer the coach to teach him a lesson.)

Act Two, Scene Two. Dad and I hire a car, since we have no idea where this place is, to take us to Precinct X. We tell an admin assistant that we're here to file a report. She actually remembers the case, but she tells us she cannot take the report herself, as Grand Larceny is one of the seven major crimes that must be filed directly with an officer. Okay so far, but the sarge-in-charge is not there that day, as he worked till midnight the night before. Can we come back tomorrow? As we sit there, mouths agape, another officer comes over. She's very nice, very together. She asks us where the crime took place, asks me where I live. Tells us, okay, since you live in Precinct Y, that's where you have to file the report. But...but...butbutbut...? I know, says the officer. Tell them to look on page 35 of the General Police Procedures Manual (or whatever it's called); it'll tell them you have to file the report in your precinct of residence. Have a nice day.

If I weren't so exhausted by this whole melodrama, I'd be more amused at the way the NYPD is playing Hot Potato with the jurisdiction on this case. I picture a cop from Precinct X saying to a cop from Precinct Y, "You," and the cop from Precinct Y responding, "No, you." "No, YOU!" "No, no, no, YOU!" "No, I insist--YOU!" and so on. Or perhaps it would look more like, "I ain't touchin' it." "Well, I ain't touchin' it neither." "Ain't my job to touch it--you touch it." "Bitch, I SAID I ain't touchin' it! Talk to the hand!"

Moral of the story, kids--don't carry your wallet in...oh, never mind.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More Red Tape

And the fun just doesn't stop when there's a government bureaucracy involved! This afternoon, I trudged down to the precinct here in SoAsLIC (Southern Astoria/Long Island City, in case you were wondering--my old friend Mr. Shangles and I thought that might well be a snappy real estate designation along the lines of DUMBO and NoHo, and we should all listen to him, because he's getting a Ph. D. in geography) to officially and legally report the theft of my identity. When I called the police station yesterday, I was told to "bring whatever material [I] had plus [my] ID." So I scraped up the fraud affidavits and the statements, slapped them into a folder, and sallied forth. Turns out the only documents they can use are the fraud affidavits, of which I have only one, and it has to be notarized before they can file a report. Oops. I did not know this. Nor did anyone see fit to mention this over the phone. As my dad put it, their MO is, "Sure, bring whatever you have down, and we'll take a look at it, and then we'll tell you we can't use it, so then you can go fix it and come down here again."

And they wonder why these things go unreported. And aside from, oh, getting rid of the roaches in my apartment, or finding gainful employment, or refurbishing my German, I really don't have anything better to do. Did you know that dealing with government bureaucracies can untarp massive wells of ickiness? I'm sitting here typing this in the relative comfort of my apartment and all I can see is a urine-soaked, paint-peeling municipal hallway.

"Being a fucking pussy"? Well, that's one way to put it, certainly.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Son, Be a Dentist-You'll Be A Success

Shout-out to my fellow musical theatre geeks for the title. I was toying with using the whole Steve Martin/Bill Murray S&M sequence wherein Bill Murray, upon having a tooth extracted, ecstatically hollers "Ohhhh...candy bar! Gonna get a candy bar!" whilst Steve Martin bears down on his jaw with the savagery of a rabid SS officer, but I thought perhaps that would be a mite obscure. I guess I should point out that the above is from the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors-the musical version, of course, not the 1971 Jack Nicholson straight horror flick, which I don't think I could watch because I'd be sitting there singing along to, well, nothing. Which is okay if you're alone, but I know from experience that singing show tunes under any circumstances tends to drive those around me to drink, insanity, or murder. Sometimes all three at once.

Unnecessary but potentially amusing prologue aside, I made a trip to the dentist today to see what was up with a molar that's been twingeing off and on for a couple of weeks now. Since moving here eight years ago, I've been to a dentist twice. And unlike a friend of mine who shall remain anonymous for the purpose of this anecdote, I don't spend forty-five minutes at a clip brushing, flossing, Water Pik-ing, and gargling with extra-strength organic mouthwash. I tend toward the benign neglect philosophy of dental care, a stance further aggravated by my coffee and nicotine habits. Given the evidence, it seemed reasonable to assume that the twingeing in my molar was the beginning of the end for my tooth. I've never had a root canal, but I've heard stories. And like appendicitis and cancer, it's one of those things I'd deal with if I had to, but I don't precisely wish upon myself. Well, except when deep in the throes of "crucify meeee!", but let's move on.

Picked a dentist out of the Queens Yellow Pages ("Gentle Dentistry"--sounded good), toddled off, filled out the paperwork, got X-rayed, waited for the verdict. Which was? Nothing. Not a damn thing is wrong with my tooth. According to my new very pleasant, if somewhat reserved, but fairly gentle dentist, the molar is "sensitive." That's it. Brush with Sensodyne, come back in six months. As for the other teeth, there's an infinitesimal pit that may or may not develop into a cavity in another molar, but is fine for now.

I've had two cavities in my lifetime, when I was nine and 11. I went through two excruciating years of orthodontia in middle school (curiously, the bullies never said word one about the tinsel teeth. I guess stomping after me in the hallways chanting "Fat bitch" slaked their thirst for brutality), and I had my wisdom teeth extracted when I was fifteen (and let me tell you, I swelled up like an eggplant! Holy shit--I had no freakin' clue my face could get that big, and I thought it was permanent, and when another friend of mine who shall also remain anonymous dropped by to offer "comfort" saw me, she shrieked, "Oh my god, you look like Eric Stolz in Mask!"). I've gone four years--twice--without seeing a dentist. The way I figure it, my teeth should be rotting out of my head and my gums should have receded to the quick long ago. I am now firmly convinced that I have ivories of Kryptonite. Which I suppose would technically make them Kryptonite instead of ivory, but details, details.

Bottom line--I gots good teeth. Thank god. Or fluoridated water. I'll go with Door No. 2.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Identity Crises, Missed Weddings, and Squandered Talents--Live at 11!

I mentioned in passing in my last post that I lost (or someone stole) my wallet on or around November 15 in the 23rd Street N/R Station in Manhattan. Fortunately, I was on my way to my therapy group, so I was able to hit up my generous friend Muzetta for a loan to help get me through the next few days. Went through the whole dance of cancelling my credit and ATM cards and figured that would be the end of it. Dumbass that I am, my Social Security card was in my wallet. Need I go on? I mean, really, what do you think could possibly happen, given the intrinsic decency and lack of financial desperation so characteristic of humanity at large? Well, let's see. First off, the woman--I know it's a woman, 'cause she's using my name, and unfeminine as I consider it, "Karla" is not androgynous--forged a check belonging to a couple in Mt. Kisco who, as I mentioned in my last post, may or may not exist, deposited it in my bank account, extracted a considerable sum of money from that transaction, then hefted an even more considerable sum of money from my dad's account. The papa and I filled out a report with my local precinct and did all the requisite paperwork with the bank, then closed our accounts and figured that would be the end of it. Notice a theme here?

Yesterday evening, I returned from a weekend in PA, where I attended my 80-year-old grandfather's wedding, to find a whole stack of peculiar envelopes outside my door. Actually, the envelopes themselves weren't peculiar, as they were all from mainstream corporate behemoth merchants, but since I make a point of patronizing independent and/or cheap-assed boutiques, it didn't take a huge amount of neurosynaptic power to deduce that, yet again, something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Turns out the thief opened five credit cards in my name, a situation I at once find mind-boggling and terrifying, especially given my abysmal credit history. I've been joking to all my friends since this thing happened that I pitied the po' fool who attempted to open a credit card in my name, beings I'm some $2K and change in the hole on the one credit card I did open back in the day, when I had a steady, respectable job, because there was no way in hell any respectable merchant was going to allow an irresponsible, poverty-stricken case like me the opportunity to rack up even more charges on things I don't need and can't afford. Um, ha ha ha? WHAT are these stores THINKING? If I worked for a credit card company, I would NEVER offer me credit, and here are these people flippin' out the plastic like it's chocolate-covered peanuts to a person who isn't even, well, ME! Perhaps that's why...? I'm not sure I exactly believe in karmic retribution, but perhaps I should start.

And you want to know the best/worst part? You probably already know this, but I did not, given that I tend to be completely out of it regarding financial intricacies, but if you go to a store and open an account with them, you don't have to wait until you receive your card in the mail to start using it. No, they'll give you a "shopper's card," or in-store credit, or however they happen to dress it up, and you can start racking up the goods that very day. So much wrong with that, I don't even know where to start. I rather doubt any higher-ups at the credit card companies or behemoth corporate retailers are reading my blog, but a girl can dream, and thus I will outline some ostensibly obvious hazards:

1. If you don't check to see if the person to whom you're issuing the card is, in fact, the real McCoy, chances are very, very good that the real McCoy will find out what the identity thief is up to and will go through the process of cancelling the fraudulent accounts. Now, Behemoths, as you well know, TRMcC is not responsible for reimbursing you for any goods or services purchased under a fraudulent identity, and unless they catch the thief, you're gonna be out at least a couple grand. But hey, what do you care? There's more where that came from, right? And hey, what's a couple grand to you? What do I think this is, 1953 or something?

2. Okay, you've ascertained that I am, in fact, who I say I am. You've taken a blood sample, checked the footprints on my birth certificate--all of which you've managed to do at your foldout table in the front of the store next to the $400 pleather pants. But you don't check my credit history. As I said before, I would not issue me a credit card. If I, a self-realized irresponsible individual, can at least manage to be responsible enough to acknowledge that I am incapable of handling a credit card, is it too much to ask an exponentially larger body of individuals to run the quickest of checks on me and determine the same thing?
Yes, I realize that you didn't precisely offer the woman claiming to be me a $10,000 credit line. But still. Which brings us back to the first point, and so on in a continuous loop.

I have to say, the fraud departments at the various retailers have been nothing short of lovely and accomodating, and to my credit (hee), my dark sense of humor has stood in good stead. If nothing else, I've managed to keep them entertained, although one lady suggested I stop watching so much Court TV. Good advice.

*** *** *** *** ***
In happier news, my 80-year-old grandpa and his 72(?)-year-old girlfriend of four years tied the proverbial knot this past Saturday at their home in the suburbs of Harrisburg, PA. The only glitch was I missed the ceremony, even though I showed up 15 minutes before it was scheduled to take place. Grandma and Grandpa decided that since everyone else was already there, they might as well get it over with. The freakin' fudge? Y'all couldn't wait 15 more minutes for the only representative of the Grandpa side of the family to show up--on time, I might add? (English 101 students--behold an example of a rhetorical question.) In fairness to the lovebirds, I cannot imagine that planning and executing even the briefest, most unpretentious of nuptials at their advanced ages is without its considerable emotional and physical toll. In fact, they both made that abundantly clear several times throughout the day--my grandma voicing the sentiment that she'd been waiting for months for this day, and she was so glad it was over; my grandpa falling asleep in his chair in the breezeway while my new family and I yakked it up. Well, he does suffer from sleep apnea.
Oh, yes, a bit of not-so-trivial trivia--my grandmother baked her own wedding cake. Yes, she used to run a bakery, so this enterprise was--wait for it--a piece of cake by comparison, but wow. Feeling inadequate yet? And yes, it was delicious--she made it from real ingredients, after all.
Much love to both grandparents. I don't know if I can fully express how much I love you both. And thanks so much for everything.

*** *** *** *** ***
Okay, here's a little moral/metaphysical puzzle for ya. What, exactly, does it mean to "waste one's talent"? My grandma claims I am wasting my talent by not even attempting to pursue a career as a singer/actress. No, she's not an expert, but she knows what she likes, and she's not the only person who's told me I'm a good singer/actress. Is it "wasting my talent" if I just sing for my grandparents and various friends? I mean, I don't consider them a waste, certainly.

Of course, if you haven't heard me sing, I don't expect you to be able to gauge whether or not I have the goods to carve out any success in the entertainment industry. And believe me, I am well aware of my flaws. And there's a whole other motherlode of muck and mire to plow through around this issue, which I'll spare you for now. If you'd be so kind, please stick to this question and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Out of Hiding (And Happy New Year)

Um. Well. Hi, all. Been a while. Wish I had a creative excuse to explain away my absence. I can think of a few off the top of my head. Feel free to use any of them for your own nefarious purposes:

1. Laid up in bed with a debilitating case of typhus (not to be confused with typhoid, by the way. You contract the former from lice, and the latter from contaminated water.).

2. Revelling in an erotic maelstrom with Kevin Kline, Liam Neeson, the long-haired greasy guy from the Metallica cover band that plays down at that bar on the Lower East Side where the kosher deli where the Rosenbergs shopped used to be*, the Hitachi Magic Wand, and various fictional characters including but not limited to Rhett Butler, Atticus Finch, and Konstantin from Chekov's The Seagull.

3. On a six-week goodwill tour of Africa, trying to undo the damage wrought by overzealous, ill-informed Mormon missionaries. I was nice about it, though.

4. Smashing each and every roach in my kitchen with a stiletto heel.

5. Getting wasted with Jimmy Page.

6. Learning to clog dance from a band of schizophrenic midgets.

7. Writing the Great American Novel, getting it published, winning the National Book Award, punching Jonathan Franzen in the face at the book release party, and spending two weeks in Riker's.

8. Spending two weeks in Riker's without all the glam-fab prelude.

9. Playing Stella Kowalski at Circle in the Square. (Hint, agents, directors, et. al.!)

10. Imprisoned in a straitjacket in a padded cell at Bellevue after distributing leaflets emphasizing the political importance of eating a teaspoon of wheat germ with every meal.

Impressive, no? Sad to say, I was engaged in none of the above. Oh, I could well have undertaken the roach project, and there are plenty of times wherein I think the men in white with the butterfly net should well cart me off to the bin and dope me up with Thorazine, but the truth is, as always, so much more mundane. I was working a temp job at a property management office in Midtown East/Turtle Bay and instead of using my considerable computer time to subject y'all to my verbal masturbation, I spent it reading the old "7th Heaven" recaps on Television Without Pity. Now, there are certainly far worse ways to spend one's time, but I nonetheless allowed myself to be lulled into a state of passivity that, while it afforded me the opportunity to feel superior to a TV family of the Xtian faith, prevented me from coming out of my head and doing the things that needed to be done to join the land of the living.

Oh, yes, and I came down with a stomach bug, and just as I was recovering from that, I came down with a cold, and in the middle of transitioning from one disease to another, I found out that someone was using my stolen driver's license to (badly) forge my signature on some cheques that may or may not belong to a couple in Mount Kisco who may or may not exist. Fortunately, the NYPD was very helpful and efficient and caught that rapscallion thief in no time. (How much of that statement would you guess is true?)

On the bright side? I finally met the lovely Ayun Halliday at Vox Pops in some neighborhood in the middle of nowhere, Brooklyn--no one seemed to quite know where we were, although Miss Ayunee suggested the name of the enclave was Ditmas Heights. Missed the reading, and stood around feeling like the most awkward, dweebiest lump of nothing this side of the East River (I swear, I have not felt that awkward and lame since college! Well, except for that time I was in a bar and I went up to say hi to this singer on whom I had a huge crush and he snipped "Hi" at me and turned away and the friend I was with kept giving me pitying stares and I didn't know who to bash with a meat axe first, and I include myself in that. We're all cool now, except I haven't actually spoken to the friend or the singer in two years) until I introduced myself to Ayun H. and she recognized me as "Karla from the MySpace group". Sigh. Double bonus points for letting me use her cell phone to make several interrupted and thus panicky calls to a friend whose party I was agitating to attend way the hell down (up?) by the river in Williamsburg. (Did I make it? I'll never tell! Oh, the suspense!)**

I'm hesitant to mention this next item, because I don't want to jinx it, but I am very strongly in the running for a slot in an improv comedy troupe called the Grown-Ups Playground, which struts its stuff at the New York Comedy Club (East 24th between 2nd and 3rd in Manhattan) every Saturday night at 6 pm. I'll be performing my trial show on January 13, so if you're in the NYC area, please come down and take a gander. Well, unless I fuck up, in which case, stay the hell away. BIG SHOUT-OUT to Sarito for the tip-off!

New Year's Resolutions? Feh. Lose weight, I guess. Be a better person. Maybe I should make some. I need some focus right now. Odd-numbered years throw me off. They're too linear. I prefer the roundness of a six or an eight. Don't ask why, 'cause I don't really know.

I can tell you this--I feel MUCH safer now that Saddam Hussein has been hanged. I'm sure we all do, as well as supremely vindicated. Har.

Till next, loved ones...

*Doesn't exist, but it could!
**Yes--barely. But that's another story, and I'm a tease.