Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Name is not Brandon

My name is not Brandon. This is a shocking revelation to most of the world. My name is Bradley. B-R-A-D-L-E-Y. For some reason or another, people ask me my name, and all they hear is, "Brandon." There are several possible sources for this confusion. For one, I find Brandon a much more common name (common being a word I use in the most literal terms), while we Bradleys are a rare few. How many Bradleys do you know? Me and someone else, and that's probably it. Around the time of my birth, I think Brandon was having a big moment. Everyone was naming their kid Brandon. It was the equivalent of today's Tate or Landon or Trent. And don't get me started on those Jims, Michaels, and Matthews who have never had a problem. Pity be to those whose name begins with two consonants. We have given people so much information in one syllable, that they oftentimes cannot finish our names. Pity the Whitley and the Whineys, the Bretts, Brents, Brandts, and Brads (also not my name, but that is another point altogether). Once or twice I had class with another gentleman named Brett, and once I actually had class with another Bradley. Ensue total chaos.

My name is especially confusing for the Mexican gentlemen I work with. They ask me my name, I tell them, and they vaguely sputter, "Brandon?" I repeat. They stare. I don't know which part of my name does it for them, but without fail, they struggle along. At times, I have given them my "Spanish" name, a name someone told me stands for my own name's equivalent in Spanish. Brario. I never have never met someone from a Spanish speaking country with this name. So, I will give this substitute, hope for the best thinking, Pedro = Peter, Miguel = Michael, Juan = John, but more often than not, no dice. More than once, I have settled for chico (or as Inez and Josephina at my college food court liked to call me, "chico hermoso" - beautiful boy). In fact, there is much confusion passing between me and those of a Latin descent at any time of day. I speak a decent amount of Spanish, but I don't think I am fooling anyone as to where my country of origin is or what my first language was. Throughout work we share confused stares at each other, neither of us knowing what the fuck the other just said. This is especially prevalent when my amigos will decide to change the subject to whatever is on their minds. They mention the hurricane in Japan, the falling economy, my dating life, what happened yesterday, and I am totally lost. I prefer to stick to familiar, simple topics. The weather. I hate my job. Good afternoon. Ask me to explain a childhood story, and I will stumble for a half hour. But commands I do great with. Pon la mesa. Lava los platos. Lleva el pan. Chingame mucho. I'm at my best being bossy.

And then there is the problem of my last name. This is an annoyance that has been plaguing my family for years. My last name is Wantz. Pronounced like "pants" (people have been loving that analogy for years). We are from the Midwest. The more twang, the more nasal, the more "ehnhh" you can make a word, the better. Our surname is no exception. I'll answer the phone, and someone is looking for Mr. Wants or Wontz or sometimes even Wence. There is no one here by that name. All too often the cheesy-minded coach or teacher or neighbor will come up with the genius line "Bradley wantz _____." Genius. How original. You really got me there. You really butchered. Now, it's not like I have an especially confounding last name. It is not so ethnically transribed as to be a mystery to Middle America. It's only five letters after all. So why is it so hard to say?

Something must be done about this situation. Clearly, it is my destiny to become famous, so people will learn to say my name. All my family will thank me. The years of patient repeats will be over. At the slightest suggestion of "Brandon" or any word that doesn't rhyme with pants, I will simply reply, "Do you know who I am?!?" Fifth grade students will be embarrassed when they mispronounce my notorious name during current events. Children will scoff at their parents for stumbling over a name as simple and brilliant. I will be hip. I will be famous. And beautiful. And pronounced.

What I'm Watching: Valentino, The Last Emperor, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Red Riding Hood

What I'm Reading: A Room of One's Own

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog and Blogger Reunited

I miss my blog. My writing has been infrequent and inconsistent. My keyboard has grown cold, hungry to be touched and typed on again. That's not to say I haven't thought about writing. On many of my ubiquitous to-do- lists "Blog" has appeared more than once. I'll be at work, thinking, "I should really write in my blog." I'm on the train, "You know, I really should write something." A friend tells me, "You write so well," and I think, "Not lately." In fact, many times I have sat down and attempted to write. An idea will come to me, and pass. I'll have a great first sentence, which apparently cannot find an appropriate blurb to follow it. I'll draft something in my mind, usually while I am work, and by the time I reach my computer, all I want to do is check my email (perhaps stardom has arrived without me knowing it) and pass out. And alas, there have been the attempts. I meant to blog about the weather. To write a love letter to my rain boots. I considered an Oscar recap, but then after the awards have finally aired, who really wants to talk about them for at least another nine months! I've listed the movies I've watched, books I've read, music I'm listening to. Upon watching the Joan Rivers documentary, I set about to describe my regimen as a celebrity in training. I even attempted to write about my sister's death. It went, "A year has passed since my sister's tragic death," and that's where it ended. I've yet to garner any real comprehension or compensation from this event; I have no sagely advice to give. I have no further comment at this time.

And so I have decided to no longer attempt wisdom or cerebral grapplings. If you want to read something really smart read Harold Pinter or Harold Bloom or Toni Morrison or someone else who really Knows. Inspired by recent reading of I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron, I have decided to stick to what I know best: gossip, sex, and recipes. Anecdotes. Stories. Chats. Lists. Of course, if you are looking for a really good example of any of these, you should check out David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler, or Ms. Ephron herself. Just for starters.

I recently moved. Nothing major, nothing exciting. I am currently residing in India or England or El Salvador. I have not left New York, not even Astoria. For the next few months, I am subletting from a very nice gay couple and their cat until I can move in with my soul mate Katrina. The move was not for the faint of heart. Wedged in the midst of work and a visiting troupe of IU-ers, I really didn't have time for this move. Couldn't someone just do it for me? Why do we have to move? And after swearing against it, why do I find myself moving yet again? And planning another move in a few short months? What kind of a sadistic prick am I? Peeling myself out of bed after a Post-Oscar brawl, the move began with me assembling a few of my wares and trekking them across Astoria. I quickly learned that my new place of residence was not nearly as close as I'd imagined. This would indeed prove a challenge. After watching this year's showcase, I ventured back to Astoria to get a few more loads before we went out that evening. The task daunting, I quickly decided a nap was the much more appropriate action. the next morning, again peeling myself out of bed, I set off to move in earnest. From sun-up to sun-down, I carried load after load up and over and around, cursing myself for accumulating such a vast amount of crap during my time on Earth. I immediately set a goal to reduce in the coming three months. And beyond. The next morning, the movers arrived. There were men with tools in my house, and I was supposed to be telling them what to do. This my friends, is acting. At one point, they even asked me for a wrench. Me! Silly mover boys. After several trips up and down the stairs and some creative maneuvering of my bed, we had transported the majority of my stuff into its cramped new home. Here it sits and festers for the next few months.

Today, I finished the moving process by finally closing my account with Time Warner. This is a trickier process than one would imagine. Anticipating my move and the end of Time Warner and I's relationship, I called them up to say goodbye. Unfortunately, as in real life, the ending of such relationships cannot be done over the phone, but rather in person. Ultimately, there is a the returning of their stuff (the flashing box that gave me Internet), the signing of papers, the ending on "good terms." Informed an attendant could not make it to my apartment until the 7th, I decided I would deliver the goods in person. Informed there was an office at 2554 Broadway, I thought how close and convenient, only steps from the house. Following my move last week, I set about the streets of Astoria to meet up with Time Warner. Tracing Broadway like a tech-savvy bloodhound, I discovered there to be no Time Warner at 2554 Broadway, nor any 2554 to speak of. Ahh, this woman must have assumed I would realize the office in Manhattan. I assumed there was an office near my home, as if Time Warner office were sprinkled through the boroughs like branches of Chase or Dunkin' Donuts. This is not the case. So, this morning I bundled up and set off to finally return my box of Internet. Checking their website this morning, I discovered there was an office just off my train on 23rd St. I was in luck. It also became clear I would never reach the office at 2554 Broadway. Stepping off the train, I walked the few steps to the door of their offices. Outfitted with flashing screens and better lighting than most theaters, I received my computerized number and was told to sit and wait. It seems I was not the only one caught up in a relationship with Time Warner. You should have seen the line for payments. I quietly waited and watched the flashing screens for my number. I finished my library book, which is good a thing because it is due back on Thursday. Unfortunately, the library was closed today for emergency construction. The library and I continue our tumultuous relationship. A white woman, the only other white person in the office, approaches me, asking how she will know when her number is called. I refer to the flashing screens. On cue, a voice-over announces the next number. It is neither mine nor hers. She appears distraught about this possible wait and returns to the front to accost the kind man giving out numbers. Apparently she is not used to waiting. White women in general are not very good at waiting. It seems her relationship with Time Warner has grown especially thin. I am relieved by the fact that not only do Time and I have a more amicable relationship, but that I also have brought my book. I even have a magazine and iPod as backup. I can outwait anyone else here. A number is called, mine, and not the disgruntled white woman. She will have to wait and reconsider her attitude. I approach the attendant, tell her I want to close my account and hand her my equipment and an old bill. She says nothing, but quickly goes about severing our relationship. Before I know it, she is finished and smiling, asking me to please sign. No tears, no yelling, no hurt feelings. I give her my new address and am out the door. I am finally free of that box full of Internet and can feel relief that I have accomplished my one major errand for the day. The impatient white woman approaches the counter, and I fear her meeting will not go so well.

What I'm Reading: I Remember Nothing, The Hours, Swine Not? (don't ask)

What I'm Watching: Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Body Heat, Requiem for a Dream, The Crazies, Secretary, The Kids Are Alright

What I'm Listening to: Feist