Monday, August 18, 2014

Fun With Colors

The Color Festival is all about good vibes.  Happy times.  Finding your inner peace through a celebration of color and cheer.

Or

for some people, it's about how hard and often you can sneak up to strangers and pelt them with a handful of powder and laugh and run away.

Some people just don't get zen.

S and I headed to Staten Island by way of Eddie's car service to celebrate with colored powder while wearing white.  We'd bought white shorts from Old Navy for eight bucks each and found old white shirts that would look better with color than they looked completely white.  The sky was a bit gray when we arrived, but while standing on line, the sun came out and a breeze came off the water, and it turned out to be the right kind of day to be outside, sharing the love.



We shared the love on line for a very long time since we'd bought tickets in advance while the people who were buying tickets at the door went right in without having to wait.  Umm, something seems wrong about that.  Also wrong was that we had to buy the colored powder.  So we paid for a ticket (we got a discount because I bought them early AND I bought them with my work email and with an edu email comes an extra discount because education is fundamental) and then we had to pay for powder and still wait on a long line to get in as well as a line to get the powder.  Note to Color Festival: if people buy tickets in advance, give them a free bag of powder and an express line.

Buying the powder was a little confusing since there were no signs for prices or for what you could purchase. When we got to the table through a crowd of people -- it was more of a mob than a line -- we saw that we could buy sunglasses (good for not getting color in your eyes), stickers, t-shirts, and other trinkets.  We bought just the powder.

We also tried on flip flops to get a chance to win flip flops.  Neither of us won a pair.

There was free yoga all day, so S and I did some.  When down dog came along, S was out.  Short shorts and a pose that's ass-up is not her thing.  In a few minutes, I tapped out, too, having not done a full yoga session since Speedy Baddriverson bashed up my back real bad.

There were garbage bins everywhere!
Music is supposed to be a key part of Color Festival, and so several acts were lined up during the day with an MC between each who seemed to be preoccupied with two things: getting people to throw their colored powder on him and getting people to clean up after themselves.  Later on, I saw him picking up the powder wrappers people had thrown on the grass.  People?  Are lazy litterers.

When S and I ventured out onto the floor in front of the stage, we'd planned to start to throw powder at each other, but we had a difficult time opening our bags.  They were sealed shut with some type of super bag sealer and wouldn't open.  While we stood there, several people came by, suggesting we didn't have enough color.  Ha. Ha. Ha.  Clever.  And then?  Some little snot kid ran by and pelted me in the side of the head with a chock full of blue powder. He maniacally laughed and ran away.

And so began the string of encounters with assholes who did not quite grasp the concept of the Color Festival.  Am I an asshole for calling a little kid an asshole?  Nope.  Why not?  Here's why: an asshole is an asshole, no matter what age.  There were four guys, not children but who acted like children, who ran around all day, wrestling each other and angrily throwing powder and each other and other people, including me and S.  Here and there were the same kind of individuals or duos who clearly did not understand the difference between pretty celebration and blind rage.  So annoying.

Mango-flavored.  Delicious.
Also annoying was the advertisement for food and drinks as we could not bring our own. Their idea of food and drinks was a cart that sold water and Gatorade for thirst and potato chips for hunger.  The only stand that had a substantial choice was the yogurt drink stand, which is what S and I bought, and it was delish and somewhat filling.  The other vendor making a killing was the hot dog cart outside and across the street from the event.  Note to Color Festival: provide food and drink that is in tune with your advertising which includes a picture of a group of people standing at a stand with the word Kitchen above it, implying real food choices instead of stuff in a bag.

However, every half hour was the color launch, and while the MC was a bit perturbed at those of us in the back who went early a few times, the entire thing was really pretty to watch.  The first one we did when we were in the middle of it was a bit terrifying as we are a small people and when among a crowd of exuberant colored-powder throwers, we could get stomped on.  When all the colors launch at once, it's very pretty and then very mustard yellow.  We saw everything around us in one second and in the next, we couldn't see anything except what looked like settling smoke, and S said, this must be what it's like to witness a bomb going off, and I totally agreed. It was up my nose and in my mouth and then it got in my eye so I had to go off to the side and blink a lot to work it out of my contact.  Once we knew what it was like, however, we closed our eyes and danced around and let the powder fly.  I held my breath for as long as I could and then let it out as I left the center of the powder puff.  I'd brought wet wipes, so after we'd been covered with color, we wiped off and then we were coated a second time, so each time was a different pattern and hue.  At one point, I had so much powder on me, I looked furry and gray.  After wiping off, I was a blank canvas sans the stuff that stuck to my clothes.

Clean face

Blue face

After our first throw


After our last throw
Unfortunately, after hours in the sun, sweat started to kick in and that's when all colors ran together and started to turn brown.  S took out her baggie of contraband peanuts for snacking and she asked, do you want to stay the whole five hours?  Being that we'd witnesses and participated in several large color throws and had been subjected to the angry pelting several times as well, I was good with going on the ferry and heading home.

The ferry?  Is fabulous.  It was my first time on it and I loved every second of it.  Once we made it to the mainland, we got on the subway where inquiring minds wanted to know, What did you do today?  Refraining from responding with, Well, I did some laundry and then went for a walk, why do you ask?, I explained what the color festival was.  Some people asked if we did a color run, and I responded, something like that but with dancing rather than running.  S simply stopped answered people since all she does at work is small talk with strangers, and I took to just agreeing with whatever guess they had.
Pretty view right behind where the SI Yanks play






A view from the ferry.  Very exciting!
When I got home, I got undressed in the shower.  My scalp was caked with powder.  It was in my underwear.  It was in my ears. Best. Shower. Ever.  When I was finally clean, I looked at my phone and saw S had texted me a pic--she was back to normal as well!  As pretty as the colors had been, clean slate felt just as nice at the end of the day.

This just in....I've learned to use a shared stream on iCloud thanks to S, and so I now have all these new pics from her phone on my phone and computer.  Technology!



Is it me, or do I look doughy in this picture?


Clearly my finest hour

Ferry! Ferry!




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

AMNH

That's one big dino
The thing about the American Museum of Natural History is that it doesn't really change.  I mean, it's history, it's nature, and those two things are in the past, so they stay the same.  However, as people change, our perspective of history and nature change, and as I walked the same halls seeing the same things I saw when I was younger, they seemed more amazing.  That giant slab of a tree.  That huge whale that still scares me a little bit.  The rocks and the gems--the room still smells the same.  And its entrance is pretty grand.



On a bench nearby, we ate some peanuts and left the shells.  <3 LVP

Especially helpful are the walls of the subway stop, letting you know that the museum is near:
Hyenas: because why not be a horrible animal?
In addition to the regular exhibits, however, their special exhibits intrigue with new ideas. Recently, they had an exhibit on spiders.  I did not need to see that, and neither did S.  We decided on the The Power Of Poison, which was fantastic, especially the portion that dealt with poisons in literature.  She's a fan of Agatha Christie and I like the three witches.  We both liked the apple.








Because going to the city means you can't do just one thing, I found this place:

Apologies to the man on the phone with his mouth open
To top it all off, R met up with S and me to play some Friends trivia at one of three bars that were the basis for the bar in HIMYM.  We lost.  A lot. Which I'd expected because R and I were of very little help to S, who knew most of the answers we got right, though I think I got at least one right.  Something about Monica and mocholate.  I'll call that my shining moment.  Aside from me and the witches.  That was pretty cool.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Return Of The Leases

It sucked. Everything about it sucked. We called Toyota to make an appointment to return Yolanda the Yaris because every piece of mail I received, every email, every prior phone call regarding my final inspection (which showed the car didn't have even normal wear and tear--as if it's brand new!) said to make an appointment. The woman on the phone said that they don't make appointments and that we should return it in the morning on a weekday to avoid having to be there for hours. My mom followed me to Toyota on a weekday morning, and when I said I was there to return my lease, the woman asked, Do you have an appointment?

I. Shit. You. Not.

So I said, I was told on the phone when I called that you don't make appointments. She asked who told me that. I said a very nice woman on the phone. She asked me to wait on a couch, so I waited on a couch. The lease manager appeared, and I recognized him as the salesguy who got me into the Yaris. He asked what I was doing for a car and I told him I'd bought a VW. After going out to the car to retrieve the plates, he told me that they were offering some really good deals if I wanted to buy it out. Because I obviously need a 3 year old Yaris in addition to the brand new VW. So I told him I would never buy the Yaris because the cup holders were in the dumbest place ever. My mother was mortified that I would say such a thing to a car guy, but really, it was the truth. It bugged me for 3 years.

For Chevy? I'm pretty sure they descend directly from evil spirits. They refused to accept his car back early even though he was paying through to the end of the lease. I even called and said that we were moving to another country in a week because of a work emergency, and while Chevy in general was sympathetic in giving me different dealerships that might take it back, the actual dealer we dealt with did not want it back. They said they had no room on the lot. We could not bring it back for months. Until I called on a random morning and a manager told me I could bring it in any day at any time.

I. Shit. You. Not.

So I asked, You mean even though you don't have room on the lot I can bring it back? She was like, we can take it. I was like, so why are we told every day until now that we can't bring it back? She was like, Well you can but just not tomorrow.

Eventually, Eddie just brought it there and refused to leave until they took it.

A few days later, GM called to see when he was returning his lease.

I. Shit. You. Not.

I told the woman that we'd returned it. She asked to which dealership. I told her it was Bical Chevy in Valley Stream and asked if they'd told GM. Nope, GM had no record of the car being returned. I told her that we'd been having problems with that dealership for a long time and asked what we could do. She couldn't tell me more because my name wasn't on the car, but by the time Eddie got back in touch with her, Bical had finally been in touch with GM. There was a disposition fee, however, that the folks at Bical didn't even mention ever, and the woman said there could also be charges for wear and tear. Eddie was like, I have a signed paper that says there's no wear and tear so I'm not paying any charge that shows I have any.

Thankfully, both cars are now in dealerships or with new owners somewhere out there in the universe and we no longer have to deal with that kind of car stupidity. Yeay!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GA is A-OK


A flight out of JFK at 6 something in the morning means waking up at 4 something in the morning and getting there a bit before 5 in the morning.  The reasons for taking such an early flight are to avoid crowds and get to the destination to play the rest of the day.  The airport had some people, but not many, which was a score.  We were even whisked through the security line, being directed to the pre-check-in line where you don't have to take off your shoes or jackets and you don't have to take out your laptop.  In this line was a guard with his dog.  This sniffed around, so cute and adorable.  Then he began to follow Eddie.  He sniffed Eddie's leg and they became fast friends with Eddie following me and the dog following him.  The people behind Eddie were laughing at him as the guard called the dog's name and the dog retreated, surely sad that he could not travel with his new found companion.  Heh heh.

Right after security, we found bagels.  We were in a different terminal from last time, and this one had real bagels and butter and it was a delicious breakfast. As we made our way to our gate, we started to board.  Good timing. Eddie and I are always in Zone 3, so everyone boards before us.  We waited until the crowd at the gate slimmed down and hopped onto the end of the line.  As we waited on the line at the bottom of the ramp to get into the tunnel thingie to board, we heard someone shouting in a rush that the other hallway was the right hallway.  The corridor that had been roped off when we passed it was the one to our plane.

Everyone in pre-boarding, first class, elite membership, Zone 1, and Zone 2 had gotten onto the wrong plane.  We Zone 3'ers headed into the correct tunnel thingie as the pilot and one crew member stood there, saying they were wondering where everyone was.  We had to wait until everyone got off of the wrong plane and onto our line to board.

When we were finally on the plane, we got blankets handed to us by a very efficient flight attendant who has a voice for radio.  There were about five people in the two rows in front of us who simply did not understand the concept of "sit where your boarding pass tells you to sit" and everyone had to shuffle multiple times, including a final time to let an unaccompanied minor sit in her assigned seat (though I don't think the fact that she was unaccompanied should have been announced to the entire plane).  Then?  Part of something broke off.  I don't know what it was but it was a long plastic thingie.  The radio flight attendant picked it up, looked at it from several angles, looked around the plane, and then simply took it with him to the back.  That made me feel real safe.

With all the switching of planes and seats, we were about 45 minutes late in landing.  Our brother-in-law picked us up and got us to his house and we were finally on vacation!  We had a spectacular July 4 (after napping) filled with food, games, and fireworks.  Me and Eddie's mom went head to head on a ball toss game that took way longer than it should have.  We also avoided bugs together.  It's a fun hobby.  Later on, I watched a Spades game unfold.  This is a card game I despise because a lot of the winning is based on predicting the future.  But then I got talked into playing with Eddie over my shoulder to help.  I think I won but I don't really know.  So let's say that I did because I like winning.

When time for the fireworks came, we headed to a shopping center parking lot to watch fireworks being set off from a nearby golf course.  I was freezing because why wouldn't I be cold in the summer in Georgia?

Terminal 2 wins over Terminal 4

Freezing cold.


Our niece's Welcome sign. I am wearing clothes, though it looks like I might not be.

Spades.  This is a good hand.  Or not.  I still have no clue.
The rest of our trip was just as fun and jam-packed.  We went to the arcade where our niece hit a points jackpot and managed to rack up thousands of points to exchange for a light up sign.  I hit up the claw machine that said everyone was guaranteed to win because I have an obsession with claw machines and I'm not very good at them, so a guaranteed win is my kind of thing.  I chomped on a bunch of candy for the rest of our arcade play.  Winning tastes good.

The arcade also had bumper "cars" and laser tag.  Eddie and his sister did the bumper cars.  I watched because back in January, I was involuntarily involved in real life bumper cars, and my back doesn't seem up for a game that involves possible whiplash, especially when the two Everything Is A Competition Siblings are involved.

Laser tag was uh-may-zing! I've never played before, but since there were only four of us (me, Eddie, his sister, and our brother-in-law), I was pretty safe in catching on.  Then a fifth person joined in, a little kid who was flying solo.  We played in teams, girls versus boys.  The guy giving us directions asked if we were really sure we wanted to play in teams.  The Everything Is A Competition Siblings said yes of course we must play teams.  I wanted to play in teams, too, because I really had no idea what I was doing.  

However, I listen and follow directions really well.  So when the game started, while Eddie was on the second floor trying to pick us off every time we recharged, I was running back to his base, shooting at the target.  Hitting a person is 25 points.  Hitting the base is 100.  I kept shooting at it until my power ran out and I would have to go recharge.  Then do it again.  The guy who gave us the instructions was in there, yelling out to both teams who was winning and where we should go to catch up.  He was mostly telling the red team that they needed points desperately.  Every time I ran to the red team base, he was like, keep pointing and don't stop.  Heh heh.  I liked this guy. 

The only thing that got me down was that darn little kid.  Everywhere I went, he was there.  He kept shooting me and shooting me and I couldn't shake him whenever he caught me until he had to recharge.  He would simply empty out his rounds by stalking me every time he saw me and he saw me a lot. 
Very fashionable with my phaser
In the end, the girls won.  We had the smaller team and we still won.  Oh, and I was the high scorer of the game, so now laser tag is my most favorite game in the world.
In case you can't read that, it's 16,315 points for me. Yeah, that's right. 
We also went to the zoo. Our niece was excited to go, but really, Eddie had the time of his life.  Something about animals really makes him happy from watching those shows on NatGeo to answering all the questions in the animal categories in Jeopardy! correctly.  We saw a lot of animals. Some of them smelled really bad.  Eddie fed a giraffe.  Giraffes are really large.  The gal working at the giraffe feeding platform told me to think of them simply as really big cows.  Okay then.




There was also a bird house.  We walked in.  There was a back door through which you could see all the birds.  I said, If there are birds out in the open flying around, I am not going out there.  Eddie's mom was close behind me, thinking the same thing.  They all walked out first and laughed while pointing at this sign:

To which I responded, I'm out, and went back inside.  We could still see the birds from there, and it was pretty cool.



Gorillas.  Orangutans.  Elephants. Zebras. Tigers. Pandas. Reptiles. We saw them all.

Meerkats and Me

Not a real reptile

Gorillas behind us







Turtles. But I thought this bike was cooler.

Then I had some cotton candy

and hung out with my favorite kind of children.
Quiet. Stationary. Nice.
Then came the feel-bad-about-yourself part of the experience:
For shame! But at least we were on display!

And to top it off, a train ride.

I don't know what he's supposed to be other than terrifying.


I surprised myself by liking the zoo even more than I thought I would.  Good times.


We all also went bowling.  By "we" I mean they all bowled and I watched because bowling and back pain do not play well together. You know who do play well together? Little old ladies. Eddie's sister said she overheard them ask if they could play half a game. They played a full one.






Everything else we did was low key and relaxing. 



Sunny days

Child

Creepy

Swing!

Then it was time to pack and head home.
Why we need many suitcases.  His shoes take up an entire bag.  And that's just one pair.


Our flight was on time.  Our flight was delayed.  Our flight was on time.  Our flight was delayed.  We got to the airport and our flight was back on time while we were in security in a long line.  Then the two TSA agents at the front of the lines we were on got all nasty when informing us only one of their two lines could accept mobile boarding passes.  They were more snippy than clear, so a bunch of us stood there, looking around, almost moving out of the line and then not because we didn't know where to go until they yelled at us again.  We moved to another line and I looked up and around and asked, Did I miss a sign that says that?  And Eddie was like, No, there's no sign.  Apparently, we were supposed to simply know it.

The agent after that was a little snippy, too, but only to people who were clearly not listening to her instructions, which she was repeating over and over.  She told us not to leave our bags until they went onto the conveyer belt because no one else was going to push them through.  At that moment, a woman tried to walk away from a bag on the table.  The agent was like, And where are you going?  The woman pushed her bag on the table but not on the belt and tried to move again.  Seriously, that must be exasperating.  After that, the agent told us that people 74 and older did not have to remove their jackets and shoes, and if we felt 74, we should do some stretching.  Heh heh.

We went through the scanner and I got stopped.  The guy asked if I had anything in my pockets.  I said no.  Then he looked down and said, Oh you've got on fancy pants.  I said, Oh no I didn't realize they were fancy.  Another female agent told me she was going to check my pockets and I was like, sure thing, and then she wiped my hands and we waited for a machine to tell me I was clean.  While we waited, Eddie got stopped, too, and I was like, Oh no he has on fancy pants too!  We both had pants with designs on them that the scanner clearly did not like, but the agent at the machine told me not to worry. I apparently sounded really distressed about the whole fancy pants.  Incidentally, we wore the same pants on the flight out from JFK with no issue, so ATL and JFK have different ideas about pants and their level of fancy.

We got to the gate on time!  Then our flight was delayed!  An hour.  Then another.  Then a half.  It was all weather related. This is another reason wind is my least favorite weather.

To make up for the delays, Delta rolled out a cart of free snacks.  Everyone pounced all at once.  We waited and then Eddie got a Sprite for me. Later on, we got some pretzels.


Then to pass the time, we watched two people who worked at the airport rescue a helium balloon from the ceiling using a broom.  At one point, one of them almost hit a lady in the face with the broom.  It was most entertaining.  Okay, it was the only source of entertainment.

We finally boarded and sat and took off and landed and upon entering the JFK area, the turbulence rocked the plane and we flew through thick fog and more bumps and fog and more bumps and more until we landed, at which point I separated myself from Eddie, releasing my claw-like grip of terror.  We were about three hours later than we were supposed to be, but really, I was just happy to be home.  And in one piece.

By the way, this is me and my "little" niece. 
She's about an inch taller than me.