Friday, December 30, 2011

Acting Like A Woman From A Soup Commercial

Tomorrow night, I'm going to wear a dress. Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve. Eddie and I are going to a party. The party invitation indicates that the festivities will mirror a tamer East Coast Vegas in a suburban house. We will play Vegas-style casino games and then we will dance. All that from an evite.

In planning a possible honeymoon to a tropical island where I will have to wear a bikini in public, I have been getting ahead in my eating and training routine. In planning a quick overnight trip to AC, I am thankful I already got ahead in these things. In accepting an invite to a party, I am more than happy I've already begun both.

I actually don't fluctuate all that much in shape and weight physically. In my mind, though, oh, man, I gain anywhere between 1 and 954 pounds on any given Wednesday. I never lose any weight. Sometimes I look more toned than other times. I also like to fake tan on random days in midwinter to look like I could be eternally sunkist.

So I did a happy dance this morning when I tried on the dress I plan to wear. It fits! Everything always fits, but every time I put something on, I am amazed and thrilled that it fits. (I fear the day it doesn't fit; I don't quite know what I'll do).

The dress I will wear tomorrow that I tried on today that fits is a dress I've owned, much like half my dresses, for about 10 years. The last time I wore this dress was to a wedding maybe five years ago. Before that, I think I wore it twice. I don't get to wear dresses a whole lot, so I don't see why I should buy more when I can rotate what I own if they are in mint condition and they fit (they fit!). I have maybe two dresses that are only five years old and then four dresses that are only two years old. They! All! Fit!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

His Best Christmas

As per tradition, Christmas Eve took place at my aunt's house. We had food. I drank too much wine, but it was yummy.

Christmas Day began at 1:45 AM because after the wine, I had half-caf coffee with dessert and apparently even half is too much for me. I was wide awake.

At 6 AM, Eddie moved, which to me meant that he was ready to get up. I put my face near his and he asked, huh? I asked, Are you up? He said, I guess so. He moved again, which to me meant he was getting out of bed, so I asked if he could get me some iced tea and an ibruprophen, and he did even though he wasn't really getting out of bed.

Then, because we were up, we opened presents! We gave each other a $50 limit. We both wound up giving each other four presents within that limit. He had only three to open though because a week an a half ago, he opened something from Amazon in the mail and found one of his gifts in the box because he doesn't read labels and the package was addressed to me.

After opening gifts, we ate breakfast and then played my brand new first ever video game for the PS 3 called You Don't Know Jack which is a trivia game that makes fun of you and makes sexual innuendos whenever possible. My kind of game!

The rest of Christmas day was split between going to my parents to see them and my brother and then driving to Staten Island to see his mom. Both we pleasant and cheerful and full of laughing, which is what holidays should be.

When all was said and done, I was half-passed out on our couch, and Eddie was bouncing off the walls because he had slept the night before and I had not. He told me it was his best Christmas ever. A lot of other people--our friends and our families and even acquaintances and people from work--have been making a big deal out of this being our first Christmas as a married couple. The two of us kind of didn't care about that, so I knew this being his best Christmas couldn't have been because he's married now. He then said, I got the most presents I've ever gotten. Haahahhhaaaaaaaaa. So true! The two of us had gotten lots of presents.

Then he pointed out, Your parents got me more presents than they got you so they must really like me better. Then I thought about it. Yes, actually, he had gotten more presents for him while I had gotten a few presents for me but mostly presents for us. I explained, That's because on my wishlist, I listed things we could use together. Ohhhh, he said. And then he went back to gleaming over his i-Pod and his new shiny ornaments. Heh heh heh. Man, I love him. Merry Merry!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winning The Super Bowl!

After many weeks of football Sundays at BayBen in Brooklyn, Monsters Inc took home the Super Bowl trophy. What the hell am I talking about? Well...

Eddie has played in the same low-contact (meaning lots of contact and falling to the ground) football league for about 20 years. He continues to play every Sunday of the Fall season and sometimes during the Winter season (sometimes, here, means almost always except for that one season).

I do my best to support the team. That means, I wash his uniform, clean out his football bag, fill his water bottles, and sometimes go to the games (sometimes, here, means only when the weather is to my liking, which means only when it's sunny and 70 degrees or a big game, like the Super Bowl). I go, I sit in my folding chair, I talk to the other girls who show up to watch (usually AF and N), and then, for the most part, count down the minutes until the game is over. It's not that I don't enjoy football. I do. I've watched with my dad since I was born. The part I don't enjoy is the constant fighting with the refs after every single play and the inability for anyone to keep score, including the refs.

Sidenote: I just finished reading Chuck Klosterman's Downtown Owl, and his character's take on football is dead on. Read it. Fantastic book.

This year, to support the team, I went above and beyond silent cheerleader. I recorded the game on an old camcorder that uses a mini-VHS tape. My two challenges: (1) The tape had only 2 hours [which turned out to be only an hour and a half once I powered it on] and (2) the battery was dying [even though it was fully charged the night before].

Oh, wait, there was one more challenge. The day of the Super Bowl turned out to be probably the coldest day of this winter so far. The field is near water, so turn that thermometer down some. Oh, joy, it was a great day. At least the sun was out. At one point, the other two girls and I turned our backs to the field so that the sun could be on our faces. At another point, one of the girls said to me: We should go sit in my car because you're shivering. I was like, Am I? At that point, I couldn't tell what my body was doing. I kept walking in place like a crazy person. I told N and AF I used to be a cheerleader and don't know how I used to do it; they were like, Me too! Those days are not missed.

At another point, Eddie, who never ever ever never ever pays attention to me at all during the game because it's his team and he's too much involved with the game to think about anything else like his wife on the sidelines, came over and asked if I was okay. I was like, Not really, as I turned off the camera and put it in his bag so I could warm my hands for a while. He was like, Oh okay. Because really, there was nothing he or I could do about the cold if he also wanted the game recorded.

Because the battery ran out so quickly, I rested the camera for most of the middle of the game. When the two minute warning came for the end, I picked it up again, determined to get the end of the game even though the battery was blinking red.

The game was actually exciting with the opposing team trailing by only a touchdown in the last few downs when they had possession. All the girls were thinking the same thing: please don't get a touchdown...please don't get a touchdown. The worst feeling in the world is watching your guy lose on the field. Not only do you feel bad for him, you feel bad for yourself, knowing that you will be subject to moments of utter despair for an indeterminant amount of time--the rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of forever--there's no true measure.

The quarterback threw the ball. Five guys from Monsters Inc went up for it and shut it down. The cheering began. We cheered from the sidelines. Then I looked over at the other two girls and said, I recorded it and don't even really know what happened other than we won.

Then the boys came over jumping and hugging and chanting and loving. Eddie walked over and hugged AF who was cheering and then walked away. Nice husband. He did hug me later on, though, so that was nice.

He came home with a huge trophy. Better yet, he came home with a smile on his face. So did I. He's a really good football player. He's really smart and, more importantly, really passionate. That all makes it worth the frostbite.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bigger Tree, More Work

This year, Eddie and I have inherited my family's tree. My mom decided she wanted a smaller tree that already had lights on it, so we took the tree I've been using since I was born and that my parents have owned forever. We have no lights. We will buy them on sale at the end of this season so that we have lights next year. The lights that came with the tree are really outdoor lights and they are ugly; they have been the bane of my Christmas for the past several years. When we began to put it up, Eddie realized that the base was crooked. It's been crooked for as long as I can remember, and our tree has always been slightly slanted to the left. This year, Eddie decided to take care of it:
He did get it together. We did put up the tree. We did decorate. It's so Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

From Midtown To Uptown To Downtown To Midtown

Eddie loves me. I know this because I get an idea in my head about something we should do, and he does it without question. I then hint about the drawbacks of doing it, and he gets even more enthusiastic about doing it.

This is how we wound up on a grand tour of the city, ending with near-starvation and very close to the inability to walk.

Last year, we went on a whirlwind Christmas extravaganza of windows and pretty glittery things. This year, I wanted to see some of the things we'd skipped. These things were The Met Museum's tree, the tree at the South Street Seaport, and the shops at Bryant Park. The Met is way uptown. The Seaport is at the most southern part of the city. These are not close to each other at all. Yet, they were included in the same excursion. Because I'm a nutjob.

The Met:
The Neopolitan Tree is so pretty. I've seen it only once before, so I wanted to see it again. I've never been to the museum at night, so that was another factor for going. The third reason was the Stieglitz exhibit that I was uber excited about seeing because I recently watched the film Georgia O'Keefe and couldn't get over how good it was (or how much of an asshole Stieglitz was, or was portrayed to be). So we spent 15 bucks for the both of us to get into the museum using the rationale to ourselves that we would not be partaking in all of the museum. Though, when we went the first time around, we paid about the same and did take in the musueum in its entirety. Ah, the spirit of giving.

I hadn't realized how huge the Steiglitz exhibit was going to be, so when we were halfway through, Eddie was not interested at all. I sped up my viewing process by skimming some of the artists I'd never heard of. I also got him more involved by pointing at naked things and whispering, Boobies!!! Because we're both really twelve.

Once we found the tree, Eddie found a new activity. Two large signs and a guard stood at the front of the tree: No photos allowed. That was dumb. There's no reason to not be able to take a picture. Plus, on the other sides of the tree, no such signs or guards existed. So we had a mission: Take a picture. Not of the tree, mind you. Of the sign that said no photos. This was the last exhibit we were seeing, so if we got kicked out of the museum, it would be fine, but I really did not want to be kicked out of anywhere.

Mission Accomplished.

Without being kicked out.

The Seaport:
Down down down we went and when we emerged from the subway, we realized, hey! This is where we spent our honeymoon! We were in the vicinity of our hotel. We made our way through the construction on the streets and hit the seaport. It was desolate for the most part, but the tree was lit up and bright and huge and pretty. We walked to the end of the pier and then decided to leave rather quickly because the shops at the park were going to close soon.

Bryant Park:
I wanted to see the shops. Oooh, they were so cute. We walked through like we were walking through a mini village. Eddie spotted a booth selling cider and saw that I couldn't control my excitement at the thought of warm cider so he got me a cup with cinnamon sticks. Some people were drinking it without the cinnamon, which should be outlawed. Cider needs cinnamon sticks. Otherwise, what's the point? Exactly.

We then found the tree. I didn't realize there would be a tree there. I'd forgotten there was ice skating. So we watched some skaters for a while and gawked at the tree. The ice was packed and people were falling and the line was around the park. Crazy. That's not worth it. Instead, we window shopped and then decided, hey we should eat before we pass out.

We hiked back towards Penn. At this point, I could not feel my toes. The weather was actually warmer than I'd expected. The problem with my feet was that we'd walked more than I'd thought we would. We took the subway between stops, but we'd spent more time in the places we'd gotten to than I thought, and then the walk back to Penn was the beginning of the end. We settled on the TicToc Diner because it was close.

This whole time, we'd had no unusual encounters, which was odd since we always have a little big of weird creep into our treks. Then came the double punch. First, when we were waiting at the sign that said to wait to be seated, some woman came into the diner behind us and started telling us where to sit. She did not work there. She told us three times. Then when someone came over to seat us, she instructed him to tell us where to sit.

After we ate, we walked to Penn and saw Santa get into a fight with a drunk man, who we think was homeless. We're pretty sure that Santa was defending the honor of a drunk or stoned blonde girl whose boyfriend was yelling, Santa! It's okay, Santa! It's fine! Santa, stop, Santa! Meanwhile, Santa was grabbing the drunk man by the shirt and yelling at him and the man was half-yelling half-slurring back. Eddie was slowing down and I was like, let's go inside quick! He was like, I want to see the outcome of this. Because he's a boy.

I'm happy to report that we had no problem on the train. We used our tickets we received from the MTA/LIRR after the great incorrect ticket punching debacle. Take that, Ticket Puncher Man.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dance Blessings

The last dance class was uneventful. We didn't learn any new dances, even though it's a class. We didn't aim to perfect any dances, even though it's a class. Instead, we repeated every single dance we could cram into an hour and a half. Some were easy. Some were difficult. Actually, only one was semi-difficult, and the rest was cake.

Jean, the woman who won't teach the dance by Pink because she doesn't like the language and ignores the lyric in "Toes" about having your "ass" in the sand, wished everyone a very blessed Christmas at the end of class. I looked at S and repeated, Yes, blessings for you. I'm sure she'll have a Christ-filled Hanukkah.

On our way out, we thanked Jean and said goodnight. She came over and said she hoped we would come back since she didn't teach the songs we liked. What the? Really? We liked the songs and she agreed to play most of what S requested. Hmmm. This was an interesting turn of events. All this time, I thought Jean had the upper hand....we have the power now. We have the power!

But we still haven't learned Raise Your Glass, so maybe not. We assured her we'd be returning to class next session. To learn some new dances. But also, most likely, dances we already know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Art Target Acquired

The first Saturday of each month is Target Saturday at The Brooklyn Museum of Art. Since they had two exhibits I wanted to see and it was FREE, I wanted to go. So that's where Eddie and I drove to in the evening. We found a parking spot on the street about two blocks away so we didn't have to pay the parking fee. As we approached the museum, we saw massive amounts of people. Then we realized it was not a line, but a crowd waiting to see a performance. Phew! It was crowded but we didn't have to deal with lines.

Basically, we walked in, got a map, and off we went. There were people everywhere, but it wasn't wall to wall once we got into the exhibits. We went off to look at everything since he'd never been there. When we went to go to the second floor, we quickly decided that we would not take the elevator at any time because they were packed and we don't really like people, so we didn't want to be that close to them.

We took the stairs to the second floor. The second floor smelled baaaaadddddd. I don't know why. It was just really icky. We plowed through it and then made it to the next floor. Or did we?

You see, the museum is so huge that we kept forgetting what floor we were on and what floors we'd gone to. None too helpful was the map that showed certain pieces of art that seemed to be on one floor when they were on other floors in the actual museum. But getting lost is part of the fun.

I learned that he likes Egyptian stuff when we went to the Met, so I directed us towards the Egyptian collection. At which point we realized the fun we could have with the camera.

When we got to the next floor, we walked around and around and then thought we'd finished until I saw a sign for one of the exhibits I wanted to see--it was about erotic stuff. The security guard came up to me and was like, You didn't see it? I was like, no. She said, go back through BOTH double doors. We hiked all the way back through a wing and then through BOTh double doors and then we found it. Wow. Lots of boobies and weiners. Everywhere.

This is also where we began to find the other wonders of the museum: the visitors. Two guys, unimpressed with one specific piece, decided they needed to move on. One commented to the other: Let's go check out O'Hara's dick. The other agreed vehemently.

To my knowledge, none of the artwork was entitled "O'Hara's Dick," but I do know that some of the works were inspired by O'Hara's poetry (including one with twine and a fork and some shutters that Eddie shook his head at). In fact, many pieces were inspired by several poets such as the painting Poets (clothed) and then Poets (naked) which also included O'Hara with three other poets and what they might look like naked if they stood and sat in exactly the same order around a bench around which they stood and sat with clothes on.

While returning to the main part of the floor to go to the final floor, we passed by a little Asian lady who was standing on one leg, arching herself to the side with an arm over her head. We looked at the sculpture she was in front of. It was doing the same thing in a much more successful fashion. Take note--this was happening in the busiest and narrowest part of the museum, so how she balanced is a mystery. Also a mystery: why she was imitating the sculpture.

In an attempt to go around her, I veered left. There, I encountered a very tall, very old man who decided to snort quite loudly and contort his face. I heard Eddie start to snicker behind me. I veered right instead and Eddie grabbed onto me and was like, you heard that, right? We left for the fifth floor laughing.

The final floor was set up, as Eddie observed, like a store. It was like a stock room of odds and ends. We saw a huge statue of a naked woman. Time for fun with the camera. The plan was I would stand behind her and he would take a picture of me through her legs. It was a great plan.

Except for the photographer obsessed with her from every angle. He was there for a good fifteen minutes taking the same shot of her big butt. Over and over. Then when we thought he was leaving, he took pictures of her boob. Over and over. He retreated only to reappear on the floor next to her. He was turned towards the bicycle next to her so I hopped behind the statue and we got our shot before he could turn around.

Then we got out of there. We'd been through the museum entirely in a little over two hours. On our way out, I saw some activity at the front windows and realized, hey there are slicked down body builders in the window. They were posing for a picture from the inside so their backs were to the outside. Maybe no one realized that we could see from the outside. Maybe no one knew how a window works. When they stopped posing for the picture, they turned and saw the outside crowd and everyone was cracking up, and one woman was trying to get one of the body builders to call her.

We decided to skip the body building show and instead head to Roll N Roaster. They both involve protein but only one offers cheese on everything. Now that's a business model I can get behind: Cheese. On. Everything.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

If One Day I Disappear, Look For Me In Scottland

The car ride to dance class served as a place for great debate. AV was in town and S wanted to know how to get her into the class. Should we approach Jean outside the dance room? Should we go up to her after we settle in? I opted for just starting to dance and seeing how long it took for Jean--or anyone for that matter--to realize someone else was in the room who is not really part of the class.

All this discussion became a moot point as we arrived at exactly 8 in the parking lot. That means that Jean had been dancing for at least 40 minutes already because as we know by now, "on time" is early and anything after that is late. So we jumped right into the dance. Actually, the music was on pause but we scurried into place and basically ignored what anyone else was doing until Jean put the music back on.

I had originally thought Jean was not going to notice AV at all or it would take at least have the class time to realize it. Good thing I did not bet on it. A lot of regulars were missing from class, so AV was not hiding in a crowd. Also, since she'd missed the instructional portion of the first dance, she was pretty much on her own, one beat behind, though she was holding her own.

After the dance, here came Jean, asking who our new dancer was. S and I introduced her as she introduced herself so it came out as saldkjfdlkj;ltdjhlkgjlkdfhklht, but everyone got the gist that she was visiting from out of town. Then Jean asked, Will you be back next week too?, all excited. No, we all answered simultaneously. Jean looked disheartened. Somehow she found the strength to move on.

We learned one new dance, the Bachata. (Remember when Robbie tells Johnny that their final dance of the summer is going to be the PaCHANga! in Dirty Dancing? That's kinda what this reminded me of). Then everyone got into a very serious discussion about how Jean chooses the dances. She chooses them FIRST. Then she checks to see if they are on YouTube. She laughed as she described her beginner class and their reliance on YouTube, and then claimed they were getting impressively better. No one asked Jean where she chose the dances from, though. If not from YouTube, where is this all-powerful, all-knowing list? She made sure we understood that we needed to search Bachata LINE DANCE, and there was only one link for it on the side in blue.

I just searched for it. I found several links for it. None of them were in blue. Some of them were still a completely different dance. Still, I found one that fits us. I especially enjoy the guy in the front row since he makes it his own, facing in directions that face no one wall at once.

Which is really what our class is like.

We also did Homeward Bound which has fast become my favorite dance because of the restart that half the class does not do, which means people send themselves flying across the room with these long strides to the side while the rest of us do a completely different part of the dance because it skips the flying part. Unfortunately, Jean gave too much warning and only one person missed the restart only once instead of two or three people missing it twice. Sigh. It's sad when people learn.

S asked for Something In The Water, and amazingly, Jean played it next. I really love the song, and the dance is a bonus. It is also pretty easy to pick up on. AV saw that Jean was going so fast, but that was because we had already learned these dances. I reassured AV that sometimes Jean goes just as fast and then stops teaching even with new dances.

We did the Love Letter Waltz. Somehow, we all kept bunching up on top of each other even though we were spread out at first. At one point, we were doing a half turn and I felt Jean coming at me, face to face, head on. Startled, I went to turn but was on the wrong foot and wound up literally running in a circle back towards S, who took one look at me running on my tiptoes and began to laugh and gasp at the same time. I ran right into place, though, and had much more room to finish the dance.

Oh, and I almost fell over at one point because of a random attack of the crazy legs.

Class wound down and as we got our coats, the woman from last week brought over a bunch of papers she'd printed out for us about Scottish Folk Dancing. Again, she praised the dance style and the dancers. She's been going to the classes since only September and she's already got so much passion for it. She really wants us to go because we're young, so much younger than the older folk who kind of can still dance. She even suggested we go a bit early like she does to get in extra dance time with the instructor. From the classroom, down the hall, down the stairs, and through the parking lot, she raved about the class and the style, even after S broke the news that I would totally not be interested since they change dance partners during the dances and I'm not that kind of girl.

She said we should call her if we decide to go. Then she was off to her car. S pointed out that with all the energy and encouragement, she still hadn't given us any way to actually contact her. Maybe she's torn between having to do her duty to convert us and not wanting to brainwash us Scottish-style. I still haven't checked it out on YouTube; I'm scared that maybe I'll like it too much.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Sporty Thanksgiving

Eddie has always wanted to be able to stay home and watch football on Thanksgiving. It's a simply wish, really. One day to eat with family and watch football with family. He asked that we have everyone over to our place for the day. I passed the idea along to my parents and brother who were all on board. He asked his mom, telling her that he would pick her up the night before and she could stay over for a night or two. She was on board.

So we hosted Thanksgiving. Now for Eddie's idea of hosting. He's been working on his hosting skills since January's Super Bowl bash when he invited all his friends and my friends over and there were eighteen people here, some sitting on the floor, some wrestling in our bedroom, and everyone eating only when I put the food out while he watched the game. His skills became much improved by September when he threw my birthday party in the backyard. He took care of inviting people, ordering food, and greeting guests. Poor D, however, sat without anything to drink for about half an hour before I kindly reminded him that she'd asked for a drink (mainly, I yelled across the yard: D is dying of thirst!!!).

S thinks Eddie would make a good maitre d. He likes inviting people and greeting people. I think Eddie's ideal hosting situation is to be like, Hi! Welcome to my party! Now go see my wife if you want anything!

I put out crackers, cheese, pumpkin butter, and carrots for noshes. My brother was down with the pumpkin butter. He likes jam so I really had put it out for him to try, knowing he'd probably like it. It's got a spicy sweetness to it that is very delicious. Oh, and Eddie put out olives. Black olives. He doesn't like basic foods like peas but he'll eat a barrel of black olives in one sitting.

He helped make the rice and the mac and cheese. He also poured drinks. His hosting skills are ever evolving.

I made yams and string beans. By "made," I mean, opened the can and heated the food in the microwave. I put them in pretty bowls. My mom took care of the meat, ordering turkey breasts from Omaha steaks and getting a free ham to boot. My brother brought apple cider. After tasting it, he said, This is just juice.

I heated up gravy in a fancy gravy boat that I also use for sauce when we have pasta. In reality, it's supposed to be used for milk as part of my tea set, but it serves many, many purposes involving various liquids.

The big deal of the day was my spaghetti squash. I was excited to show Eddie the final product. He promised to try it, which I did not even ask him to do. Mr. Picky Eater Pants does not eat a wide variety of veggies, and so I was not going to tell him not to try it. I just thought he'd think it was cool the way it comes out of the rind looking like pasta, hence its name.

I was right. He kept saying, that looks so cool! How'd you do that? I told him, with a fork--it just comes out that way. The kitchen smelled like a pumpkin. They're in the same family. I asked him if he wanted to try to bake the seeds. He was like, throw them out right now. Heh heh.

We all ate. We all played with my mom's i-Pad. We all watched football. It was a good time.

Then we made tea and coffee and hot chocolate and ate pastries that Eddie's mom had brought and coconut custard pie that we'd bought specifically for my dad.

Then we watched more football. And then some more football. Everyone was actually watching. No one was nodding off in a food coma. No one was itching to change the channel. It was a football Thanksgiving afterall.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Putting On The Moves

Two voices of seduction emerged at dance class. After reviewing several dances we already know, Jean put on some music that was new. Sometimes Jean goes into her own world and dances by herself without explaining anything. I used to think she was rehearsing the steps in her mind before teaching us how to do the dance. Then I realized that sometimes she simply likes to dance. Alone.

This time, she didn't really do a dance. She bobbed her head a few times. Then she turned to the two women from the Clique. She slowly moved her shoulders from side to side and then up and around. The bottom half of her body wasn't doing much. She asked, Do you like this?

The two women's faces responded before their words could. Their faces said: We're confused. We're not sure what "this" is. If you're asking if we like what you're doing with your body, the answer is that your movement is making us uncomfortable. We think you're trying to pick us up. We're going to say "yes" now, because this is getting even more uncomfortable and we think that's the answer you want to hear.

They then said, Yes, sure, it sounds easy, in the hopes that Jean was referring to the music.

S and I were totally in each other's brains because she said what I was thinking. It kind of reminded us of this:

After learning Bajo La Luna, which means Under The Moon (nine years of Spanish at work here, people!), we danced it maybe twice. Every second 8-count was the same, which makes the dance seem easy because you keep repeating. Really, it makes it harder because you have to remember, Did I just do the first second 8-count or the second second 8-count? That means I found myself spinning in a complete circle, rather quickly, and facing the wrong way.

This kinda makes me want to dance in a park.

I actually did that exact same more once more when we went over Love Letter Waltz, at which point S pointed out how we are horrible people because no one laughs at us when we clearly mess up, yet we laugh at everyone else, especially when they forget to restart Homeward Bound in the middle and go off in a flying step across the room when everyone else is slowly moving forward and backwards. To which I responded, they don't laugh because they don't see us because they are watching their own feet for the most part. But yes, we are horrible people. Me especially since I put my head down and laugh hysterically instead of holding it in, which in all reality is impossible and if not achieving the impossible makes me a horrible person then so be it.

Next, S and I were seduced by the idea of Scottish Folk Dance. A woman who has been in all the sessions with us asked if we had ever heard of it. At first S went to say she's seen Michael Flatley Lord Of The Dance but then realized he's Irish, so no. The woman explained that it's very intricate and as you learn it, it is difficult, but it looks very pretty and she wished more people did it, especially young people, meaning we should do it. It's a partner dance, which I do not like at all, but if we get to stick with the same partner and we don't have to touch anyone, then maybe I'd be interested.

Jean started French Toast at that point so the woman ran back to her spot and we started dancing. S hates French Toast, which makes me love it more. It's her Reggae Cowboy and Stupid Slow Broadway Song all rolled into one, and I delight in it. When S saw the woman talking to the Clique, she no longer felt special because she thought the woman was recruiting everyone for the Scottish dancing, not just us.

The woman came up to us after class also, though, to explain the musicality needed for the dance, I guess suggesting that we have musicality. We said we'd think about it. I said I'd look it up. It sounds intriguing. So maybe we'll become Scottish Folk Dancers. Maybe that's our true calling.

Until then, however, let's take a look back at the entire seduction of Chandler and Phoebe. My favorite part? 5:48--Show him your bra!

Speaking Of Hair Band Videos

This is the video S thought of when I mentioned my search for windy models through 80s and 90s music on YouTube.

My instincts urge me to discuss the suspenders coupled with leather pants. However, since Janie Lane has sadly passed on recently, I will refrain from my usual snark.

I will instead discuss how this video does not come to my mind when I think of windblown video girls. This is the video I think of when I think about:

1. Pie

2. Cherries

3. Cherry Pie

4. Getting sprayed down with a fire engine hose that is not strong enough to push you down but is strong enough to get you sopping wet, apparently much to your delight

5. How guys think a girl would enjoy getting sprayed down by anything coming out of a hose

6. Scary fake smiles

7. Songs with bad lyrics for which the bad lyrics go unnoticed because everyone remembers the video with the happy girl who gets sprayed by a firehose and then licks things

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dirty Minds

I want these dolls..

.. because they curse.

If they didn't curse, they'd simply be scaryass dolls that I would want nothing to do with.

We Were Video Girls

Autumn has been going through an identity crisis in the past few weeks and can't decide if it wants to be Autumn or Summer. That makes deciding what to wear to dance class difficult. Additionally, plantar faciitus came to town along with Aunt Flow, so my wardrobe was a huge debacle--what pants would fit? what shirts would be warm enough but not too warm while dancing? what sneakers had the best support? Really, way too much time was needed to plan the whole outfit.

S and I stood at the front of the room as we have been doing. I wore a zippie with a long sleeved shirt under it and instead of my orange and black sneakers, I was wearing my cross training sneakers that I use to work out in. I'd been wearing them all week to work paired with jeans. No one said anything to me about wearing sneakers to work, meaning my students don't really pay attention to me as a human being--also evidence of this idea is the fact that when I say Good morning how are you? they stare, confused. Anyway, I was wearing basically what I'd worn to work.

We danced a mambo. We danced a tango. We danced all our usual dances. My foot was holding up pretty well except for during the alligator dance when we jump a lot; I felt a few aches so I backed down. Also impeding me from large jumps? My uterus and its penchant for cramping and all around dragging me down. Still, I'd rather that than a person inside of me.

All the dancing caused some heat. That happens. I shed the hoodie. S shed her hoodie. Other people shed their outer layers. All a part of the dancing.

Then, because Autumn suddenly became Summer only inside the dance room and only for some people, lady who tied her jacket around her head once put on the big fan in the front of the room. Who did it blow on? Mostly S. When she moved, who did it blow on? Mostly me.

You know those videos that have long shots of slo-mo girls rocking out and flipping their wind-blown hair to and fro and they're smiling and laughing, all glittery and fun? It was kind of like that only we were not happy and grinning with glee. It was annoying and it was cold. The only things missing were a car to dance on and fake smoke.

Man, I used to love this song.

[The other video that came to mind is not available for embedding, which is unfortunate since it shows a woman literally sitting in front of a fan. Sigh. I miss hair metal and all its unsubtle metaphors.]

S stood for it for about a minute and then turned to me and said, I'm going to the back. I said, I'm coming. She said I could stay in the front but I explained that if she moved, I had no fan buffer.

Of course, as soon as we got to the back, we were learning a new dance. I couldn't really see Jean's feet because all these people were now in front of me and a partial wall was in the way. However, I was able to catch on. The nice thing about being in the back was all the room we had. We learned Love Letter Waltz (that's kind of the name) and a waltz necessitates a lot of room. For the first waltz we ever learned, Jean kept instructing, Now MOVE! And MOVE! And so, we learned to really move, taking up as much space as possible. Now that we were in the back, we could move around as much as we wanted, which was quite nice.

Jean was very enthusiastic about this dance because it was by Elton John. And Bonnie RAITT! Her emphasis, not mine or S's.

Moving was becoming a problem, though, because I was simply running out of steam, and S recognized it. She was like, are you okay? I said, I think I'm dying. In that moment, I think I thought dying really was a strong possibility. Class was over by that point, though, so I was alive, a bit windblown, but alive.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Maturity, Defined

Certain people in my life have wound up on a list of people I would rather not see for one reason or another, the main reason being "too awkward." In my mind, they no longer exist. I don't wish them harm. They simply disappear. Vapor. Dust. Nothing.

Because of this very real scenario I've made up completely, I am overly surprised when I see one of these people walking around on this planet, still very much in existence.

So as I sat in the back of Starbucks, facing the front doors, I stiffened, gritted, and stage whispered to T, L's here. Then I turned my face to the window. Then I turned my face to the counter. Then I turned my face back to the window, realizing these were my only two options.

T goes, L? Like, L L?

I answer, Yes, L.

She was like, Do you want to sit here? Her back was facing the doors, but by this time, L was at the counter and had we stood up, she would surely look over.

I answered, Nope.

Then T offered these two suggestions of disguise:

1. Put your sunglasses on.

2. Do you want my hair tie to put your hair up?

I showed her my wrist which bore my own hair tie and answered, she's known me long enough to know what I look like in sunglasses and a pony tail.

I relied on my own disguise of "Invisibility." That means I willed myself to be invisible, much in the same way children do when they think no one else can see them if they close their eyes. Instead of closing my eyes, however, (I'm not a child!), I tossed back the miniscule drop of what was left in my coffee cup timed perfectly to coincide when L walked by us. Apparently, she hasn't known me long enough to know what I look like while drinking out of a paper cup.

Either my amazing disguise worked or she chose to do much of the same thing I was doing--pretend it wasn't happening.

T, doing her best not to call attention to us, waited until she walked towards the doors to ask what she looked like now. I was like, much of the same. T got up and walked towards the front of the shop to see her and came back with, She drives a Mercedes?

I was like, No, and that means that totally was not her at all.

So she went back for a second look and came back with, No, it was her and she's driving a Volvo.

And then, flying by the window came L in her Volvo, looking exactly the same as I remember her when we used to hang out, her Starbucks in her cupholder, eyes on the road, making sure she didn't catch one more glimpse of me. Hmph, now that's mature.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Two Cents, Literally

To celebrate 11/11/11, Eddie and I decided to go on a date to see a movie. I still had money on my movie gift card and I still had money on my Visa birthday gift card. Cheap or free--that's the way to be. For a movie date, anyway.

When we got to the theatre, tweens and teens were everywhere. He wondered what was playing because these kids were way too old for Puss N Boots, weren't they? I noticed that Footloose was playing in two of the theatres. Sigh. Why can't they just replay the original?

Now we both have hearing problems. Talking to someone through a small hole in a plastic wall is not easy. I asked for two tickets to In Time. I handed over my movie goer card and my movie gift card. She slid it through and said something. I looked at the register and saw there was a balance, so I guessed she'd said the balance. I handed over the other card and she slid it through. She said something. I didn't know what she said, but Eddie handed her cash, figuring we had a balance. Then she held up two quarters. I shrugged. I did not know what this meant, but I knew it meant something because if she were simply giving us change, she would have slid it to us. I was like, Oh, do you have change? to Eddie. Maybe we needed to give her change.

She then said loudly, Oh, no, I don't need that; I have only quarters left. I looked at the register again. The change she owed us was something dollars and 52 cents. She had no pennies. Seriously? She handed us the quarters and our receipt and ripped our tickets for us because there was no ticket ripper and we were off.

We stood in one of two very long lines at the concession stand because Eddie likes to get popcorn and soda and M&Ms. You know, because it's so cheap at the movies, so why not. I realized that there were two registered open here. I told him that when he ordered, I was going to order two pennies.

As we waited--about ten minutes, no joke, as the guy behind the counter helping our line was clearly stoned and in slow motion--I noticed the other guy behind the counter was wearing a suit. He had to be the manager. I told Eddie I was going to ask the manager for two pennies. As we got up to the counter, the woman from the ticket booth came over and told the manager that the movie in theater five was playing half off the screen. I called out, And you're out of pennies! He said, I'll take care of it, as he scooped some popcorn into a bag. I think he was referring to the movie being off-screen, not to my penny problem.

We made our way to the theatre all the way in the back of the place. I remembered being there for another movie we saw and freezing my ass off because we sat towards the back and there was a cross breeze from the open door. We sat further up. Then we both noticed at the same time the front ten rows of the theatre. They were marked off with yellow police caution tape. I looked up and saw that some ceiling tiles were missing. Either there was a leak or there was a murder in those rows.

When the movie started, I was freezing. Eddie was freezing. The air conditioner was on full blast. The cold had nothing to do with a cross breeze apparently. He went to put his soda down and realized, This is the theatre with no cup holders! Then, about halfway through the movie (which was really good), he was wiggling around in his seat, completely uncomfortable. They are the most uncomfortable seats with no cushion on the seat part and no give in the back part so you sit straight up and down. Sitting on an airplane is more comfortable.

We got out of there as quickly as possible, moving like the elderly, once the movie was over. I thought that maybe, just maybe, my two pennies would go to a fund to refurbish and update the place so that the next time we go, we'll have a more comfortable experience and get extra change back.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Move Over Rover

I have a problem with this Range Rover commercial.

These two trucks arrive in Times Square, unloaded from a huge semi. They stay in the middle of Times Square. People ooh and ahh over them. Then at nightfall, they drive out of Times Square, one after the other, as people crowd up on the corners of the sidewalks to let them by.

Um, no.

1. No one in Times Square cares about two shiny trucks unless you are giving them away for free. Times Square is filled with blinking things, shiny things, glittery things, funny things, odd things. No one cares about a truck they can see on any street in any city.

2. Let's pretent they do attract attention and people fawn all over them. The trucks would not look as shiny and new as they did when they arrived. They would be covered in fingerprints, breathmarks, oil from nosy noses, and mystery matter ranging from possible fro-yo to possible hot dog water.

3. No vehicle can make a turn from one city street to another while pedestrians calmly wait on the sidewalks. No vehicle can part the Red Sea of Manhattan Walkers. Instead, these cars would be stuck between huge mobs of people crossing against the light as well as cars going in the cross direction who are illegally blocking the box or who get stuck behind busses that can't move because more people are walking in front of them. Not even Range Rovers can do that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Other One

I arrived at dance class alone as S was getting a ride straight from where she was and not staying around the corner as per our usual ritual. When I got there, which was not really early, I saw that only five people were there. Where was everyone? I went over to the side near the windows where we've been leaving our stuff and dancing. Then I saw the other people were parked across the room. Ah, making friends. It's my specialty.

A young Asian woman came in and sat down near where my stuff was and struck up a conversation. She first asked where my friend was. I said on her way. Then she asked how long we'd been dancing. So the two of us had a nice chat about our dance histories and how many dance classes at which levels we had taken with Jean. This nice chat was filled with me going, Hmm? What's that? and Say again? because she was a low talker with a slight accent and I'm deaf and distracted. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see Jean making a b-line for us. So I started talking frantically about dancing at the beach, nervous about Jean's approach.

Jean asked, What's your name again, Christine? I said, Yes, Christina (which should have been, No, Christina, but it's Jean so I just agree automatically). She then asked, and the other one of you is? Heh heh. When I relayed this to S later on, she was like, I'm the other one? I responded that if she were in class, I would be the other one. Jean reaffirmed the Asian woman's name, too, which I have now forgotten. Then it was off to dance.

We learned a few steps of a dance we did briefly two weeks prior as S approached the doors. Jean waved. S waved back. I waved feverishly and S rolled her eyes as she walked in. Early start? she asked. Yes, definitely. Even though early is on time, this was even earlier than that.

The class filled up pretty much after that and everyone seemed to be picking up on all the dances. S pointed out, well look who's not here. After a quick survey, I realized that Robot Dancer was not there, messing our side of the room up. However, during one particular dance, I did turn to find everyone facing different directions, doing different steps, so we can't blame all the screwups on Robot, but we can blame most of them on her being that when she does her Robot thing, S gets messed up, and since everyone follows S because she's on the end of the line, everyone messes up. Dance logic. Learn it. Love it.

By the way, the flying dance is Homeward Bound and what we do is more flyingish that this:

Beer and Bonfire

Have you ever been to an Oktoberfest bonfire party when the nighttime grows slowly colder and colder but because you are drinking beer by a fire, you don't really notice it? If not, here's what happens: you take a lot of pictures of the fire, which you think is the coolest thing ever.

Some days later, in recapping the night to my brother, I mentioned that the first beer I tasted was actual Oktoberfest, to which he responded, That stuff is strong! No kidding.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Jean Totally Reads My Blog

Last week, I complained that dancing had become less of a challenge. Apparently, Jean saw that and decided to challenge away. Not only did we do the alligator dance, but we did it to the fast song.

We went over Blue Night Cha Cha again which my feet do not like to do but I force them to dance anyway. There's a step that involves a rumba box and a shuffle and they shuffle when they should rumba and rumba when they should shuffle. I like that I have something to work on.

We then went onto a dance that once we started, I said to S, we did this one before. She was like, No. I was like, I think at the beach? She said, Nope. I was like, No, wait, we did it here. She said, Hmm, maybe. The music came on. It was not recognizeable. We did the dance. I was in lalaland, trying to figure out how I knew it. Then, Jean put on Rod Stewart's The Motown Song and we were like, ohhhhh, yeah, we know this one! I actually sing along.

See that arm roll thing? We don't do it, but I'm so gonna start.

Then Jean taught us how to fly. With quick feet and flailing arms, everyone in class flapped around, laughing hysterically. The step was not easy. The dance itself is easy (I can't remember the name though). Doing the particular step is difficult once you're in it. Arms go one way. Body goes another. Feet cross behind in one direction. Feet cross in front going the other way.

Fun Fact: Crossing behind with the feet allows the arms to move up and down diagnally. Crossing in front makes the arms flap out to the sides as if you're a chicken. A flying chicken.

I'd been staring at the clock between dances earlier on in the class because I was getting bored with relearning the easier dances.

Once I started flying, I stopped looking. There was no time to look. I had to work on not feeling like an ass. Then I had to work on not looking like an ass.

S and I did not pick up the dance right away. That made everyone in the room feel better. One of the clique women said that if we didn't get it, it was okay that she didn't have it yet. No one agreed out loud with her, but since everyone secretly hates us, I know they agreed in their hearts, especially when we started flying more easily by the end of class.

Not that it looked very pretty, but we did get the steps. Yeay for Jean for giving us a challenge.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Robot Line Dancing

Dance class was mostly repeats of every song we've learned so far this session as well as some standbys which include Hello, Dolly, which we went through step by step yet again.

Because I was on automatic for most of the class having already learned the dances, I was able to start a list--Things That Make Me Laugh, Realized At Line Dancing:

1. Hair clips that had no functional purpose.

2. People who pull on the wrong door to get into a room.

3. Stopping class to wait for someone who is walking down the hall.

My list was cut short when I interacted with the ladies from the clique. They kept saying to Jean that every song she taught was the one that she had to switch to a slower song. Finally, I looked over and said, That was the alligator dance. I'm still bitter about that. They were all like, Oh yeah that's right. Jean continued dancing.

Then we learned Blue Night Cha Cha. For some reason, I had some real trouble doing a rumba box chacha, which is not difficult. My feet simply did not want to go where I wanted them to. Aside from that, the dance was easy. Except....

The woman who was late last time decided to dance behind us again. It's very difficult to dance the right steps when someone has them so wrong. I know that class is for learning, so I don't mind when we are all learning a new dance when Jean stops over and over to teach it. But simple steps like the cha cha should be second nature. The late woman looked like she was doing the robot the whole time.

Maybe that's a good idea for next time. We can do the robot in a line.

Bang Bang Again

The last annual health and beauty expo happened earlier this year. The first thing the organizers need to work on is their understanding of annual. The second thing is advertisement. The third thing is timing. An under advertised expo should not be seven hours long. By the time S and I got there, it was emptyish. Not only was it lacking patrons, it was lacking presenters. When we'd gone a few months ago, the rooms were filled with tables offering interesting and odd products and services. This time, there were some of the same presenters that I was not interested in last time and then maybe five new ones.

We lapped around the first room. Then we headed down the hall and lapped around the second room. The most interesting table was the one that was selling crystals. They were very pretty. We looped around, where the woman at the natural products table said, Hi girls, We have more than just baby products--we have cleaning products, too.

Translation: You girls are obviously not old enough to have children but you are old enough to clean.

Finally, after we sat on a couch and read through the two free magazines, S got the idea that she could get a henna tattoo. We walked over to the table and the women were very excited about it all. She chose a pattern to go on her finger and up the back of her hand. I watched. As the woman free-handed the tattoo, a very tall, very inquisitive woman asked one of the other women a bunch of questions, rapid-fire. Then the tall woman bent over and began asking questions of the woman tattooing S. The tattoo woman had to stop to answer because there were so many questions. Then the tall woman squatted down to ask more questions at the tattoo lady went back to S's hand. This woman really enjoyed asking questions. She went away just as S's tattoo was finished. S had to let it dry and then put a sock on it. The other woman handed me a henna kit to use at home and told me to come back later so I could get a small one.

I gave the kit to S since she'd paid for the tattoo. I didn't get one mostly because I didn't feel like having to protect it for the rest of the night, which was a problem for most women who got one and then went on to the drumming session.

That's why we were there. The drumming. S's sister was leading a drum circle exercise as the last activity of the night. We had thought that because the day was so long and most of the presenters had packed up and left, the circle might be empty. However, people gathered around. The circle grew. We had to add chairs.

The woman who wound up sitting next to me was basically a drumming expert. As we passed the shaky apples, she told me my hand was in the wrong place. Then she slammed the apple into my palm. Then she started picked up the dropped ones and slamming two in my hand at once even though S's sister had said to not pick up the dropped apples. She seemed very annoyed that my name was very similar to her name, mine having one more syllable. She played the drums frantically and switched the instrument she used no less than three times.

With all that chaos, it was still a great time. I mean, who can have a bad time while banging on a drum? Everyone in the circle was smiling. Everyone enjoyed it, even S who had pulled herself out of the circle as to not ruin her henna. The woman who had gotten tattoos that night previously were left with scraped off paste on their arms in some places. Also, the very tall inquisitive woman seemed to enjoy the drumming. She didn't join the circle. She stood outside of it and held up her camera high to snap a few shots of people she did not know doing something she was not doing. That sounds about right.

By the time we got out of there, S's henna was mostly in tact. I'm looking forward to eventually getting one when I don't have to worry about taking my long sleeves off over the paste without ruining it.


There's a spider living in my Yaris. I find web strands across the dash. I find strands from the seat to the front of the car on the passenger's side.

Once, I found a spider. It was white. I was driving. Eddie was in the passenger side. I was like, It's a spider! Get it! Get it! He took off his shoe and whacked it against the dash in the middle, in front of where the gauges are. Usually, I bring bugs outside of the house instead of killing them. While I'm driving, that's not an option. If anything crawls on me while I'm at the wheel, that car is going to wind up through a wall.

The next day, a spider web, bigger than ever, was in the corner of the dash and the windshield. We may have angered the spider that lives hidden by killing the one that was not hidden.

It's still lurking. I haven't found a large web since the weather has cooled, but I know it's there, waiting, watching, ready to crawl across when I least expect it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm Not A 70 Year Old Man

In the past two weeks, I got two more emails from Toyota.

The first wished me a Happy Birthday. It started, Dear Joseph, Happy Birthday! That's my dad.

The second was about the lease on my Yaris. It began, Dear Joseph, The lease on your 2011 Yaris will be ending in just one month.

Joseph? Still my dad. The Yaris? Is mine. The lease? Began over this past summer.

Now, not only do they have me and my dad confused, they have my car's lease confused with another one.

I did, however, enjoy the birthday email. I simply pretended it was my birthday all over again and ate a cookie.

Netflix Has Become That Pathetic Ex Who Will Not Go Away

Seriously, who is running this business?

Dear Christina,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We're constantly improving our streaming selection. We've recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we've added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value you as a member, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get your movies & TV shows.


The Netflix Team

To sum up, price change but not going with the new name change. So we're back to where we were before the previous email that confused the crap out of everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm A Fat Fat Fatty Fat

Jean pounced immediately as we were coming up the stairs to dance class. We're best friends now. She said hi. S and I said hi. Besties!

When everyone was in the dance room, Jean had us introduce ourselves. She said since it's a small class, we should know each other's names. The class is about the same size as it always has been, but now, we need to get to know each other more. She turned towards us, of course, and said, let's start with the girls.

S began with a wave and a hi and her name. Then everyone said their own name. Then S said she was the only one who said Hi. I was like, you were first, so you had to. I don't remember anyone's name. Jean never introduced herself.

An Asian lady came late and decided the best place to stand was slightly behind and between S and me. She was having trouble catching on in the middle of the dance we'd begun. Jean stopped teaching, turned around, pointed to the woman, and then made her introduce herself so we all knew her name and she still didn't know ours.

We relearned something in the water which was easy enough for most people.

Then we learned Mojo Mambo. I had realized, by almost falling on my ass, that the floor was very slippery in one spot near the front. I went over it several times. Each time, I said loudly, Wow that's slippery!

As we put on the music for the mambo, Jean, I, and S wound up dancing in one line together in the front, and as Jean called out the steps, she also called out a Whooop!! She explained, I almost fell. I turned my head and said, Slippery, right? She was like, You could have warned me. What was my repeating Wow that's slippery! called? But, yes, my fault.

I wish we'd learned the intro!

Once that was over, Jean decided to teach us a dance to See You Later Alligator. We learned the first few steps, and a lot of dancers were already out of breath. Jean walked towards our end of the room for the next few steps and said, we'll lose calories with this one. Then she looked at S and said, you don't need to.

Meaning, everyone else does. Meaning im a fat fat fatty fat.

The dance was very fast. I loved the song! Jean, S, and I and maybe one more woman in the back danced the first wall and a half. Then Jean turned off the song because no one else could keep up. So Jean put on a slower song. I hate that. The class is intermediate, so if people can't keep up, that's all them. I really don't like when Jean slows it down for everyone. I mess up, sure, but at least when I mess up, it's because I'm challenged.

I especially love the woman singing along off-camera.

At the end, Jean taught us Sucky Slow Song upon request. It looked like I requested it because I knew all the moves and was overexaggerating them. One gal's mockery can obviously be misconstrued as very passionate dancing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Much More Amaizing Time

Last year, a very tricky maze won. Eddie and I found the end of the maze at Queens County Farm, but did not find all the mailboxes and clues for the crossword puzzle. You see, the object of the maze is not only to finish, but also to find the clues and the checkpoints. So this year when we saw it was a baseball theme, Eddie said we had to go there. I think baseball was only one reason; the other was that he's competitive and needed to beat the maze. I actually wanted to beat it, too.

We got there and saw the same crazy woman in the parking lot who hit the car last year. She waved us in as we followed a car with a driver who had no clue how to drive. I'd let him turn in front of me to go into the lot as to avoid his hitting my car. Then I got stuck behind him as he ambled in and did not know how to park. A few too many minutes of waiting and shaking our heads as the two parking attendants told him to back up and try again so he didn't take up three spaces with his little car. We got out of the car and walked away quickly to avoid being near them.

We went directly to the maze. We got our flag. We listened to the directions. We punched in and we were off! We found a lot of the mailboxes quickly. Really quickly. We kept commenting on how this maze was much easier than last year's. We sang along to Michael Jackson and Wham being pumped through the sound system. Every crossword clue was something about the history of baseball. The maze was shaped like a stadium with a batter and a bat and a dugout, so each section was colored and called something like outfield or infield or stadium. We found seven of nine sections.

And then we hit a wall. We walked in circles. We passed by the same sections over and over. We saw some of the same people over and over. We heard the guy on the mic at the end of the maze announce groups who were finishing and how quickly they finished. The sun came out. It got really hot. Once again, it was an October day and I was in a corn maze wearing a tank top and sweating my ass off.

We reached the "this isn't fun anymore" point. We weren't bickering with each other. We were both kind of yelling at the maze. It was the maze's fault we couldn't find our way to the other checkpoints. This year, we couldn't even find our way out--the check points and the out were in the same place this time since we'd found most of the other sections in order. So finding out would include finding the checkpoints.

I was entertaining people along the way as we passed by and I grumpily mumbled This is just impossible and There's simply no exit to this thing. Eddie kept saying things like No, we went that way and No, we went that way and No, we went that way.

Then we bumped into a large crowd of people going in all different directions in the middle of the maze. Two of those people were women who worked there who we'd passed by no less than eight times. She asked, So you guys need some help finding 5 and 7? I was like, Five, yes, just five and we'd be happy.

Basically, she was saying, You guys are totally missing where you need to go and you're never getting out of here if we don't help you and we don't want to see you pass by us again and even children are finishing this thing faster than you are so let me just tell you where to go.

She pointed and said, You might want to go through that way.

I really think the maze was rigged. We went into the place she told us to go and we were like, We've never been here! How did we miss this? With all of our twisting and turning, we'd managed to miss one path, the path that would get us out. I don't think it was there when we started. I think it closes and then opens up when you get to the point of feeling like an idiot.

We found checkpoints 5 and 7 very quickly and then found the end. We talked to the guy on the microphone who asked us how long we'd taken and we didn't want to tell him because we were simply ashamed. He said it was a respectable time since we'd found all the clues and checkpoints. We were average. Hooray for average.

He was wearing those shoes that have little slots for each toe individually. They freak me out. We left quickly. When we handed back our flag, the flag taker reassured us that our time was respectable for finding all the checkpoints and clues.

Aww, the staff has obviously been trained to treat everyone as if they are in kindergarten. Everyone is a winner! Everyone gets a prize!

We picked a pumpkin and checked out the animals after we rubbed off the shame. Then we headed home to carve a pumpkin and bake up some seeds to complete a fall-filled day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blaming The Victim

Here is the letter I received from the LIRR today along with some of my as-I'm-reading reactions.

The MTA Long Island Railroad's Ticket Refunds Department has forwarded your request for a refund for the four remaining trips from your original Ten Trip Webticket, two of which were incorrectly punched by a crewmember.

[no--they were not incorrectly punched. He wrote over them in big angry handwriting EXPIRED when they were not expired.]

I regret the added expense this matter has caused for you. While we are unable to offer you monetary reimubursement

[why the hell not?]

based on circumstances and the documentation provided

[which included my receipt of when I bought the ticket which matches the date of purchase on the ticket which the ticket puncher man thought was the expiration date]

as a one-time exception

[oh. wow. really. we're going there. let me get my kneepads so I can fall on my knees in appreciation]

I have enclosed four complimentary One-Way tickets for your future use.

(Long list of rules and regulations on how and when to use the tickets. I can't sell them. I can't get a refund for them, which is not surprising considering I couldn't get a refund for the tickets I actually paid for either).

In the future, if you beliefe an error was made in servicing your ticket, please alert the conductor immediately and ask him/her to provide you with a note and their badge number to verify an error was made.

[What the? I went back and forth with ticket puncher man about how he was wrong and I was right and I was supposed to then ask him for a note? You want me to ask him to write a note that verifies he made an error? If he knows he's making an error, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. So it's my fault for not getting a note? A fucking NOTE? Seriously? A NOTE?????]

[oh, and by the way, I gave you the train line and time of the ride--you know who was working on that train. you could ferret him out. here's a description: he is an asshole. Go!]

The LIRR is a state agency, funded in part through tax subsidies

[and funded in the other part through attempting to rip off ticket holders by writing EXPIRED across valid tickets and then blaming them for not getting a NOTE and not giving them money back for tickets they paid for]

and subject to audit by state authorities. As such, we must adhere to the policies set in place for us regarding the issuance of refunds.

[I need to write to the state to get them to set up a policy that states: If the ticket puncher man is an asshole who doesn't know what a web ticket looks like and writes EXPIRED across a valid ticket, GIVE THE CUSTOMERS BACK THEIR MONEY!]

[Ooh, here's my favorite part coming up]

Thank you for choosing to ride the LIRR.

Kevin Davitt
Director--Corporate Communications

Thanks, Kev. What a guy!

A more serious thanks to Danielle who kept on top of this from the day I called and asked for a refund and kept saying, Unbelievable!, every time I relayed the story.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Get Lost On A Paved Path

This very rainy Fall season has forced my brother and I to keep postponing plans for hiking. We don't do rain. With yet another chance of rain, we debated heading upstate. He suggested that we instead head to the more local Alley Pond Park. I'd never been and had wanted to go, so I drove into Queens and he took the reins from there to the park's path entrance, which was a secluded dead-ended street off a highway. How he knew about this entrance, I don't know. I gathered my mini-backpack and snack, doused myself in bug spray, and we headed into the woods.

It was buggy and muggy, but not raining. We went up and down hills. When we came to a more intense slope, he went down first and I followed but stopped upon seeing a worm. It was the longest worm I'd ever seen ever. I let out a very loud, very appalled, EEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. He was like, what? it's just wet dirt. I was like, noooooooooo, there's a woooooooorrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm. Ah, yes, this is how close I am with nature.

After passing by the worm that miraculously did not attack me, I found that he'd led us to a clearing under a tree canopy that was absolutely gorgeous. I was like, Why aren't you taking pictures? He's an amateur photographer and his thing is landscapes. He responded, I already have pictures here. Of course he does. But after I took out my camera, he had his out and was snapping away.

He led us up some hills and then we came to a paved path. He explained that the hiking and biking paths started here, near a stone wall. That's when we started seeing other people. The park is really huge, so not seeing people is typical. Once you get into the more civilized part--the part with the pavement--you see more people.

When we got to the obstacle course and ball fields, we found the kind of people I least like to see: children. He was off from work for the day, so his plan wasn't to hang with children either (he teaches high school). Counselors and children were at different ropes and logs. One counselor was holding what I at first thought was a rubber chicken but turned out to be a rubber pig.

We found stone steps. We climbed up and then down. We found more paths. We wound around and around. The rain started coming down lightly, but then stopped only a few minutes later. We saw more children. Oh, wait, these were the same children. We passed the Science Discovery Center. We rounded around a path. We found a soccer field. We passed the Science Adventure and Discovery Center. Oh, wait, it's the same center.

Basically, after passing the same children over and over, after passing the same building, same stone steps, and same ball fields, we realized, hey, we're walking in circles. I said, you know, we have to actually get off of the pavement because we came in through the woods. Yes, true. After passing the obstacle course twice more, we took a sharp right off the path and into the trees.

Luckily, we were exactly where we needed to be. Phew! That was close! We could've gotten stuck in the middle of the very natural habitat of asphalt and camp counselors. Next time, I bring a compass.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Really, Where's My Refund

After phone calls and transactions at ticket windows, I patiently waited for my refund to come in from LIRR. I'd been in touch with the woman from the department after she received the paperwork on the triplicate official form. She sent my stuff over to Public Affairs because all she could offer me was like half the price of half a fare (even though I was completely right and the ticket puncher man was completely wrong. and an ass.) Public Affairs would be able to offer me tickets worth the same as the tickets the ticket puncher man robbed me of when he wrote expired across my unused unexpired ticket.

Sometimes I think about that man. I hope he learns how to read a web ticket so he can do his job and not put other honest customers through unnecessary aggravation like this. Oh, and I hope he gets a papercut daily.

I waited about two weeks before I called again. I got through to an automated system that would direct my call based on my voice prompts. I repeated all the words it told me to say, going through several steps, until I got to a message that said call volume was high and I might have a long wait. So I waited. That's what I've been doing anyway. Then after about a total of five minutes in voice prompts and holding, a message came on and shouted at me, The mailbox you are trying to reach is full--Goodbye!

And it hung up.

Umm, no. So now, I'm pissed. All the rage at all this ridiculous runaround bullshit through no fault of my own had reached its breaking point when the computer hung up on me.

I called right back and, no joke, started to yell at the voice prompt system. I was yelling words that it was not asking for. It kept telling me it didn't understand. Finally, it gave up and just transferred me to a person. I would take a person over a computer that would hang up on me any time.

A woman answered. I didn't understand what department she said she was in. All I said was, I'm trying to get to Refunds!!!! She was like, okay I can put you right though. Oh, okay. I sang-songed, Thank you! She sang back, You're welcome.

The phone rang several times. I looked at the time. I knew they left at 3. It was before that. Another ring and then, Hello? A woman's voice snapped out of nowhere. So I answered, Helllllo??? Then she said, This is refunds;how can I help you?

I told her who I was trying to reach and she said I would have to call back because she was on vacation that day.

I don't know where this came from but I was like, No, I have to leave a message; I will not call back again. I didn't yell it, but I was the most assertive I've ever been in my non professional life.

Maybe it was the again that made her voice sweeter as she said, Oh sure, and took down my name and number and short message about following up with a refund I'd put in almost a month earlier. She even shuffled through some papers to check to see if it was on top. It wasn't. She said the woman would call me back.

The next day, someone else from the department of refunds called back. She left a message saying that she tracked my situation and saw it went through to Public Affairs. She explained that the department deals with all issues, internally and externally, so it may sound unbelievable, but they can take up to five or six weeks to remedy the situation.

Okay, I can deal with a few more weeks. As ridiculous as all of this has been, I have to say that the people who work in the refund department have been really great. Now all I need is either some money back or a ticket or two. Then I'll be satisfied.

Cutting Edge Of Dance

S and I had just turned into the hallway as I went on with my saga of the MTA and Bad Ticket Puncher Man (still) when Jean approached and asked S if she was still speaking to her after the double no at the end of last class. At which, I started laughing and S said it was okay and I enjoyed it. Then S brought up Cassanova Cowboy and I said it was a Carrie Underwood song and Jean, totally not planning on ever teaching that, explained that at the beach, the instructor kept doing all the dances her own class knew and wasn't doing any of the new stuff and she again said that she did not want to teach old stuff. I said that I kinda wished the woman at the beach had actually taught those dances, and Jean agreed, and said again, We do the new stuff here.

So, pumped from the pep talk and knowing that we are on the cutting edge of dance, we took our new place at the front of the class. One woman who has a problem catching onto dances came up behind us and told us we dance well. Neither one of us really knows how to respond to that. S said, it's fun. I nodded. Then tall lady with the clip in the middle of her head came in with a clip in the middle of her head. This time, it was holding a nubbin of a ponytail. God, I love this class.

Three of the Clique members were there. One of them, the outspoken one, kept messing up the dance we were learning. I really liked the dance until S pointed out that it was long. We have been doing some pretty long dances. Still, it was fun. There was kicking and swaying and a whole lot of turning while stepping, so it was intricate in some places. Because we no longer stand in the back, the Clique has no one to look at when they turn. The outspoken one first said that they could leave that to the kids, meaning us. Then she said the little ones or the young ones need to be in the back. S asked if next week we would be fetuses. I think so. Really, we are not that much younger than them, but every year we get younger. It's like a Benjamin Button loophole.

We relearned Burlesque, which is a tango. S and I swear that Jean took something out of it because something just seemed missing. We remembered it all, though. And that's when I heard the jingling. S had change in her pocket so I was like, What's going on, Jingles? At the same time, I was getting hot so I took off my sweater and she saw I was wearing a white shirt with red stripes. So she kept calling me Waldo. To be clear, Waldo wears a red and white striped shirt. My shirt was white with a few red stripes across it, clearly not a Waldo shirt. To be clear, the change kept jingling in Granny Jingle's pocket.

We learned a dance that involved a charleston and I loved it. Of course I don't remember its name. I think, however, it's a classic. Aside from the cutting edge top of the chart dances, we do the classic dances.

Which is why we wound up dancing Hello, Dolly for the 45 thousandth time at the end of class with not much time to teach the people who did not know it. I'm not sure if it's a classic dance or if it's still at the top of the charts. Maybe it's been on the charts for so long that now it is classic. In either case, we danced it. I could do that dance with my eyes closed and my ears plugged. Just a poke is all I need to go straight through without thinking.

Because she felt Jean now felt guilty, S decided to request one more song. The one song we did last semester that I hated the most was Long Slow Stupid Dance. That might not be the official name of it, but that's how I remember it. S liked it to begin with and every time she did it, she liked it even more because I hate it. So she went right up to Jean and was demanded, Long Slow Stupid Dance! And Jean was like, Yes! That one we'll definitely do! Let me write it down! And then, in an unprecedented move, Jean went and wrote it down. Which means, come Tuesday, I'll be doing pirouettes in my head to distract myself from Long Slow Stupid Dance until we move onto Cabalero once more.