Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gone Dark For A While

That's literal. Hurricane Irene came in on Saturday night. That's when my power went out. It is now Wednesday afternoon, and I am still without power. The daytime is filled with reading outside and reading inside and eating dry cereal or bread. The nighttime is filled with candelight card games and watching DVDs on the laptop, hoping the battery lasts. It's not so bad except that tomorrow I begin the Fall semester, and I cannot be without access to the internet if I want to be able to teach my classes efficiently. That means more trips to the library, where I am now, to use the wifi. Some people have live wires, poles on cars, and water through their homes. I don't have it so bad, and I'm thankful we are safe.


LIPA sent me a bill today. According to their recording, they are working around the clock to get the power back on. According to the news this afternoon on Channel 7, the work crews go home at night so they can do a good job the next day. They have closed all of their offices, they say to work on getting the power back, but we all know it's because they are warding off the storming of their offices.

LIPA is a utility monopoly. What consequences do they face for not getting the power back more quickly? None. We have no other power company to choose over them. They have no competition.

So when I saw the bill in my email inbox today, I almost blew a gasket. It's a good thing I'm in the library so I couldn't scream.

Instead, I wrote them an email. I explained how I am appalled that they would send out a bill of collection while not sending power through the lines. I told them I would pay them when I got my power back. Which really isn't helpful for me because if I don't pay, they simply won't put my power on anyway. See how there aren't any consequences? Still, the email made me feel better. Kind of.

Have I mentioned that we probably won't have power until Friday or the weekend. Or maybe early next week?

So if I get a chance to update between classes while I use my work computer, I'll be back. Otherwise, it's lights out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Prepared For The Next Big Shake

Courtesy of FEMA:

What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors
•DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
•Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
•Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway. [Note: This is what I did because I didn't know about the whole heavy table crouching in a corner thing].
•Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
•Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
•DO NOT use the elevators.

If outdoors
•Stay there.
•Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
•Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle
•Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
•Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If trapped under debris
•Do not light a match.
•Do not move about or kick up dust.
•Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
Tap on a pipe [like in that Tony Orlando song!] or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Message I Left On My Parents' Answering Machine While Standing In A Doorway During An Earthquake

Hi Mom and Dad, I don't know where you are but if you're listening to this, don't pick up. Stand in a doorway. Either the house is falling down or we're having an earthquake. It feels like an earthquake because the house is shaking so just stand in the doorway until the shaking stops. If you're not there, then call me when you get home. Because we're having an earthquake.

[Apparently, the folks were out on the town and did not even feel the earthquake that had their daughter panicked and alone in the house--they did not feel it to the extent that they questioned, Do you think it could have been one of those large construction trucks maybe working nearby? Nice.]

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ticket Puncher Blues

This is the story of The Stupid Ticket Puncher Man On The Train And How He Tried To Ruin A Mini-Honeymoon.

Once there was a girl--let's call her Christina--who bought a 10 trip off-peak ticket online as she has been doing for the past several years. She purchased this ticket in June and used six of the ten trips.

This girl met a boy, fell in love, and married him. They went into the city for a mini-honeymoon. They traveled in style into the city via a limo.

To get home, they decided to take the train. Christina had brought her 10 trip off-peak ticket that she'd purchased online.

The two bedraggled, sopping wet lovebirds entered Penn Station, escaping from the monsoon that was bearing down on the city. They boarded a Long Beach line train, thankful that they could settle in without having to change at Jamaica.

The ticket taker man came during the first leg of the ride. They asked him to punch the ticket for two. He did. Then he asked when they'd bought the ticket.

"A few weeks ago," Christina stated.

"Are you sure?," the ticket man asked.

"Yes, online," answered Christina.

The big bad ticket man then stated that the ticket was expired. Christina asked if the rules had changed and how long the tickets are valid. The big bad ticket man said that the rules had changed but didn't answer the second part of the question. He handed the ticket back to the couple and said he'd let it slide this time.

Unsure of what he was letting slide since the ticket was completely valid, the two lovebirds cuddled up for the rest of the ride.

After Jamaica, Christina took out her ticket one more time and handed it to the big bad ticket taker. He looked at it and said with certainty this time, "This ticket is definitely expired. It says it right here it expired in June."

Now Christina knew what the problem was. The ticket puncher man thought that the date of purchase was the date of expiration. She kindly pointed out, "It's a web ticket. That's the date I bought it."

The ticket puncher asshole man said, "No, you bought this over a year ago. It's expired."

Christina responded, "Is it possible that the wrong date was written on it because I definitely did not buy it over a year ago."

The asshole responded, "It might be possible, but this is definitely over a year old."

Christina said, "No, it's not."

The asshole then wrote three times in big letters across the ticket EXPIRED and handed it back to the lovebirds.

The boy Christina married echoed that she'd purchased the ticket only a few weeks ago but then did not say any more because he did not want to end the mini-honeymoon in jail for punching out the asshole who was basically calling his new wife a liar.

At their last stop, the drunken man on the car with them explained that they were getting money in any way they could and it was nuts and he got a parking ticket too! The newlyweds oohed and awwwed for him and then quickly exited the train in the other direction.

When they arrived home, Christina looked up her account on the MTA website where she'd purchased the ticket. There was her receipt for the ticket purchased in June. She looked up the new rules and the ticket was valid for six months from the date of purchase. She wrote a very strong email to the MTA.

The next day, Christina saw an auto-response in her inbox that stated the MTA may take up to 15 days to respond. Not wanting to wait that long, Christina called the refund department and explained the situation.

The woman on the phone explained that the expiration date that appeared on the ticket was for the MetroCard on the back. Christina explained that the webticket doesn't offer an option to purchase the MetroCard because it gets punched through. The woman then explained that the expiration date that appeared on the ticket was for the MetroCard on the back.

(I didn't write that twice by accident. She seriously told me the same thing twice after I explained about not having that option).

Christina went to explain again but the woman said, "You're not understanding. The date on the ticket..."

But Christina did not let her finish. Christina said,"Yes, I understand. Let me ask you this. For how long is a ten-trip valid?"

The woman responded, "Six months from the date of purchase."

Christina replied, "I bought this ticket in June. It is now August. That's not six months."

A hush fell on the other end of the line.

Then the woman asked Christina to fax over a copy of the ticket. The next day, Christina faxed over a copy of the ticket along with a copy of the receipt and a recount of all the events.

She also received a response from the MTA in her inbox. That was quick!

Also, the woman called a few hours later saying, "Yes your ticket was valid."

And so, Christina made her way to the train station one day later to fill out a refund form.

Of course, that's not so simple either. The man at the window did not recognize the kind of ticket it was. Christina had to re-explain the entire story. Twice. Then she had to write the story on the form. Then the guy said to the other guy behind the counter, "I didn't know we still sold web tickets."

Christina said, "I think that's what the problem was from the beginning. The guy on the train didn't know how to read it right."

The guy behind the window didn't respond to that. He did, however, give Christina the receipt for the refund.

This story hasn't ended yet. It will end when a refund appears. Or when that idiot on the train receives a strong warning. Or a wrap in the head with a Nerf bat.

Faking It

By the time S and I got to dancing, the dancing was in full swing. They were learning a dance we'd liked to have learned, but as soon as we hit the dance floor, it was over, never to be taught again, or at least that night. Why the instructor chose to reteach all the other dances we already knew is simply a reminder that no one at dancing likes us.

Not the five people who all knew each other that decided to not dance near each other but spread out in three rows so that they would wave and call to each other during dances and then jumble up in between everyone else on the dance floor between dances.

Not the older gentleman who was part of that group and the much younger Asian girl who was apparently with him. That was an interesting couple. I don't know if they're in a car pool or if they're dancing partners or if they're friends or what, but it's interesting to watch them dance together.

Not the young man in neon green shirt and sneakers who thought that every move should be danced as if it were part of the Electric Slide and we were at his Sweet Sixteen bash.

Not the three tween girls who thought that it was perfectly fine to dance their own dance in the middle of everyone doing the actual dance, thereby pushing and shoving into people kind of accidentally but really obnoxiously on purpose.

Maybe the guy who smiled and said to S, mufflemufflemumblemumble, when she said she was getting dizzy from all the turning, but no, if he really liked us, he would have said something more understandable. Maybe.

And definitely not Banana Clip and her husband who twirl around the dance floor as if they're practicing for a competition (as S suggested they might be). They are a powerhouse dance couple. Last week, the man said he hurt his leg at the end of the night. I'm pretty sure he broke it in several places. Banana Clip was like, we've got an ice pack in the car for that. They both insisted he'd be fine. That's professional. Not only are they prepared with an ice pack that somehow stays cold for two hours on a hot night in a hot car in a hot parking lot at the hot beach, but their ice pack can heal a jacked up leg in minutes.

I think they might be simply attempting to put everyone else to shame, especially me. Somehow, for some reason, when every dance stopped, they stopped right next to me. Everyone in the middle was line dancing, and they were couple dancing around the perimeter. At the end of the night when S and I were watching Raise Your Glass and other advanced dances from the bleachers, that couple spent about the last two minutes of the song directly in front of us, rubbing it in that they knew how to dance.

In all, we relearned Mama Maria and The Lazy Song, but we did them both to the original songs and then to different songs because the steps are transferrable to other dances with the same rhythm and beats. We also learned Cooler Than Me, which S and I know from Jean's class, so we rocked that out while people had trouble walking while counting to four and turning around and walking back from where they came for four. The woman who stood on the end of the row next to me was having extreme difficulty with this move, but at least she was having fun with it, laughing with her friends who stood in the rows ahead of her. I think standing in a different row from your friend is becoming a new trend.

During the break between lessons, the instructor played Hello Dolly. Having danced Hello Dolly last summer and then every friggin week since then, S and I were able to not only participate with the very few people on the dance floor during that particular dance, but we were able to strut it out because we knew it so well.

I'm still not sure what I think of the instructor as she continues to ask where the math geniuses are and then chides us when most people don't count to eight on the beat. She insists that if you can count to eight, you can dance. That's so not true. You have to be able to count to eight TO THE MUSIC. I can count to eight very quickly or very slowly or by twos or by fours. You have to be able to find the music's rhythm. Her statement is as false as the aerobics instructor Petra Kolber's idea that if you can walk, you can dance. No, no you can't.

Case in point--the women who could not walk four steps forward and then four steps back.

Case in point--everyone turning in all different directions when we were dancing to Cooler Than Me. Some people faced the ocean. Some people faced the stage. Some people were diagnal, not facing any of the four walls. It was at that point the instructor asked, You call that an eighth and an eighth????? Nice encouragement.

She also kept asking, Are you faking it? Faking it okay? Faking it? Faking it? Well, you're all facing the right way, so you must have faked it!

Maybe we actually danced it correctly. I mean, once or twice during the lesson, that's funny, especially when the dance is difficult and most people somehow make it to the right wall using all the wrong steps. But for a dance that has about four basic steps that we've done over and over and then once more after the break, no, we know it by now.

Oh, she also told two women that they should have come earlier when the women called out, Slower!, after the instructor asked, Everybody got it? Granted, she was reteaching a dance, but if you don't really want your students answering you or asking you to go more slowly, then don't ask if everyone has it. She then repeated, Lessons start 7:30 to 9:30. I wanted to call out, No they start at 7:30 and END at 9:30 but I didn't think my English lesson would have made much sense to anyone. Nor would have it earned me any growth in the friendship department.

A stickler for time, the instructor said good night to everyone at 9:30 exactly. Some of the more advanced dancers who are her students in other classes asked her to play Footloose. She said they'd have to come next week. Yet, when S and I hit the boardwalk to walk to the car, Footloose came on, as if she'd waited for anyone she didn't know to clear out before catering to the people who already know the dances. We are so not in the in-crowd. Or in this case, the in-line.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sweet Wedding

Unlike lots of little girls, I never dreamed of having a big princess wedding. As I got older, I never dreamed of getting married. When I graduated from my undergrad program, getting married wasn't on my radar; as my friends and I filled out the forms asking us where we'd be in five or ten years, they all wrote that they'd be teachers and have a family and I wrote I'd be a writing, traveling the world. As I went through two grad programs and worked and played, marriage was a foreign idea and a wedding was even moreso.

Yet, in the back of my mind through all of that, one main idea floated around. Whenever anyone talked about having a wedding or getting married, I would think of mini cupcakes. I have always thought that the idea of having mini cupcakes, golden cake with white icing, was the key to a perfect wedding.

So on the day that I never really thought about much, I had the time of my life. As part of the celebration, I got these from S:

Dreams really do come true.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Married. Check!

On a sunny August day, Eddie and I woke up. We made breakfast. We went to the park. We got married. We celebrated with our families. We went to the city and spent a night out on the town. No frills. No fancy. We went with pure love instead, and it worked out fine. It was exactly what we wanted, and it was wonderful.

Oh! Also, no geese or bugs in sight. Phew!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Get A Free Cuppa

I have been reading some British authors here and there, and whenever they get a cup of coffee, they call it a cuppa. That's my interpretation from the context. So I'm starting a new trend in American English by stealing that word.

T and I met up at Starbucks. The past few times we've done so, a torrential downpour ensued. We agreed that if it happened one more time, we were never going there again. Thankfully, it didn't rain at all.

However, they didn't have any more coconut.

Coconut syrup is apparently a seasonal flavor. Towards the beginning of the summer, T had gotten iced tea and the barrista gave her a sample of the coconut. T was hooked. She's been getting it often.

So it was only natural that she order ice tea with coconut. The guy at the register said, We are out. The woman next to him said, It's seasonal but some other stores might still have it. At the same time I said, Now you've ruined her day!, T said, Now my day is ruined!

The coconut? Is good.

After a bit more explanation about where the coconut has gone and when it will return and how it's like the flavors at fall and winter and after ordering a red velvet whoopie pie for us to share, T got out her wallet to settle up.

The guy tells her, it's just for the whoopie pie and the drink is on the manager. The manager looked up and smiled.

Free! Free! We love free! The day was no longer ruined!

That's what I call good customer service. I immediately contemplated asking for three shots of coconut in my decaf, but figured another round of "You've ruined my day" would not work itself into my favor. It probably would have lead to, Weren't you paying attention when we went through the history of coconut syrup? So I dutifully got my decaf with nothing fancy. Oh, and the whoopie pie was okay, but it did not make me shout Whoopie! Anything with the name whoopie in it should make one shout Whoopie! and so it was a little bit of a letdown.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dances With Frogs

By the time S and I set foot on the boardwalk, the dancing was in full swing. Yes, that's right. No rain. No lightning. No reason to cancel. Dancing was on. We'd missed the first set of instructions but jumped into the mix to learn whatever the instructor was teaching. She taught a pretty basic beginner's dance. We learned two dances in a row: This Life and Dear Joanna. I might be making these names up.

The floor was packed. Though we saw several regulars, many were missing. We saw Jean over by the spot she normally dances in. We were standing behind a nice Asian couple who dance very well; the man usually counts and points for people who are having trouble with the dance, and he does it in such a way that doesn't annoy anyone around him and doesn't alienate the person having trouble. He did so all dance long for the woman next to me. I have not helped other people since I attempted to help someone do a waltz. That didn't go so well.

The woman next to S was on the older side and perhaps on the larger side--she wasn't large but she was larger. Neither age nor size held her back from getting down. One step was to step to the side with attitude, so you could dip your shoulder down and give a little shimmy shake. This woman dipped down to almost the floor and shimmied as if she were being shocked. Whooooo! She liked dancing!

Then there was the woman behind me who was counting and moving stiffly. Her count, however, did not match the music. The instructor kept saying that if you can count to eight, you can count. That's not true. If you count to eight on the beat, you can dance. If you count to eight at random, then not so much.

As we were dancing the second song for the second time, I looked up from my feet to see T and her boyfriend heading into the bleachers. I smiled and waved. We continued to dance until the instructor took the first break. We got water and they came over to chat. We pointed out and explained who everyone was. Not that we really know anyone, but in our minds, we know them in our own way. We showed them Jean. We showed them Jan. We showed them Banana Clip and her husband, both the most professional dancers ever. We talked about dance shoes.

A Michael Buble song came on that we know the dance to except that everyone on the floor was doing it differently. So we four stood by the side and did it one way as the rest of the dancers did it the other way.

The instructor came back on to teach again and when she started we tried to get T's boyfriend to dance with us but he wasn't up to it so they left as we started. The dance looked like a very simple dance but turned out to be slightly confusing because of semi-turns and full turns and full and a quarter turns. The turning. Oh, the turning. But after awhile, it was as easy as any other dance.

And now for how I saved a frog from certain death.

We were learning steps slowly. I looked down and thought, Hmm, is that a rock? I turned and turned and looked down and thought, Is that a rock or a very small frog? I turned and turned. I looked down and realized, Oh no it's a very small frog!

This frog was going to be crushed by a whole lot of dancing feet. So I made my way towards it. It jumped further into the dancing crowd rather than away. I gave chase. The woman in front of me startled the frog more by flailing around and yelling, What IS that??? As if it were a poisonous jumping bean out to get her. I yelled, it's a frog!

A woman in front of her got the frog to turn around. She kept walking towards it and got it to the edge. Then I kept walking and it kept jumping away until I got it under the bleachers. Two women on the bleachers asked if it was a frog. I said, Yes and it was about to get crushed. They were like, hooray you saved the frog. I was happy.

S said she's never seen me care about something like that before in her entire life. I was like, I just couldn't see having a crushed frog on the dance floor. It would totally ruin dancing for me.

After that, we finished learning the song that I think was called Dear Maria or Jesse's Sons. We also relearned Country As Can Be, the song that S and I had learned back in Jean's first class, the song I call Hello Country.

The instructor stopped instructing after that and told people they could request songs. A group of people scurried up onto the stage to look through her playlist. One of the Irish dances came on and I was ecstatic. I couldn't remember the steps but I figured I could pick it up. Then I saw that everyone was dancing it a completely different, more advanced way. Huge letdown. So sad. We joined in with a dance about a train that we'd taught ourselves at the beach last year or two years ago. It's pretty easy to pick up because it's highly repetitive and not a lot of stutter steps. Oh, those stutter steps. That's not an official name for them, but it's what I call them. They are hard to figure out because it's a dance step that doesn't involve moving really and a lot of the advanced dances have them.

We stood to the side and attempted to pick up a few more dances by following a very tall gentleman who knew every dance. To no avail. We didn't pick up anything more. Then at 9:30 sharp, the instructor told us she'd see us next week and that we should bring our friends. We should also bring frog repellant to make sure they don't come on the dance floor any more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cruising In Circles

To celebrate Eddie's mom's birthday, we took her on the Opus Casino Cruise out of Freeport. She was able to bring a guest and she chose my mom. Aw, cute. We met up at 9:30 AM and drove over to Freeport. We followed the parking attendant's pointing and parked where we would be blocked in until everyone exited the boat later on. Then we saw people parking in the other part of the lot. See what happens when we follow directions? We get blocked in.

We stood on the line with our Groupons the way we would use any other Groupon. Then the woman behind me asked if we had boarding passes. I was like, we have these. She was like, you need to go exchange them in the building next to us. Oh. Okay. So we got off of the line and went to exchange the passes. When we'd called to make the reservations, no one told us that. The lady on line behind us should work for Opus Cruises in the capacity of Groupon Exchange Instructor.

When we got our tickets, we got back on line which was really not a line anymore. We'd been told to arrive very early, but I guess Saturday afternoon cruises are not very crowded. We walked right up to the boarding pass scanner person and got our IDs scanned. Then we walked through the bag check point. Then we all got leis except for Eddie. Aw, the men don't get purple leis.

After we got on the boat (which in itself was a mom-fest of both of them telling me to be careful not to get my heels caught on the door mat thingies), we kept going straight and realized we didn't know where to go. No one told us what we should do even though the entire staff was standing on either side of the main aisle so that everyone who walked in walked through them as if being on parade. It was awkward.

I smelled the food upstairs so we headed up to the buffet. The boat was to leave at 11. It was like 10:30 by the time we were eating. I felt that we'd gotten there way too early. We ate. We watched the people behind us surprise a couple that was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Later on, my mom went up to the lady, patted her on the back, and said congratulations. And I was like, Mooooommmm, why do you have to be invooooooooollllvvvveedddd? Because I'll always be twelve and my mom will always be my mom.

The boat started moving at exactly 11 so we headed out to deck, which was right outside as the buffet was on the top floor. We sat and watched as the land got farther away. At one point, we went under the bridge at Loop Parkway. It has to open up for large boats to pass. The DJ told us we had to scream so that the bridge would honk at us. We screamed on his 3 - 2 - 1 count and then we got two honks, which the DJ said meant we would win double. Then he laughed.

The boat was immediately rocky as it picked up speed. We chatted for about an hour.

Then it was finally time to gamble. We headed inside, almost falling. Everyone looked like they were drunk except for the people who worked on the boat. Rocky rocky rocky. We went to the bathroom and then held on for dear life to the slot machines on the second floor as the boat rocked and rocked.

I have really good balance for the most part. I never have gotten sea sick. However, this time around, though I wasn't feeling sick, my head was spinning. Spin spin spin goes the brain inside the skull. Ooooooh, meeeee noooooo likeeeeeee. That's how I felt for the next two hours. Eddie was like, we can sell our tickets for the next cruise if you want (we're planning to go back in a few weeks with friends). I was like, let's just see how the rest of the day shapes up. The cruise in total is six hours.

Eddie went to play Blackjack. Me and my mom watched for two hands but the dealer kept giving us the evil eye so we left. Our moms played the slots. I played with my mom for a while. She kept giving me dollars to play with. I'm not a gambler. I don't see the point of putting my money into a machine and getting nothing back. Still, every time she gave me a dollar, I made her some cash. We then went to the first level where there are only slots. She found machines that had low stools that she could easily sit on so we stayed there for a while. We also found a machine that had money left on it. We cashed out a whopping ten cents and then played a 2 cent machine and lost all of it on the first spin because the 2 cent machines are the most difficult to figure out.

Eddie was winning at Blackjack by the time we got back to the table games on the second floor. He had made two friends at the table; they had a combined age of 198. When we saw one of them later, he asked how Eddie did and then told him he did a good job. Eddie showed me how to play in a casino as opposed to how I play at home (at home, you can touch the cards and stuff--apparently, they don't like you doing that in a casino). The dealer was very unamused; this was a different dealer from before and she was also a sourpuss. Still, I had $15 in match play credits, so I had to play something on a table. Eddie threw me $15 in chips and we put it on the match play card. My cards came up and I hit. Then I didn't know what was going on until the dealer was pushing lots of chips my way. I asked, What happened? He said, You won. I was like, What do you mean? He said, I stayed for you and then the dealer went bust.

I won? I won! Thirty bucks! I won!

I pushed my chips on over to Eddie since they were really his and then I quit. The dealer remained very unamused.

More slots came after that. Some of the machines were really difficult to figure out. I didn't understand how I would win one credit that isn't listed on top with an explanation when nothing is on the win line.

I spent about an hour on the inside of the upper deck, watching the waves. I should have brought a book. I was gambled out by 2 something and needed a break. Eddie was playing a Texas Holdem tournament with five people inside so I was able to peek at him from time to time to see his chip stack.

Eddie's mom and my mom joined me for a break. The DJ outside was telling the women who were dancing that Michael Jackson was going to show up soon and if he was lying, they could throw him overboard. Both moms were like, we want to throw him overboard now. Nice. They get along.

Then the DJ put on a silver glove and an MJ mask and started dancing with them. It was really disturbing. The mask itself was disturbing so someone dancing around with it was worse. Then he took it off and was like, Hey did Michael show up?

Eddie's mom went to gamble more and my mom and I went outside. I had some of my snacks that I'd brought. The boat has no food between buffet time at 10-11ish and around 3:45 for snacks later. So I brought snacks of my own. While I chowed down on raisins and crackers, the DJ put on a conga song and made the women start a conga line. He kept telling them to go inside and grab people. As soon as the entire line was inside, he turned off the song, and was like, Now that we got rid of them, what do you want to hear?

That? Was Hil. Air. Eee. Us!

Eddie showed up a little while later. I was like, Did we win? He was like, no it ended and no one won. I asked how that was possible. He said that with two players, the casino can't make a profit so they end the game. The other guy won a lot of everyone else's money and Eddie won his own money back with a little more. Apparently, the dealer was a real douchetool because he complained to the two guys left--Eddie and some dude--that no one had tipped him. Jerk, don't complain to the two people left; complain to the people who left the table without tipping. Assssssss.

With about twenty minutes left to gamble, we all went inside to play a little more. To use their matchplay cards, our moms played a round of roulette each. Eddie's mom lost. My mom won. That's pretty much roulette odds when you use the matchplay cards--you can use them only on the 50/50 chance slots.

Eddie played some more Blackjack and won about five hands in a row. Yeay!!!

The moms were at the slots. My mom asked if she should cash out when the announcement came on that there was about five minutes left to play. I was like, You play until you win! Then in the next three spins, she won. The third spin hit something and it kept going and going and binging and dinging. We looked at each other with surprise and I yelled, Cash out! Cash out!

We went back up to the top level when the casino closed and found that the boat was serving boiled hot dogs. We got one for his mom. I got a plain bun that Eddie and I split. They were also serving cake. Hot dogs and cake. That's a party. We watched the Yankee game and an infomercial for Sensa and then one for Zubma.

As the boat got a bit closer, we walked down to the first level to get ready to leave the boat. The captain took about three tries to get the boat close enough to the dock. As we waited, some guy leaned on a slot machine and it started binging and dinging. Someone had forgotten to cash out and he reaped the benefits! When the doors opened, we felt a heatwave rush in. The casino wasn't freezing but even though outside was not too hot, it was hot enough to feel the difference. Finally, we docked and got on land. I felt like I was swaying back and forth as we walked over to the car. We didn't have to wait long at all even though we were blocked in. The boat hadn't been crowded at all so the lot emptied quickly.

And I spent the rest of the night--at the diner with my mom, my dad, Eddie's mom, and Eddie--and then driving his mom home and then sitting on the couch and then going to bed, I spent all that time feeling as if I were on the boat. No one else felt that way. I on the other hand was rocking side to side. Sway sway sway brain in the skull with the imaginary waves.

My plan for next time includes perhaps more table games and drinking as to avert the rocking and replace it with buzzing and to perhaps win more than thirty bucks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So Not On The List

A new yoga studio opened up nearby so I contacted them about subbing after seeing their ad saying they needed subs. She asked me to come in for a twenty minute demo. I got all prepared by finding my favorite CD for a yoga class. I found the place without a problem. It's a really pretty studio with hardwood floors and buddha stuff all over. I had time to take it all in since she was late and I was early.

She arrived in a rush, spilling apologies all over because there was a line at the bank that never has a line at it. Then she was like, Oh, this is my boyfriend and he's doing some work so I hope you don't mind he's here. I didn't. I thought it was a little weird, but I don't care. Then I got the nervous ass sweats and started to revert back to my high school awkward self, realizing that I was standing in a room with the most beautiful couple in the world.

She was a few inches taller than I am with blonde hair, a tan, a nice rack (really, it was nice), and a petite body. He was over six feet and all muscle, also tan. They both had firm handshakes.

I am a dork and don't deserve to breathe their air!!!!!!!


She asked if I wanted to change the music. I said I liked what she had on. She saw my CD and was like, You can put on your own. I tried to hide the CD behind me because it suddenly became the worst CD in the world and I didn't want them to hear my dorky music. Too late. She was already headed to turn off her music.

I followed and then could not figure out how to open the stereo. I spent a solid minute squatting and poking at the thing until she came over and asked, Is it stuck? I was like, I can't find the button. She was like, oh here. She clicked the top open. There was no button. I was like, oh well that works too.

And then I died a little on the inside.

We set up our mats. I actually set up the way her classes normally would, so that was a plus. I started with breathing and then moved through a series of vinyasas. I adjusted her, which was empowering because for as gorgeous as she was, she could not reach her leg up as high as I can when in three point.

The empowerment ended when I finished the demo a little after 20 minutes and she was like, So that was fun, but do you do inversions? I explained, no I don't do headstands but I offer shoulder stands. Then I got confused and started doing some poses, explaining that I had to do it in my head and then for real to remember what kind of routine I go through to get there. Then I put myself in plow, and then I said, Yes, see, shoulder and plow.

This, of course, was all made up.

She asked if I do twists and I said certainly. That's not a lie. I like twisting.

Then she said, in our classes, we use sandskrit names. She wants to keep all the instruction consistent so she wanted to know if I know sandskrit. I told her I hadn't used sandskrit names in a while so I'd have to brush up on them since in the places I've been subbing in haven't asked me to use them and I can't use them in the place I volunteer because they wouldn't understand them.

She said she'd give me some time to brush up and that I could sub if I used them. I reassured her I'd learn them.

I think I would have agreed to licking the bottoms of her feet or running straight through the windows if she'd asked me. I just want to be liked by the pretty people! I want to be on the guest list! I want to go beyond the velvet rope!

As she packed up, I grabbed my lame-ass CD from the stereo without incident and walked over to pack up. I asked her a little about the studio and the members and how business has been going. She answered and I kept saying, That's so great! That's so great! Over and over like a very optimistic Rainman. She said thank you a few times and then laughed uncomfortably after my 35th exclamation of greatness and then I began yelling at myself in my own head: Stupid! Stop it! Close your mouth! You're trying to hard! Now you'll never be one of the popular girls! You'll never get in the club!

Then she was like, So I'll put you on the sub list but I'll put you lower down to give you some time to relearn the sandskrit. I was like, Okay that sounds great!

I am so not on the sub list.

Then I tucked my head down, shook her hand, and gave a half-wave to the boyfriend behind the desk. I was like, Okay take care nice meeting you good luck with everything it's great bye! She was like, nice meeting you. He said something but I didn't hear it. It could have been, Take care. It could have been, You're weird. It's 50/50.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What "Pretty Sure" Means

The weather has been wacky lately. Heat waves followed by thunderstorms followed by pouring rain in sunshine. So when the rain was coming down on Wednesday in only certain parts of the Island, I called on over to the good folks at Jones Beach. I waited through the recording that offers several other numbers that I should call if I need to contact different specific areas of the park. Not one of them mentions the bandshell or fusion dance. So I wait until someone answers. I asked, Can you tell me if dancing is happening or canceled for tonight? The woman answered, Umm, they haven't told us it's canceled so I'm pretty sure it's on.

At a little after seven, I gave it one more try to double check. Instead of the normal recording, a different recording came on to say that the offices were closed. There was no mention of line dancing on the recording.

A little after that, S climbed into my car and I told her about the conversation. She was like let's try. I was like, if it's not raining on the parkway, then it will probably be on. If it is raining, then probably not.

We made our way to the parkway. It was misting. Then it was raining. Then it was doing nothing. Then it was raining. Then it was not. Even though we pretty much knew right then it was canceled, we drove to the parking lot. About ten cars were there. We parked and got out. It was indeed raining. We walked on the boardwalk. We were there so we figured why not take a glance at the beach. There wasn't any lightning so it wasn't dangerous.

By the time we were walking back to the car, the rain had stopped. I could understand canceling instead of delaying because the rain was on and off. I don't understand how they have a lack of communication.

Jones Beach needs a website that words. Or a direct line for information about events at the bandshell. Or at least a Twitter account for updates. Jeez. Twitter's free.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wedding Uniforms

My dress arrived in the mail, too big. I took it to my mom's friend who does some pretty amazing stuff with a needle and thread. I'm picking it up today.

I found a bra at the JC Penney. It's convertible. It fits. It cost about as much as the dress.

I went to every shoe store in two malls plus DSW and Marty's. I cannot find white shoes that are wedding and nature preserve appropriate. I plan to wear red shoes, blue shoes, or no shoes.

Eddie and I went to the suit store. Within about ten minutes, Eddie had found a suit that almost fit. We're picking it up this weekend. He came home with a new shirt and a new tie. He thinks he has shoes.

We picked up his ring. It fits with a bit of pushing and pulling over his knuckle.

All we really need to do is put folding chairs in the car and pack up some bug spray. And maybe contact Judie the Wedding Officiant since we haven't heard from her since I locked in the day with a down payment. Half of me still thinks Judie ran away to Aruba with the money.

I Want That Job #3

I want to work at the polling place on any election day. Apparently, you can sit there and be as unhelpful as possible and that's called doing your job.

Of course, you can also know what you're doing and help people and call it doing your job.

By why do that when you can be old, deaf, and out of touch with reality?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Is Why People Don't Vote

Nassau County residents faced a decision: should we pass a referendum to fund the building of a new stadium where Nassau Coliseum stands over the next several years by raising taxes anywhere between 14 and (who can really say how much due to a reliance on revenue sharing) after the county did not allow the owner to complete the project on his own with his own money as he first proposed?

This post is not about the referendum and whether or not it should pass. This post is about the absolute absurdity that probably makes people not want to vote: the local polling place.

I went with my dad to our polling place. We walked into the school building and he went to go into the gym, where the voting booths are usually set up. I was like, wait, this sign has an arrow that way. So we found that the voting was in a different room, the all-purpose room that had air conditioning, however meager it was.

A woman who was working there stood in the doorway, carrying on a conversation with two people. She waved us to go into the room. That was helpful. I asked my dad, What table do we go to? The guy at the first table behind me asked what village we were from.

That's an odd question usually, but for this election, several polling places were closed and people had to go vote at other places they normally didn't have to travel to. So I said, this one, we live around the block. He sent us to the first table.

Behind the first table was a woman who was maybe 157 years old and another woman at the end of the table who was wearing giant old lady BluBlockers. My dad asked, Do we sign in here? She asked where we lived. We both said the town. She asked, What street? We both said the street. She answered, No, I asked what street!

I stopped breathing for a minute. Was this actually happening? My dad leaned over the table, practically in her face, and repeated what he said. She was like, Oh, no, we don't have that. Then she crossed her arms and sat there. That's helpful. Granny BluBlocker then told us to try the table behind her.

The table behind her had a woman and a man, both of middle age, waiting for us. My dad and I, at the same time, asked very loudly if they had our street. The woman looked at some sort of map and told me yes, they did. The guy leaned over the table at my dad and said, What street?

Are. You. Serious.

I repeated the street as did my dad and the woman who had said yes then shook her head no. The guy started looking it up. I pulled my dad to the next table.

At the next table were five women. I was like, Please tell me you have my street. They did. The youngest woman asked for our name and told me to sign the book. My dad followed suit. Then they handed us a piece of paper in a folder. What the?

Apparently, we were voting by Scantron. I'd never voted this way so my dad and I went to the center of the room where they have partitioned cubbies for voters to scribble in the dots in secrecy. I began reading the instructions so we could both figure it out. I was like, It says to use the writing implement provided. I grabbed the pen on the chain in my cubby. My dad grabbed his chain and held up the end that had no pen on it. I was like, ok you have no pen. So he scooted into my cubby and I pointed to the choices he had at the top because it was a very confusing ballot.

The bottom left had a box of instructions in English. The bottom right had a box of instructions in Spanish. At the top center was the referendum in one box with English and Spanish mixed in and the voting line looked like

Yes/Si () No/No ()

Tell me that's not confusing.

So I pointed and said, yes or no, yes or no. Then my dad takes the pen and covers what he's writing with his other hand. I was like, Dad, I'm not looking! He put his ballot in his folder and then I voted and put my ballot in my folder.

Then the two of us stood there. We had no idea what to do next. One of the women from the table saw us standing around clueless and pointed to the machine behind her. We stood behind a man who was figuring out the machine on his own. Then we put my dad's ballot in. It scanned. Then mine. It scanned.

As we walked out, I was like, I'm really happy I came with you because I probably would have been too confused and walked out. He said, I'm happy too because they were not helpful at all. When my mom came home, I asked if she'd voted and then my dad chimed in, because everyone there is very helpful. I come to find out from her that these people are actually paid to do this.

So these people get paid to sit behind a table and not help you. That sounds about right. Chalk one up in the name of civic duty. Chalk one up in the name of stupidity. It's a wash.

More Clapping, Less Dancing

Finally, no rain, no wind, no conflicts on a Wednesday night as S and I pulled into the parking lot at Jones Beach. We headed towards the bandshell where we heard the music. People were dancing. We found a place on the bleachers to put our stuff and we sat and watched people dancing. We didn't know the song. Then a song came on we knew and we danced it. Then another song came on we didn't know and we stopped. No one was instructing. This was odd.

Then another song came on and a woman came up on stage and started dancing. She wasn't instructing, but she was dancing and showing what to do. This was still odd. It was also a letdown because the dances they were doing were dances I'd love to do--one to Carrie Underwood's Casanova Cowboy and one to Pink's Raise Your Glass.

Then she put on a mic and told everyone to come onto the floor to learn some beginner dances. We hopped onto the floor. She said she was going to give everyone some background on line dancing. Ooh, a history lesson. She went on to explain how anyone could learn to dance and she'd be teaching beginner dancing and a lot of the people who had been dancing had been dancing for years and they go to classes, so all we have to do is email her and we can find out about local classes.

Someone explain how that is a history of line dancing. I was expecting, Long ago, in Ancient Persia, people danced in a line. Nope, that's not what we got.

She was very encouraging in the area of "make some noise" and "are you out there?" She asked questions and then asked them again to make people clap loudly. She began teaching "the Lazy Song" and after teaching each step a few times, she would ask how everyone was doing and people would clap. What was with the clapping? I'm not really a fan of clapping unless we're in the middle of doing the dance and it requires it or if I saw a really good performance at a concert or in the theatre. Clapping as a response for yes is not in my vocabulary.

We learned the dance pretty quickly until a turn came. Then came words of encouragement: Wow, you are the worst turners. That was from the instructor. Nice. She was laughing, though, so I guess she likes sarcasm. Sarcasm has its place in life; when you're a new instructor and people don't know you yet, I would hold off on the sarcasm, especially when in the next breath you're telling the people on the boardwalk to come on down and learn to dance.

After doing The Lazy Song to music twice, and screwing up only a few times, we moved on to Country As Can Be. S was like, you love this song! I was like, Why can't I remember it. It started with tapping your heel on both feet. Then it clicked. I was like, Oh I do love this song, but Jean never taught us the foot tap! Jean taught us to step forward and stand there without moving for four counts. It was awkward. S had always said, I bet there's a move there that she's not doing. The move is the heel tap, which actually makes the dance a lot more fun. The instructor kept asking if everyone was with her, people yelled yes and clapped, and she was like, I can actually hear you! Cool it with the sarcasm, lady.

Once the music was on, I was moving and shaking. I did a rolling vine at one point. I spontaneously clapped. S looked at me when I did with a face of, Really, you're clapping? Yes, yes I was. I actually have not witnessed so much clapping since watching "Show Me The Money," a failed game show hosted by William Shatner. There's a line in the song about doing something with green beans; it's my favorite part even though I can't remember it. When that line hit, I was on a dancing high.

That high didn't last very long because the instruction stopped soon after that, and the instructor put on songs, announced their titles, and told everyone to dance. We didn't know most of the songs, and a lot of them were too fast to pick up by watching. We went to sit on the bleachers but by this time, a crowd of five young adults had decided to sit directly over our stuff. Really, the rest of the bleachers were empty, and there they were in a semi-circle around our water. We grabbed our stuff and moved to the back bleachers.

In front of us was a woman with her kids and a friend I suppose. The woman was dancing furiously. Her daughter was swinging herself around to the music. The woman was calling out, grapevine! step step! grapevine! step step! with her brow furrowed to the point of barely having a forehead. Jeez, lady, it's dancing. It's supposed to be fun. The daughter ran away. I would have too. The woman started instead dancing with banana clip lady, one of the professional dancers who usually has her (I assume) husband there with her. He wasn't there so the two women danced as if it were their job, a job that was more like slave labor, not smiling. Banana clip lady, however, was more elegant than screamy mommy.

Cooler Than Me came on. S and I jumped up. We were happy we knew something. I was like, I don't think I remember it, but as soon as I started moving, I was like, Ohhh, this is easy. S was like, I thought you forgot it. Then two women decided to dance right behind us. That was fine, but they were doing totally different choreography, some of which completely interfered in our dance space. Apparently, when you go to Jones Beach, the goal is to ignore the empty space and crowd around people you don't know, or, rather, crowd around the two of us. The instructor promised to teach Cooler Than Me next week. No! No! No! Teach something I don't know, sarcastic clapping instructor lady!

Then it was over. What the? In the past years, we went later because it didn't start on time. Then we danced and danced and danced, learning a whole bunch of dances, beginner and beginner-intermediate. Then at the end of the night, more songs came on, well into the 10 o'clock hour. Maybe we'd missed a first instructional period since we got there a half hour later than the start time. But the ending at exactly 9:30 is a big change. Next week, we'll arrive on time, ready to learn songs we already know, and ready to clap.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Skating Injury

How To Skate Lesson # 2

1. Go down the steps, carrying skates.

2. Walk out the front door.

3. Instructor drops a skate on student's foot.

End of lesson.

At this rate, I'll never be able to work at Sonic.