Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birthday Checklist

Celebrating birthdays is my favorite activity ever.  It doesn't have to be my birthday, though that makes it better.  Anyone's birthday is a fun celebration because I enjoy celebrating living one more year.  This year,  S's birthday celebration came in two parts: Part I was in the big city and Part II was in a smaller city and both were fun because they involved celebrating a birthday, but also because I learned about certain props I should have whenever I celebrate that I never knew about before.

Eddie and I sat behind four girls on the train who were pre-gaming, which is illegal to do on a train, but I suppose the brown bag over the bottle makes it legal.  We watched as the girl a row ahead of us and across the aisle would slug back a few huge gulps from the bottle in the bag.  Then her face would turn from fresh-faced-young-gal to scrunched-up-that-shit-tastes-BAAAADDDDD.  Then she would gulp down the Sprite she had in the other hand.  Then she would join the conversation for a few minutes before repeating this.  At first, I thought, what the hell is the point of drinking something that you obviously don't like at all?  Then I remembered, oh to get drunk.  Duh.

Once we were in the city, Eddie and I walked towards Times Square.  We had just begun our journey when we heard a man screaming and cursing quite loudly next to us: That's right! Keep walking, muthafucker! I'll fuck you up, muthafucker! You want to walk into me?  I'll beat your ass, muthafucker! Fuck your mother, muthafucker!!!

I'm paraphrasing.

Eddie and I moved to the side and let the little angry man through.  Eddie said to me that some guy on a cell phone had walked by and bumped into the man and didn't say excuse me and kept walking.  I pointed out that while that is rude, the little angry man was walking away from the man he was yelling at and was now yelling at the air and at everyone else around  him.  Eddie pointed out the guy's drill and said, he probably had a long day.

Then when we stopped at a red light to wait for the traffic to go by, the little angry man with the drill ran across, playing human Frogger with the cars on the wide Manhattan street.  We looked at each other. Maybe the guy was just an angry little man with a drill.

Birthday Checklist Item #1: Drill.  For waving around when someone bumps you on the sidewalk.

After passing the bar and doubling back, we found the Irish pub to meet S and R and the rest of her crew.  When I say Irish pub, I mean really Irish.  One guy came out and said what I thought was "Right bar."  Eddie answered, Yeah, we're waiting for people.  Then the guy said something that I thought was "lasdkjfl;skjflgrjf" and Eddie said, Oh kind of--we're from Long Island. 

Turns out that the very Irish man with the very Irish accent had said, "Great bar," and "Are you locals?" 

Birthday Checklist Item #2: An Irish Accent translator for when Eddie isn't around to understand it.

S and R showed up after we had exchanged friendly waves and thumbs up smiles with some other patrons.  We went in and started celebrating.  Best mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers in the city.  Hands down.  We checked out the juke box.  R played Chris Isaac dedicated to S (she hates Chris Isaac) and then we saw that Chris Isaac was on the top 8 played on the juke box.  I think the juke box has a problem counting.

Birthday Checklist Item #3: Whoever made the food--he or she needs to come out every birthday.

We met some of S's other friends from work.  Most of them ordered drinks in big glasses.  The drinks were bright colors.  Bright red.  Bright blue.  These were friends who were a bit younger than we are, and so they probably don't yet feel the effects of bright red and bright blue drinks the next day as we do.  Seeing that Eddie's vodka tonic was all vodka, I'm thinking these other drinks weren't mostly juice. 

We left to catch a train.  I almost fell twice even though I wasn't drinking.  We grabbed a cab quickly and got to Penn.  We noticed that the fare meter wasn't working.  The guy told us to pay what we thought we should.  Eddie asked him how much it would have cost.  The guy said Five bucks and we agreed.  Then as we were getting out, the guy told Eddie, You know you look Moroccan. 

Birthday Checklist Item #4: A Moroccan.  To guarantee you don't get ripped off on cab fare when the meter doesn't work.

We caught the train that goes direct to our stop, which was really nice since my feet were killing from my shoes (and I don't know why since I use those shoes to go to work in and I never have a problem with them) so that meant less walking since we didn't have to change trains.

We both closed our eyes for a bit, but opened them when we heard two guys fighting over who was looking at whose cell phone.  Then a woman started yelling, I've got my child here so you gotta back up!  One guy was obviously trying to get away from the other guy but he couldn't because everyone was standing in the aisle to get off the train as we pulled into Jamaica.  The guy was like, okay okay but just let me get through. 

He was pushing his way through and another rather large man didn't like that he wasn't saying "excuse me" and offered to fuck him up for not saying excuse me.

Birthday Checklist Item #5: A book on ettiquette.  Obviously the bumping and pushing into each other in the city needs to be smoother.

Finally they all let the guy through and when we looked back, the woman had a pair of pliers in her hand, mumbling to herself how she's not playing.

Let me say that again: She had a pair of pliers.

I don't know where they came from.  I don't know where she was keeping them.  I don't know why that's her tool of choice.  They weren't even needle-nose pliers, you know, not pointy to cram into someone's eye.  I could see how a knife would be too dangerous unless it was retractable.  A hammer is heavier and I could see that being a better fit.  But nope, she had pliers.

Birthday Checklist Item #6: Pliers. 

The next day, we made a late birthday visit to one of Eddie's friends.  They have a new baby so we were actually celebrating a day of birth, a little late since she was born a few weeks ago.  I don't think I've ever seen a smaller baby.  She's just so little. 

Then we made our way to S's place where her fam was hanging out.  We were barbequeing and breaking in her new dance game.  Her newphew, who I think is 3, kept somehow choosing a song and making it start up.  Then he kept handing me the remote.  I had no idea how to turn it off, even after pressing all the buttons on the controller, so I did the dance.  This happened twice.  He kept choosing the long versions of each song.  I was sweating, and so I decided that I needed to run away so I wouldn't have to dance again.  I realize that I didn't have to dance in the first place, but I couldn't see letting a dance routine go to waste.

Birthday Checklist Item #7: Dance shoes for all the dancing.

We ate.  We laughed.  We sang.  We had cupcakes and a rice krispie treat cake.  It was all really good.  It was all very celebratory.  It was all very birthday-like.  I like birthday-like.  Happy birthday, S. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I renewed my Driver's License.  I didn't get a new picture.  That was a mistake.  I have the same picture from my Learner's Permit.  It looks like a much younger, much whiter, much chunkier version of who I am today.  I sometimes wonder why people accept that it's me when I get ID'd.  Then I panic and wonder if I actually still look like that.  I don't think I do.  Maybe my mirrors are wrong.

I also checked the box for organ donation.  When my new license arrived, I saw that it has a small, bright red heart on the front of it.  On the positive side, it distracts from the deformed picture.  On the negative side....

I also got a letter from the New York State Department of Health.  It thanks me for making the life saving decision to register.  I have officially consented to giving away my organs (and tissues and eyes, oh my).

So, of course, I'm now in a different state of panic.  I waved the letter in front of Eddie when he came home from work: They're going to harvest my organs! They're going to kidnap me, kill me, and harvest my organs!

Eddie's response: I told you not to check the box.

Then my brother visits yesterday.  First, he laughs at my license while I'm showing him the bright red heart and says, What, were you hung over in that picture?  Um, no, thanks, and that's not the point.

Then he says: They won't kill you.  You'll just wake up in a bathtub of ice with your liver missing.

Thank you.  Thank you, both.

So today I see that the letter says I can fill out a specification form from their website and send it in so that they use my organs (and tissues and eyes, oh my) the way I want them to.  I read the form.  You can check off all kinds of boxes--use my kidneys but not my skin; use it for research but not for transplants.

Then I felt ridiculous.  And kind of like a dick.  If I'm going to donate my organs (and tissues and eyes, oh my), I really shouldn't be in the business of being picky.  I mean, come on.  I'm obviously avoiding the major issue here--if I'm donating my organs, I'm in a position for which I no longer need them, ie not among the living, so I need to not pick and choose who gets what.  Instead, I need to look at it from a narcisisstic viewpoint--I can save a life.  I'll let them take whatever they need, as long as they don't kill me to get it.  I can live with that.  (Did you hear me?  Live!  I want to live!).

Moral of the story: I've watched to many movies about organ harvesting than I realized.  Actually, I don't know if I've watched even one, but however it got into my head, I've dwelled on that a bit too much.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Star, A Powter, and Some Other Guy

On a whim, I found myself lakeside in Eisenhower Park in a collapsable chair, warding off bugs, shivering.  Fresh 102.7 had their concert in the park which Eddie and I heard about on the radio.  Ryan Star of Long Island, Daniel Powter of Had A Bad Day fame, and Kris Allen from AI would be performing. It was FREE.  We were there! 

Surprisingly, the park was not crowded.  There were tons of people there, but there was still a lot of room.  The last time I went to a concert there for Gin Blossoms, the temperature hit 100 even at 9 PM and it was so crowded.  This time?  Not so much.  I don't know why.  Most of the old people around us--already wearing winter gear when the sun was out--obviously didn't even know who the musicians were, but they came out anyway.  A night out for free.  Free pasta.  Why not.

Yes, free pasta.  As soon as we set up our chairs, Eddie noticed that there was a basketball hoop and a give-away table down by the stage.  We saw people coming back from the booth hold plastic bags.  We couldn't tell what it was for the longest time.  Then we saw the guy sitting next to us come back for a second time and say something to his wife about pasta.  Eddie went down to the booth, bypassing the bball line, and came back with a stack of FREE stuff--not only did he have two bags of pasta, he also had a handful of free samples of cocoa butter lotion with coupons attached.  The coupons have stickers over the original expiration date with a new expiration date, so I don't know how old the samples are or if the coupons will work, but with free stuff, you get what you get.

The man next to us went back about five times.   He and his wife had a plastic bag with them that they filled with the free pasta.  Later on, she fell asleep.  He woke her up so she could give him a cookie.  Then he got more pasta. 

This is going to be me and Eddie when we are 90.

Anyway, we sprayed our chairs with bug spray, which worked for a while, but it did get itchy and buggy.  It wasn't so bad though because it was also cold.  Yes, that's right, cold.  The two of us were sitting balled up on our chairs, trying to be warm.  Eddie had luckily found a long-sleeved shirt in his trunk and I'd grabbed it just in case he needed it.  He put it on during song 1.  I wrapped my pashmina around me about the same time.

Song 1 was by Ryan Star.  After Jim and Kim came out, yelling introductions into the microphone, Ryan Star sang about five songs.  He didn't have a band.  He had a backup singer on keyboard and what seemed like canned music.  It was a little strange.  I like Ryan Star--have his album, knew two songs.  Actually, I knew three because the third I'd heard earlier in the day on the site for the concert when I was looking for the time the concert started. FYI: Fresh 102.7's website did not list the time of the concert.  Thanks for the information.

Anyway, Ryan Star needs to learn to know his audience.  His music is very good and can be appealing to everyone, but he started to "feel the music" as some musicians do.  He was growling and screeching and half-saying lyrics all breathlessly, arching his back and wailing.  I liked it and Eddie was entertained, but the elderly audience--most of the audience--didn't exactly get the "feeling the music" bit.  He did go into some Meatloaf Anything For Love and some Gotyee, which was entertaining, and then he did take a picture of the audience, which brought back memories.

Side story: When I was in junior high, I went to a concert at Jones Beach (I'm almost positive it was for Bon Jovi).  There had been a contest for local bands to open before the headliner, and a band called Stage won.  Stage played at least one song and maybe more.  They took a picture of the audience.  Who was in that band?  Ryan Star!

So that makes me: Super Fan of Ryan Star.

But back to the concert.  After a ten minute break to break down the stage, Daniel Powter came on.  He played some songs that we didn't know.  Then he played a song that Eddie knew and I didn't.  Eddie was like, I'm surprised you don't know this song.  I said, What's even more surprising is that you do.  He listens to Biggie and also knows this obscure Daniel Powter song. 

Daniel Powter knew his audience.  He even went out into the audience to have us sing with him.  The sing-along was a little uncomfortable considering only the people in the front were singing.  That's not the performers' faults.  Most of the old people were sleeping by then.

He sang Had A Bad Day, which I sang along to unprompted, but that wasn't his closing song.  He closed with the aforementioned going-into-the-audience song. Everyone clapped.  The wife in the couple next to us woke up and they left.  No lights were on near us, so she had a hard time going where she needed to go, so the husband held out his arm and she took it and they shuffled uphill and out of the park that way.  Awww, that's so me and Eddie in 50 years.

There was another ten minute break to set up for Kris Allen.  We never saw Kris Allen.  We were cold, the bugs were getting to us, and neither of us really like Kris Allen.  In fact, Eddie is really annoyed by him.  Not long after the old couple left, we scooped up our free pasta and lotion and coupons, folded up our chairs, and climbed up the hill, back to the car.  I sang a few bars of Kris Allen's song--you know the one--and that was enough for us. 

Heh heh This is where we'd gone in.  It was open.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Go Ahead And Ask

I've lost count of how many times people asked me, How's married life?  My answer at first had been, Pretty much the same as non-married life.  Now I respond with, Simply wonderful!  Really, that's a kind of intimate question, and I don't know what people are expecting the answer to be.  In my second year of marriage, if people keep asking, I'm going to start making up stories about how it's really horrible or I'll say I don't remember since the divorce.  Heh heh. I like screwing with people who ask questions they shouldn't be asking.

Eddie and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with food and games.  We watched the Olympic Closing Ceremonies on DVR.  We ate lunch together.  We went to our first Yankee Game together.  The Yankees won.  The tickets were free.  It was a good game.  What made it even better was that practically everyone who was sitting near us decided to go sit somewhere else, so we had a whole row--the last row in section 408--to ourselves.  We did the wave several times, too.

Probably the best part--aside from being in love and celebrating our marriage--was the parking.  We pulled into a small lot across from the stadium.  Eddie paid the guy.  The guy said, Back into that corner over there.  Eddie said, Sure thing, and I burst out laughing and said, Good thing I'm not driving because I would have told him to back it in for me.  Eddie said, I was thinking the same thing!  We got a good laugh and came up with different scenarios of how I would park.

Now this little tidbit may be absolutely boring to anyone else, but to me and Eddie, it means everything.  That's how married life is.  Maybe I'll just tell people this story so I can see them put on their nicest fake smile, knowing it's not even a "you had to be there" story, but a "me and Eddie" story that no one could really truly get.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Makin' Friends In The Meatpacking District

Three brand new friends emerged late during a steamy summer-in-New-York night.  After meeting up with AF and SMM and their friends to celebrate SMM's birthday on the rooftop lounge of Catch, Eddie and I learned that the rooftop was not open to us until 2 or 3 AM, and so, AF decided it would be best to finish drinks and head somewhere more open to earlier celebration.  This new place would have to be relatively close-by since the streets in the Meatpacking District are paved with cobblestone--really, they aren't paved all that much.  Cobblestone is what you would cover up when you pave.  It sure has its charm, but it wreaks havoc on women who wear heels.  And we were all wearing heels. 

We actually invented a new game that I could have played all night instead of heading somewhere else: stand on the corner in the Meatpacking District and bet on which girls are going to crash to the floor.  It was a fun game.  Also fun?  Guess how many people are going to get naked in the wide open windows of the Hotel Gansevoort, which was right across the street. 

Those games were ended in a few minutes when we made our first new friend, a club hooker-upper.  That's probably not the best title I could think of since it makes him sound like a prostitute.  Okay, let's see--how about, he's a guy who hooks up people with other people who have loose associations with lounges and clubs in the area for a small fee.  Actually, hooker probably is a good title for him seeing as he sells his kindness for a high price. 

At first, I thought that this guy was going to (A) take us somewhere to die - OR - (B) take us to a sex den.  I voiced this opinion, and some others agreed, yet we all still followed like eager ducks lining up for hunting season.  Luckily, we came to a street that had two lounges, both of which he could get us into quickly.

The second friend came quickly after that as we stood outside on a short line for Tenjune. 

Side note: Tenjune has been a lounge that I used to want to go to when I was obsessed with Sex and the City and thought I could become a cross between Charlotte and Carrie Bradshaw.  All that means now is that we were on line for a club that had its heyday about fifteen years ago.

Anyway, we were on line to get into Tenjune, wondering why we were waiting on line since we had the hookup, when some scrawny guy with wild hair approached the line.  He announced really loudly: Hey! I want you all to go visit my website!  And then he screeched: W W W dot helpaniggaout dot com!

Undeniably, he's the best self-promoter in town. 

The third friend came at about the same time--he was our lounge hookup.  Just say his name at the door and we'd be taken care of.  We'd have free bottle service all night at two tables.  Hmm.  Interesting.  This deal seemed too good to be true, especially considering that this new friend looked like he'd just swung by the Big and Tall store and took whatever was on the Clearance rack and decided that a pocket square should be really a messy lady's handerchief balled up and hanging half out of the jacket pocket. 

Yet, we stood there, waiting to get into the lounge, believing.  When we got to the front of the line, we got stamped and were let loose into the club.  Whoop whoop!  Down the stairs we went!  We found some place to sit since it was practically empty.  We asked where our friend's table was so we could get our drinks.  No one knew.  No matter--we sat anyway.  And eventually got kicked out of the seats so other people who were paying for bottle service could sit.  Then we gave up on bottle service hoop dreams and people got drinks at the bar, where they found that a beer could be $8, not because it was laced with gold, but because that's what they decided it should be for no reason.  None of our friends had mentioned this.

I turned to AF and told her that before the night was through, I was taking something.  I didn't care what it was--a cup, an ice scooper, whatever--I was leaving with something that didn't belong to me.  This is called justice.

The music was danceable.  So I danced.  Eddie danced.  We danced.  We kept doing so, with several breaks to ask about our friend, our tables, and our free stuff, but then gave up and danced some more.  Until the floor became so crowded that dancing was not really dancing but hugging each other tightly so that people could move through the room.  At some points, there was enough room for some slight hip-shaking, but that was always quickly killed by having to let someone by.  The hugging became more like desperate clinging so that I wasn't knocked to the floor and dragged.  You know--fun.

This was all I could see
Wall to wall people

and the ceiling
During the clinging, Eddie asked if that had ever been my scene.  It really wasn't--not to that extent.  I went to bars and lounges and clubs, but none that sold beer for $8 and corralled bodies into a space so tightly that moving wasn't an option.  I asked how people actually met each other there and he said, You know, they dance together and then start making out.  Ah.  Of course. Boy meets girl.  Boy grabs girl because no one has a choice in the matter.  Boy and girl mack it.  Girl files for child support a year and a half later.  Your typical love story.

And this guy.  Who the hell is this?

We did see our new friend in his ill-fitting suit roaming around the lounge but we couldn't get to him to ask him about our tables and bottles.  Maybe that's why they pack the club so tightly.  Then in case of a fire, no one will live to tell about the empty promises.

At one point when we had room to breathe, AF held up her finished drink and asked, Hey you want this?  I was like, uh YES!  So she dumped the ice on the floor and we tried cramming it into my bag.  No luck.  So she put it in her bag.  Justice is cramming a cheap plastic cup into your bag.

And feet.
Side note: Seriously, unless you're going to a rooftop, lounges in NYC are kind of like hanging out in someone's basement.  They're under these huge skyscrapers.  They have concrete floors.  This club was about the size of my parents' basement, and my parents have carpet.  You want to make money in the nightlife scene?  Find a basement, throw in some long cushiony seats, set up ten nighttables that hold three glasses each, throw some naked women on the wall and call it art, call up your friend from high school who collected DJ equipment from garage sales over the years, install a wet bar, get some booze from the Thrifty down the street, and charge at least $30 per person at the door.  Boom!  Instant millionaire.

Anyway, we wound up leaving some time late after one, and even though it had been incredibly incredible, Eddie and I were smiling and laughing and having a great time.  When we got upstairs, AF asked, You still want this?  holding up the cup.  Uh, YES!  I held it like a trophy.  I told her next time she comes over, I'll show her my collection of things I've taken in the name of justice.  One of her friends--someone whom I don't know--overheard and asked if I just said stuff I take.  Then realizing that I was coming off as some sort of thief (okay, I guess I am some sort of thief) I clarified, Oh I don't like steal from stores or shoplift or anything--I just take things when I'm out sometimes, you know, like coasters.  One friend said, well good you should and the other went on to tell me about how one of her friends took a big bag to a diner that was closing and came away with some silverware.  Ah, okay, so we're all on the same page.

Holding tight to my new plastic cup, I said my goodbyes and then held onto Eddie for cobble support as we headed back to the car.  This was a challenge considering that we'd parked on Jane and Greenwich, an intersection not easily found by following the grid.  We pretty much walked in a large spiral, winding closer and closer to the car.  Three times, I took off my shoes.  I simply couldn't walk in the heels anymore, not because of the cobblestones, but because the only cute heels I own are cheap and have no support.  I put them back on when we walked on really dirty sidewalks and when we saw a cockroach.  But they had to come off again as we walked and walked and walked.  Finally, though, things looked familiar and we headed to the car with less challenge.  Eddie carried me piggy-back for the last block.

As soon as we got home, I washed my feet.  Surprisingly, my feet were not blackened with city-foot.  Still, I washed them. Scrubbed them.

You know you had a good night when you walked barefoot in the city and you wake up the next day without diphtheria.  Good times.  Oh, and Happy Birthday, SMM.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Planting, Stamping, Obeying

The Planting Fields and Arboretum is a really pretty place to spend some time.  If you can find it.  MapQuest likes to take scenic routes, so when a place of nature on a scenic route is the destination, sending cars in circles is the MapQuest way.  After turning, U-turning, and some doubling-back, my brother and I finally found the entrance and, thanks to his Empire Pass, didn't have to pay a parking fee.  I'm not sure if they give out maps to paying customers, but we didn't get any sort of map at the booth where you normally pay, and so we were left to our own devices, sans even MapQuest, once we were in the woods and gardens.

The Planting Fields has a lot of rules:

These signs were all over.  Everywhere.  In case you missed one, you would see another about five feet away. 

However, there was only one map.  Back at the parking lot.  We went back to it twice to see where we needed to go.  We found a bunch of pretty gardens and the Coe House first.

After going back and looking at the map, we found the rest of the gardens and buildings and plants.  The main greenhouse had a map of its own!  Actually, it was for a children's activity.  I quickly took one out of the slot, determined to complete the activity.  We had to find each section of the greenhouse and stamp it in the flier.  On the back was the map of the greenhouse where all the sections were.

When I found the first stamp, I cheered for myself and heard, Yes, good, five-year-olds can do that so you're pretty much going to do well.  My brother and I turned to find someone who worked there, holding back a laugh.  I was just very exciting about the whole stamping, I cheered again.  My brother?  Probably dying inside of embarrassment.

We found orchids and cacti and birds of paradise.  It was all so pretty!  I kept stamping away.  At one point, my brother was like, Aren't you supposed to stamp it inside.  I looked at my card with the rooms and saw that I had put the stamp of a plant outside of the room instead of in the lines, so I stamped it twice and was like, Okay there!  So proud.

When we left the final room, I held up my map and then opened it and then realized what my brother had meant.  A five-year-old could do this, and I had failed to do it right.  I was supposed to be stamping inside of the flier.  That's what my brother had meant.  I told him, next time, call me dumb and open it for me.  Still, we completed it.

We walked around, somewhat in circles, until we decided we had seen everything, not really knowing if we had.  We checked the map once more.  He asked if I wanted to go on the hiking trails.  It was now about 90 degrees out, the sun was high, and we had no map.  I told him I did not want to go without a map.  He said he didn't feel like being stuck in the woods either, so we headed to the Nassau County Museum of Art.

There, we walked around to see all the outdoor sculptures.  This activity entailed walking along a road with no sidewalks and no signs for people to slow down or alerting them that pedestrians were on the road with them.  So in addition to the art, there was a bit of added "I might die" adventure, and we didn't even have to go into the woods without a map to make it happen.

I don't know what function my camera magically has, but this is what happened with my last shot.

One of the sculptures had some rules--don't stand on it, don't touch it.  So I marched up to it with the plan to go under it, but scrapped the plan once I saw a dead rat with bugs eating it underneath.  After that, we called it a day.  That was a little too much nature for me.  To wipe away the memory, I just looked at the pictures of all the pretty flowers.