Monday, December 31, 2012

A Christmas Feast

I cooked for Christmas day.  Yup, I did it.  I made stuffed shells, zucchini, and mashed squash.  My mom heated up pre-made meatballs.  Next year, maybe I'll make meatballs, too, because the pre-made ones were gross.  The shells on the other hand were fantastic.  How do I know?  Eddie ate like eight.  Everyone else had two or three.  That makes me a cook, right? 

We also had Christmas Eve dinner at my aunt's house.  I did not cook for that.  We're starting small.

This is my new favorite hat courtesy of my grandmother.
Oh, and we grew an elf.   He's still growing, I think.

Or drowning.  Or both.

Merry merry.  Happy happy. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

SantaCon! Must Be A Sign

Two years in a row I've been to almost-SantaCon. Last year, Eddie and I found a lonely Santa hat in the gutter and saw swarms of people dressed up as Santa. Only much later did it dawn on us that our trip into the city had been on the same day as SantaCon.

SantaCon is a day of merriment in the form of adults dressing up in Christmas-related outfits and drinking from the wee morning hours into the late late night hours (really the next wee morning hours).

This year, we did not plan a huge see-every-Christmas-related-event-in-the-city romp. We basically saw everything over the past two years and this year we've both been pretty overwhelmed with work, so there wasn't really any planning going on for anything. In fact, the whole holiday season kinda crept up on us both, evidenced by the very few Christmas cards I sent out this year. Family only and then one or two sent to people who sent us cards early in the month. Anyone who sent us a card that arrived within the few days before Christmas will get a card next year.

We did plan a night out on the town, however. SMM and AF were going to see a play so we said we'd meet up with them for dinner. We hopped on a train, all gussied up, and headed into the city, seeing a few Santa hats along the way. We saw one guy wearing his idea of a Santa outfit using an interesting array of tight red jeans and bright white kicks--like if Santa were a hip-hop star in his 20s.

It didn't dawn on me it was SantaCon until we started walking downtown. We made it to Union Square and oh my Santas and elves and presents. Yes, people were wearing big boxes and wrapped up in bows and wrapping paper. Slutty Santa outfits in freezing weather! Why can't girls just be jolly Mrs. Claus? Big gingerbread men with huge heads! All careening around the bars and taxis. It was insane.

Also insane was the line inside of Max Brenners and their three-hour wait. Um, no. While we waited to see how long the wait was, AF and I eyed the swirling-machines of chocolate in the front. We were mesmerized until I noticed--hey, why is there a container of Huggies wipes sitting on here? Eww. So then we weren't all that upset when we chose to not wait the three hours. Instead, we took a trip around town. Everywhere we went, there was a wait. Also? Drunk Santas. Everywhere drunk slutty Santas, drunk slutty elves, drunk slutty gingerbread men. Wooden soldiers and ballerinas. Rudolph. All mosey-ing across the street all sloshed and blitzed.

We wound up eating at the Cosmic Diner in the theatre district. We had to wait there, too, but it wasn't very long. We waited longer than we should have, though, because there was a family who were most likely tourists who didn't understand apparently what the big bunch of people at the front of the restaurant were doing standing there and staring at them since they took their dandy old time counting out exactly how much money they were leaving and I'm pretty sure also ironing out each bill so that it was nice and neat. Was I a bit overdressed for a diner? Maybe but it served the best diner chicken wrap I've ever eaten ever, so nothing else mattered. SMM actually pointed out that I was kinda dressed for the occasion of SantaCon since I was decked out in a red dress and black boots. Hmm, coincidence?

Odd pose?  Yes.  Taken on a timer so deal with it.

SMM and AF made it to their play on time and Eddie and I walked back through Times Square where we found an overabundance of characters. Thirteen Elmos. Three Cookie Monsters. A whole gang of Mickeys and Minnies all together. It was like a minefield for me--how to avoid the creepy characters and take pictures at the same time.

No characters hang out by the trash can so that's where I was most comfortable.

Also, Eddie had his first encounter with the Naked Cowboy. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He was like, Are you seeing this? I was like, Oh, sure, that's the new guy. He was like, What? I was like, Well, the original guy looked a bit like Fabio. We both looked at the Naked Cowboy again and then agreed that this whole equal opportunity thing has really worked its magic into every kind of job.

I've decided that next year, I must once again go to SantaCon. The big difference is that I'll be doing it on purpose. I don't think I'll last from morning til the next morning. I do, however, like the idea of climbing into a big fuzzy pajama onesie and walking around the city in it to go bar-hopping. It's probably the most comfortable outfit I'll ever wear out, and I have the perfect one hanging in my closet from my first Christmas with Eddie. How serendipitous.

Go ahead.  Be jealous.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Hope You Dance, Precious

S and I noticed the cake sitting on the table in the front of the room as we jumped into the dance that had already begun, of course, I'm guessing around 7:00 AM. S had to change from work clothes into jeans. Ha! Jeans! For Jean. Anyway, she'd brought cookies and then was like, They got a cake! I was like, Yeah, I wonder how that went down. She was like, Or maybe Jean brought the cake. I wondered, Yup, maybe she brought it and put it out and said no one could eat unless we danced first.

I'm pretty sure that's how it went down because there was no mention of the cake as we danced every dance in rapid fire that Jean could think of and that people were requesting. We had a pretty full class and Jean was taking note of everyone. After dancing about five dances in a row, she stopped and was like, Now let's eat cake.

I wandered over and heard Jean say, Oh, that's what I hope for you all; I hope you all dance. When S came up behind me, I explained, They got the cake and wrote on it "I Hope You Dance." To a dance teacher. Who already explained that she was retiring from only the night classes. Which means she's going to still dance and probably would continue to dance at least once a month at the church with the Filipino child star. Then I felt only a little bad for my snark when Jan the most friendly person in the world looked over at us and the two women who are also on our side of the room (more of that in a moment) and said, Hey you want cake? and motioned for us to come over. S had cake which was berries and cream so I was like, hey they made the cake for you, because that's her kind of cake. I had hot chocolate, which they'd also brought.

Side note about "our side of the room." Between dances as Jean searched and searched for a song because she still doesn't have a playlist, S was like, People really hate us. I was like, Yes I know. She was like, No, really, look around. On our side of the room was us in the back and then Fun Hair Clip and the Asian woman who talks to us and we don't ever know what she's talking about. On the other side of the room were the four women in the clique, the Catholic sisters, the new woman, the woman who wears the Yankee shirt (although she's stopped wearing it in these past three weeks and has been more dressed up), the woman who can't spin, and the woman who likes when I stretch my arms out when I do the nightclub step. That's ten people crammed into one side of the room to get away from us. And the only reason Fun Hair Clip and the Asian woman are on our side is that they are just kinda oblivious to, well, reality.

Anyway, as we ate cake and drank hot chocolate, the clique decide to ask "the girls", aka us, how to find a song on a phone. I pointed to S. She was like, what kind of phone? They were like, Her phone, and pointed to one of themselves. S was like, I have I Hope You Dance on mine, which is the song they wanted to hear. By Leanne Womack even though I was like, I don't think she sings that and S was like, Uh yes she does. Then I realized that Leanne Womack and Leanne Rhymes are two different people.

Jean then asked, Girls, what dance shall we do next? We said, Something In The Water. She said, that's a great one.

So we did Something In The Water on stomachs full of cake and hot cocoa. Despite the rumbling of the chocolate drink, I was in high spirits by the time the song was over and so was everyone else. Why? Because you just can't feel sad or bad about anything when that song comes on.

Then, when I didn't think I could get any higher, Jean played Stealing The Best. The Irish Song! The Irish Dance! S was like, I've never seen your face look the way it does when you get to break it down during this dance. I was like, It's called pure joy.

Really, all of line dancing is pure joy. The night came to the end after Jean's insistence on us doing Martini Time. No one really cares where Yolanda is, but since Jean wanted to do it, we did it because that's how these things work.

Then it was over. She thanked us. We thanked her. This went on for quite some time. Then S gave her the cookies and I whispered to Jean that they were from S's business and they are gourmet and delicious. Jean was like, Why didn't she tell us this sooner? Then S asked if we could take a picture with her and Jean grabbed her box of cookies to pose. Then everyone else took pictures with her. Jean asked if we'd see her again. I explained that the church is in my neighborhood so I'd have to come by at least once. S said she'd come by if she didn't have to work and then informed Jean that she had taught TickTock to her coworkers after we'd learned it from her. Then I told Jean I'd see her some time at the church and I'd stand near her so she could help me. Everyone laughed and we said our goodbyes and gave final hugs and then? It was over.

When we were walking out, S was like, Did you hear what she called us? I was like, The girls? She was like, aside from that. Nope, I hadn't. S said, Jean called us precious, you know, like the word you use to describe an infant. Yup, that sounds about right.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fancy Footwork Falling Down

So I almost fell at dancing. There have been close calls before with slippery floors and quick turns, but this time? This time was different. I almost literally like fell over. I don't even remember what dance it was. It had a lot of steps and a lot of turns. A whole lot of everything. I thought I was taking a step to the right but my legs started going to the left. Sometimes my feet get ahead of me. I over-corrected. Then, somehow, the weight was on neither foot. I don't know how I did that. Neither foot was holding any weight. Then, all at once, both feet were holding all my weight. That's right, both. And that's when I decided to turn, when I had no leverage and both feet were stuck on the floor. I felt my entire upper-body twist one way and then my arms flailed all about in an attempt to perhaps fly.

This all happened in a matter of five seconds. It felt like a lifetime. I got my footing without falling and turned to see S in tears from laughing so hard. She admitted, I only saw your feet so I can't imagine what the rest of you was doing. I responded, The rest of me was almost falling over. She said, I know that much!

No one else saw. What they did see and enjoy was my arms on the night club step. What I do with my arms is really what S does with her arms, but no, it's me they see. We did the step once and the woman across the room at the end of the line said, So that's what you do?, and flung her arms all the way out to the sides. She continued, That's good and I can do that. Jean nodded awkwardly having no idea what the woman was talking about. S? Still laughing. This was her fault.

Later on, much later, when we were doing a completely different dance and not doing the night club step, Jean said, Wait until I make you do these arms with the cha cha, and she swept her arm over her head and down through her short hair. Way to catch on. Also, we were not doing a cha cha step either.

Most of the night, however, was focused on what we're going to do once Jean is gone. She told us that she'd recommended a teacher and she's not sure if they'll go with her since she wants to teach three different classes of three different levels all in once night and not necessarily on Tuesday nights. But Tuesday nights are for dancing, we all said. Change? Is bad. It's very bad. Jean said that she wasn't sure what they planned to do and it was all in the works and then, to divert our attention away from the impending doom of dancing on another night, she encouraged us to go to the church and dance with Archie the Filipino child star turned dance teacher. Now that sounds like a much better idea.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Will Jean Still Love Me

When S and I walked into dance class, S was like, No seriously what time did she start?  We entered at exactly 8 PM and they were already at the END of Chronomatic.  They were dancing to the not-Rod-Stewart song, a slower version of the dance, so we weren't as disappointed as we'd be if she had played the Rod Stewart song, but still, we'd missed the pre-class-dancing, or as Jean calls it, on time dancing for people who arrive early.

To make up for it--or just because she's Jean--she immediately put on Brazil. Yeay!  Our favorite dance!  And everyone else's not favorite because it makes them out of breath.  This is how we make friends.  Jean did a quick lesson and then we were off!  It was so much fun, just like the old times!  Until Jean decided after four years of dancing the same dance over and over that the dance had a tag that we never ever learned.  Um, okay then.  Actually, I think Jean messed up and then just called it a tag.  In any case, we fell back in step to finish the dance.  Until Jean just shut off the music and was like, So you don't get tired.  I asked S, Did she just stop the dance before the song was over?  Just to be sure of what was happening.  S was like, Um, yes, she so did that.

Jean blasted through dance after dance.  She played Martini Time which prompted both S and I to ask, seriously where's Yolanda?  Then Jean announced, I saw Linda yesterday.  We asked each other at the same time, Is that a song title or is she having a conversation.  It was, in fact, the name of a dance. Which we've done before.  Which I've been calling the Blue Merry Go Round Dance.  And it's not called that.  It's called I Saw Linda Yesterday and it makes me happy.

Then we learned a new dance that, according to Jean, is half mambo, half samba, half Spanish, and half Italian.  I'm not too sure about the actual components, but I do know enough about math to know that that's a total of two full dances, not one.  Yet, we danced only one dance.  I guess it has a lot of halves.

And then?  It was fast forward dance every single dance you know non stop until we hit 9:30.  And we actually did go to 9:30 instead of the usual 9:28.  That's because it's all almost over.  Maybe if Jean ever figures out how to set up a playlist, we can put it on repeat and never stop dancing. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Being In Sex And The City

Resorts World Casino is kind of a big deal. It's a casino that's much closer to home than AC. However, it's got only video-based games. The table games have virtual dealers. It's all about the slots. I'm not much of a gambler because I don't see the point of putting any kind of money into a machine and getting nothing back. It's kind of like saying, Here, inanimate machine, take this money that I have because I don't want it and you should keep it and in return you need only to flash a lot of lights and make some noises. Eddie is more of a table player, so the video portion of that is not very appealing.

Still, it's closer than AC. Which is why we wound up going there with his mom for a big day on the town! Which almost didn't happen because even though we knew exactly where it was, we couldn't seem to find it and the GPS took us into the airport. If that's not a sign to not go....but still, we went.

The first best thing that happened was that we all got member rewards cards and that came with free 10 dollars to play.

The second best thing that happened was that Eddie WON on his first free 10 bucks. He put his coupon into a machine, pressed a button, and BAM! he's up like 70 bucks.

Of course, we couldn't stop there. We had to play more. I played with my 10 bucks and that didn't go very well. So we took a break to head over to the track.

Yeah, that's right. We went to see the races. I still do not find horses very interesting. However, my penchant for horse racing has ironically continued to grow. When we crossed the threshold from casino to Aquaduct, Eddie mumbled, Here's a whole other kind of gambler.

Oh my. The place was packed with mostly older men. Er, uh, well, okay, I'm not trying to judge and saying anything to describe the men would be very judgmental. Or maybe this will help: A man with no teeth stood directly in front of me while Eddie and I were walking through and proclaimed his love for me and sang as we walked away. It was filled with people like that. Along with some women and some younger people who didn't look like they lived there. Mostly though, everyone looked like they lived there.

Eddie showed me the names of all the horses. He chose one. I chose one. We choose based on the names we like. I liked several but came back to Smokin Alice. He placed the bets and told me to hold the papers. I really didn't know what was going on. I just knew we could go outside and watch some horses. The start was all the way on the other side of the track and we stood just past the finish line.

Then they were off! The horse Eddie picked was last. Mine was close to that. They rounded the curve. Then, Smokin Alice was in second. Then, Smokin Alice friggin WON. I won my first live horse race! Man, it felt good!

We returned to his mom all triumphant. She was slot hopping, looking for a good machine. You know, one that gives money back. Eddie handed over his winnings from before and told me to play the Sex and the City game with it. There's this slot machine that makes you choose shoes and dresses and rings and things based on that show. It shows clips from the show. It plays the music from the show. The only weird thing about it was that middle aged straight men were playing it. I don't know what the appeal was for them. It was so much fun. I kept clapping every time I won something. I kept hitting the bonus that caused the wheel to spin that caused a guessing game that lead to winning even more!

And after I was up over 100, somehow, I lost it all. Eddie told me it was okay, that everything we lost was never ours to begin with. It was not okay with me. This is why I don't like gambling. The machine made me lose.

Eddie and I headed over to roulette which was stupid because it didn't let us bet the numbers we wanted because the screen was too sensitive. He wound up breaking even.

Because we wound up losing money by playing on my card, we got 40 more free bucks. Having a score to settle, I stormed back over to the Sex and the City game.

This is why I should not gamble. I try to settle scores with inanimate objects.

However, I did settle the score. I rolled and rolled and rolled. I had a system that made no clear sense--betting one, betting five, betting max, betting five, betting one, betting max. Somehow, it worked. I got the bonus. I got the spin. I got the Match Carrie's Dresses. I turned over mirror after mirror and then BAM! I found the 10000 dress. The woman next to me said, Oh wow and it's 5 times that. Eddie and I looked at each other: WHAT??   The machine kept binging and banging as it added up all the points.  The woman on the other side of me was like, that's nice.  I was like, yup and this is why I'm cashing out.

 Keep in mind this was like a penny slot, so my winnings were not in the thousands. However, when all the math was said and done, we'd come out ahead. Slightly, but slightly is still more than not. And this is why I love gambling. Which is also why I should not gamble.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Beginning Of The End Of An Era Of Dance

Dance class has never been so jam-packed with dances. With only less than half the class there, Jean jacked up the learning curve and decided to throw us into Meth-Like Learning of The Art of Dance. It's what I imagine a rave to be. Being that I've never been to one, it's quite possible that my imagination does not match reality. At all.

We started with a dance we supposedly already know, Crazy Foot Mambo, but I think S and I did it only once and weren't taught the way the Clique had been taught. It wasn't our shining moment considering we messed up the dance over and over. Jean was like, Do you have it now? And I was like, Nope but that's okay!

We did Cry Cry Cry.

Jean mentioned that they do this dance at the church.

We did London Rhythm Swing.

Jean pointed out that the arm movements are for those of us who enjoy Broadway. They may also do this dance at the church.

We did My Blue Merry Go Round.

Okay, I don't know if that's the real name of the song and I'm not sure if this is the dance we actually did, but I really enjoy the shaky camera angles, so let's say it is. They do this dance, or one like it, at the church.

What is all this talk about the church? Seriously, Jean, what's going on? Jean said that she was teaching us as many dances as possible in the next few classes. We figured it was because we lost two classes and they are giving us only one extra at the end to make up for it (how does that add up?). But then, Jean shocked us with: This is the last class I'll be teaching at night.

What???? No more dance class with Jean?????

She said, I'm not sure who they'll get to replace me.

What???? No one could ever replace Jean!

Of course, the sincerity of the moment was completely lost since she was talking into the feedback microphone so it all sound like.


Quite anticlimactic. But the announcement explained why she'd been urging us to go to the church. She was praising the teacher there. She said that she'd arrived at 7:45 and didn't get home until after 11 the last time she'd danced there. Then she pointed at me and S and said, You girls would love it. Of course we would!

But we wouldn't love it as much as we love Jean.

The clique then started making requests to get as much out of Jean as possible. They asked for a dance called Sway. They looked at us and one asked if we knew it and then another answered for us (you can guess which one): They weren't even born when that song came out!

Uh, it's the Pussy Cat Dolls. We were born. We're older than they are.

Jean had some trouble finding the song on her iPod because she has yet to figure out how to make a playlist. She found the Michael Buble version of the song, but not the one she wanted. And so S, aka Teacher's Pet, found it on her phone and handed it to Jean who at first thought she had a video of it but then settled for the song only.

We learned it and danced it and S saved the day.

Then we went home feeling a little let down, knowing that we are almost at the end of the Era of Jean.