Saturday, December 22, 2007
We needed a cat sitter for the Meow while we're home in Houston for the holidays. So I put up a sign in the basement offering $30 to anyone who would come visit the cat and feed her a few times while we are gone.
FOUR people in the building called and offered to take care of the cat - FOR FREE!
Whoever said New Yorkers were a mean lot was wrong.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
It is the season of giving - giving tips to Doorment and Super's, I mean. We had heard about this tradition of annual giving to those folks who help you out each year. And what a great idea! Saves you from having to dig in your pockets each time someone does something nice for you.
While the sentiment is certainly very clear, the reality of how to go about giving the tips is not. Do they get pooled together? How much is enough? If I don't give enough, will I get bad service the rest of the year?
It's a big question, and a big deal for these guys. If each one of my doormen gets an average of $50 from each resident in my building, that's $3000. The doormen in the West Side Beauty's building stand to make $5000 for their efforts.
I tried to find some guides to tipping, but I mostly asked around. The consensus was to give a range of $25 to $50 depending on how much interaction you had with them throughout the year, and how helpful they were.
Still, we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about how to handle this whole thing. It's another of those unique New York rites of passage.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
On Sunday, it's supposed to snow, and I'm planning to pull a "When Harry Met Sally" move.
NOOO! Not that one! Dirty mind.
I plan to recreate the scene where she drags the Christmas tree down the block in the snow. In fact, I'm waiting UNTIL it snows, just to be more festive.
Then, The Boy and Lady Lawhorn are going to help me trim the tree, and I'm going to make wassail and christmas cookies. Jealous?
1. Excessive honking. She hates it! All the cabby and limo drivers are OBSESSED with honking. Even if there is really no reason for it.
2. Walking strategy. The objective in New York is never to stop. So if you get the "walking man", it makes sense to cross the street and meander your path in order that you never half to slow down. Even for a second. Sprinting in front of a cab is preferred in order to shave a mere milisecond off your travel time.
3. No Dr. Pepper.
4. Plain Baked Potato. When she ordered a baked potato, they brought it plain, with no butter, cheese, bacon bits, or sour cream. When Lady Lawhorn asked for some cheese, the waitress acted like SHE was the crazy one. Who wants to eat a plain baked potato? What's the point?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Time was of the essence, she scolded me, as I loped along. I had to channel my inner New Yorker for this shopping trip. (For my guerilla shopper inspiration, I thought of my Mom).
Sample sales aren't just racks in the back of nice stores, like the sale rack at the back of Banana, either. They are located in nondescript office buildings, usually on the second floor or above. When you reach the space, the first thing they ask you to do is check your bag. Then you walk into a huge room with different types of clothes on racks and signs listing the price of each type of item.
Along with the other shoppers in the room, you are hunting, not gathering, looking for that one great deal you can brag about at parties. Once you've collected your prey, you're whisked to a draped off area to try it all on. No separate dressing rooms. Just a big open space, some hooks, a few large mirrors and lots of flesh and age inappropriate underwear.
I didn't find any steals, but the show was great. Tons of cool, stylish people watching. And, Diva-D brought me a size 2 dress to try on because she thought I could fit into it. Awww. Love you, D!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
o New Macbook
o Surprise Sister Visit
o Jogging around the reservoir
o Brunch with eggs and big BOWLS of coffee
o Shoe Shopping!
o Great gifts wraped in love from Houston
o Dinner at Nobu
o Celebrity sighting (Benjamin Bratt)
o Team birthday lunch
o Tarts from Once Upon A Tart
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
It's easy to keep track of the anniversary of my move to New York. I flew up the weekend before my birthday and started my new job ON my birthday. I remember that even though I was excited, it was all a bit overwhelming. I was wicked sick, away from my family, displaced, and The Boy wasn't here yet to share the challenges. There was no celebration, no cake, no special dinner. As birthday's go, it was a bit of a bust.
So this year was a HUGE improvement. First of all, The Boy is here and that makes everything better. Second, we have our own place. Third, my sister the Dainty Drug Dealer came to visit! And it was a surprise! The Boy told me his friend from college was coming in unexpectedly, and we had to pick him up at the airport at 1 am because his flight was delayed. I had NO IDEA that something else might be going on. Both my sisters, the Dainty Drug Dealer and The Lawhorn, had cooked up more than one scheme to push me off the trail of their deception. After a near slip and a great recovery by The Lawhorn, the Dainty Drug Dealer even called me up crying with shame about how she didn't even consider coming to visit me for my birthday. I bought it all--hook, line and sinker. No idea at all!
So it was super swell to pull up to the airport and see my sister's smiling face rather than one of The Boy's stinky friends.
Plus, I received some rather handsome gifts.
But the best gift is family. Awww.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Of course, it also has its drawbacks - ill-fitting shoes can make even a short trip a painful one. And if you aren't used to it, sheer exhaustion simply takes over. The optimistic assurance from the leader, "It's just a few more blocks!" might make you cry. During our first months here, The Boy and I fought exhaustion each and every night. After our mobile commute, we had no additional energy left over.
But the commute can be fraught with other dangers. The West Side Beauty recently found this out when we were walking along the West Side Highway running/jogging/biking path on our way to the gym. An oncoming cyclist zigged and zagged, yelled something incomprehensible, and FWUMP! He took out The West Side Beauty and they both came crashing to the ground.
He, without a helmet, no less, began to berate her. Unapologetic and indignent, he tore into her as she struggled to get off the ground. Unapologetic and indignent, I tore back. "YOU are responsible for controlling your bike around pedestrians! YOU are responsible for keeping your line! It was your fault you ran into her. Now get out of here! And next time, wear a helmet!"
He didn't say another word as he rolled away. Unfortunately for The West Side Beauty, the road took another bite out of her a couple of weeks later. On her way to work, fresh and looking lovely, her shoe got caught in the cuff of her pants as she descended the stairs that cross the West Side Highway to our office. Ass over teakettle she flew, and this time the road won. Hobbled and bleeding, she strode into work. It was no way to start the day.
So yes, whiling away the time strolling through Greenwich Village is great. Just remember to tuck and roll if you make a mistep.
Friday, September 14, 2007
For us, it also means visitors. We are expecting Daryl's Mom and stepdad and my Mom next week. It will be great weather for them to experience the city.
As an added bonus, I somehow scored tickets to David Letterman for all of us. Stay tuned on our star turn.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sounds easy, right? Well, it's about as easy as catching a greased pig. Perhaps it's because they don't do that much here in The Big Apple that this process is sooo convoluted.
In order to register the car, I first have to have a New York driver's license. Easy enough, as long as you have an out-of-state drivers license with an issue date on it AND a copy of your social security card. And I have neither.
So, the first thing I had to do to prove my drivers license issue date was to order a copy of my driving record.
Second, since I haven't had a copy of my Social Security Card for years, I had to get a replacement. Thankfully, since I have a valid passport, this wasn't too difficult. But I had to take time off work to schlep up to the Social Security office in Spanish Harlem. Oh what a joyful time I had waiting in line with my fellow Americans for the doors to the office to open! One of them felt the need to share what I think was a diatribe about US immigration policy at the top of her lungs for about 10 minutes.
But after I got inside, I only had to wait a very short while. I already had my paperwork filled out (I thought! At the last minute I looked over the form and realized I needed my Mom and Dad's social security numbers. Fortunately Dad was home and was able to give me that info before they called my name.) and when my number came up, I was ready to go.
A great little guy helped me out and I was out of there in a snap. AND the card came in the mail just one week later.
Phase 1 complete.
This week, I'll make the trek to the DMV to get my new license. Hopefully they don't have too many greased pigs there. Wish me luck . . .
Monday, June 11, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Well I challenged it online, taking advantage of a program that allows a judge to review a statement that you type up.
A few days ago I got a letter in the mail stating that they had received my challenge and they wanted to offer me two options:
- I could go ahead and pay it, and they would knock off $20 bucks (um . . . thanks a lot)
- Or I could do nothing and it would proceed to a judge for review
I chose to do nothing. I figure it's a long shot that it will get dismissed, but it's a chance I'm willing to take, and it's worth an extra $20 bucks to have my voice HEARD!
We started out trekking down to the end of the island to Battery Park Gardens bar/restaurant for a hurried and hot cocktail on the veranda. (Just as soon as we sat down, they began shooing us out to make room for their dinner reservations.)
We left there for the coup d'etat. Dinner at The Waverly Inn. You know the Waverly Inn - it's tres exclusive with no published phone number. Only A-listers apparently have the phone number intel. The only other way to get a table is to go there in person to make your reservation. So The Little Nolita Lady did, and so we did.
It's a great little spot - very old-world European, with murals on the walls and atrium seeting in the back. Food was just so-so, but we developed a riotous rapport with the waitstaff, and fueled by a few cocktails and a bottle of wine- we had a great time!
Our next stop was Diablo something in the Village for margaritas. We talked a little, drank a little. Then it was time to go. Thank goodness for public transportation!
I got home safe and sound about 1 am, and spent all day Saturday paying for my transgressions.
Later, it was off to dinner at Varietal with some H-town friends. The fixed-price ($39), 3-course meal was divine! Service was also excellent. Probably my best meal yet.
By Sunday I was my old (very old) self again and drove into the city by myself for a little run in the park, a little paint shopping for the apt and a little brunch at a place nearby called The Island. I tucked into some eggs and bacon and my New York Times and enjoyed the wafting breeze through their open doors.
I wished The Boy was with me to enjoy. Thankfully, I was picking him up at the airport later that night, and we were able to celebrate Memorial Day together picnicking with friends in Central Park.
I'm planning to move in at the end of June, but our stuff probably won't follow until July. Ugh.
5. Seeing family and friends.
4. Mexican food and margaritas at El Tiempo.
3. Walking around Rice University with Courtney.
2. Introducing Stacey to my loud family.
1. Witnessing this interaction at the West Alabama Ice House:
Brooke (to hot guy): I graduated from law school today. What did you do?
Hot Guy: I graduated from medical school.
(But he did call her after.)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The move in date of mid to late June is looking more and more feasible all the time. We might just make it in before next Christmas after all.
Well, all I can tell you is that the scene where he shoots a three-foot stream of fire from his penis was the high point. From there, the movie explored masturbation, competitive eating and vomiting (lots of vomiting), and auto-taxidermia and suicide. I don't know why we stayed to watch the whole movie. I think we were in shock. When we left, we felt assaulted. And though I had initially impressed Daryl with my movie choices, he once again judged me a bad movie picker - Taxidermia being so bad, that it completely overshadowed the two earlier picks.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
Later, we headed downtown for a movie. I had gotten tickets to see some movies at the Tribeca Film Festival, and we went to the first one on Saturday.
I picked 3 movies – one I thought The Boy was sure to like, one I thought we’d both like and one for me.
The one I picked out for The Boy was a low-budget horror flick called “Mulberry Street” which is about a rat-borne virus that turns people into giant, rat-like zombies who go around attacking and eating each other.
The movie was OK—not too scary but kind of gross—and the writer and director get extra kudos because it provides subtle commentary on the war, government management (or mismanagement) of emergencies, and greedy landowners.
The best parts of the evening, though, were (1) the anticipation leading up to going into the movie – standing in line with the other people with special tickets, waiting for the theatre to open, and (2) that they had MnMs, so I was able to enjoy the movie with my favorite movie watching combo of popcorn and MnMs (3) listening to the Q&A after the movie with the director, screenwriters and members of the cast. The theatre was packed, but it felt like you were part of something small, cool and creative.
The funniest part of the Q&A was when someone asked what was the most expensive part in making the movie. They said that the rat, shown in the movie’s beginning, was the same rat that appeared in the end of the movie “The Departed.” Renting that rat for a few hours was the most expensive part of the project. “He was the highest-paid actor in the movie,” deadpanned the director.
After the movie, we walked uptown a bit to have drinks at The Modern, the next-door bar and restaurant to the museum. We've had bad service there before, but tonight they were on their game. Some cocktails, a little bread and cheese – it was all good. Then we took a $9 cab ride back to our apartment and dreamed about the days to come when that is the end of our journey. Alas, we picked up our car from the parking garage and drove back to Jersey.
Monday, April 23, 2007
New York has such a rich and fabled history, so imagine my surprise when two trips to the bookstore turned up almost nothing. In fact, the hilarious irony was that I found at least half a dozen books on Texas history!
I did finally turn up a gem - New York, An Illustrated History. I have been geeking out on for the past few days - and LOVING it. It is fantastic. And, to make it even better, the book is a complement to a multidisk PBS series. (Attn, Santa!)
Anyway, I've learned about the lineage of Wall Street and Water Street, the original name of New York and where the name Bronx came from.
New York was originally settled as a business colony - not a religious colony like the other colonies in the New World. From the get go, the main objective, was to make money. Under Dutch rule as part of a Dutch Trading company scheme, the area spent the first 40 some odd years of it's life known as New Amsterdam. In order to keep themselves safe from the native Lanape peoples and from the increasingly greedy British explorers, the colonists built a wall around their new community (Now known as Wall Street). Being Dutch, they were also partial to canals, so dug a few into the interior of the colony so it felt more like home (canal st. and water street). When the British took over, they changed the name of the city to New York. The Bronx was named after the man who settled the area - Bronck.
To celebrate the good weather, we waited in line for an hour and a half at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. It was long - but worth the wait. The Boy recommends the Shake Burger, cheese fries and the strawberry shake.
Friday, April 20, 2007
4 co-workers enter the elevator.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Martha Stewart's Rival and the Mary Tyler Moore Girl joined us for dinner at Cookshop on Monday, probably one of the better meals we've had in the city. The service was great, my martini was good, The Boy and I shared a great wine called Maverick something, and the food was decent - not as good as The Chef's, though.
Speaking of the Chef, he's offered up a quick tour of his work digs tonight, and then we're all heading to the East Village for dinner at EU.
It's good to see and talk to folks from home!
Monday, April 09, 2007
I used to love listening to Guns n Roses. As the days of waiting to start construction on our apartment turn into weeks and months, I'm reminded of their song "Patience." Indeed, I am learning both how to have patience and how to give up a certain amount of control. We waited months to close on the sale. It took weeks and weeks to find a contractor that we trust, 2 weeks to get approval from the building architect, and now as we push into spring, we are waiting still for the building's board to take a cursory look at our request before we begin.
I've had to just resign myself to the process. To take deep breaths. To drink martinis. Nobody is going to rush this process, and emails, phones calls and tantrums aren't making it go faster. Looks like a June move in.
It's kind of ironic. We tried so hard to speed up our apartment buying process on the front end in the hopes we could spend Christmas there. We'll be lucky to celebrate the 4th of July!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
So, late last week he had had enough. He made an appointment with an optometrist and asked me if I would meet him later to pick out frames.
Since we moved here, The Fashion Mister and The Chef have been gently trying to resculpt The Boy into a fashionable New Yorker, providing commentary on everything from his shoes, jeans, shirts, underwear and hair. Eyewear was not missed by their discerning gaze.
So The Boy was a little nervous about choosing his new face. He needed an objective third party.
I met him at his office early Thursday evening and we walked over to the store where he had gotten his eye exam. We looked around for a few minutes. I didn't really see anything I liked, but it was hard to tell. See, in New York, they don't have all the frames sitting out where you can just pick them up and try them on at your leisure. They were all in cases and required a salesperson to bring out each pair to show you.
Problem was, the sales person really wasn't interested (or able) to help us. She had another customer. We hung out for about 15 minutes. She finally came over and pulled out only the few frames we asked for. She didn't make suggestions or try to be helpful in any way, and eventually wondered off again, so we did too.
We found a place down the street that had a very helpful sales lady, but even though we found a pair or two that The Boy didn't hate, he got cold feet at the end so we left.
We saw another store right near the Path station - the door was open wide, so we walked in. Their selection looked cool and groovy, and I thought this might be the spot for us. That is, until the salesperson behind the counter coolly told us that they were closing in three minutes, so basically, to hurry it up. He brought out a couple of frames, then wondered off. Another sales person came up and said, "Look, I'll show you just one more pair. We're closing and I want to go home."
Needless to say, we didn't need that attitude! I couldn't believe it. I know New York rents have to be high. And it's not like glasses are a high volume business. One more sale that night could have made their evening.
Instead, we took our business to Hoboken on Saturday to a store called myoptics that was recommended by both The Fashion Mister and The Chef. They had a great selection, fairly helpful service - providing both recommendations and funny commentary. The Boy ended up buying two really great pairs of glasses - just in case he throws one away again!
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
We found curbside metered parking on 35th and were in the midst of reading the signs and trying to figure out the new-fangled parking meter when Daryl noticed a meter maid taking interest in our car.
I walked over to tell her we were trying to fill the meter right at that moment. In fact, The Boy was still standing at the meter looking puzzled.
I thought we had narrowly escaped a parking ticket. But I was wrong.
"Doesn't matter. I've already started the ticket. Nothing I can do about it now," said the portly meter maid.
She kept on poking at her blackberry-like tablet.
A civilian acting as her sidekick (why was she there, what was she doing?) echoed her statement.
"Yeah. She already started. There's nothing she can do about it."
"But we're standing right here at the kiosk trying to figure it out. We just parked the car," I said.
"Sorry. Nothing I can do," she said again, disinterested.
"Yeah. Nothing she can do," repeated the sidekick.
At this point, The Boy walks over. The whole scenario is repeated again, with the same lack of care by our apathetic city worker.
So, not having done anything wrong, we're slapped with a $110 parking ticket! Ms. Personality waddles away and The Boy and I fume in the car. Next time we'll just double park. They don't seem to care as much about that.
The pace has quickened in the last weeks, and we've even dropped an airbed at the place.
We spent our first night in the city - buying beer and ordering takeout Chinese. The next morning I had a great 5-mile run in the park. Spectacular.
Soon, we'll take the next step in our retail relationship - we'll install a TV.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
2. Time Out New York Updates on what's hip and happenin' in the Big Apple. Great for planning your weekend.
3. The Economist Not only does reading it make you look intelligent and cool, after reading it you will be intelligent and cool.
4. Books. A little on the heavy side, but will work in a pinch.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
While at the mall, though, I realized I'm the one with the problem. I always knew i loved women's shoes. But hold the phone! I like really nice, very expensive men's shoes too! The Boy put on some Gucci's that were shit-howdy! I was in love again! And The Boy looked nice too.
We got the Gucci's, but couldn't find a passable pair of winter boots, so we changed focus. The Boy was in a trying on clothes kind of mood, so we shuffled him off to the denim dept and made him try on pair after pair of overpriced blue jeans and tightly tailored button down shirts. He walked out with a sexy pair of Seven for All Mankind jeans, a dark blue Hugo Boss button down that brings out his eyes, and some Burberry underwear. He was magically babalicious! So what if we didn't actually leave the store with the item he needed most!
Thankfully, The Fashion Mister has agreed to acquire The Boy some 'rubbers' to go over his dress shoes. Ha ha. Had a good laugh over that.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
- Rent. Liked it in Houston. Loved loved loved it on Broadway
- Spring Awakening. Good music. Story not quite as tight as Rent. But who doesn't love simulated sex and masturbation on stage?
- A Chorus Line. Unchanged from 1975. Still, it's a classic. Worth seeing.
- Mama Mia. An ABBA lovefest. I didn't fall asleep. Not once.
- High Fidelity. Loved the movie. The musical didn't have enough lists.
- Prepared pimento cheese at the grocery store
- Smoked beef sausage
- Constant Comment tea
- California wine (well, you can find it, but not the variety you get further west. It's mostly French and Italian here.)
Monday, March 05, 2007
Here was our itinerary:
5 pm: Burp
Neighborhood: East Village
Address:41 E 7th St between Second and Third Aves
Subway: Subway: F, V to Lower East Side– Second Ave; 6 to Astor Pl
Prices: Average drink: $7.50
TONY Review: Along with a bartender who could stand in as the sixth member of Judas Priest, two “Belgian Brewist Monks” in full friarly garb are always on hand to greet you at this sanctuary of suds. Gregorian chants drone in the background, the painted walls depict “the Belgian Brewists’ story,” and signs advise whispering only. The monastic theme may strike you as gimmicky, but you’ll have to admit that the 250-brew menu is divinely inspired.
Our review: Loved it! It was a little different than we expected, and there were no monks, but the beer (we field tested a brew called 'Kwok') was awesome, and the barmaid did indeed 'shush' the crowd when it got too boisterous. We would definitely go back.
7 pm: Little Branch
Neighborhood: West Village
Address: 20–22 Seventh Ave South at Leroy St
Subway: 1 to Houston St
Payment: Cash only
TONY Review: Milk & Honey owner Sasha Petraske is letting commoners into this candlelit, subterranean spot to sample his legendary cocktails. No reservations required.
Our review: Tiny, cavernous bar with gigantic drink prices. This is a 'mixology' bar, with a changing drink menu designed for sophisticates. The Chef was sophisticated. The Boy and I and the rest of our crew were not. But, we all agreed to try again on a non-weekend night and with a larger open mind.
11:30 pm: Some R&B club down the street from The Blue Note
Neighborhood: West Village
Our review: We had every intention of going to The Blue Note, but the band we wanted to see didn't start until 1:30. We didn't think we were up to it, so we went down the street. For $7 each, we got a mid-caliber wedding singer belting out "celebration." Still, The Boy had a good time.
12:30 am: Some pizza place on the corner
Neighborhood: West Village
Our review: We ended the night in grand style with slices from a fluorescent lit pizza joint. The Chef's "Chick Chef" friend made a pop-in, and we took a respite from the hubub.
All in all, it was a great birthday celebration and a great evening. It was almost surpassed, however, by the Sunday afternoon munch-o-rama of fajitas, chips, salso, rice and other delectables prepared by the Fashion Mister.
The Boy and I hibernated after that. After such a big weekend, we were done for.
Happy Birthday Chef!
Friday, March 02, 2007
As you know, The Boy and I are doing our part to decrease our footprint - we sold our large consumptive house (you should consider this), we sold one of our cars (The Boy's beloved Mercedes SLK convertible with heated seats and an air scarf), and we rely predominantly on public transportation to get around.
I am happy to do this, you know, for the Earth and all. But today was really trying. Today it took me two hours to get to work AND I had to spend one of those hours standing outside in the pouring rain, in the cold, with a malfunctioning umbrella. See, for some reason, the Path train that I usually take to cross under the Hudson river to get to work was malfunctioning. So at the last stop before we go under water, we were unceremoniously kicked off the train and told to go find the ferry. Or whatever. Frankly, they didn't really care. And Al, I know how you hate that!
Most of us had never taken the ferry and didn't know where it was. I followed the crowd outside, into the rain with my sad umbrella. Thankfully I had on my galoshes! (Now I know, Al, they are made of Earth-unfriendly plastic, but they were really a god-send from the water, until my feet started to go numb from the cold, of course.)
So we waited in line to buy tickets for the ferry. Yes! I couldn't beleive it either! After we were so rudely kicked off the train with no other recourse but to stand in line outside for an hour, pelted by the river spray and the side-swiping precipitation, we had to buy another ticket for the ferry! They were not honoring our path tickets! And to add insult to injury, the ferry ticket was $4.50, cash only! Well, I don't have to tell you what a fluke it was that I had any cash on me.
Anyway, I finally arrived to work at 10:30, sodden, shaken and hungry. I know I'm doing it for the world and humanity and all, to be able to breathe air and what have you. But I gotta tell you, Al, today, I would have rather weathered this storm in the comfort of my gas guzzling SUV. Please don't take it personnally.
Well, gotta run. Tell Tipper I said, "Hey."
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
The very worst part is not being there when things turn a little out of the ordinary - like when my Dad was in the hospital, or my sister had a break-up, or when both of my number one running buddies went into the hospital. Not much I can do here but make phone calls and send positive vibes their way.
For now, that will have to do.
However, there is one thing that is REALLY making it hard for me to adapt.
It is the fact that many restaurants and stores don't take credit cards. "What?", you may ask. "Are you living in some type of cultural backwater? Even Bob's Deli in Cleveland Texas took credit cards. Are you saying that Bob's Deli was more advanced than some stores in New York and New Jersey?"
Yes! That is what I am saying. We went to an Italian place in Hoboken last night and ordered baked ziti, spaghetti with meat sauce and a large salad. When I went up to pay, I noticed that there weren't any credit card stickers on the door. A wave of unease washed over me (or a splatter of grease), and sure enough, the slack-jawed cashier cheerfully informed me of their cash only policy and pointed me to the bank across the street.
I don't usually carry cash, and I really don't want to start. Showing up to the cash register with only plastic when they only take cash is not a great way to end dinner.
In a related inexplicable business practice, we've also been to places where they will take the credit card, but won't let us put the tip on the credit card. It's only a matter of time before some poor waitperson gets stiffed because we don't have cash on us, or the time or inclination to find some.
Sigh. New York is home to the World Financial Center. I really expected more commerce savvy. I never expected Cleveland Texas to show them up. Here's to you, Dad.
The weather warms up this week, but this project is still stone cold.
About 40 sat down in tables of 9 or 10 to ring in the Year of the Pig with 7 or so courses including soup, lobster, chicken, pork, rice and noodles. Each had a symbolic relationship to the pig and the New Year.
We had two pigs at our table, a couple of roosters, sheep, monkey, dragon, etc. Not surprisingly given that wild kingdom variety, we escalated into the rowdiest zoorama ever. With two lawyers, an actor, 2 marketers, an architect and a fashion buyer in tow, the conversation moved from 'What's your passion," to 'When did you lose your virginity" and everything in between. The jokes and the wine flowed freely.
Afterwards, the boy and I annoyed our friends by running and sliding on the ice in our shoes. The sheep and the rooster CAN live in harmony. : )
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Mr. Mailer was reading from his new book on Hitler's upbringing.
It was packed, and I barely caught of glimpse. When he was done, there were questions. Someone asked, "How do you know when to stop writing?"
Mr. Mailer said he applied the same standard as he did for boxing, making love and climbing stairs. He stops when he runs out of wind.
And, you may never have thought of it, but an umbrella is not only good for keeping the rain off. It works for snow as well. But, just as in the rain, a mighty wind can turn the whole contraption upside down and have you hopping down the sidewalk trying to wrangle it back in. While trying to look cool and nonchalent, of course.
So I set out this morning with the snow falling hard - like a hard rain in Houston, but snow. I found that quite interesting since we haven't really had a proper rain since I've been here. It mostly spits and mists.
I tromped down the sidewalk with my layers on and my waterproof boots, jauntily holding up my umbrella and trying not to slip on the squishy parts of the street. When I got to the light rail at the bottom of the hill we're currently living on, I waited and waited. The crowd got larger and larger, crammed under the roof of the outdoor waiting area. Then the speaker came on and they reported a power outage. There was supposedly no train going to my normal station to catch the subway into the city. Bollocks! But just as I began to fear the worst ("Sorry, boss, no way to get to the city. Guess I'll have to stay home . .") a train pulled up on the opposite track, going the wrong way, and told us all to get aboard. Double bollocks!
Once there, I scooted through the snow to the next station. No bag checks there today! Then patiently waited for the train. When I got to my stop and out into the air, i crunched along with all the other poor saps. It really wasn't that cold, so I was pretty comfortable, but I put my umbrella up, you know, just in case I might save some vestige of my early morning hair primping.
Then it hit. A vortex of wind so strong! And cunning! It brought with it biting sleet that pelted my face. I tried to shield myself, but between the gales, the runaway umbrella and the sting of the sleet, all I could do was numbly move forward. To the door. To the door. But ack! It was blocked. So many people. I had no choice but to stop struggling and wait for an opening.
Once inside was like stepping into a vacuum. And once I had my piping hot hazelnut cafe au lait, life was good again. I had survived my first winter storm commute. Now I just have to worry about getting home.
Friday, January 19, 2007
We had been told to:
- Dress like we were going to an interview
- Answer any questions about renovation vaguely (in case someone on the board lived next to us and didn't want to suffer through the renovation noise)
- Prepare answers for why we had come to New York, why we chose the neighborhood, etc.
- Be our wonderful selves
- Ensure we weren't late!
The meeting was at 6:30 in the apartment of one of the board members. To ensure we weren't late, I met The Boy near his office at about 5:20. We arrived at the station near our new home at about 5:35. We had some time to kill, obviously. Even during rush hour traffic, we had made good time!
So we headed to a near Starbucks and reviewed our financials over a couple of mocha's.
At a little after 6 pm, we started walking up to our building. We hung out in the lobby until 6:28.
The Boy called up 11F and they buzzed us in. We were greeted and shown inside to an apartment on the same line as ours, so identical in every way except this one had been renovated. And it wasn't purple inside.
We were introduced to everyone and sat down, waiting for the interrogation to begin.
"Why did you move here?"
They asked the question I was supposed to answer while I was in the bathroom, but The Boy did an admirable job. It worked out for me, though, because some additional board members arrived and I had to answer the question 2 more times before we were done.
"What kind of work do you do?"
"Why did you choose this neighborhood/building?"
"Are you planning to renovate?"
We decided to be a little more open about this question because we are, in fact, planning to practically gut the place. But they seemed really open to it, and our host even showed us the updates she had made to her place.
They asked us if we had questions. We asked a few and that was about it. Meeting over. The management company would let us know the next day.
And so we were judged. Were we found worthy? We were. We close next week. Yea!
Ironically, the winter in Texas has been much more frightful than the one we've experienced here. In fact, I think Austin got a coating of snow before we did (finally) yesterday and today.
The difference, of course, is that in Texas you bundle up and move quickly from your heated home to your heated car to your heated office. Your time spent outside in the elements is minimal.
Here in New York, with the temperature averaging in the 40s and 50s so far and now beginning to dip into the 20s and 30s, we're wandering around every day in the cold, the damp, the windy, the rainy or the snowy.
So far, though, it hasn't been that bad. Except for one thing: Coldfinger.
Coldfinger occurs when you take one finger out from your mitten (or Thumb - resulting in a similar form of this problem called Numb Thumb) to text message.
So there you are, walking up and down the chilly aves, one finger or thumb akimbo, texting like mad. Eventually, you begin to notice a problem. Your finger is freakin' cold! Numb even!
That's when it's time to put your electronic toys away and stick your mits back in your mittens. No message is worth losing a finger (or thumb). You heard it here first, folks. Beware.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
All in all, it wasn't that different. You've got the popcorn. You've got the butter. You've got (if you're lucky) the M-n-Ms.
What did stand out, however, were the crowds. New York movies are CRAZY crowded. We've gone to two theaters so far - one in Union Square and one on the Upper West Side near Lincoln Center.
In both cases, we got to the theatre at least 30 minutes early, which ensured a good seat. Another time, however, we drove into the city with The Chef and The Fashionmister, only to find that even an hour in advance on a Saturday night, all the seats for every movie starting between 6 pm and 9 pm were sold out. Wah.
So in NYC, Fandango is not just a bunch of cute paper bag puppets singing and dancing, it's a real necessity.
As we sat in the theatres to see Casino Royale and The Good Shepherd, we noticed something interesting about the crowds. Forget about personal space or the 'buffer seat' we were used to in Texas. The crowds started creeping in and proceeded to take up the seats directly next to us. We thought this was strange until the whole theater filled up. By the time the Coming Attractions came on, there was nary a seat to be had.
So far, the days of slipping into an almost empty theatre at the last minute seem to be over. The magic, as I've come to see, happens before the movie, watching the innumerable quests to find the perfect movie seat - or for those late arrivers, any seat at all.
Now odds are, we could easily have picked up a few spin classes here and there and been just fine for the trip. The daily mileages are pretty doable, and there is a sag wagon that follows you every mile. So if you'd rather take in the country side with someone else doing the driving, it's certainly an option.
But there's a catch. The Boy has a nemesis. Cycling Dude.
Cycling Dude was originally a running friend of mine. Then, when we all started cycling, including The Boy. That's when The Boy's good-natured competition with Cycling Dude started.
Together, they are easily the fastest riders in our group. I mean, Cycling Dude didn't even let non-hodkins lymphoma take him down. And The Boy never gave him a pass, even when he was taking chemo.
Now that Cycling Dude has beaten the Big C, our group decided to celebrate in a big way by planning the trip to Provence.
So that brings me back to our training concern in New York.
Would we find a place to train that would enable The Boy to stand up against Cycling Dude in the Fall?
Happily, we did. Just about a 30 minute drive from our place in Jersey City is the Palisade State Park - 10 miles of the most lovely scenery bordered on one side by the Palisade cliffs and on the other by the Hudson River. Beyond the river, the City rises up in majestic opulance. The beautiful native fauna frames the whole scene, rising out of the stony cliffs and casting a lustrious shadow over the path.
We start just south of the George Washington Bridge. Then we ride all the way through the park, and out to Hwy 9. There is a large shoulder and manageable traffic. So far we've gone as far as Piermont, NY, about a 35 mile round trip.
Now, you might be saying that 35 miles isn't very far for a guy used to doing 50+. But there's a catch with this training ride. There is one mile-long climb up a very steep hill. And another less steep mile-long climb out on the highway. The route is punctuated by several shorter climbs, with just a couple miles of straightaway.
Altogether, it's a beautiful and challenging route. One that The Boy hopes will leave him fully prepared to engage his nemesis in the fall.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
So, as you might expect, riding the subway is a little bit of a gross-out sometimes. I don't like people touching me, especially my hand, and obviously, of course, my butt or boobs. But the worst, germ wise, has got to be the coughers and snot-slingers. You can just feel the germs alighting on your person after espaping the mucousy prison of their previous host. Yuck!
But today I met another germ offender. It was more subtle, but gave me a good dose of the germ-e-jeebies.
He was, oh, what to call it? He wasn't sniffing. It was an anti-sniff, really. Unsniffing. I guess technically, he was blowing. And this blow job didn't have a tissue.
I guess he wasn't trying to express a lot of . . . fluid. He just must have had a tinge and was trying to flush it out, if you will. Unfortunately for me, he was doing so in close proximity to me, within earshot as we were walking. With each step it was
Un-sniff. . . . Un-sniff . . . . Unsniff . . . . Unsniff
I couldn't get away! I was envisioning all the germs flying toward me with great abandon with every snortling step he took. Ack! Save me!
I tried to maneuver away, but just as I would think I had succeeded in evading him, I would hear it again in my hearing periphery - Unsnif . . . . Unsnif!
Finally I succeeded in putting some distance between us, then thankfully lost him in the crowd.
When I got to work, the first thing I did was wash my hands. Of the whole thing.