Friday, January 19, 2007

That Cheerful White Stuff

It finally snowed yesterday and last night. The best two parts?
  1. Watching the snow fall and looking across to the Statue of Liberty outside my office tower
  2. Throwing Meow out into the snow before work this morning. Eeek!

Judgement Day

The day arrived without fanfare. The day that The Question would finally be answered. The day we had been waiting for for a month: would we or would we not be accepted into our co-op?

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!

Cold Weather Hazard

When I left Texas, one of the things I was most concerned about was the cold weather. I had no real experience with it or context for how to prepare for it. I worried endlessly about having the right clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. My first purchases after moving to the city were footwear, a new coat, turtlenecks, sweaters, etc. Then I cooked more than a few times in the subway and on the crowded elevator at work after having layered on too much clothing. Sometimes I'd swear I lose one or two pounds of water weight each time I cram my bundled body into the elevator for the 10 minute ride up. Indeed, I probably resemble the haggard little brother on "A Christmas Story" waddling around in his snow suit.

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

A Night At The Movies

During the run of Seinfeld, I was always intrigued by the episodes where they went to the movies. So I was excited when we finally got a chance to attend our first New York movies.

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.

A Good Ride

One of the concerns we had before moving to New York was whether or not we'd be able to continue one of our great loves - long distance bike riding. As some of you know, Daryl has a multi-year experience participating in the MS 150 Ride between Houston and Austin, and we've committed to a week long cycling vacation in Provence in September. So it was very important that we find a place to continue our training.

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

The Blow Job

Many of you who know me understand that I'm a little bit of a germ-o-phobe. Not in a terribly obsessive way, but enough that The Boy teases me about it quite a bit. I do appreciate bathroom doors that can be pushed with a covered shoulder rather than opened by a handle that's been abused by the non-hand-washers. And I like the dual functionality of mittens in the wintertime as both a warming device and anti-bacterial shield (at least in my mind they are).

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.