Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Heat Wave

The temperature was approximately 35 degrees F this morning on the way to work. Someone in the elevator at my office called it "positively balmy." She obviously has not been to Houston in July.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Worst Part Is . . .

The worst part of being away is being away from my family. I miss the day-to-day things like having my sister come do a load of laundry or going with my Mom to Central Market on a Saturday. I really really miss pizza night and seeing all my friends and family several nights a month.

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.

Cash Only

For the most part, I am enjoying our move here and the exploration of a new city and a new type of living.

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.

Renovation Saga Continues

After many conversations, we have contractors willing to entertain our price range (you know, the one NOT in the stratosphere.) The boy and I are trying to get to Brooklyn to look at cabinets for the kitchen because they are apparently cheaper out there. But still, no start date or move in in site.

The weather warms up this week, but this project is still stone cold.

The Year Of the Pig

Happy Chinese New Year! We celebrated in big style with a gaggle of Food Network foodies at the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown.

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

Mailer Call

Happened upon a book reading by Norman Mailer the other week while I was waiting for Daryl to finish work. The Barnes and Noble - 4 or 5 stories of books, a coffee shop, etc. - features readings by authors several days a week.

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.


It's official. I've lost my mind. I now think that it's not really cold until it gets below freezing, and that the mid-40s is "pretty warm."

The First Winter Storm Is Here!

The first winter storm of the season is here, and I truly delighted in the new adventures of getting to work today. Those of you in Texas will be happy to know that they don't just take the snow in stride here. In fact, the reaction was much like what happens back home when the flurry white stuff appears - jacked up traffic, power outages, sullen commuters, strangers bonding over the face-stinging sleet. Good times.

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.

How much?!?!?!?!?

So we got the first bids for renovating the apartment. The 650 square foot apartment. They want more than we spent on our whole first house (1800 square feet) to renovate this apartment (650 square feet)! Hello? Have you lost your freakin' mind, Mr. Contractor? Did you smoke some crack when you wrote up the bid? Needless to say, we are scaling back significantly.