Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Something Borrowed

Sarah N. posted this song on her blog today and I'm totally thiefing it because it moved me and made me very happy. Sarah is visiting home for the Holidays but I'm very happy to be living here again. I miss New York, although less right now, that snow storm was no joke! I hope to visit soon and often but until then I'm so glad to be home all for good. Here's the song:


The Old Dominion - Eddie From Ohio

You think you'll find some mountains in Western Colorado
Fifty weeks of snowy peaks is where you're gonna be
But babe the rocky mountains are gradually eroding
The Hills of Coors are nothing more than Blue Ridge wannabes

A turkey on it's belly, a chicken on it's back
Anyway you look at it you'll find her on the map
She revels in the seasons, shakes hands with the North
Hugs the land of Dixie while dancing on the porch

You think that autumns in New England are the greatest of them all
But give me sweet Virginia for the fireworks of fall
The prettiest October in all the fifty states
Just drive up to the Skyline, park the car and wait

So grow up Colorado, excuse me Tennessee
If you don't mind, North Caroline
Here's where I want to be

When you're talking home you mean the Old Dominion
Just southeast of heaven to the surf and the hills
She's the best of thirteen sisters and thirty seven more
Sweet sweet Virginia always keeps an open door

They're fiddlin' in Galax, pickin' up in Floyd
And in the land of Patsy Cline they're songs you can't avoid
When you're walking after midnight, I'll fall to pieces, too
I'm crazy back in baby's arms with sweet dreams of you

They're sailing down in Norfolk, skiing up in Bryce
Climbing up the Devil's Stairs against the ranger's advice
They're harvesting in Loudoun to Shenandoah winds
And in the land near Washington they're rooting for the 'Skins
Fight for old D.C.

Pack up your Impala and make your move out west
Past the Blue Ridge Mountains, you'll find you passed the best
And when your dreams have ended where mountains are concerned
Me and sweet Virginia will await for your return

When you're talking home you mean the Old Dominion
Just southeast of heaven to the surf and the hills
She's the best of thirteen sisters and thirty seven more
Sweet sweet Virginia always keeps an open door

Our Holidays

I just completed my first Week 4 run from the running program. I've had trouble keeping up with it so my "weeks" are starting to spread out. I'm strongly considering joining a gym in January when there will be New Years specials. Since we don't have cable it could probably fit into my budget and be really beneficial for me, plus I'll be able to get back into Yoga. The options in our area are kind of stressing me out but I've narrowed it down to three.

We had a great Christmas. On the 23rd I drove up to Reston to visit my friend Kirstin for her birthday. I had to overcome my fear of driving the hard way for that one. Happily I made it safe and sound and celebrated Kirstin's birthday with her family and a few close friends at her Uncle Rick's house. I love spending time with Kirstin's family. I always feel so welcome. We ate some pizzas, drank some and finished the evening by watching Shep and Tiffany Watch TV: Best of 2010 Special on Bravo. Tiffany is Kirstin's cousin who lives in CA and Shep, the show's creator is her boyfriend. That was cool! I'm so glad I braved driving to spend Kirstin's birthday with her. I miss the time when we lived close by and could spend lots of time together.

In recent years I've been no fan of Christmas. I tried not to be too much of a scrooge but each year I seemed to find more disappointment than merriment. I'm happy to report that this year was vastly different. While not our first Christmas as a couple, this was Jake and my first Christmas as cohabitants. We decided to get gifts for his family as we'd be spending the holiday with them. We Christmas shopped! It was kind of fun! Also kind of stressful. We got a tiny little table tree and decorated it with ornaments we both picked. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. I'll never be as good at wrapping as my mother is, and I sorely missed her skill this year, but I managed to get the paper on there and taped. Finally Christmas arrived and we celebrated with Jake's family. I made my family eggnog. We drank, talked, opened presents, spoke on the phone to those who couldn't make it, remembered those who were no longer with us. It was really pleasant. Then it began to snow.

Hope all of you had lovely holidays too!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Catching Up

My apologies for letting my blog get so dusty recently. I miss blogging but had just gotten into such a whirlwind this fall that it took a back burner. Hopefully I'm back now.

I got a job! Yippee! I work for the freight division of a major national shipping company. I work in accounting, doing a specific and tedious computer task all day. I've been there a little over two weeks now and I have barely met anyone at all, but I have becoming very close with my Pandora radio account and using my phone to check facebook and e mails on the sly. My office is so quiet and my desk is really quite isolated but when I do speak with people they seem very nice and its great to have a job!

Jake and I have gotten to book 5 of Harry Potter and he is really enjoying it. Last night I went to the movies and saw 7.1 with some other friends and LOVED it. I can't wait to get to book 7 with Jake.

Since moving away from NYC and all its wonderful walking, I have put on some weight. Unemployment makes you eat and I was really unemployed. Well, I've grown out of my pants. All my pants. Its awful and got even worse over Thanksgiving. I suffer through too-tight pants at work all day and then come home and put on my yoga pants faster than you can say elastic waistband. So I'm doing a couple of things to get back into my jeans. Firstly, inspired by my friend Kris, I've started the Couch to 5k training program. I've so far gotten through all of week 1 and half of week 2! I'm so proud of myself and hope I can keep it up now that its getting really really cold and I'm not getting home from work until twilight. Couch to 5k wasn't working fast enough for me though so I made a little wager with some friends and am hoping to win our 'Biggest Loser' pool by the end of January. Wish me luck.

Today is Saturday and I have a mountain of laundry to do. After a while we're going over to Jake's grandparents house to help them decorate for Christmas and I'm going running over there so I can have a little change of scenery.

Sorry for leaving you hanging recently and I sure hope I can get back on track on this blog. Next time I'll try to be a little more topical too!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Birthday Birthday Birthday

What a tremendous week it has been! On the first of the month I turned 30!!! Jake and I have been celebrating ever since. The night before Halloween we went to a party at Jake's friend Jason's house. Jake won best costume with his 'God's Gift to Women' costume, earning us a bottle of liquor. Then we schooled everyone in beer pong and flip cup until the wee hours.

On Halloween we watched the Skins game at Jake's grandparents house and afterward Jake took me to Best Buy to buy my Birthday present which was Wii Fit. Yessss. We came home and I proceeded to play it for two hours. On my actual birthday we got up and played Wii Fit some more. I got lots of great presents from Jake and his grandparents and then we got a cheapy sushi dinner at a little place nearby.

Last week passed in a blurr of unemployment and Wii fit and then it was time for my big Birthday part weekend. Amy and Jessica began cooking something up a few days before the party and somehow managed to put together an amazing carnival themed party. There were arcade games, bingo, a ferris wheel cake and a terrific photo booth. I had SUCH a good time. It was so great to see everyone and relax. Amy and Jessica and everybody did an amazing job.

Sunday we grabbed Melting Pot with The Kelly's and Kris and then headed to my Dad's house. I hadn't seen my dad since moving back to VA and wanted to stop in and visit for a while. Whenever we're there he gets out all kinds of broken electronics to see if Jake can fix them, which sometimes he can but often he cannot. We also showed him Guitar Hero and had a good time playing that. After a couple hours we were on our way back to Richmond once again.

Yesterday Jake and I had reservations for Melting Pot Fondue because I got a gift card for my birthday. I had had it before but Jake hadn't so I was excited to share it with him. We chose Tuesday night because they have a special menu that costs a bit less. It was still delicious!!! We had such a good time and were so so full coming home that I had to undo my pants. The best part of the evening (besides the chocolate, of course) was the look on Jake's face when our waitress brought out the six different dips. He looked like Christmas came early. Or twice.

The Grand Finale of my birthday celebration this year was today when I got a call from the temp agency offering me a job I'd interviewed for over a week ago. Hooray! The long wait is over and I will soon be a contributing member of society again! I'm so excited!

I'm thinking this year was the best Birthday ever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spooky Adventures

Because Halloween was approaching Jake and I embarked on a couple of 'Spooky Adventures'. We don't have pumpkin patch or hayride money, or a functioning DVD player and we certainly don't have Busch Gardens money so we decided to try and invent our own Halloween thrills. I borrowed a book about all the various hauntings and legends in Virginia from Jake's Grandmother and one night after midnight we set out to find some of the places listed from the area. Unfortunately the spookiest story in the book was about a haunted toll road and the rest of the spots were either closed at dusk or remarkably well-lit. We ended up cruising around Richmond late late at night while Jake pointed out all the innocent points of interest.

A couple days later we headed to Hollywood Cemetery during the day. Hollywood is a very old and historic cemetery right on the James River. Two presidents are buried there (three if you count Jefferson Davis) and lots of other historic figures. The layout is amazing and the stones, plots and crypts are beautiful. You can get a map at the front office, which we did, and go on a self-guided tour of the highlights, or you can show up at 10am and have a guided tour. We happened to visit the cemetery in the late afternoon during a tornado watch so the sky was a deep threatening grey. The atmosphere was amazing and so were the views, so although it was technically daylight it was a successful spooky adventure. I had a fantastic time photographing the cemetery too. Here are some of my favorite shots:



This is President Monroe's Grave

President Tyler's Grave with Monroe's in the background

Easton's Birthday

Hooray! I have a computer that works and I have internet! Sorry to have been gone so long. No, I really am very sorry. Its been kind of bleak at times.

Last weekend Jake and I traveled home to attend Easton's 3rd Birthday Party. As we were leaving town on Friday I got a call on my cell in response to a resume I'd submitted to a portrait studio down the road. The studio is part of national chain and the national recruiting person called to set up interviews with me for a full time job there. The salary and benefits were beyond compare and I was super excited. Once we'd gotten to Strasburg we grabbed my mom and headed out to print up a professional portfolio to take to the interview. We also grabbed some dinner and spent lots of time dreaming of my future as an employed citizen.

Saturday was Easton's party and it was so fun. Amy really went all out planning it. Jake and I were put in charge of temporary tattoos which resulted in Jake immediately applying one to his face. We both ate way too much and after the kids went to bed everyone was too full to work up the energy to play games.

We headed back to Richmond Sunday and my interview at the studio was Monday. The interview went really well I thought, but a couple days later I heard back that they went with someone else. This news was pretty devastating. Its been a while since I had a paycheck and things are certainly tight. Nothing has panned out at all. After the bad news I redoubled my resume submitting efforts and got three call-backs but nothing too promising. Keep your fingers crossed!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Taking a Break from Laundry

Well I guess I'm settling in here in my new home. I still haven't really unpacked, but I'm getting there. I'm really liking Richmond now that I live here. Its actually pretty different from anywhere I've ever lived. Its not a small town like home, but its not quite the same brand of city and suburb as the Northern VA/DC area. Its much bigger and more urban than Roanoke/Salem too. Its like its own little mini-urban bubble. I'm finding it hard to describe but I'm enjoying it. Everything you'd want is accessible, and I'm loving that. A huge difference from New York is the walking. I haven't walked anywhere. I'm cooking from scratch lots and eating at home every day and I can feel the difference. As soon as I get a job I'm definitely going to have to join a gym.

Last weekend my friend Allison took me to the Richmond Folk Festival while Jake stayed home to work. It was really fun, though we mostly strolled around talking. Allison is a friend from camp and there is always plenty to talk about. She works for Social Services and we're hoping she can put in a good word for me should a position open up in that agency. It was a really nice evening and I'm looking forward to spending more time with her and her boyfriend Ray.

In regards to job hunting I'm making headway. I signed on with a second temp company and they have a position for me making plenty more than I did at my last job and working full time. Its temporary through January so it'll get me by and give me time to find something more permanent. I'm feeling pretty positive about it and wish I could start today but there's plenty of paperwork and so forth to be done beforehand.

I joined meetup.com on the suggestion of my friend Sarah and am considering going to a book club meeting tomorrow night. I need to finish To Kill a Mockingbird by tomorrow evening if I want to go. I've read that a few times but I feel like its cheating not to have it fresh in my mind. It would be nice to meet some new people though.

My laptop still isn't working but Jake's friend Jesse may be able to hook me up with another one which would be terrific. I miss the internet very much and sharing is hard. Jake doesn't think too much of facebook so he gets antsy if he sees me using it. I always did enjoy a leisurely facebook browse. Because of my lack of regular internet access I've started using foursquare on my phone. Foursquare is a social networking game where you post updates about where you are when you're out and about and you can see where other people you have as friends are too. You can also see what other users say about different locations and sometimes you get special deals. If you check in at a location more than once you can sometimes become the mayor of the place which often means nothing more than that but sometimes there are prizes. I'm now the proud mayor of the county library and CVS. Jake thinks this is hilarious and laughs at me for it whenever it comes up. Anyway the idea is to explore your neighborhood so I'm enjoying it very much and encourage everyone to try it. I wish I'd had it in NYC.

Well the laundry is beckoning. I do NOT miss laundromats in the least but I will say that when you only have one of each machine it seems to drag on. I need to start setting an alarm to remind me to put in the next load because I keep forgetting to stay on top of it and there's always another load to be done.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Katy is Still Here, Somewhere.

Just wanted to stop by and let you all know I'm still alive! Jake and I made it back to Virginia easily and took care of all the U-Haul business. Unfortunately we've been so busy I haven't unpacked much of anything. We spent several days in Strasburg last week so I could attend the funeral of my Great Aunt Bettie. We got to see a lot of my friends and hang out with my mom which was lovely. Now we're back and I'm becoming a pro at putting off unpacking. I always manage to find an unrelated task like laundry or cooking a meal from scratch to take up my time and attention and help me ignore the boxes. Today, for example, we're heading to Jake's Grandparents' house to watch the Redskins game. I mean, we don't have cable and I'm not going to just miss the game! I have to make up for last season when I was living in New York and couldn't just turn on the games.

Tomorrow though, I'm heading to the temp agency and I'll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Blog!

My blog is a year old today! Thank you for reading it! To celebrate I will share some facts and statistics about my blog.

This is my 141st post. I have averaged a little over 11 posts per month. I posted the most times last October. I posted the fewest times in June. I think this is more because I was too busy doing things to blog, than because I wasn't doing anything interesting.

I began tracking my blog in February using Google Analytics. Since then my blog has been visited 1,251 times. Granted lots of those times were me. The day of the most visits ever was July 5th, the day I posted my post about spending the 4th of July with all different friends over the years. I shared this post with all the people mentioned in it and it brought 27 visitors to my blog that day. The second most visited days were April 20th, when I wrote a post about going to a fancy restaurant with my friend Rachel, tied with July 7th. On July 6th I wrote a post about my brother's visit and on the 7th I wrote about helping my friend Kim clean out her Grandmother's home. Each of these three times I shared the posts on the facebooks of those mentioned.

According to Google my blog has been visited by people from 22 different countries! Lots of places have brought visitors once or twice but a big Hello to my Russian readers. I have had eleven visits from that country!! Hi to the UK and Hey to Gee in Hungary! I think I can guess that that is you.

Here in the US I've had visitors from places I've never visited myself. Hello to my readers in Las Vegas, Beverley Hills and Niceville, among many others. Most of my visitors are from New York or Virginia. The highest rate from a place I don't live is Tallahassee. Hi to my brother!!

Thanks to all of you for reading, I hope you keep coming back. Now, if I can just get you to comment now and then!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Saying Goodbye to My Coworkers

Last night some of my coworkers met up on 9th Ave for a Goodbye Happy Hour for me. We got drinks at Lincoln Park and then headed to Delta Grill for appetizers. Shannon made me a card and everybody signed it. I love it and I had a great time being out with people from work. I wish we had done it more times over the year I worked there. They are some pretty cool people and they made my job fun.

Mattie, Brian me and Shannon

Q&A II

So its been a year. Actually I started this blog a year ago Sunday. Back then I started off with a Q&A post to explain why I was moving. Well guess what! I'm moving again! I thought I'd do the same today.

Why are you moving?

A few reasons. First and foremost my lease is up, its been a year, and I don't have the money to renew. I had a great job at the portrait studio and enjoyed working there. I learned a lot but I didn't really make enough there to live in NY. My debt is really catching up with me and its time to get back to where living is a little more affordable and start paying down some of my bills. Secondly I'm moving in with my boyfriend! This is a super exciting next step in my life and I'm really really happy about it. Jake and I survived a year of long-distance and now we'll try and survive close proximity. It'll be fun and a challenge for both of us. I'm looking forward to all of it. Finally, I missed Virginia every day. I liked New York, I still do, and I'll come back and visit, but I'm a Virginia girl through and through.

So where are you going to live? Are you coming back to Strasburg?

I'm going to live in Richmond, which is where Jake lives. We'll start out staying at his place, where the rent is mega-cheap and save some money. In a little while we'll find an apartment in the area. Jake is still working on his CD project and his clientele are all in the Richmond area. Don't worry, I plan to visit the Valley every chance I get.

Where will you work?

I don't know yet. My plan is to sign on as a temp a.s.a.p. and worry about the rest later. My main goal is to make some money.

Do you want another job in photography?

Hey, maybe! Its almost the holiday season and I can see getting a job at a studio. I love taking pictures and am hoping to get a real camera for my birthday. I'll always be taking pictures, whether I'm getting paid for it or not. I just want to make sure I have a full-time paying job first and foremost.

Will you miss New York? Will you ever go back?

Yes. There are lots of things I love about living in New York and Brooklyn. I also have a lot of great friends there. I'm sure I'll visit often. Everyone knows I can't stay away from Coney Island long anyways.

Will you stop blogging?

No. I doubt that moving away from a city will put a damper on my adventurous spirit. I have loved having my little blog and I hope to do lots more fun things that I can write about, and you can read about. I hope you won't find my change of address boring.

The New York adventure doesn't end with me of course. I hope you'll always read my blog because I love you and like having you around. I encourage anyone who wants to hear more New York adventure stories to read Sarah's and Natasha's blogs. They have both moved to the city in the past couple of months and their stories are just beginning. I know I will continue to live in New York vicariously through them and am so glad they are both blogging. Enjoy!

A big thank you to everyone who supported me through this year-long adventure! Thank you if you came and visited me, if you sent me presents, if you commented on my blog or if you became my friend while I was a temporary New Yorker.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Billion Birds

Remember in my post about the weekend when I described the memorial lights at Ground Zero? I said the beams were filled with a billion moths that looked like glitter. Well today I saw this article from NPR which linked to this article and video. It was birds! Please please click the links and go and look at the video. Fascinating and beautiful and I feel very lucky I got to see it up close!

Who's BAD?

Yesterday was my day off and my one goal was to get some packing done. I slept it, watched a little tv, drank a very large cup of coffee and packed a very small bit. I really need company to pack. Its just too daunting. More about this later. What I did do which is much more noteworthy than procrastinating was go on an adventure with Sarah. We took a little trip to Brooklyn's Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station. This subway station has a platform that has been out of commission for many years. Its off-limits for subway travelers but is often used as a movie and tv set. Coming to American, Warriors, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Wiz and Crocodile Dundee have all filmed on this platform or the above off-limits mezzanine, but we were there for a specific film that shot there. The music video for Michael Jackson's BAD!!!



Sarah met me at my place and we took the Q to the Franklin Ave Shuttle at Prospect Park and then the C to Hoyt-Schermerhorn. The mezzanine looked all wrong; much too small and not nearly enough tiled columns. We figured a lot must have changed since the video was shot, not knowing then about the abandoned mezzanine and platform. We posed for photos by an imaginary grate and then struck MJ dance move poses between the columns.
Wow, is my Michael Jackson Dance Pose ever HOT?!

Sarah's was so good the cops came by to see what we were doing!

We must have looked pretty crazy because we drew the attention of a police officer from the NYPD station in the subways station there. He came out to ask what we were doing and we told him we were being BAD. We asked if he knew anything about where they filmed the video and he said it must be in the abandoned part of the station. He said we couldn't get in to see it and even if we did we'd be covered in dirt and grime. He was so nice and talked to us a long time about Michael Jackson fans who wandered in now and then and also about some of the other films shot there. He also told us that the movie Warriors, one of Jake's favorites, and one I love very much too, was an accurate depiction of New York City life in the late 70s early 80s when most of the nicest parts of Brooklyn were then unsafe, unsavory places. He talked to us for a long time, all the while eying passing people and interrupting our conversation once to get after a young man who had skipped the turnstile. He was a great cop and I'm so glad we talked to him.

I'm sad we didn't get to see the real BAD mezzanine but I got a picture of the abandoned platform, which you can see from the in-service ones. Sarah and I parted ways, she to go finish her homework and I to go put off packing. I'm glad we both took time out to explore!




Abandoned subway platforms are creepy!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life, Tribute, Redemption and Victory Against Dallas

Its been a busy and fun weekend for me! I hope you had a good one too. Here's the rundown:

Friday night I stayed in and watched 20/20 reruns and an episode of Dateline, all of which were about murders. My roommate was out of town and I was here, getting the freak-out royally. It didn't help that the MTA was running these utility locomotives up and down the subway tracks behind our apartment. The subway is loud in its way, but I'm completely used to that noise now. The trains are light and fast moving so its more of a 'clickety-clack'. These utility locomotives are huge, heavy and slow-moving and they grind and moan down the tracks. They come by rarely, bearing dumpsters of trash from one part of the city to another for who knows what reason, and sometimes equipment when there is track work. I've probably seen four or five total before this weekend. Friday night it was constant and spooky as the trains roared outside and sometimes stopped just behind our building for five minutes or more. I was plenty jumpy when I went to bed that night.

Saturday morning I woke up and was having a leisurely morning getting ready for work when I realized I hadn't heard a train go by in a while. Like I said, I'm used to the sounds and figured one had gone by while I was busy but I'd better get a move on as trains are always few and far-between on weekends and I did need to get to work. Just before I left, almost as an afterthought I checked the mta website. BUSTED. No train service all weekend. They stopped our train line four stops away at Prospect Park and you had to catch a shuttle bus to get there. I ran out of the apartment not even knowing where to go. I went to the train station hoping for an informative poster and found none. I went inside and luckily there was an attendant whom I asked and who rudely informed me it was two blocks down on Ocean Ave. Thanks lady, and sorry for whatever got you so grouchy. I headed over to Ocean and waited under an MTA poster for a bus. Unbelievably I got to work fifteen minutes early!

After work I met up with Sarah who took me to her new favorite spot: Life Cafe. This cafe is famous because the play RENT was written in it. We sat eating and talking for hours. Afterward we went back to her apartment and watched the last half of Pretty Woman with her new roommate Liz. Then Sarah and I watched 102 Minutes That Changed America, a documentary about September 11th. After that we thought we'd go up on Sarah's roof, which was a little creepy, to see the Memorial Lights shining over at Ground Zero. It was amazing to see from the rooftop and Sarah even got a picture.

After that I had to head home but was super nervous about catching that shuttle bus at night alone. I checked with Jake and my sister and they both said I should take a taxi, which I felt guilty about because of the money. I'm SO GLAD I did though! The taxi driver took an unusual route for me, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel instead of the Brooklyn Bridge like usual, and lo and behold, while on the phone with mom talking about this taxi ride I had to take I drove directly beneath the lights! I can't even tell you how amazing they were up close. The lights seemed to be made of many beams set in a square pattern so it really looked like a ribbed sky scraper at the base. They went up forever and ever and within the beams all the way up were a billion moths going every direction, creating the illusion that the beams were filled with white dust motes or glitter. I can't think of a better angle to see them from and was trying to describe every detail to mom on the phone as I looked out of every window in the taxi in wonder and awe! What a treat! I got home safely too.

Yesterday I worked again and after that I met Sarah and Tasha, and later Sarah's friend Meagan at a bar called Redemption on the Upper East Side. Redemption had advertised, via a Redskins forum, that it would be hosting Washington Redskins fans for all the games this season. I brought extra sweatshirts and jersey's for the girls and was really excited and nervous to go. What if they weren't really a Redskins bar? I'd feel so silly. I was so relieved upon arriving with Sarah, to see the place FULL of Skins jerseys! We got a table and I passed out the Skins gear and that's when we got the specials menu from our Redskins halter top clad waitress! $3 for burgers and $8 for a pitcher?! I had died and gone to heaven. A heaven full of Redskins Jerseys, where they sing Hail to the Redskins after every touchdown, and when the Redskins win. Which they did! Against Dallas! The place was wonderful, clean and nice, the crowd was mostly great, with the exception of the guy who temporarily blocked my view of the game to get a better view of the MTV VMAs. Some people just aren't raised right. Sarah, Tasha and Meagan were great company too and it was a completely successful evening. I was thrilled.

Tasha lives right around here, in the same apartment as my friend Laura DeWitt, so I thought we could manage the bus together last night. Good thing we didn't go it alone. We did catch all the right trains in a timely manner, which is important on a weekend night, and then did manage to find the bus. Unfortunately as soon as twice the capacity of the bus had crammed inside and it departed things got rocky. The driver headed immediately in the wrong direction and didn't stop for a long long while. Keep in mind he was supposed to be following the route the train would if it had been running, so a few blocks south for Parkside, a couple more for church and two more for Beverley. It instead headed east blocks and blocks. People began to stir, not easy on an overcrowded bus. People got upset. People shouted for the driver to stop or at least tell us where he was going. He did neither. Finally he stopped on Church and Bedford, skipping Parkside altogether and many blocks from where the train route and my neighborhood are. If I weren't with her Tasha would have had no idea where she even was and I would have had a very long walk home alone. Luckily I walked Tasha to her street and then got on the phone to Jake for the remainder of my walk. Yuck. I am NOT looking forward to doing it again next weekend. What an awful thing the MTA did.

Tonight I'm wearing my Redskins sweatpants in celebration of our terrific win and watching Steel Magnolias and eating Tootsie Rolls. Happy Week everyone!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Carnival Jump Up

Yesterday was Labor Day and here in Brooklyn it was also West Indian American Day. Since Laura is Caribbean at heart we were all excited to celebrate with her. Laura was in it for the long haul, attending J'Ouvert which is a block party to bring in the dawn of Carnival. She left the apartment at 2 or so in the morning and danced in the street with her brethren, flinging paint on one another and getting down to drums and bass until around 7 when she came home, showered and went back to bed. I was still very very sick and decided that early morning reveling was probably not medically advisable. I couldn't even breathe enough to sleep but was sorry to see Laura and her friend Matt go out without me.

Late yesterday morning though I was up and more or less feeling better enough to see what Carnival is all about. I managed to rouse Laura and Matt and Sarah showed up to join us for the big Parade. Laura got decked out in a complete St Vincent outfit and lent Sarah and me each a St Vincent rag to wave. She looked amazing and it was fun to be with a real participant, not just observers in this very cultural affair.

We walked north from our neighborhood to Eastern Parkway which is kind of a long way. The parade went down Eastern and was already in progress when we arrived, moving slow in fits and starts. It was comprised of floats and bands.

The floats were tractor trailers with wooden structures built atop a flatbed trailer. Within the wooden structures there were big speakers blasting music if we were lucky, or drums and bass. Scattered among the speakers were costumed dancers, sometimes, and a variety of riders and leaders or speakers. These people had microphones and were trying to organize that band. A couple of times there were performers on the floats but not usually. The floats weren't decorated so much, though some had banners or signs. They were mostly just boards, speakers and people.

The bands were not musical bands but bands of masquerading carnival partiers. They were often decked out in carnival costumes with beads, feathers and huge head-dresses. Some outfits were so big and ornate they both worn and drawn, as the outlying parts had to be supported by wheels. For the most part the bands were not dancing to the music or listening to the leaders. Other than costumed dancers there were just people, many many people, wearing or carrying flags of their Caribbean home, walking along beside the float among the costumed band, looking like they were simply walking down any street on any day. It was kind of strange, and since we were right by the Judge's stand, there were lots of time lags while floats and bands proceeded past us to be judged and others had to be held back. At times large crowds of non-costumed people would be sent back up the parade route by the band leaders to get them away from the judged costumed band.
A Costumed Band Member

The whole affair was completely fascinating and I wish I could attend a carnival in the Caribbean one day and see what its like with MORE dancing and MORE music and excitement. The crowd was a lot of fun and we were happy to wave our rags whenever we saw other St Vincent flags on floats and such.

Sarah and I also shared some delicious chicken and fries from a Caribbean food stand. You could smell the delicious food and see lots of exotic foods too. The weather was also beautiful and we managed to snag a shady spot to watch the parade. At the end of the parade we walked back down to our apartment, exhausted, especially poor Laura who had gotten considerably less sleep than me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Common Ground and Coney Island

Saturday was a good day for me. I gave two weeks notice at work, but more on that later. Its sufficient to say this is a good thing and all is well. So to celebrate I went with Sarah and Natasha to Common Ground on the Lower East Side. Common Ground is a layed back bar that has alcohol, snacks and board games. This, along with the afore-mentioned company sounded like a terrific combination so I was pretty excited.

We got there and ordered drinks and then Natasha said four words that were music to my ears: How about Trivial Pursuit. Sigh. In case you're not related to me or maybe haven't spent a lot of personal time with me, Trivial Pursuit is my favorite game. I own three editions myself but certainly NOT the edition we played. It was a really different set up, with color category cards and questions ranked in difficulty by the roll of the die. If you rolled a 6 you were given a difficult questions, 1s were easy and so on. I was skeptical of this gimmickry at first but actually it was totally fun and I loved it. I lost really badly by the way, but enjoyed every minute of the game.

We called it a kind of early night as everyone was tired and I was sick. Natasha is living with Laura DeWitt for a while though, so we had the same ride home to make and that was lovely as I hate coming home late from Manhattan alone.

As I mentioned I'm very sick with a severe chest cold right now. Since no one else I know has any symptoms I assume I caught it on the overnight bus ride back from VA. I feel terrible and medicine isn't helping much so I hope it just passes with time.

Yesterday instead of resting like a smart girl though, I went to Coney Island. I had been making tentative plans with Andrea to do something and never following through because we were both so busy so once we'd made a solid plan to go to Coney, (her first time) I didn't want to break them. I stopped at Duane Reade to stock up on meds and then headed down to meet her. We got Nathans and Andrea had her first Corn Dog ever.

Next we walked down to the Child's building and then down the pier. Laura and her friend Matt caught up with us there and the four of us headed over to the Wonder Wheel for a ride. We walked through Deno's and then Luna park and then went to the history exhibit which I love. This time we saw new things and also watched a film of people doing fun and wild things at Coney over the course or time. Some of the rides shown in the film looked like so much fun and probably wouldn't be legal anymore.

After the exhibit we went to Lola Star so Matt could buy a t shirt and then headed home. I felt awful, although I'd had a lot of fun, so I spent the rest of the evening resting in my bed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Love The County Fair!


This week back home its time for the Shenandoah County Fair! I took the late night bus to DC Monday night. After a little mix-up with meeting Jake (ahem, waiting for 2 hours outside the Red Roof Inn with Clarence the night watchmen and conspiracy theorist because Jake was a schoch late) we ended up getting into Strasburg and going to bed around 6am. When we walked in the door my sister and mom were both up and in the kitchen waiting for us! I thought we'd sneak in to a sleeping house but they were excited to see us and got up early, I guess.

After sleeping most of the day we were up just in time to have some of Jake's Famous Omelets and head to the fair!

The fair is a can't-miss for me. I love it so much and love visiting it with all my friends. Last year I think Jake and I went 5 days with different friends each time. This time I only had three nights to visit and we ended up mixing up all my friends and family into two big trips. It was fun to see people interact and to get to see so many people that I love so.

Tuesday night Jake and I drove up with my friend Kris and met our friends Jessica and Brett and their daughter Olivia. First we hit up some dinner. Jake and I got Shaffers Barbecue which is delicious. Next we walked through the barns and then hit up the midway and exhibit buildings. The Shoot the Star Out carnie even remembered Jake from last year. Jake tried again but didn't get that star.

Jessica and Brett hung around the midway for a while letting Olivia ride the kiddie rides while Jake and Kris and I checked out the Poultry Barn and Vegetable exhibit. Jake has a long conversation with the poultry barn night watchmen about which chickens were the meanest and whether or not chickens are intelligent. The man kept putting his hand in the cages to show how mean they were and how much it hurt when the went at you with their spurs and beaks.

Then Jake spent some time on his second favorite Shenandoah County Fair attraction: Dunk the Clown. He loves dunking that clown. Kris said she thought the clown's laugh would give her nightmares. I like watching Jake try and then agonize over whether or not he should spend the money to try 'one more time' or not.

After dunking the clown a couple of times (so proud) Brett was determined that he and Jake were going to ride the mechanical bull. Brett even had a plan and a strategy to get the most out of it. Jake was complaining of a bellyache but I convinced him Brett really wanted him to be in on this so he decided to give it one try. Brett was first and when he finally fell off he had cut his thigh on the saddle and didn't get back on. Jake was next and he stayed on a long time. When he fell off the operator told him he could get on a second time and he did but when he got off that second time he cracked us all up by grabbing his crotch as he rose from the padding and exclaiming "it really gets ya, don't it!" It was hilarious. Jake was so glad he'd ridden the bull and might have even done it again but we were all getting pretty tired and ready to go. After a funnel cake that is.

Wednesday night we met our good friends Amy, Jason and their adorable kids Easton and Bluebell. We also met Devin and later my Dad and Step-mom Markee. We got dinner first again, Jake sitting down to a meal of THREE barbecue sandwiches, while I got a modest hamburger and fries. YUM.

Next we took the little ones through the barns and looked at the animals again. In the goat barn Jake and I ran into our friend Joy from camp who was looking radiant. It turns out Joy had never been to a fair before! We stopped and chatted for a bit and hoped we'd run into her again later.

Next we went down the midway so Jason, Jake and Devin could take shots at the old clown again. Everybody did several tries and Jake dunked him twice. Joy and her boyfriend happened by and he took a turn too. This is when we met up with my dad who rolled his eyes at the boys while Amy and I stook back and waited patiently for these boring boys to throw their baseballs. Next it was more exhibits and a stop at the Tupperware booth for me and Amy. We finished the evening with funnel cake, sweet tea, fried Oreos for me and Jake, Dad got a polish sausage and Amy's little ones had ice creams. Then we sat down for the last two rounds of Bingo. Then we said bye to the Edgars and Daddy and Markee and headed home.



Here's a run-down of every one's highlights at the fair:

Me - My friends, the Ferris Wheel (Even though I didn't ride this year!!), The Tupperware Booth (don't judge me, I didn't buy anything this year) seeing everyone and everything else too.

Jake - Dunk The Clown, Shoot the Star, The Poultry Barn Man, The Mechanical Bull.

Kris - Watching Jake and Brett ride the bull and their respective injuries and reactions and the Goats (Me too Kris!) and baby pigs.

Devin - Dunking the Clown and hanging with us.

Jessica - The food (specifically barbecue chicken, fries and sweet tea) and getting to hang out with us!

Brett - Riding the Bull and hanging with us.

Olivia - The rides, specifically the Bees, the Trucks and the Scrambler! Also Hand Sanitizer.

Amy - Funnel Cake, Goats and Tupperware and seeing us!

Jason - Food, Goats, Horses and Clown Dunking.

Easton - The Ferris Wheel, The animals, winning a toy hammer and ice cream!

Bluebell - Going barefoot, eating ice cream and seeing all the lights.

Dad - The Exhibit house and the Polish Sausage.

Markee - Visiting and Anytime she got to be cool.

*One last thing about the fair. You may remember from last year that each night of the fair Jake and I made sure to visit our favorite Fried Oreo booth and made friends with the girls there. Jake even got into the newspaper as their biggest fan, as the stand was new to the fair last year. Sadly there was a terrible accident last Sunday and Manda, the booth's owner and another man were very badly burned. I included this as one of our favorite things about the fair because even though the booth was closed we love Fried Frenzy and were sad each time we walked past the empty booth. We sure hope our friends are better soon and back at the fair next year!!!! We love and miss them!

Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson!

Yesterday was hands-down one of the best days of my life. Sarah and I had planned for weeks, since I first heard of it in fact. to attend Spike Lee's birthday celebration for Michael Jackson in Prospect Park. Spike Lee's film company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks was hosting and filming this block party for the second year in a row right in our neighborhood. So yesterday morning after making a delivery for work we headed to the park, arriving around noon. We met Natasha, Laura DeWitt's new roommate and Laura met us just a little later on.

The party was SO much fun. There was a stage from which a DJ spun Michael Jackson music all day. Every so often Mr Lee or someone working with him would make an announcement about the free Pepsi and Ben and Jerry's they were giving away in back. Also from time to time they put lyrics on the jumbotrons and called it Karaoke, inviting everyone to sing along. Since it wasn't really a concert there was no push toward the stage and the atmosphere was completely relaxed and celebratory. And the DANCING. We danced ALL day! We danced and sang and danced and sang and everyone everywhere was dancing and singing with us. People had out cameras of all types and were snapping and filming all kinds of things. Outbreaks of group dancing like Thriller dancing over here, Beat it dancing over there and 2 outbreaks of the Electric slide drew the cameras and film crews as did the many impersonators and tribute displays. A popular favorite for the jumbotron were the costumed children busting out their best MJ moves. Everyone was happy, everyone was dancing, singing, smiling, clapping. It felt like we were all friends. Throughout the hot day there was never any kind of hostility and that is really remarkable and made it even more fun. And the event was absolutely free and not even overly secured or fenced.

We could barely hear one another speak but we did request our favorite songs among ourselves, wishing aloud to hear Man in the Mirror and We are the World or Beat It and celebrating when someone's favorite was played. Toward the end, or when we thought the end should be they began handing out posters that had phrases from the song Wanna Be Startin Something. At different parts of the song people with different phrases would hold up their sign, ending with the signs that said Ma Ma Se Ma Ma Sa Ma Ma Coo Sa, the chant at the end of the song. We all had a good time holding up the signs ( I didn't have one so I got to wave my arms to all the phrases) and at the end they looped the chanting so we were all jumping and shouting and chanting together for a nice long while.
An outbreak of the Electric Slide

A 40 Acres Cameraman catches the dancers in action

Sarah holding her Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' sign

I thought this would be the finale of such a fun-filled musical day but NO! Surprise! Spike Lee announced a surprise guest and it was none other than SNOOP DOG! What? Ok! Snoop came out with one glove on and performed Gin and Juice and Drop it Like Its Hot and then Warren G came out and performed Regulator.

THEN they did more Michael Jackson music! Finally they put up Man in the Mirror, which we had been anticipating all day, as one of the karaoke picks and we all got to sing along. The highlight of the whole day for me was at the end of that they played it a second time, cutting out the sound at the chorus so only the crowd could be heard, everyone singing the chorus together. Amazing. Absolutely one of the best moments of my life. After just a couple more songs we all went home, happy, tired and sunburned.

A Proud Moment for Laura

Again I apologize for the excuse, but I've found myself overwhelmingly busy these past weeks! Laura is back home in the US and by Laura I actually mean Lauras plural. Laura Mulcahy is home from St Vincent and Laura DeWitt is home from England. I am not the happy owner of some Bennett clan coasters, two English floaty pens and two more Caribbean Feed Sack tote bags. Our apartment actually has so many Caribbean Feed Sack bags laying around I believe we have a stock pile bigger than any outside the Caribbean.

Like I said I've been almost non-stop busy with work but I did have a nice time with Sarah and Laura DeWitt last Friday. Sarah met me in the afternoon and went on a fruitless quest for packing boxes and then a fruitful quest for hot dogs down at Coney Island. We poked around a bit at Coney with bellies full of corn dogs and cokes and then headed back to my neighborhood where we took some snacks over to Laura's to watch an episode of 20/20 featuring HER MOM!

Laura's mom had the opportunity to host a woman who was a victim of a crime targeting people with Albinism in Tanzania. Mariamu came to the US to receive donated prosthetic arms and stayed with Laura's mom who took her in just like family. The 20/20 episode showed just how generous and caring a soul Kitty is, which I assure you she handed down to her daughter.

We were all so proud and moved by the episode and had a good time hanging out and eating chips and ice cream together. I barely scratched the surface of the story of Mariamu so please check out Asante Mariamu, as well as Sarah and Tasha's blog posts about it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Walking the Bridge Again (I forgot!)


I forgot to mention in my last post about Jessica, Brett and their kids visit that after all the shopping and toy buying and dream realizing we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge together. I was tired and grouchy last night and I'll get to that momentarily but first I'll tell you about the bridge.

I suggested a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on the subway trip into Manhattan after seeing the family marvel at the tiny dot Statue of Liberty view you get from the train on the bridge. I doubted they would be up for it after a big day and especially didn't think we'd drag the poor little ones on such a long walk. I always suggest it though because its something I've really enjoyed doing and want to share the simple pleasure of the bridge walk with others. Anyway to my surprise, after all that shopping they actually were up for it. We took the train down and headed across. All the kids carried their respective prizes and Jessica was snapping pictures left and right. Brett was herding kids and I was taking more Retro Camera shots. Its really lovely up there I have to say. It was after THAT on the train that we decided to go for hot dogs.

The reason I was so distracted and tired is that I've been working like CRAZY this week. Its really not all that much compared to a regular shift at a regular job but I've been getting so few hours for a while now that suddenly its exhausting. Anyway we're really swamped with appointments because of a special promotion we're offering and a couple people have gone on vacation so I am rolling in shifts and hours. My back is KILLING me but my wallet will be very happy here in a bit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The American Girl Experience

This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting the Kelly family once again in NYC. This time instead of staying in a hotel they stayed with me! It was a flying trip for them and their main goal for coming was to take their older daughter, Samantha to the American Girls store to buy her very own American Girl doll. I was really excited because as a little girl I always dreamed of owning my own American Girl doll. I would dog ear the catalog whenever I got it. Back then they only had a handful of dolls, each with a time period and story and I went back and forth about which girl I'd pick if I could ever have one. Sadly I never could but its ok. Now there are more girls with stories and lots lots more accessories and you can get a doll that looks like you to have.

My guests arrived Friday night really late and we got them settled in and parked pretty quickly and got to bed around 2. Saturday morning we got up as early as we could stand and I made breakfast and coffee to get us started. After eating we headed out to American Girls. We spent some time finding the perfect doll and looking around the store. They have a salon where you can bring your doll to have a new hair do and a cafe where you can have a special luncheon with your doll. After Samantha picked her doll we headed to Lego. We did a quick walk-through because the Lego store is so small and always crowded. Next we headed to FAO Schwartz. We spent lots more time here browsing and finding toys for Jared and Olivia. Jared chose an orangutan and some lego kits and Olivia got a stuffed owl.

After all this we stopped for a snack and a break outside FAO Schwartz. We were feeling really tired after that late night and long day of shopping. We headed to the subway and decided to go home and make some supper, trying to keep things affordable for everybody. Halfway home though, Brett and Jessica decided they wanted to at least SEE Coney Island and Nathan's hot dogs sounded awfully good. We took the train all the way there and got a delicious feast of hot dogs and corn dogs and fries. Then we took a moment to take in the boardwalk and then decided we'd definitely had enough and headed home. It was an early bedtime for everyone once we got back.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cleaning, Celebrating and a New Phone

Monday I had the day off from work so I cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom which was very little fun and a lot of sweat and grossed-outedness, BUT so rewarding in the end. Its so nice to go in there now. After this Sarah came over and we celebrated my newly spic and span kitchen by ordering take-out. We ate a sushi feast and watched some DVR tv and relaxed.

Monday evening we went to a party at a bar in the city called Therapy. The party was put on by Broadway Impact and it was a celebration for the overturning of California's Proposition 8 law. At the party we heard from a few performers, saw a short video and heard from several speakers about what happens next in the fight for equality for the gay community. It was very interesting and inspiring, though I could have stood for a little more celebrating. We had a good time and some good conversation and then headed home not too late, which was good since I had to work Tuesday.

At work the next day I did some shoots, I think three. I like the practice of shooting, but sometimes the pressure really gets to me and I hate feeling at odds with the parents or getting in trouble with my boss for the pictures I take if I make a mistake. I'm definitely getting more comfortable.

After work I went to the Sprint store to try and get my little purple phone fixed. It had been acting slow and secretly eating texts I thought were sent to people. Also Jake swears I'm inaudible when I talk on it but I denied fault for that one. Nobody else ever says they can't hear me. Anyway the Sprint store at 34th st was closed so I got to go to the Sprint store in the Flatiron building, which is cooler. Once I'd gone to two different stores and waited in a long, stagnant line I was in no mood. After briefly reviewing my account my Sprint person informed me I had no warranty and no insurance so she could fix my phone for $100 or I could upgrade for the same price and to fix it I had to leave my phone there for some hours. I don't even know what I'd do without my phone for hours. I wouldn't even know how many hours had passed! Like I said I was in no mood and agreed to the upgrade which is why I now own an Android phone. This is cool, not life-changing, but cool.

But what's REALLY cool is...

I GOT RETRO CAMERA! HOORAY!

Now there will be no stopping me. Well as long as the battery holds.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Memorable and Simply Fun Day

Here's something one doesn't often get to do: meet a relative for the very first time as an adult. Yesterday I did just that.

But wait a moment because FIRST things first: I saw American Idiot on Broadway yesterday. My sister and her boyfriend Andrew came up to the city to see me again. They are taking my very very grown-up nephew Gage on a special 16th birthday trip and stop one was NYC for the show. I'm thankful I was invited to join! The show was great! Very visual with a set unmatched by anything I've ever seen on a stage. The musical performances were spot-on. If you like Green Day you'll love it.

After the show we met up with Nicole for dinner at Dallas BBQ. It was the second time for me this week but they have great sauce, and I love sauce! Nicole brought me a floaty pen she found at work! I am thrilled, it has Will Ferrel on it and his pants come off! Dinner was good and the company was great, we talked about how Sarah and Nicole got to know one another. We all ate plenty food and then it was time to leave because we were going to meet our cousins Carolyn and Mitch!

Carolyn and my Dad are first cousins and Mitch is her husband. Mitch is a music producer with a studio in Manhattan and they divide their time between the city and Florida. My sister hadn't seen Carolyn since she was five and I had never met her. First we met them at the studio and got a tour. The studio is old school and lots of great performers have recorded there. They have a vocals booth and larger room for bands and a control room and office. It was too cool. Mitch has pictures all over the walls of many clients and performers. We sat for a bit in the office, chatted and enjoyed the view of the Hudson.
Me, Gage (how tall can you get?) Carolyn and Sarah at the studio

After just a little while Carolyn and Mitch suggested we head up 9th Avenue for dinner at a nice Italian place they liked. We didn't let on we'd just eaten. We thought we'd be waiting a couple more hours before dinner! We took a nice walk to the restaurant getting acquainted all along the way. It was amazing how well we all got along, without any pretense or awkwardness, as though we'd been family for years and weren't just now meeting. Even Nicole was chatting comfortably with Mitch as we walked along.

I had a moment to talk to my nephew which is a nice treat for me. He asked me how I felt about turning 30 coming up. I told him I was really excited. I can't wait for my birthday and I have a feeling my 30s are going to be so much cooler than my 20s were. Then we talked about his college plans, which is weird. I wonder how sick he is of hearing we all think he should be 7. I know I hated it for years, I just can't HELP it! He was SO much younger than me and now he's going to college?!

The restaurant was called Ralph's and it was everything you'd want an Italian restaurant to be. Small, authentic, delicious and just fancy enough to make you feel special. I was afraid we'd all get salad and I'd feel bad that they took us out but instead we ALL ordered pasta dishes. Carolyn, Mitch, Nicole and I shared a bottle of wine and I had Penne Caprese which was divine. We sat and talked like the oldest of friends for what MUST have been two hours, and we all even got desserts.

After taking up a beautiful window table for far to long for the comfort of our waiters Carolyn and Mitch suggested we head up to Lincoln Center to see what free music was available. We stopped to admire the fountain in front for quite awhile, taking tons of pictures together. Next we walked around to the band shell to see what was playing. It was a nearly indescribable middle eastern flavored rock band called Mucca Pazza and we all took seats and enjoyed ourselves. Mitch and Carolyn even stood and moved to the music and gave us a couple glares for being on our butts. They're just so charming!

After that we just couldn't part company so they invited us to the East Side to see their apartment. Its adorable and full of art and charm. Carolyn showed us tons of pictures and got out all her beautiful handmade jewelry. We ended up staying and chatting there for a long while until I realized it would be a long train ride back to Brooklyn and I had work in the morning. I was sad to have to leave and promised I'd bring Jake to see them the very next time he comes up. I think he'd really hit it off with them (but who wouldn't) and I wanted him especially to see Mitch's studio.
Sarah and I shamelessly pose with Mitch's Emmys

I didn't have much trouble catching trains, thank goodness and got to bed eventually. Sarah, Andrew and Gage are off today to Boston and Laura is off to St Vincent. Laura DeWitt is away too!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Very Bad Day Gets Good

Man yesterday could not have started worse, nor finished better. I woke up in the morning thinking I had the day off only to get a call from Mattie at work who was up to her neck because I really was supposed to be there and hadn't shown up for a shift. I forgot I had agreed by e mail to come in yesterday and hadn't written it down anywhere. Without even showering I threw on some clothes and ran to work.

Everybody was mad and I felt terrible. I had also told Sarah we'd celebrate her birthday yesterday and we'd do anything she wanted so I felt like a jerk texting her that I was going to work and wouldn't be available until much later. Work ended up ok though, I did three photo shoots and they all went pretty smoothly and I think I left on good terms with all, although I was still wracked with guilt.

After my shift I caught up with Sarah down on the Lower East Side and we decided to go to a movie together. We went up to the Union Square Regal and saw The Other Guys, which we both liked. After the movie we went out for supper at Dallas BBQ in Sarah's neighborhood and got DELICIOUS Barbecue. Wow, that place has some good sauce. We had great conversation, as usual and both ate a ton of delicious food. Afterward we walked back to Sarah's place and had sangria on the fire escape again to cap off the evening. If I haven't said it before, I sure am glad she is living here now, although I am sorry we'll only live in the same place a very short time. I think we'll end up making the most of it while it lasts.

Sweet Music and a Boardwalk Breeze

Thursday I had to work and knew I wanted to meet up with Sarah for another free concert down at Coney. This time we were going to get to see John Legend who I absolutely love! Problem was: the concert started, all the way down at Coney, at 7:30pm and I had to work, way up on the Upper West Side, until 7. I tried and tried to arrange it so we could meet and fly down but I found out no cameras allowed and I had my camera and didn't want to leave it at work. So I had to take the train to my neighborhood, meet Sarah, drop my camera off at my apartment and then get back on a train to Coney Island.

We got on a B train at 8 and only when it stopped three stops early did I remember that the B train doesn't even go all the way to Coney. I felt like this excursion was doomed and it was all my fault and was already working on making the best of it with Sarah, discussing how it was a free show so its not like we lost any money on tickets and we could at least get a cold drink and enjoy the ocean and Coney for a moment even if we missed all of John Legend.

We got off at Brighton Beach and began to walk down the boardwalk toward Coney. We started to hear to concert and came to a small gathering on the boardwalk. The concert itself was in a park across Surf Ave from the Coney Island Boardwalk, but you could see and hear everything PERFECTLY from our position above. bout 15 people had spread blankets out on the boards or were sitting on the park benches backward watching. We decided instead of heading down to the crowded concert, to just sit here and watch whatever was left of the show from here. Well a lot of the show was left and the atmosphere of the small, layed-back boardwalk crowd was wonderful. We had the ocean behind us, terrific music in front of us and people singing and dancing along. Passers by stopped to see what the gathering was all about and then either joined us or moved on and the group was so diverse, comprised of older folks and families with children. From our position we could hear the crowd sing along with the music at times and that was sweet. It was the most perfect way to see a concert ever!
After the show we headed to Nathan's Famous boardwalk stand for food and sat on a picnic table nearby to eat it. Then we caught our respective trains back home. I'm very glad the night didn't turn out the way I'd planned it because it turned out way better!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free Music Every Night

Monday night Laura, Sarah and I ventured into a neighborhood called Lefferts Gardens for a free concert at Wingate Park, part of the Martin King Luther concert series. We got to see DJ Slick Rick, Naughty by Nature and Salt-N-Pepa. Its amazing how many cool free things are available to us in NYC this summer.

We all met at our apartment and took the train over to Lefferts Gardens. We had to stand in a long line and not until we were almost in did I find out there were no cameras allowed. I hid my camera as best I could in my purse and was relieved to get in without being found out. Once inside we found a spot to stand toward the back of the sizable crowed. The concerted opened with prayer led by a local reverend. The crowd was boisterous and fun to watch as they danced and sang to the music.

Slick Rick was fun, although he didn't often finish an entire song and let the crowd fill in holes a lot, which broke the beat a lot. Naughty by Nature was terrific and although we hadn't remembered their songs on the way there we were happy to hear OPP and Hip Hop Hooray.

Salt-N-Pepa were amazing! Their set was quick but satisfying and they even brought out Busta Rhymes, a local, for one song.


Yesterday I went to work and had a particularly difficult photo shoot of a woman, two children under three and two dachshunds. Yikes. After work I came home and was eating my supper when Rachel texted me to see if I wanted to meet over at her place for drinks. I changed and headed over there, which is quite a hike.

We sat out on Rachel's fire escape drinking beer with some of her friends from work and talking as it began to get dark. Eventually her friends all decided they'd like to go for food at some ethnic restaurant. While people were deciding what they wanted to do and milling about the apartment Sarah came home with her friend Stacey. They had been at a show at Rockwood Music Hall around the corner. They had already decided they were going back for the 10 o'clock show, and since it was free and since I wasn't hungry I opted to say bye to Rachel and friends and go with Sarah and Stacey to the show. Also the venue was right by the subway station and I had gotten lost the last time I tried to walk to the subway so that was also a factor. Plus I love me some Sarah.

Rockwood was small and cool and Stacey was full of stories of famous people seen in the small crowd from time to time. We saw an act called Hugo which was pretty great. We sat on stools in the back and watched the show and the small army of videographers filming the set. The show was fun and I look forward to seeing more acts here with Sarah. After the short set we left and I got on the subway home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alphabet City

Yesterday after work I traveled waaaaay down to the East Village to help my very very good friend Sarah move into her new Manhattan apartment! She and my friend Rachel are going to be living in Alphabet City which is a neighborhood I had previously never visited. Its very diverse, interesting and full of young people. Maybe too many young people. When did I become an old crank? When groups of college-aged people walk by me why do I find myself grumbling things about 'kids'? It worries me.

Sarah's parents were there and we all unloaded the truck and put her things in her new place. Its a nice place, the neighborhood feels comfortable and they have a huge street-side fire escape so you can sit out there and actually see something other than a train.

After all the moving we got pizza around the corner and then Sarah's parents left to get back to Long Island before it got to be too late. I stayed with Sarah and took her to a nearby liquor store and treated her to a bottle of bottled sangria, a new favorite guilty pleasure of mine. We sat on her new fire escape, outside her new, fabulous room in New York City, and sipped spicy sweet sangria.

Afterward I got so lost trying to find the subway I had to get a taxi because I was somewhere beneath the Williamsburg bridge and there were NO people anywhere around. But that adventure ended fine too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Brooklyn Bowl

Last night we went to Brooklyn Bowl which is a fancy bowling ally, to dance during ?uestloves's dj set. I didn't get a lot of pictures but Laura and her new school friends and I had a good time dancing. ?uestlove was right by us in a dj booth, close enough to touch and radiating cool from every pore. Wow, what a presence. I hope to get a chance to go back another night. I'd love to take Jake to see.

Today I had about 25 errands to run all before noon and was very very sleepy. I managed to do everything on my list and came home and took a two hour nap. Now I'm up and groggy, wondering what I'll do with the rest of my Friday.

Here's a picture of some brownstones I saw on one of my many errands today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

V.I.P.

The Reflex came to town again and this time I was on the guest list at the club which is totally cool. The show was amazing and everybody was having fun, singing along and dancing. They had a substitute lead singer which was mind-blowing but all the band members waved to me from the stage. I'm so famous.



After the set we were down in the bathroom area when we saw Marco who took us to the Green Room to party with the band. We had a great time sitting and talking with the band. Silly me, I let Darron give me drinks and before long I'd had a bit too much. Darron drinks straight vodka.


We got home fine and slept until 3pm. Laura just made us a delicious stir-fry and we are watching a marathon of Mad Men. Its so novel to be home on a weekend day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coney Island Art Reception

So word has kind of gotten out that I adore Coney Island. I certainly don't mind it when people associate me with my favorite thing about New York. So many nights I get off the train at my stop and think about how nice it would be to stay on and go all the way down to the breezy beach and watch the Wonder Wheel turn in the dark. But I usually just come to bed and get on Facebook. I need more friends with weekdays off like I have.

Anyways my good friend Laura DeWitt heard about an art project taking place at Coney last weekend and immediately thought of me. The father of one of the students she's had as an NYC public school teacher was doing an art installation/project in which he put large canvasses on the boardwalk at Coney and invited passers by to help make them into art. You really must click the link and read more about it. Anyway people were encouraged to drive radio-controlled cars through paint on the canvases, jump and dance, use toys like balls, jump ropes and koosh balls to spread paint on the canvasses. One woman even used her hair, which was weird to read about.

So I was in Virginia this weekend and missed it. Laura had texted me to invite me but I couldn't go because I was away. Tonight though, the art was dry and hanging in the Brooklyn studio of Laura's former student's father and he had a little opening reception. I got to meet him and his family, talk to his collaborator, and see all the paintings. Also his son Sam, Laura's former student at Laguardia, is now majoring in film and made a short documentary film about the project. This way, even though I didn't get to be there I could see how these wonderful paintings got to be.

The whole thing was AMAZING. I thought the artwork was cool and accessible and the means by which it was made are great. The whole project was inclusive and fun and the artists were SO warm and welcoming when we met them. They really wanted to talk about the art and were so excited about the whole project. Nobody at the reception was even remotely stuffy, they treated me like family. The artist even kissed my cheek when we were leaving which made me feel terribly sophisticated, indicating I'm not so sophisticated at all.

Close-ups of footprints and kooshball prints

I loved the film and wish I could share it with you. Several parts brought tears to my eyes, which is inappropriate because it was nothing but joyful. My personal favorite were the two older folks on hover rounds who were asked to drive over one of the canvasses. You should have seen the pleased look on their faces and they spun and swirled and reversed while sitting back comfortably in their motorized chairs. The hair lady was kind of weird. The break dancer was great.
Hover round Painting

Laura and me in front of the hair painting

Everyone who participated in the paintings at Coney looked so happy and you could also see that they were totally into the project even though they were just passing by. They all looked methodical as they spread paint around and you could tell they really cared about the outcome of this project. I imagine the warmth of the artists asking them to participate contributed.

Anyway I'm thrilled and if I had $5000 I'd be one painting richer tonight. I was completely charmed.

After the reception Laura took me to a bar she used to frequent when she was a student at NYU and we chatted over burgers and nachos. Its so great she lives in my neighborhood, we even got to ride the train home together.