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...


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.