Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Canada is not in the US

Tuesday morning. 10am. We are leaving for a ski trip to Canada on Friday. I receive an email from Rob with the following message: "Don't forget our passports for Canada!"

Panic sets in. My passport expired on Nov 24. It did not occur to me that this would make it difficult to get into another country. I call Rob. "I'm screwed!" I yell, wondering what the people in my office are thinking.

"It will be ok," he says.

"How will it be ok?" Still yelling.

We get off the phone, me assigned to figuring out how to fix this. I make calls. Many, many calls. I speak to several people at the US passport office, dial into an automated appointment line at the New York City Passport Agency and discover that the next available appointment they have is 2 hours after we are scheduled to leave for Vancouver.

I panic some more. I call the Connecticut Passport Agency and make an appointment for Wednesday morning. In Connecticut.

I call Rob and am mean to him. "This is not going to work out," I say. "Even if I go to Connecticut tomorrow, there's no way they can get me a passport in time. They're closed on New Year's Day and we leave at 7am on Friday."

"Just go to the New York office," he says.

"I can't!" I am yelling again. "I just talked to 4 people who told me I need an appointment. And there are no appointments!"

"Stop yelling," Rob says. "Go to the office. You have to try."

My meltdown continues as I complain that I have work to do, that I could very well spend 4 hours waiting in line at the passport office when I should be at work PLUS if I don't succeed, I still need to go to Connecticut in the morning, thus missing another day of work.

"Well," Rob points out, "if you don't get a passport, you can be at work instead of going on vacation."

I make some more noises into the phone and hang up.

There are at least 3 more phone calls that repeat the above conversation, and I finally agree to go to the New York Passport Agency, which is in the West Village. I must first go home, get my passport, fill out forms, get photos of myself, and print out proof of travel.

Is it anticlimactic to report that when I got to the passport agency, it took less than 10 minutes to renew my passport?


"What is the lesson we learned today?" Rob asks.

Resisting the urge to punch him for talking to me like I'm a 4-year-old, I dutifully respond, "Always be prepared."

"What else?" he says.

"Um...don't panic?"

"That's a good one. What else?"

"Don't be mean to Rob?" I guess.

"That's a very good one."

"What's the one you were thinking of?" I ask, since clearly I have not answered the question correctly yet.

"Leave no stone unturned," he says wisely, at which point I do punch him. In my mind.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nice save

Tis the season where hair gets dry, skin gets tough, and nails get…well, bitten, but really that’s every season. Over the next few months, I would like to avoid looking like a battered softball, so I decided to pick up some women’s multivitamins.

I chose a brand that is well known for their prenatal vitamins, and all the bottles look virtually the same. When I took my purchase up to the counter, the young male cashier looked at me kindly and said, “How’s everything going so far?”

Upon looking closer at the bottle and registering its contents and the fact that they were not (sorry, mom) baby-related, he then swiftly recovered by adding, “with…the weather?”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Universe is Reading the Blog

On the elevator at work today, someone asked me what I was listening to on my IPod. Sadly, I had not prepared a suitable lie, and had to admit that Rob's bike mix had just shuffled to Linkin Park.

My interviewer grimaced slightly, but then admitted that he was listening to Legion of Mary, a Grateful Dead side project, despite the fact that he is "not a hippie."

We then agreed that Mama Said Knock You Out is actually an awesome song. So, honesty is not that bad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

David Sedaris

On Monday night, Rob and I went to Lincoln Center for "A Night with David Sedaris," which was really more like a few hours with David Sedaris, and everyone kept their clothes on. It was a family event, the kind where you might hear words like "fart" and "cockmaster"...but only once or twice.

The thing that is notable to me about David Sedaris is that he will just start talking, like he might say "Please make sure your cell phones are turned off," and people will start laughing. Rob asked me why they were laughing and I said I thought they were either high or they were just so excited to hear David Sedaris read that they were going to laugh the entire time. At everything.

"I thought that I would read something that I wrote 15 years ago," David Sedaris said, and the woman behind us busted up like someone was tickling her armpit fat.

He read several great essays, one of which told of a trip to Costco with his brother-in-law where the only thing in their cart was a bulk box of condoms and a 5-lb bag of strawberries (this because David Sedaris likes to give gifts to the teenagers who attend his readings, and his brother-in-law likes fruit.)

It was a really fun night, courtesy of Penny and Bill, who got us the tickets as a wedding gift. We do not motivate well to buy ourselves tickets to things. Thinking about this, Rob said, "We need to get tickets to something else now."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it was fun," he mused. "And it makes me sound more interesting...except then I run home to watch Monday Night Football. I bet not many other people in that theater were running home to watch football, he said proudly."

Yes, that's right. Rob is now writing his own lines for the blog. I need to rethink this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You had me at Hello*

Rob and I went to Washington, DC this weekend to see Penny and Bill and make ourselves sick eating cupcakes. That was actually part of the plan, so when we walked into Penny's shop and ordered a dozen assorted cupcakes, I didn't feel the kind of pre-regret that I might have felt upon ordering a similar amount of take-out dessert in, say, New York. Or, you know, anywhere else. Ever.

We pointed at the various shiny, frosted, sprinkled cakes and they magically piled into a box: carrot cake, strawberry, coconut, rum cake, pumpkin, lemon, peanut butter, tiramisu, mayan chocolate with red pepper flakes, double chocolate, mint, and...I think I'm forgetting one, but I'm guessing the point has gotten across.

By Sunday, here is what the box looked like.

I feel it necessary to confess that Penny and Bill ate not one cupcake. So Rob and I did this. And the beauty of having planned it in advance is that I can look upon this, The Cupcake Massacre of 2008, as something to be proud of. An accomplishment, really.

If you are in Washington, DC, I'm going to have to recommend a trip to Hello Cupcake in Dupont Circle. Do yourself a favor and plan for it. There's really nothing as satisfying as following through on a commitment.

*I stole this line from Bill.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's this new Brooklyn-based band you've never heard of

I have somehow gotten into the habit of silently noting what song is on my IPod as I approach the office, and then quickly deciding whether or not I would admit that to someone if they were to ask “what are you listening to?” If the real answer could be potentially embarrassing, I then have to make up an answer so I’m prepared under all circumstances.

I should admit here that no one has ever asked me what I was listening to on my IPod. BUT…you have to be ready for the possibility that the truth might fly out of your mouth and you’ll forever be known as the person who listens to LL Cool J on the way to work.

That was just an example.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's not that beautiful a day in the neighborhood, but still...

Today I walked to work with Cameron and Roan, who live one floor below. Roan was a baby burrito, all wrapped up because it was raining. Also, his more-intelligent-than-me mother brought an umbrella along for the walk. I, having checked the weather and listened to numerous rain updates on NPR, still managed to walk out of the building with no umbrella and decided I couldn't go back upstairs and get one because (channeling Harold & Kumar) I'd already gone too far. It was actually easier for me to walk to work in the rain.

It was not so easy, however, to walk home in the rain, but I made it about half a mile before caving and going into Duane Reade to spend $10 on an umbrella that basically broke 3 blocks later. This is the magic of umbrellas. It seemed fine when I put it away, but I am 100% certain that the next time I need to use that umbrella, it will be about as helpful as a colander. Perhaps less, because it will have lost its shape.

When I got up to my floor, my neighbor Earl was taking his clothes off in the hall. He was all wet from the rain and didn't want to track it into his apartment. It seemed completely normal to me. We exchanged pleasantries, like anyone would if one of you looked like a drowned rat and the other one was stripping.

I then called Jay, who was out at a bar, but agreed to watch the cats for the weekend while Rob and I are in DC being gluttons at Hello Cupcake. (More about this next week.)

So now I am actually just sitting here, appreciating my neighbors. I think this is happening because I own all those cardigans.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tis the Season

I just returned from the grocery store, where they insisted on playing Christmas carols. And not the kind of carols that recede gently into the background, seamlessly lifting your spirits without actually slowing your shopping progress. No, the loud, 12-Days-of-Christmas-kind, as sung by some group of women who have either just inhaled helium or are actually cartoon chipmunks.

I was trying to ignore it, but that song just goes on and on. Then while I was fondling the avocados, the woman next to me began singing along. "Fiiiiive Golden Riiiinnnnggss." Not to be dramatic, but I basically felt like I was being tortured.

I trudged home in the cold, unloading my groceries to find that the cats had clearly spent their day having a Vomiting Contest and guess who won? Everybody.

Friday, December 5, 2008

As if it matters, since we have been watching football every waking minute for the last 3 months

Rob is out of town, so last night I watched my latest Netflix pick, I’m Not There, in which 6 actors play different versions of Bob Dylan. Aside from thinking it was just a bit too long, which really says more about my ability to sit still for movies, I liked it a lot. Cate Blanchett as the Don’t Look Back-Dylan of 1965 was amazing; she looked just like him. How is that even possible? Heath Ledger as wandering husband/distant father Dylan was heartbreaking in a number of ways, and seeing Christian Bale as the born-again Dylan was mildly disturbing because it was one of the only times that I have ever seen Christian Bale in a movie and not wanted to lick the screen.

Perhaps you are wondering why Rob needed to leave town for me to watch this movie? We have an ongoing argument surrounding our Netflix queue, which basically goes like this:

Rob: More foreign films and romantic comedies? You’re fired from the queue.

Me: Oh yeah, because your picks are so great. Exhibit A: Cellular. Exhibit B: Hostage. Exhibit C…

Rob: Are you still talking?

We have sort of agreed to disagree on this, and whoever gets to the queue at the right time is thereby in control. Apparently, it was Rob last time, which is why we now have You Don’t Mess with The Zohan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tip me over and pour me out

I got up at 6am yesterday to go to yoga. There is something so invigorating about being up and out in the early morning, before the sun is even fully up, walking past people who have likely not been to bed yet. I was sleepy, but I assured myself that yoga would make me feel better, and would give me the start to my day that sleeping in and chugging coffee on my way out the door would not.

Theories are a nice thing to have.

In yoga, I was completely off balance.

When I got to work, I discovered that the coffee I had made and put in my travel mug had spilled all over, soaking everything in my bag, leaving a big stain on my light pants, and seeping onto the bottom of my shirt.

I was in a foul mood all morning, until I went to Starbucks and got coffee. I had not wanted to go to Starbucks, though, hence the coffee-from-home plan. So that irritated me.

I cancelled a drinks date with a friend.

At the end of the day, I found a recipe for sweet and sour cod with broccoli and cabbage. I bought the ingredients I needed on my way home and got to work, chopping and stirring. The sauce needed 15 minutes to reduce. Somewhere between 12 and 12.2 minutes, it burned in the pan, causing an acrid smell to fill the kitchen and making my eyes tear up. I threatened to throw away the entire pan. Rob asked me not to.

New pan. I tried again, but I had run out of honey and when I put my face towards the revised mixture that was simmering on the stove, I was sure that I had been poisoned. I threw it away.

I texted Superdad Jay, who had honey--and finally a sleeping kid. Take three worked out ok, but not before I spilled my glass of wine into the toaster.

I'm actually not sure I should be typing right now, lest the computer explode.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor

Last night I was cooking dinner and listening to a Nick Cave CD I got in Germany. I don’t buy physical CDs anymore, which is maybe sad, but nevertheless true. I buy them online or get copies made by friends. For my birthday, Amanda sent me an ITunes playlist she had created, which was very cool and a fun way to share music. It included a slow, beautiful cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya by Obadiah Parker that I absolutely love. As an aside (to what might already be an aside), when I was in Thailand 4 years ago and met a group of small kids who spoke no English, my friend Krista and I entertained them by singing Hey Ya, after we ran through our brief repertoire of nursery rhymes.

But back to Nick Cave. I was in Germany. More specifically, I was at the Frankfurter Hof, a bar that publishing people all go to during the Frankfurt Book Fair, resulting in the regrettable fact that we have all traveled intercontinentally to hang out with each other. Acknowledging the pitiful nature of this situation did not stop me from going to the Hof on 2 of the 4 nights that I was in Frankfurt.

Bellying up to the bar, I asked for glasses of champagne for myself and 2 colleagues. I know what you’re thinking. Really? At your exotic American-filled bar in Germany, you thought champagne would be the appropriate choice of beverage? To which I reply, there was one bar that served champagne only, and I didn’t realize it until I reached the front of the line. I peered across the large hall to the other bar that served beer and thought, screw that. Also, there were totally British people there. Now stop asking questions.

As I gave the bartender my order, a bouncy-haired sprite (aka a publisher I have never met before) came out of nowhere and asked me if I could order 2 more glasses of champagne. He wanted, he informed me, to present one to an author of his who had just won a major award. He would give me cash for the champagne.

So I changed my order to 5 glasses of champagne, for the bargain price of 75 Euro. And that cash that he was going to give me? Yeah. He handed me a Nick Cave CD and said conspiratorially, “Only 200 of these were made. Enjoy.”

I am enjoying it. But I’m not sure it was worth 30 Euro.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ground control

Rob and I returned from Arizona late last night, and it was a long day of travel. We left Phoenix around 2pm, connected to another flight in Salt Lake City, and rolled into our apartment after midnight. Here's what happened in between:

At the security gate in Phoenix, an attendant checked our IDs and boarding passes, then nodded towards a line of people to our right. "This one's actually shorter," she said, comparing it to the line we would have headed for, which looked shorter.
"It just looks longer, but there are two belts, so it's fast."

We got into the shorter line. The woman was either stupid or a liar. Or maybe she has some kind of reverse sense of time. We stood there, unmoving, watching people breeze through the other line. Several times, Rob turned to look directly at the woman, who would not meet his gaze. I believe he was debating how good it might feel to walk back to her and ask her to define "shorter." And then spell it.

As we finally approached the front of the line, where it still split into two more lines, another airline employee was yelling, "All laptops need to be taken out of their cases. This is NOT a suggestion!" Opening with excessive aggression, I thought, is certainly one method for dealing with the masses of holiday travelers. We heaved our bags onto the belt and as soon as my oversized yellow tote disappeared, I realized that I was the bonehead who had just sent two bottles of water through security.

"Bag check!" screamed the woman at the screen.

"I'm sorry," I said to her."I forgot I had water. I can throw it out. Or you can throw it out. Either way."

"It won't be me," she snapped. "It will be someone else."

Apparently I had offended her by suggesting that her status at the airport was that of a lowly liquid tosser. I stayed quiet.

"Bag check!" she yelled again, and I had a flash of Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers, screaming "SCOTT!"

Slowly, an old man ambled over, seemingly walking straight out of 18 years of retirement to check my bags. "Are you aware," he asked accusingly, "of our policy on liquids and gels?"

"Yes," I said, "I'm sorry. I forgot I had water. You can throw it out."

"What is this?" he asked suddenly, pulling hand lotion out of my bag.

"That's hand lotion."

"It's too big to carry on. You can't take it."

My hand lotion, which has been back and forth across the country several times, and has also traveled internationally, is 3.5 ounces. Perhaps 1/3 of that is left.

"How big can it be?" I asked.

"3.4 ounces," he recited.

Ok, it's no big deal. The lotion had a good life and it wasn't very pricey. But it's moments like these when I really have to question the arbitrary liquid/gel rules put in place after 9/11. That point one ounce of lotion that isn't even in the bottle anymore is somehow a danger to homeland security? Preoccupied with this thought, I absentmindedly moved to put the lotion back into the plastic quart-sized freezer bag I never go to the airport without.

"Ma'am," the Airport Octogenarian admonished. "I just told you that is too large to travel."

"Sorry," I repeated for the 27th time. "I guess I'm still working through my disbelief."

Next he grabbed a small--I mean miniscule--container of lip balm I had taken from our hotel room in Venice. The thing is the size of a quarter and I don't even want it.

"This needs to be in a plastic bag," he said.

Do not ask me why I then said, "Why? It's not a liquid or a gel."

"Yes, it is," he said.

"Noooo," I said slowly. "It's chapstick. It's just not in a tube. I thought chapstick was ok."

Let me interrupt myself for a moment to say that if I was the person in line behind this conversation, I would have killed me.

"It's a salve," he said, secure in his authority.

"Fine," I sighed wearily and put it in my quart bag. "I'm sorry that I wasted your time. I don't usually carry on, as you can tell."

"You aren't wasting my time, ma'am," he replied. "I get paid to be here."

I had a sudden rush of gratitude that I did not get paid to be at the airport, and that I would very soon be leaving. I applied some lip salve, and saluted the man who had just rifled through my underwear.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You're getting colder

I went to yoga this morning in the rain, without an umbrella. This could have been remedied with a simple glance out the window, but since I was basically sleepwalking around the apartment, intelligent thought was not happening. It was actually semi-refreshing, as the weather has warmed up from the recent NYC horror show, aka "Saturday."

Saturday was so cold and windy that I felt like being violent towards someone. And who was there to fulfill this role? Why, Rob! Really, for some reason when Fall begins to turn into Winter and I remember how I used to live in mild and marvelous San Francisco, I begin to question the convenience of falling in love and moving across the country. Was it really such a great idea?

This evening we are headed to Arizona, where the weather is a delightful 80 degrees. My plan is to be nice to everyone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The bullies of the bookstore

Rob and I went to a children's bookstore today, since everyone we know has had a kid in the past year. And if they haven't yet, they are about to. I am not kidding: 11 children have been born to our friends this year, with 3 more on the way.

I like to give books to the new babies. And Books of Wonder on 18th Street is a fantastic place, where they can recommend all sorts of perfect books depending on what kind of personality your new week-old friend may have. For shy babies, there are books on increasing confidence. For crazy babies, there are books about deep breathing techniques. For babies who like to entertain, there are books about barbecuing.

None of that is true. Except the part about the bookstore being great. They also do gift wrap.

On our way out of the store, Rob glanced back and said, "I'm not sure about having bookstore kids."

"Excuse me?" I asked, not sure exactly what a "bookstore kid" was.

"I was looking at those bookstore kids back there," he explained. "And if we have kids who hang out in bookstores, I guess that's ok. But I want them to be like...the coolest kids in the bookstore."


"You know. The bullies of the bookstore."

"You want our kids to be the bullies of the bookstore?"

"Yeah. The strongest kids in there."

"You know this is going on the blog."

"No, it's not."

"Yes. Yes it is."

"The blog is not a place for you to 'out' me."

"Evidently you misunderstand the purpose of the blog."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Give it a Name

Today it occurred to me that when I married Rob, he officially became my ex-boyfriend.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on the john

Why is it called a restroom? You don't go in there to hang out and relax, as far as I can tell. It doesn't really make sense to call it a bathroom, either, unless it's at someone's house and there's a bathing apparatus in there. But if you're out at dinner and you excuse yourself to use the restroom or the bathroom, I think that's kind of inaccurate. Unless you're going to lie down in the toilet for a while, just thinking about your life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just another manic Monday

Which means that I don't have much time to spend on a blog post, unfortunately.

This weekend my dad told me that he read an article advising that if you want to retain your job in these tough economic times, you should keep your vacation days to a minimum. I responded by quickly making sure Rob and I had in fact purchased our tickets for: Thanksgiving in Arizona, Christmas in Chicago, and--just for the hell of it--a ski trip in Whistler at the beginning of January. I then debated whether it was too early to get tickets to Miami for an it's-really-cold-in-New-York February trip.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The pitter patter of pissed off cat feet

My parents are coming to stay with us for a long weekend, and we washed the sheets in the second bedroom to prepare for this. Cause that's just the kind of people we are. The thing is, when the second bedroom is not being occupied by guests, it is known not as the second bedroom or the guest room, but as the cat's bedroom. So it's important that after you wash the sheets, you don't let the cats back into their bedroom because they will do things like christen the clean bed with their fur and vomit. It's how they show love.

We washed the sheets on Sunday and the door to the bedroom has been closed for days now. Smokey and Emma have spent their time hovering around it, willing it to open. When I get home from work, they typically begin crying, because they are so abused. I suppose in their defense, I have shrunk their tiny world by a good 30%.

So now it's Wednesday night and Smokey is doing this thing where he meows very pointedly at me, like he has important information to convey. And then he walks a few steps away and turns, as if asking me to follow. The first time he did this, I thought he was a genius. He was clearly trying to tell me something. Maybe Emma was in trouble! Maybe there was an intruder! Maybe he had scratched a poem in the cat litter!

But after following him in several circles around the living room and kitchen, I pretty much realized he's not a genius. At least not in a communicative or linear way.

Although he is something of an artiste when it comes to cat-bedroom hairballs. He's saving them up right now, I can tell.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The case of the missed yoga class

So here's what happened. I ate a nutritious dinner of red snapper with zucchini and black olive tapenade, cleaned up the apartment, did some laundry, showered, packed my yoga bag, set out my outfit for the next day, and went to bed. I was determined to start the week off with a 6:45am yoga class before heading to work.

Because you are allowed to shower at my yoga studio, but you are not allowed to wash your hair, and I had a benefit dinner to attend tonight, there was rather involved preparation the night before. But I was ready. So, I don't know what it was...the fact that the snapper was actually perch? The 2 glasses of wine that I had with dinner? General Sunday night confusion? I changed the alarm to 6am, but, like a total doge, I forgot to turn it on.

This morning, I woke up at 6:20am, far too late to make it to yoga across town. As I stood by the bed, halfheartedly contemplating going to the gym instead, Rob walked back from the bathroom, bodyslammed me, and wrapped me up in the blankets. I fell back asleep for an hour and a half.

It is entirely possible that I am not a morning work-out person. But as I am clearly not an evening work-out person, and I have no time during the day to work out, I may just have to come to terms with reality. I am actually a bed pillow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Reindeer Effect

First of all, YAY OBAMA. Obviously. Tuesday was enormously exciting--we were coming back from dinner when the results were announced, and the ecstatic reactions we heard coming from everywhere gave me goosebumps.

And yesterday, our first full day with a brand new President-Elect, was a great day for America and the World.

Let's stop to think about America and the World for a second. Here are my thoughts on that: No one in America or the World was as hungover as I was yesterday.

It was a devastating hangover, brought on by, well, alcohol. In its various forms and colors. Not really various forms, actually, they were all liquid. What is the point here? Oh yeah...

This article in the New York Times, which makes mention of Deep Thoughts, humor, the election, and "Hambone's affection for dolphins."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Big Day

Today is my 30th birthday, and as such, I feel compelled to share that I woke up with zits. Ok, to be fair, I saw them last night before I went to bed, but I was really hoping that as my 20s faded away in the middle of the night, they would take the zits with them. That didn’t happen.

So I took them to the polling place this morning and we all voted for Obama. We also voted for a few of the other candidates running for various offices. It was invigorating to see the neighborhood up and ready to perform their civic duty. It made me want to take the day off from work, but let’s be honest here. Everything makes me want to take the day off from work.

On my way to the office after voting, I listened to my voice messages. My friend Will gets the award for creepiest version of Happy Birthday. Seriously, if you were being stalked for months by a serial killer and he then drank a bottle of Blackberry Brandy, called you on your birthday and sang to you, it would sound exactly like this. But I love you, Will. Thanks for the call!

Get out there and vote, people. All I really want for my birthday is President Obama in the Oval Office, VP Joe Biden on his knee. Or in his own chair. Whatever.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Exercising my rights

Rob and I went to Chat and Nina's yesterday--Nina is on bedrest, pregnant with twins, so we were there to provide moral support and eat snacks. Chat's dad was there as well, and as the five of us sat in the living room, the conversation inevitably turned to politics.

It's ALL politics ALL the time these days. At dinner, on TV, in the office...even the cats are biting their de-clawed little toe pads trying to figure out how Tuesday is going to go down. For the record, I think the outcome is obviously Obama-oriented, that is if the polls and predictions are to be presupposed. But I see no reason to get cocky or complacent. Perhaps my vote doesn't matter in Blue New York, but that won't stop me from waiting in line outside our neighborhood elementary school to cast my vote. And apparently it also won't eliminate the atrocious alliteration affecting this post.

I can't wait to vote and I do feel excited and confident about the election results. But if, for some terrible reason, we wake up Wednesday with a McCain/Palin future staring us down, I told Nina I'm joining her on bedrest.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An epiphany over cocktails

Today I had a meeting every hour, and some every half hour. It was a really busy day. After work, I went to a work event and had a glass of wine with a cartoonist for The New Yorker. He said to me, "People who are too busy don't have time to be creative."

"But everyone is busy," I said.

"Not me," he said. "I hang out, I nap. When I hear my wife coming home, I sometimes run over to my desk and pretend to be hard at work."

I'm not saying I want to be this guy (though he did have cool hair.) But it was an interesting conversation and made me want to strike that fine balance between being busy enough to stay conscious, but not so busy that I can't find time to be creative. How to actually strike that balance continues to elude me, but I'm thinking it involves getting a job that pays a lot of money and doesn't require many hours of work.

I know what you're thinking. Genius.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Explanation of a Decision

Rob and I had a party in Chicago this weekend to celebrate our wedding. We had about 120 people in a very cool space in the city and many of our family members and friends met each other for the first time. It was a fantastic party--a perfect follow-up to the small ceremony we'd had in Central Park 5 weeks before.

At lunch the day of the party, a close friend asked me why Rob and I had gotten married so privately, rather than having the more traditional ceremony and reception all at once. Though I've been asked that question before, I was somewhat thrown off by it on that particular day, because to me--having done it already--it now made a kind of innate sense that I no longer thought required explanation.

That's not to suggest that this friend shouldn't have asked the question; after all, the only reason I have come to entirely comfortable terms with our decision is because I was wholly involved in its planning and execution, and I can now happily say that it proved to be the right choice for us. There is something very different about having a big wedding and having a big party. I seem to be better at the second one, if lack of massive meltdown is any indication.

The best answer I have to the question is that after getting relatively far with the planning of an actual, traditional wedding--having chosen the date and the location--I was so immediately (that very night) plagued by nightmares and stress that I simply knew that something was wrong with the direction we were heading. People say that a wedding should be about the couple who is getting married, and I think they genuinely believe what they are saying, but as I watched--even briefly--the manifestation of that idea playing out in my own life, I realized that there was something false about it. The big traditional wedding wouldn't be for us. That's not something either Rob or I have ever placed much emphasis on. I have never dreamed of the perfect white wedding and, faced with its existence, I broke out in hives (ew, figuratively speaking.)

I realize this might read (if you are still reading) more like a defense of a decision than an explanation of one, but if one of my dear friends is still asking, it's possible others are still wondering. I don't want them to arrive at incorrect conclusions. We did not compromise. If anything, we were selfish, and I am grateful to everyone who let us get away with that.

My perfect wedding was 6 witnesses in Central Park on a beautiful day, a white dress with pockets, a champagne toast, and a big Italian dinner. A 2-week honeymoon in Italy. A weekend in Chicago with family and friends. Seeing everyone together on Friday night and again on Saturday, watching them meet and talk and eat and dance...that was part of our wedding. Yes, the vows were made on a different day, but the celebration continues. (Seriously, it's still going on. Smokey and Emma are such lushes.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rob and Sarah learn a word and grossly misuse it

Our first destination in Italy was Venice, where I immediately joined the hordes of Rick Steves acolytes roaming the city and dragged Rob on several self-guided museum tours. We went to the Accademia, St Mark's Basilica, Frari Church, and Doge's Palace, among others.

We arrived at the Doge's Palace about 40 minutes before it closed, but I managed to convince them to let us in, using the Italian I had studied vigorously on the plane.

"Um..." I said, but there were hand gestures denoting speed. "Veloce?"

The woman tilted her head wearily. "Go ahead," she said in English.

A Doge or Ducat is a ruler, but one who wears a funny little hat. They were the bosses of Venice for centuries, and even the money (ducat) was named after them. The Doge's Palace provided us with our new favorite vocabulary word, for which we have found infinite uses.

The following is a typical conversation from our days in Venice:

"What's up Doge?*"

"You're the Doge."

"Only a Doge would say that."

"Whatever, Dogey-doge."

"SUCH a doge."

"Doge off."

It was like someone let two 3rd graders go on a honeymoon.

*Rob says I need to include a phonetic guide for this. I don't know how to do that, but it starts like doe and the g is soft.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My collection of Italian waiters

This is not all-encompassing, obviously. I would also like to share that Rob asked me to stop flirting with the waiter at our Positano hotel restaurant. He said it not in a jealous way, but in an eye-rolling, "seriously-stop-touching-the-waiter-and-inviting-him-to-live-with-us" way. I don't have a picture of that guy, but he looked like a child. Which means I wasn't flirting with him, I was just being nice.

And you may have noticed that Waiter #4 actually is a child. He's three years old, in fact. He was the son of the bartender in a Florence trattoria we stumbled into before dinner one night. Though he didn't actually serve me anything, he did show me some of his toys and where his nose was. So he's on the list.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ways in which my culture has shaped me

One morning in Italy, I awoke from a particularly vivid dream in which it was discovered that I was Tom Cruise's daughter, a fact that his in-the-dream wife, Demi Moore, was not too happy about. It was dramatic.

I opened my eyes. "Want to go to breakfast?" Rob said.

What are you doing here? I thought blearily, but politely refrained from saying out loud.

Later as I recalled this, it reminded me of those occasional episodes of The Cosby Show where Cliff eats a late-night sandwich, even though Clair always tells him it's not a good idea. That wacky guy. Then he inevitably has crazy dreams and vows never to eat late-night sandwiches again. The one I remember best involved all the Huxtable men getting pregnant, and Theo delivered a sports car. Cliff, I believe, sired a sandwich.

Anyway. I think there is something to the idea of having bizarre dreams after excessive eating, close to bedtime. And our entire trip to Italy can be used as an experiment to prove this theory.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rob and Sarah make a friend

When we arrived in Naples from Florence, Rob wanted to call the hotel to get information on the quickest way to get to Positano from the train station. I wanted to use my "Italian" vocab to take a cab to a marina, a ferry to Sorrento and then a ferry to Positano. Because then we would have figured it out all by ourselves.

Rob won.

Almost immediately, a driver from the hotel showed up. It was kind of freaky, actually, until he explained that he had already been there to pick someone else up, but since he was early, he would take us and someone else would bring back his original clients.

The driver, Gaetano, was born in Positano but spoke perfect English as a result of having lived in the Bronx for several years as a kid, where he attended PS 7. He moved back to Positano when he was 9, and now proudly shares his love of it with visitors. Gaetano is a cross between Javier Bardem and Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. He speaks in the same speech patterns Pacino used in that movie and I kept expecting him to bust out a "HOO-AH!" He did not.

He did, however, get frustrated with another driver as we were leaving Naples. "AH, he is such a snaps provolone!"

"A what?" I asked.

"Provolone," he replied. "It's a cheese that we make. But also it means 'kind of dumb.' It's a slang."

"It's a basic cheese," he continued. "It doesn't have so much in the head."

We talked about travel guides. Gaetano was particularly irritated that he is not listed in the Rick Steves' Italy guidebook, since he speaks English so well. Rick Steves does list a man named Carmello from a nearby town, who takes Americans on tours of the Coast.

"Why should Carmello be listed in the Ricky Steves guide?" Gaetano grumbled. "He speaks broken English! If people have questions and require further information, Car-MEL-lo will not be able to answer them!"

He cheered up noticeably as we neared Sorrento, cueing up a song on his CD player for us and singing along with it, "Ohhhhh Sorrento," he crooned.

Am I making him sound annoying? He wasn't; he was charming. When we decided to hire a driver to take us to Pompei and Ravello one day, we were very pleased to find out that it would be him. It simply solidified our burgeoning relationship.

We met him across the street from a pharmacy on the hill above the hotel.

"The weather this morning was THREAT-en-ing," he yelled happily. "It was menacing that it was going to rain!"

Then he gestured calmly towards the sky and said, "But no."

And off we went to Pompei, chattering to each other the whole time about family and traveling, among other things. Gaetano played us some music from local bands, and narrated our journey as we passed walnut, olive, lemon, and fig trees. He left us to explore Pompei on our own, explaining that he had a girlfriend there.

"I'm KID-ding!" he insisted, "I'm meeting my friend Rafael for pizza."

When we got to Ravello, he bought a chocolate bar and shared it with me, then left us alone to explore again. We walked through an old palace with a beautiful garden and experimented with our photo poses. Ok, I did. Rob just rolled his eyes for the camera.

When Gaetano dropped us off at the end of the day he gave us hugs and kisses. A few days ago, he emailed me a picture of his kids.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Italian Adventures in Overindulgence

I seem to have officially gotten over my jetlag this weekend, just in time to leave for a book fair in Germany today and start all over again.

As my brain is finally beginning to resemble that of a normal human being, I have been able to pull myself together to post some Italy stories. But because a brain resembling a brain doesn't work the same way as an actual brain, they will not be in chronological order.

4 of our nights in Italy were spent in Positano. It was completely different from any of the rest of the trip, much less walking and sightseeing, much more drinking by the pool (where 2 glasses of wine conveniently allow room for the contents of an entire bottle) and staring at the water from our balcony.

We took a ferry to Capri one afternoon and when we arrived at the marina, realized that Capri was actually way up a hill and that you needed a second form of transportation to get up there. We cabbed up and wandered among the crowds down streets with boutiques and other expensive shops. It was much like walking down 5th Avenue in New York City, and it was all very lovely, but we weren't completely enamored with it until we wandered off the main road and found the quieter backside of the town. Here we made it our business to get to know the beverages of Capri.

When we finally had to leave to catch the ferry back to Positano, we decided to take one of the shuttles down the hill. It seemed easy enough and one was leaving right then. The bright orange bus was pretty full, so Rob and I stood at the back. The engine started, and the driver, who didn't look like a sociopath, began careening down the hill at breakneck speed. He was clearly on a mission and the mission was this: maim at least one American retiree who is innocently meandering up the hill or the whole afternoon can be considered a failure. He did his best, and Rob and I held on tight as we negotiated the hairpin turns. I banged my head on the glass back door at one point, and I think I heard the driver cackling. The theme to The Godfather was playing in the background.

It really was.

We made it safely back down the hill (I'm sure the driver was cursing the lack of casualties) and took the ferry back, where we immediately started drinking again, I think. I don't really remember, but it's a safe bet.

Positano is also the place where any portion control we had been exercising in Venice, Florence, Siena, and Tuscany flew right out the window. We stuffed ourselves everywhere we went, but for at least a week, we did try to share entrees and generally not make pigs of ourselves. Not the case on the Amalfi Coast.

One particular day, I had a huge plate of gnocchi for lunch (with wine), waited maybe a few hours before we went up the hill to another hotel and had champagne, oysters, tuna tartare, and breadsticks, and then waited the length of time it took to walk further down the hill to a restaurant where we had another bottle of wine, pasta with lobster, grilled seafood, a wild strawberry tart, and glasses of the ever-present limoncello. As we left the restaurant, I looked around to see if anyone had left a spare wheelbarrow leaning against the side of the road. I didn't see one, so we just rolled ourselves all the way down the hill and back to our hotel.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Friday

Ok, so clearly I am having a hard time blogging this week. I have several excuses, with which I will not bore you. Instead, I give you: some wedding photos.

Monday, October 6, 2008

We're Back!

Rob and I returned from Italy on Saturday night. The flight was 9 1/2 hours, 4-5 of which I spent watching movies and 8 1/2 of which I spent eating.

Seriously, something happens to me on planes. It's like I suddenly don't trust that there will ever be food again, so anything that is put in front of me--anything--is devoured immediately. And since there is not a lot of food served on planes these days, I usually bring a large bag of my own and methodically consume the contents.

For this flight, I did a bit of both, and in case you are curious, let me tell you that mixing excessive amounts of airport food with excessive amounts of airplane food (especially when the airplane food is of the "fake Italian" variety) is a recipe for Disgusting. I felt like a hot air balloon when we got off the plane: very full, very warm, and as though I was carrying several people.

After one entire day of bemoaning the fact that we had to return to New York, I suddenly wanted very, very much to just go home. But Delta Airlines had other ideas. First they made us wait on the plane for 15 minutes after landing, because we had taxied as far away from the actual airport as possible and now we were waiting for the People Mover. Not to be confused with, you know, an airplane. Which also moves people.

We all slowly loaded onto the People Mover and then inexplicably waited for a while, despite some old ornery man with very milky eyes yelling from the back, "Let's GO!"

"I love that guy," Rob said. "I want to be just like him when I'm old."

The People Mover started up and waddled around the airport, we waited in several lines, cleared customs, stared at the unmoving baggage carousel, and eventually ended up in a cab. At which point we were told the Midtown Tunnel was closed. It then took 100 minutes to get to our door from JFK, a personal record.

Still, we were in pretty good moods. I mean, we'd just gotten back from Italy and all we had to do was go home and think about how fun the trip was (I'll get to that in future posts.*) I hadn't seen a mirror in many hours, but no matter. We walked into our lobby, and promptly ran into 2 neighbors and a doorman who were all super helpful in describing how tired I looked.

"I can see it around your eyes," one said, examining me as we rode up the elevator.

We got into the apartment, feeling like we had done some sort of Ironman, and were pleased to see that said neighbor, along with two others, had left us flowers, balloons, crackers, cheese, almonds and assorted cookies.

In an effort to fully appreciate this lovely gesture, I found the will to eat again.

*I do promise more Italy stories and, of course, photos. For now, here is one of us in Venice riding the Vaporetto, which basically does what a People Mover does, but is just so much cooler.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Molto bene

We leave today for Italy: Venice, Florence, Siena, Positano, Rome.

It's unlikely that I'll blog for a while, but I will collect lots of stories while Rob and I are traveling. I'm guessing a few will be worth sharing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm getting married today

Yesterday I went to see my waxer. Lately, I've been making appointments with my regular waxer's sister, because our schedules align better. The appointments are equally entertaining.

Today, when Lisa found out I was getting married, she began a short monologue:

"This girl came here once. She was married for 2 months. She ask me, 'How long you have been married?' I say, '29 years.' She say, 'And you don't want to kill him?'"

Prolonged laughter--from Lisa.

"2 months!"

"29 years!" I said.

"That was four years ago," she said. "Now it's 33 years."

"And you still don't want to kill him?" I asked, just to check.

"No!" she said.

Silence as we both thought about that. I was thinking how nice it was. And then...

"I want to sell him," she confessed. "If someone says to me, I will give you this [mimed money changing hands], I will say 'Take him'!"

So, ok. Not a murderer, just a businesswoman.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One of the Ones

According to something I heard somewhere (convincing, no?), on any given day one out of every three coworkers is hungover.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Psycho caller

I was at work until 9pm on Friday. The only reason I am sharing this is because at 8pm, I decided to return a call to this guy who had left me 2 unsolicited, though work-related messages that week, but who I was pretty sure I wasn't interested in talking to.

I knew I was going to be at work for a while longer, and I was too lazy to look up the area code where he was located to figure out if it was an even remotely appropriate time to call, so I just dialed.

He picked up the phone, and I kid you not, said:

"I've been waiting for your call."

Let me repeat: this is how he started the call. This is a person to whom I have never spoken in my life. Flustered, I fumbled around, apologizing for the delay and asking if this was a good time for him to talk.

"Anything for you," he said.

I was suddenly certain that I had phoned a serial killer and that any moment he was going to tell me that he was actually in my office, under the desk.

I told him that he should check out our website to learn more about our business and services.

"You're going to make me read?" he asked, doing his best Norman Bates impression. I realized that this guy was probably 3 drinks deep and had been debating what 900 number to dial when I called him.

The call continued along these lines, even though I'm pretty sure he knew he was freaking me out. This is someone who wants to work with me and my company and he was treating this phone call as if it was his audition to play Child Predator #2 in a TV movie.

I hung up as quickly as I could and vowed not to place business calls past 5pm on a Friday. I should have known better.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Give bread a chance

A group of friends threw a baby shower for Cameron on Sunday. It was so much fun, mostly because it was a potluck kind of thing and every single person brought bread. Ok, 2 people didn't bring bread, but everyone else brought so much bread that it seemed like everyone did.


I love bread. Why does it get such a bad rap? It never did anything to you, other than offering delectable sustenance. Stop creating diets that center around avoiding it. There are so many different things you can do with it, and if you just eat it moderately and not by the entire loaf, I think you'll find you can be a very fit and healthy person.* Don't look to me for your example, though.

Today I had wheat bread, french bread, crackers, tortillas, sticky buns, cupcakes, and cheesebread.

I call it the "Go ahead, pretend you're not getting married on Friday" diet. It also involves lavish amounts of champagne.

*Not sure who I'm talking to.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dutch treat

We are one week away from our actual wedding day, so what does Rob decide to do? Let's make this a quiz:

a) buy me flowers every day for a week
b) write a list of all the things he hopes to change about himself once we get married
c) cook dinner one night so that I can get my bachelorette party thank you notes finished
d) fly to Amsterdam for 5 nights

That's an easy one. He flew to Amsterdam. He'll be back on Tuesday and, to be fair, it is for work and he is pretty irritated about having to go. At least that's what he said when he was in the cab on the way to the airport complaining about being forced to spend 5 days in Europe while I take care of the last minute wedding details...wait a minute, I've been hoodwinked! His "meetings" are on Friday and Monday, which leaves all weekend to bike around with the locals, stopping at cafes for midday herbal refreshment and maybe topping off his evenings with a stroll through the red light district.

The good thing is, there's likely nothing he can do to get arrested while he's there, so he'll probably make it to the wedding.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Definitely a Mac person

I was sort of avoiding posting this, because I think Emma would be embarrassed if she knew. But it's either this, or my wedding to-do list, so I think we can agree this is the better choice.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Tao of ADD

How much stimulation can the human mind take? I understand that there are doctors and researchers in the world who believe that multi-tasking is a myth. That it doesn't really happen. I'd like to invite them over right now. They can feed the cats.

Rob and I are planning our Italy trip--I am reading Rick Steves' Venice 2009 and sharing tidbits such as what to do if a pigeon poops in your hair while you're in Venice (advice that I assume can be transferred to any other location where you might find yourself the target of such aerial attacks.) The trick is not to smear it into your hair. Let it dry and then it will flake off cleanly.

"Great advice," says Rob. "How long does it take to dry?"

I am also intermittently checking email to determine whether we have any more RSVPs for our wedding reception.

And we are watching the Bears/Colts game and I am asking all the normal questions that I as when we watch football, like, "What just happened there?" "Was that a fumble? "Is Peyton Manning married?" "How old is he?" "Does he have kids?" Rob answers some of these questions and rolls his eyes at others. Then when he gets really excited about a play in which a really big guy slams into another really big guy, he time travels back to 1952.

"That Bob Sanders...he carries a wallop!" I look over at him to see if he is suddenly wearing a little hat and smoking a Winston. He is not.

At random moments in the game we switch over to the US Open to watch the match between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic and we talk about how some people think Jankovic is attractive (we like her body but her face sort of reminds me of Scottie Pippen, not that there's anything wrong with that.) Rob asks if she is wearing glitter in her hair.

However. In 13 minutes we will begin watching Entourage, at which point, if everyone knows what is good for them, all sound and thought will cease and we will spend 30 minutes really, really not doing anything else.

And the researchers can rest easy knowing that sometimes they are correct. But I bet they'll be too busy to appreciate it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celebrate good times

Rob is at the US Open tonight, which marks the second time in one week that he has partaken* of the tennis and not invited me.

But I'm not upset, and I will tell you why, people.

Because I have discovered that my happy place is right here, on the couch. Alone. Watching terribly terrible romantic comedies and drinking wine. I have already forgotten all the stressful things that happened today--must be the magical romantic comedy potion.

Even the Republican National Convention, which I DVR'd and plan on watching next, won't be able to ruin this. Famous last words? Maybe, but I'll be too drunk to notice.

Despite my buzz, I can still recall some genius asking the cats a mere moment ago: "Who needs the US Open when you have drunkenness?"**

*Yes, an actual word.

**Also an actual word.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yes. I watched 90210

I got home 20 minutes into the show, so to be fair, it's not like I watched the whole thing. But amazingly, the new version of 90210 was on for 2 hours tonight. It features the likes of Shannen Doherty, Lori Loughlin, and Jennie Garth, as well as a teenager who looks almost exactly like Elizabeth Berkley--and just as fatigued. Also, Nat from The Peach Pit, who may have been waiting in the restaurant since the original show ended.

I admit it, I was curious to check out the new version. And do you know who was not happy about that? Rob.

"Is this still on?" he asked at least 9 times as he paced around the apartment. He even rolled his eyes at the commercials that aired (probably because the last time either one of us saw a commercial was in 2005.)

"We'll never watch it again," I promised, cursing the fact that we only have one tv. I do believe he will take this one example of teen-drama depravity and turn it into hours and hours (and hours and hours) of guilt-free college football. He martyrs well.

And really, I think we probably will never watch it again. It was not great. But its very existence reminded me of the moment 18 years ago (18 years? I just choked on my multivitamin with flaxseed) when I first heard about the original Beverly Hills 90210, and how there were these two guys named Brandon and Dylan, and no one could figure out who was cuter. And even though if I watched reruns now, I would probably think they both looked like cartoon Vegas lounge hacks, I still loved that damn show.

So I had to give this one a chance, just a tiny chance. I would write a serious critique of it, but...come on.

Rob is still recovering.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Down the shore

John rented a house on the Jersey Shore for the month of August, and Rob and I went out this weekend to spend Labor Day with him. We celebrated the "end" of summer in the normal ways: cooking, drinking, eating, lying on the beach, and with absolutely excessive sessions of Guitar Hero on the Wii.

On Saturday night, I learned how to play. By Sunday night, John had to kick me out of his room (where the TV was) so that he could sleep, because we all agreed that I was simply not going to master that painfully bad Slayer song. And no one wanted to hear it again. I actually think this might have been some kind of Wii joke, because that mess was not a real song. I grudgingly took my glass of wine into another, Guitar Hero-less room. With my real friends (yes, alone.)

Nina and Chat joined us on Sunday; they are pregnant with twins and recently found out that they're having a boy and a girl. Nina's response to this news was the following:

"Oh yeah, it's going to be great. Unless they're, you know, too close. Like Angelina Jolie and her brother."

Fascinating. As often happens, when I looked over at Chat, he was just shaking his head and saying words under his breath. I think I heard "insane" and "hormone."

The five of us have spent a fair amount of time together, so there's not a lot of censoring going on. At one point--late in the afternoon by which time normal people have given at least fleeting thought to their appearances--John walked into the kitchen, looked at me and said, "Have you completely given up or will you be showering today?" It was not really a glamorous kind of weekend and that is, in large part, what was so great about it.

That and the pervert babies.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I don't blog about work. It's sort of an informal agreement I've made with myself, like don't sleep in your contacts and don't contract a venereal disease. It would be bad.

But lately it feels like work is so much of what I'm doing with my days that I'm not sure how I can blog without bringing it up.

Still, I'm going to try. So let's all enjoy this story about a nutty Brit and his banking antics. God, I love the BBC.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Animal House

Rob took care of our neighbor Eric's dog, Josh, this weekend and when I got home from Chicago, it was like Josh had always lived with us.

Smokey, slightly thrown off by this intrusion, felt the need to exert his authority over the apartment by ferociously helping himself to Rob's piece of pizza.

Also, though my efforts to get her into a baking dish went completely ignored, Emma did sit on a tote bag.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tasteful! Fun! No strippers!

My sister, friends, aunts, cousin, and mom threw me a fabulous bachelorette party in Chicago on Saturday. Below, our day in pictures (mostly because I'm still hungover.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And just like that, I'm a child

I was on the phone with my dad tonight when he asked me to guess what city--in the entire world--has the most millionaires. My first guess, New York, was not correct. Neither were London, Dubai, Tokyo or any number of other cities I came up with.

He gave me the option of asking yes or no questions.

"Is it in Europe?" I asked. The answer was yes. And therein began a very confusing conversation which, sorry to rush to the punch line, ended with me realizing that MOSCOW is actually an Eastern European city. I'm sure all you smarties out there already had this info, but let me just say, when your dad is a retired geography teacher and you can't tell him the boundaries of Europe on a standard phone call, it leaves you feeling none too bright.

As I approached the apartment, I saw Rob and our friend Eric pulling in from a bike ride. I asked them the question. They started with New York, Riad, Tokyo, Beijing.

"It's probably in Asia," Rob said, thinking out loud.

"Is that a question?" I rushed in. "Is that a yes or no question? Ask me, as a yes or no question, if it's in Asia."

Eric started to laugh. "I was like this, too, " he said. "When I was 12."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Proof of Life

Rob and I have a storage unit next door to our apartment, a room that--without exaggeration--can be accurately referred to as a death trap. I went there this evening to look for my birth certificate, which I apparently need in order to get a marriage license in New York.

Our storage unit is not small. We've upgraded from two crawl spaces to an entire room that is filled wall to wall and floor to ceiling with...I don't really know what. But what I was looking for was a very specific box, one that contains letters, cards, photos, concert tickets and other memorabilia I have collected since high school. I was pretty sure that if I had my birth certificate, it would be in that box.

So of course the box was across the room, at the very top of a stack of other boxes and a cat carrier. I climbed onto various suitcases and plastic bags of clothes no one ever needs to wear, finally discovering the sturdy surface of an old wooden table. As I stood on tiptoe and lunged for the box, I was suddenly certain that I was going to fall, crack my head open and win a Darwin Award for being the idiot who died while looking for her birth certificate.

When I gracefully (you can't prove it wasn't graceful) liberated the box from its perch, I sat with it on the floor of the building, and spent half an hour looking through the things I have decided to keep: airmail cards sent when I lived in Paris, notes tightly folded in the way only high school girls can fold notes, a blue raspberry Airhead in its wrapper, letters I never sent, and a typed letter from my brother--mailed to me when he was 11 and I was in college--that unexpectedly caused me to burst into tears. Also my social security card: no real visceral reaction to that one.

The birth certificate was nowhere to be found, but it's a big room and I'll visit again. There should be plenty more opportunities to maim myself in a freak storage accident. In which case, I bequeath the memory box to my sister and the cat carrier to Rob.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Excessively girly post

Not to get all Daily Candy, but there is a new boutique on the Lower East Side called Mint Julep. It just opened last week, and if you like fun dresses, bags, and jewelry, you should definitely go check it out.

This is their first New York store (it originated in Boston) and they have lots of great stuff. Including a bit too much of my money. I could hear my better judgment ordering me to put down the purple dress. You will never wear it. It's too short. But it wasn't powerful enough to overtake a relative newcomer: my honeymoon voice. That sucker's loud. And semi-irrational.

Still, I stand by my recommendation. A very cute store, with a helpful staff, and tissue paper covered in popsicles. And despite my comment above, most of their merchandise is fairly affordable. Moreso when you don't try to buy it all at once.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blame Facebook

I have a new obsession, and it’s one that I am not happy about. After much urging, encouragement, and some derision from friends who are on Facebook, I decided to join. And it is addictive in the way that I was told it would be. Friends are coming out of the woodwork. In the past week, I have gotten messages from my future niece, three former best friends who I haven’t seen in years, the guy I walked to kindergarten with, a guy I dated in college, and my old drug dealer. (Kidding. Or am I?)

It’s fun, but it’s also slightly overwhelming. And it doesn’t translate to lots of attention for this here blog. I’m going to have to work on that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is there anything better than live music?

Rob and I are back from a Wilco show in Brooklyn. The venue was a pool. Or, it used to be a pool before they turned it into a fantastic place to see a concert outdoors. If you ask Rob about it, he'll tell you that we had to wait in line to get into the show. Then we had to wait in line to get tickets to buy beer. Then we had to wait in another line for the actual beer. But I think after he says all that, he'll tell you that he really liked the show. So there you have it. Reading this blog is just like having a conversation with Rob. I will post later about his reaction to that statement.

Anyway, at McCarren Park Pool, the audience stands in what was once the pool and watches as the band plays from an elevated stage. It's small enough that there is not a bad location to stand. We opted for a side area, where we watched a hipster mom and dad dancing with their three bleach blond daughters. The youngest one was passed out the entire time, even when being handed from parent to parent. I watched them, thinking how sweet it was that this family was enjoying the show together, spinning around and hugging each other. That was when the dad decided to lie on the ground for a while.

I was not there to judge.

Wilco was excellent. They are the type of band that is better live. Between the music, Brooklyn Lager, proximity to the stage, gorgeous weather, and running commentary of the Drew Carey look-alike next to me (who was there to judge), I was in a very happy place.

So I'm disappointed to say that Brooklyn will be turning the pool back into an actual pool, and ceasing all concert operations. Really, it's a great place to see a show and it's a shame that the neighborhood kids have to go ruin that, what with their "need for outdoor, healthy activity." They're so immature.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rob time

I'll be in Boulder, CO for work for a couple of days, which is nice because I get to see my friends Natascha and Steve. They've lived there together for several years, long enough to be considered common law spouses, though they are officially getting married next year.

I asked Rob what he was going to do while I was gone and his eyes seriously lit up.

"It's going to be an Olympics smorgasbord," he smiled.

"You could pretend to be a little less excited that I'm leaving," I told him.

"I could," he agreed.

In other news, I am going to see if I can get Emma to sit in a baking dish. More to come on that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You know you're boring when...

You know you're boring when the most exciting thing ever is an episode of Heroes on DVD. And then it ends and it's almost nine and the following conversation takes place.

Rob: Go get another one.

Me: At Blockbuster? It's almost nine.

Rob: Go.

Me: No. You go.

Rob: Ok, I'll go, but only if you clean everything up [from dinner]

Me: Deal.

Rob: That includes the cat vomit in the bedroom.

Me: There's cat vomit in the be...never mind. Just go. We're running out of time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

As if stabbing him repeatedly wasn't enough

I went out for drinks with friends tonight and in the midst of catching up on new apartments, new jobs, and other major change, Hannah felt the need to bring up this story. And I couldn't help it, I also had to share.

I know, I'm sorry.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All in the family

We had a serious family weekend here in NYC, including Rob's sister, her husband, their two kids, and 3 other families that they were traveling with. On Thursday night, when Rob was conveniently on a "business trip" to California, I met up with the whole gang for dinner. I had, in what I thought was hyperbole, told a friend I was having dinner that night with 15 people. It was, in fact, 20. And that is no exaggeration. There were 11 adults and 9 children. I honestly didn't know there were places in New York that could fit that kind of crowd. But there are and, in case you're curious, they're all in Times Square. Where relaxation goes to die.

Rob returned on Friday and after a smaller dinner (a mere 7 people), we brought his niece and nephew (ages 14 and 13) back to our place for a sleepover. They were both falling asleep around 12:15am during an episode of Heroes, but as soon as I turned the TV off and sent them to bed, they somehow discovered their second (or fifteenth?) winds and for the next half hour we listened to their hysterical giggles, screeches of "Jade just sharted!" and calls for "Uncle Robbie" to come and mediate their disputes.

Jade and Grant are unusually tall kids. At 14, Jade is 5'11". Grant is 6 feet. I so love to take pictures with them. Jade says they look like monsters next to me, but I think they are tall and beautiful and I am just the undersized human hovering near their armpits.

The funny thing about their height, though, is that it makes people treat them as though they are much older than they are. Jade got a caricature drawn of her on the street while she was here and the guy drew her in a small, tight, short black dress with huge boobs and her hand on her ass. The kid wears braces. Hello. Get her hand off her ass and put a t-shirt on her (which, incidentally, is what she was actually wearing.)

Today at lunch Jade asked why New York is called the Big Apple. Rob said he thought it had something to do with a brothel run by a woman named Eve. The kids both looked kind of confused, so I asked it they knew what a brothel was.

"Um, like a fight?" Jade asked.

"I think it's a meeting," said Grant.

Their dad turned to Rob. "Go ahead, Uncle Robbie. Explain this one."

Rob fumbled around, describing what a Madame did, before finally using the word "whorehouse." It was a bonding moment, I think.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your face?

As someone who switches between makeup brands, hair products, face cleaners, and lotions depending on my mood and what store is closest, I was very happy to learn about Environmental Working Group's SKIN DEEP Cosmetic Safety Database. It measures tons of different products/brands based on the level of toxicity, 0 being the least toxic and 10 being cancer in a bottle. And let me just say, the products I normally use were not that close to the 0 mark.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Later, the box caved in

I don't even really know what this is that Emma is sitting on. I think it might be bike-oriented.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Does anyone have a cough drop?

I've been sick for a week. Not sick enough to skip work, or to sleep all day on the weekend, but sick enough that I can't remember what it feels like to not have a cough.

It started with a sore throat and now it just feels like golf ball-sized chunks of concrete are stuck in my lungs and every so often they release pieces of dust that float up my throat and make me hack in a way that causes others to look around thinking "Someone help that old man. He is clearly dying."

And instead of staying in and concentrating on breathing normally, I drove up to Cooperstown, New York, home to The Baseball Hall of Fame, to watch Rob's nephew play in a Little League tournament. We saw a home run derby, one game, and the Hall of Fame itself before heading back to the city. We also played a rousing game of Spoons with 11 people and that alone probably extended my recovery time by several days. I am not exaggerating when I say that people ended up in piles on the floor on top of each other, on the table (Rob's 6'5" brother in law), missing skin, and bleeding. Spoons. A family game. We laughed until we cried. It did not help my cough.

On the way home yesterday, I finally just succumbed to it and coughed for about 2 hours straight. I draped myself over the passenger seat, facing the back of the car and asked Rob to hit me on the back just to try to dislodge one of the concrete chunks. It didn't work, but I think it might have been entertaining for the people driving by.

At one point I announced that I felt like I had that disease, you know that one, where you cough up loads of junk and people have to help you by pounding on your back and basically it's awful and it's extra awful that I was actually comparing my cough to that disease.

"Oh, I know what you're talking about," said Rob. "Boomer Esiason's son had that."

And then I stopped coughing for a minute while we tried to remember what it was called. And when that failed, we busted out the IPhone and I Googled "Boomer Esiason son" and the Wikipedia page told me that the disease I was thinking of is a really terrible one and it's called Cystic Fibrosis.

And I know--I know--I'm going to hell for making that particular comparison, but isn't technology impressive?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joe's Card Game

First person to adapt this into a drinking game wins a prize.

Take a normal deck of cards for two to four players. Take turns
picking cards and try to place in front of you a run of cards from 1 -
1. On a given turn, you can only put down a card if it is one of the
three lowest you still need. So, on your first turn, you would only
be able to keep an ace, 2, or 3.
2. Cards you can't use are put in a discard pile.
3. If you pick a jack, you keep it, and on subsequent turns you may
keep a card if it is one of the FOUR lowest you need.
4. If you pick a queen, you may remove an opponent's jack.
5. If you pick a king, you may remove one of an opponent's cards.
6. Queens and kings cannot be saved, but must be used immediately.
7. After going through the deck, shuffle the discard pile and continue.
8. Winner is the first to complete a run of 1 - 10.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There is no need to not have answers

Rob is watching the Tour de France. Again. This particular sporting event has graced our television every night for the past 17 days. It's funny how 17 days can seem so much like 37 years. Seriously, how long is this race? I feel like I will slowly grow old while emaciated men in spandex climb up mountains and occasionally get ejected for drug use. The scenery is nice.

Anyway, I got home from an author event tonight and sat on the couch next to Rob, who was paying rapt attention to the Tour and eating Thai chicken puffs, which are basically fried balls of curried meat.

He cleared his throat and I glanced over at him.

"Not that you care," he began, "but this is the hardest day of the Tour de France since World War II."

"They had the Tour de France during World War II?" This I would find interesting.

"No," he said. "I don't know...I'm just's a really hard day."

I made an impressed face and then looked up the Tour on Wikipedia (Source of All Truths). It turns out that since 1903 there have been 94 completed Tours de France. In 1939 Spain, Italy and Germany bowed out of the race due to the political unrest in Europe. The whole Tour was then canceled from 1940-1946, beginning once again in 1947.

"Eat your chicken puff," said Rob.

Monday, July 21, 2008

So many beds, so little sleep

I had a better post planned for today. But that was before I got 3 hours of actual sleep all weekend and I am now just trying to calmly make it through the day, hyped up on caffeine and office urgency. What I’d really like to do is crawl around on the floor and toss things at other things.

Rob and I went to the Hamptons on Friday to see our friends and their beautiful new house. It sleeps something like 135, so that’s how many people they invited. It was a great crowd and we grilled, hung out by the pool, drank lots of wine and played card games. The catch was, we had to share a room. With a snorer. And at 4am on Saturday night, after at least 2 hours of trying to get my pillow all the way into my ears, I decided I could handle it no longer. So I slept in the car. I would have passed out on a couch somewhere, but half the house was still awake and drinking and I was at the point of panic—how will I ever make it through the beginning of the week if I start out with this kind of sleep deficit?

And though I was glad I had the option of car camping, I’m not going to pretend it was overly comfortable. At 9am, after waking up every hour to adjust, I went out to the backyard and passed out on a lawn chair until people started coming out to stare at me. At that point I breezed into the kitchen and got some coffee, like it was totally normal to be passed out and covered in dew when everyone else was getting out of their real beds.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Things My People are Up To

A heavy metal monk in Italy has released his second album.

Did you get that part about him being a monk? Who rocks heavy metal? And has two albums?

Also, he may be Santa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hair of the Ass that Bit You

I overdosed on the election sometime this Spring. I remember it happening: I got less and less interested in the primaries, stopped talking heatedly about the media coverage, lost my luster for mocking Mike Huckabee…I was over it. And I still feel a slight hangover from all of the hoopla. However, I think I might be getting back into it. Slowly.

So when I learned about a Chicago-based website that aggregates all the day’s political news, I had to check it out. It's a pretty cool site; you can get a quick sense of what's going on and then read more of what interests you.

It’s like going from teetotaling straight to a shot contest.