Monday, October 27, 2008

in your face, Brooklyn cobbler!

As you may recall, I had a really annoying experience with a neighborhood cobbler last fall. The end result was that I was without my favorite shoes aka the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. And to add disappointment to distress, Aerosoles, the makers of said shoes, discontinued the shoe, so that was that. Until now! A friend of mine who also owned and loved the same shoes has discovered that Aerosoles has brought the shoe back, albeit with an unfortunate name. But who cares? It's not like I walk around saying, "Hey, what do you think of my Squish N Chips?" And yes, they really are now calling it the Squish N Chips. Whatever! I just bought them in black and later I will buy them in brown, to replace both pairs of my beloved Squish N Chips. Say it again. Squish N Chips! Whatchoosay? Squish N Chips!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

For all my friends having munchkins

Please, please, please consider these for Halloween costumes:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

who has a birthday coming up?

Cause this is what you're getting:

Friday, September 12, 2008

a very New York-y week

This week I had two wonderful experiences-the sort that remind me why I spend so much money to live here.

On Tuesday night Jamie and I got tickets to see Elvis Costello at the Apollo Theatre. My friend Patrick won them on Myspace and put them in our name since he lives in Florida- thanks Patrick! It was not a concert, but a television show taping. Elvis has a new program called Spectacle with Elvis Costello that can be described as a mix between Austin City Limits and Inside the Actor's Studio for musicians. A bit like Jules Holland. All shows are taped at the Apollo and consist of interviews and perfomances and a group performance at the end. The taping we went to was She & Him, Jenny Lewis and Jakob Dylan.  I like the She & Him album and thought they were fine on the show, albeit a little blah. Elvis obviously had a lot of respect for Jenny Lewis and her songwriting. I thought she was the strong point, musically, of the guests. I'm still not sure how I feel about her. Sometimes I really like her, but sometimes she seems as much like an actress as a singer---a little too camera-ready and stagey for my taste.  But she sounded really good and held her own. Jakob Dylan was doing music from his new solo album and it was alright too. Not really my taste, but certainly not bad. You could tell that he and Elvis had known each other for a long time because they had a very easy rapport and seemed to enjoy each other's company a lot.  The best parts of the interviews were the random asides and stories that Elvis told. And I loved that he still has Pete Thomas drumming with him with the added bonus of Pete's daughter Tennessee, who is also a drummer. Something so great about the father-daughter drumming duo. 

The highlight of the night was definitely when everyone came out together at the end and performed with Elvis on Peace, Love & Understanding. I got completely choked up like the hippy that I am at heart. Maybe that should be Obama's campaign song. 

On Wednesday afternoon I went to a cooking demo at my alma mater, FCI. It was a pastry demo by Jacques Pepin and I was in heaven. I love Jacques Pepin and when I was in culinary school there, he was always accessible and ready to dispense advice and information. I was en route to the school library one day to do research on a sugar project and I ran into him in the hall (he is a dean at the school). He struck up a conversation, asked a few questions about my project and ended coming to the library with me! He led me to multiple books and sat down at the table with me, sharing knowledge and making suggestions. It was amazing for me, to say the least.  And in recent years, Jamie and I love to watch his show on PBS, Fast Food My Way. Also, they've been showing his old show from the 80's lately, which is the best. Fast Food is recipe based, but his old program, The Complete Pepin, which focuses on technique. 

The demo was great because he is so personable and talented. My friend Kat and I were in the second row (although there is no bad seat in the "stadium") and had a great view of everything. He interacts with everyone the entire, encouraging questions, telling stories. I plan on going to his future demos (and am not quite sure why I haven't been doing more of this since I left school) since I really want to see him do savory. After the demo, I apporached him to have him sign my 2 cookbooks of his and he looked at me and said "You look familiar." Gaa!  No way he reconized me, but I told him how we had met and interacted all those years ago and he said "That must be it." All and all, a great week.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

do you need help little man?

I never saw when this was originally on Scare Tactics, but I've watched the clip from it numerous times. It's pee my pants funny, I swear. The gist of it is that they took a very sweet PETA guy who was working for a temp agency and had him go to a lab where they do animal research. The most mean spirited and hilarious stuff follows:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

the construction site in my mouth

This morning I went in for my root canal and it didn't quite go as planned. The other root canal I had to have 2 years ago involved only one root and took about 30 minutes tops. That was certainly not the case today. After the dentist got my mouth numbed, he began what ended up being an hour and half long process. I now know why this whole mess began though. Turns out there is a crack in my tooth! He said it could have happened from something as simple as popcorn, but that however it began, it is what caused the infection. It is also why I ended up having to have 3 root canals today, instead of one. Unfortunately, because of the crack they may not be able to do the post and crown that I have scheduled for next week. He said it's a 50/50 chance that they will be able to do it and preserve the tooth. There is a chance that if they can drill around the tooth to prepare it for the crown and the tooth doesn't simply fall apart at the crack line, then the crown may serve the function of holding the tooth together. If they cannot do it, I will have to have the tooth extracted and have a 3 tooth bridge put in. Which will cost 1500 hundred bucks. *ggrrr* Why can't it ever be easy?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

i was an anti-dentite

My ongoing dental saga continues, but finally with positive results. My sinus infection that just kept giving, eventually pushing onto the nerve of my tooth, seems to have been squashed, or so I hope. But it left in its wake a tooth that now needs to have a root canal, a post and a crown. *sigh*

I have no desire to return to the Russian sadist in Bensonhurst, as much for inconvenience as sadism. The last dental office I went to wasn't even a real dentist's office. Not to say that it was a converted Mr. Softee truck, but it was actually more of a clinic. You could only see the dentist one day a week and you couldn't make an appointment, you just had to show up and take your chances. And they were recommended to me by my insurance. Thanks Aetna! I've been calling many different dentists trying to find someone, to no avail. The responses I was getting ranged from "We no longer accept Aetna." to "We no longer accept any insurance." to "We accept insurance, but are not seeing new patients." Eventually my friend suggested I call 1-800-DENTIST and lo! I got an appointment with a convenient dentist that has a lab on site, so I don't have to fuss too much with the whole post and crown issue.

I had my first appointment today with the full mouth x-rays, figuring it all out, etc. Yes, everything can be done in their office in a short, reasonable timespan. But the best part is the cost. I had to pay almost $1,900 out of pocket when I had the same procedure done with the Russian sadist 2 years ago. This whole thing is going to cost me $925 bucks total. Um, yeah. That's a huge difference! I just can't believe the way dental care and procedures can vary from office to office. But I remember one of the things I hated about the Russian sadist was the way she was always trying to upsell me with whitening systems and whatnot while I was trapped with her hand in my mouth.

I don't remember having such difficulties finding a good dentist in Ohio. All dentist's offices were kind of similar there: clean, quiet, sterile. I just haven't found that to be true here. I remember when the Williamsburg Savings Bank building was loaded with dentists, before it was sold for condos. I tried to get in to 2 of those dentists a few years ago and neither accepted insurance. Is this a trend?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

hey, it exists!

Of course it does. I had once mentioned to Jamie that I wish there was a website where I can plot my various walks to see exactly how much I walk at a particular time, without wearing a pedometer. I then promptly forgot about this wish until tonight. But I just remembered it and found exactly what I am looking for on Prevention Magazine's website.

Last year my mother-in-law and I did a virtual walking challenge thing where we wore a pedometer for 6 or 8 weeks and walked a "virtual" route around the US. It was a really lame fitness challenge though because I wanted it to show me actual sights and things along my chosen route, which was the Gulf of Mexico. Instead I would enter my daily steps walked and a dotted line would travel across a map. Lame. And anyway, living in NYC and working in a bookstore, I average 16,000-18,000 steps per day and I finished my entire route in less than 4 weeks. But now I have a pedometer for when and if I absolutely must know how far I'm walking. And according to Prevention's website, today I walked just under 6 miles, not including Arlo's morning walk and all of the random walking around the house.

And speaking of Arlo, I just picked him up from the groomer and he's sporting a dashing new summer haircut. But of course, on the walk home he had to go and spoil the look. At the first intersection he decided to sit his white, white butt on the filthy sidewalk and scoot along. So now he's nice and white with a nasty, gray butt. Ruiner.

good things today, despite the heat

I got my new driver's license in the mail today and finally (!) I have a license picture that I am not ashamed of, even happy to have! When I went many years ago to get my DL, I wasn't looking too good that day and the woman behind the camera was frustrating me beyond belief. I wear my glasses all the time and she insisted that I remove them for the photo. I protested, she got pissed off and insisted again that I remove my glasses. The person at the camera directly next to me was having his photo taken with his glasses on and when I pointed this out, it just pissed her off even more and she threatened to make me leave. So my previous DL picture was one of sarcastic surprise, sans spectacles.

This time around, my hair looked cute, I wore lipstick and the woman didn't hassle me about my glasses. And it's a good picture. Yay!

I've had 2 days off, in fairly good health, giving me an opportunity to get a lot of things done that have been languishing on my "For Christ's Sake, Kaci, Just Fucking Get It Done Already" list.
-Lug large quanity of coins to bank
-Take Arlo to the groomer, which helps solve....
-Removing disgusting amounts of animal hair everywhere
-Clean out fridge
-Listen to records
-Color hair a more shocking shade of red (why not?!)

Along the listening to records line: I have a friend who has a tendency to come home late at night after a few cocktails and listen to a particular album, song or artist over and over and over again. That's basically what I've been doing the past 2 days, minus the cocktails. I've listened to Cat Stevens' Firecat and the Teaser at least 15 times. Right now I'm listening to Xanadu (just once, but it had to be done while Jamie's at might be a deal breaker) and I'm going into a repeat performance of Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights.

And going in to the holiday weekend, Jamie and I both have to work on the 4th proper, but I will be off early enough to head to Jersey City for my friend's barbecue. Saturday night we will be going to see our friend John's band play and if you've never been , the M Shanghai String Band is one of the best live bands I've ever seen. They play the first Saturday of each month at M Shanghai restaurant in Williamsburg, in an wonderful intimate basement space. John is one of the 2 banjo players, joining guitar, mandolin, stand up bass, saw, 2 fiddles, harmonica and multi-part harmonies. It's a foot-stomping good time and you should definitely check them out sometime. The first time I went to see them play they had a guy playing with them on the mandolin and after the show John introduced us to each other. His name was Tommy, he was older, very nice and great on the mandolin. Nice to meet you Tommy. The next day John emailed me and all it said was "You have no idea who you met, do you?" Um, nope. Turns out Tommy is Tommy Ramone. Dar! So yeah. And the bass player is Rose Thomson from Babe the Blue Ox, who was one of my favorite bands in my early 20's. Oh, and M Shanghai the restaurant has incredibly delicious food upstairs, so check it out!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

for my birthday I got....

another painful sinus infection and a trip to the DMV!! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world!

I could have renewed my driver's license my mail, but then I'd be stuck with that horrible picture for 8 more years and I couldn't have that. And I could continue to ignore the stabbing pain that doesn't allow me to rest at night for more than 4 hours at a stretch, but then I'd run the risk of infecting my brain, gifting my husband with an invalid wife who has lost all her sass. Couldn't have that either. So, I'm off to the doctor for loads of antibiotics to kill all of the bad and good that lives within my body. On the plus side, my boss is bringing me some probiotic cheese and milk tomorrow to help balance the icky.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

311 is (hopefully not) a joke

There are a fair number of dogs that live on my block and all of the owners are responsible, until now. There is a building at the end of our block that often has people hanging out on the stoop. It's normal to see very small children hanging out there at midnight and later. Recently one of the tenants got a pit bull and named her Barbara. Within days of first seeing Barbara, piles of poop began appearing on the block, mostly on our side of the street, which is the same side as theirs. At first I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps they actually were cleaning up after the dog and the poop was the result of someone from some other block. But no, this is not the case at all. Some days there will be poop strewn half way down the block.

I'm not really sure what to do. One of our neighbors put up a 'curb your dog' sign, but it doesn't make a difference, obviously. So I decided to call 311 and see what can be done. I'm a big fan of 311 and the woman I dealt with this time was very helpful. She explained that the Department of Sanitation handles the pooper scooper laws and she would file a complaint for me. She needed to know where it happens and when it happens. Um, when? All the time! Apparently when these complaints are filed, they send a DoS person out to try to catch the culprit. Really? So I told her between 4-6pm because that particular day it happened in front of my house in that time frame. But seriously, how is a DoS rep supposed to catch someone not picking up their dog's poop? What if someone on our block caught them and took a picture? She wasn't sure if it would fly, but they can find out for me.

Jamie suggested we gather up all of the vile poop (maybe we could combine it with all of Arlo's) and leave it on their stoop. I actually think this is the way to go. Maybe if my other dog owning neighbors covertly did the same thing, we could prove a point. If I could just actually catch it happening I would say something, but until then, they're probably going to be greeted with a porch full of poop.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

now that's how to spend a day

I had to go down to my old neighborhood, Dyker Heights (Dykah) today to pick up Arlo's thyroid medicine. Usually when we head down there to go to the vet's office, we hit a few of our favorite food stops. I usually pick up lard bread at Mona Lisa Bakery on 13th Avenue (they also have an amazing gelato shop on 86th Street) and fresh mozzarella on 15th Avenue.

Today I took the train down to 86th Street to stop in to the Bay Ridge Century 21. I'm in serious need of tennis shoes and bras and they always have the best, most affordable selection. My bra situation has been pretty dire lately. I've been buying simple bras at Target, which really has served me well until lately. For reasons that I can't understand, it's as if my ever powerful nipples have begun to devour my bra cups, from the center out. As a result, my bras have become worn through where it most counts and I'm left feeling rather vulnerable. I know I could go to one of the many great "ladies support" shops in NYC and find an amazing bra that will really do the trick, but an outlay of 80-100 bucks for a bra is neither feasible or sane on my salary. Which brings me to Century 21. They have a great selection whenever I go there and the absolute ceiling is usually around 25 bucks a bra, though most are much less. I found a great pair of Adidas sneakers and 3 sturdy, but attractive bras (see, they're practical and alluring) for 65 dollars, so I'm happy.

The second part of my solo Bay Ridge ritual is an ice cream soda (or a float, as it's called in Ohio) while sitting at the counter of Hinsch's restaurant on 5th Avenue and 86th Street. They used to make a walnut ice cream that was divine, but apparently they haven't made it in over a year. So I got the coffee ice cream with chocolate syrup and seltzer. Perfect and simple.

Then I hopped on the bus to head over to 13th Avenue, where the vet's office is. The past few times I've been down there I've been stopping in a bakery called Goldstar, instead of Mona Lisa. The cookie selection is bigger and the service is nicer. Mona Lisa definitely wins for breads, but for cookies, I prefer Goldstar. Today I picked up almond crescents, vanilla crescents and fresh iced lemon drops (my favorite!). I stuck them in my bag, stopped in to pick up the doggy medicine and headed down to 15th Avenue for the mozzarella.

There are 2 main places on 15th Avenue between 78th and 79th. Laticini's and Papa Pasquale's. Laticini's has a meat store and sandwich shop and Papa's is a little more bare bones, with the focus just on pasta and cheese. I'm not sure who makes Papa Pasquale's mozzarella, but I tend to buy from them more often, simply because the old guy who works the counter always calls me dear, without being creepy or condescending. But Papa's is definitely the place to buy fresh pasta, particularly ravioli. I've had the pumpkin, lobster, 5 cheese and the asparagus with smoked mozzarella, all delicious. Today I just picked up a simple 3 cheese mini ravioli and some fresh mozzarella. I then got to thinking that it might be a good idea to compare the mozzarellas from Papa's and Laticini's, so I went to the latter and picked up a small ball of their fresh cheese. When Jamie gets home tonight we'll do a taste test. My train stop used to be the D train at 79th Street and 17th Avenue, so I passed these places every day. Not living in the neighborhood anymore is no excuse to not come down here to pick up such delicious local food.

I then wandered over to my old train stop to discover that there was no Manhattan bound service at all, so I had to take Coney Island bound service and transfer at Stillwell. Obviously the universe was telling me to go ride the Cyclone. After all, it is almost my birthday and I used to go ride the Cyclone solo for my birthday every year. Coincidentally, I share my birthday with the Cyclone. To Coney. So I get to Coney and I remembered that they had raised the price of a ride, but I was pretty sure I had like 7 bucks on me, so it wouldn't be a problem. But when I get there, it costs 8 dollars to ride. Oh no! I started rummaging in my bag for loose change, eventually finding a dollar's worth of coins. Whheeeee! I get myself right up front (not hard to do on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-June) and laugh my head off, as it should be.

All is well in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

exhausted, satisfied

Wow. It has been such a busy 3 weeks, I don't even know where to begin. The X/Detroit Cobras show was amazing, but really deserves its own post, mostly because of the disturbing antics of Billy Zoom. More later.

The Outer Banks were beautiful and truly relaxing. Same group we've gone down with before, only a bit smaller and with 4 children in tow. Since we all had our own bedrooms, bathrooms and decks, I never felt anything less than at home. The weather was gorgeous, my sunburn true to form (tops of feet, tops of boobs).

I made a short trip to South Carolina to visit with my dad and step-mother. The weather there was not so forgiving. Hot, humid, miserable. Similar to what we've been dealing with here in NYC, only nicer. That's a pathetic statement. When central SC has nicer summertime weather than wherever you happen to be, there is something very wrong with your choice of location.

So I came back from SC and went back to work at the bookstore. On the Upper East Side. Of hell. I thought some time away would make that neighborhood and that store more palatable, but no such luck. Catered a wedding in Prospect Park, in the non air conditioned picnic house on Saturday. Got so nauseous from the heat and the milk in my iced coffee that I almost threw up. Huzzah!

Which brings me to now. I just got back from Bobolink Dairy in Vernon, NJ. Jamie had met one of the owners at an event at Solar 1 and he had heard that they were looking for someone to sell cheese at the greenmarkets at Lincoln Center and Union Square three days a week. I called and spoke with Nina, the owner and arranged to come out there. She called my references, etc, etc and after meeting, she offered me the position. I am really excited about it because there was such a comfortable and familiar vibe out at the farm and in her house. I've never seen a person/family stretched in so many different directions and still managing to create a wholesome, delicious product, treat people, animals and the environment so humanely and raise her children with complete patience, humor and love. The people living and working at the farm were a real pleasure to be around also. The hope is to eventually be able to spend one day a week at the farm, learning more about raising the animals and making the cheese. We (my friend Kat graciously ditched work for the afternoon and drove me out there. Thanks Kat!) were given a mini tour of the pastures, the cheesehouse, the bakeyard, one of the cheese caves and the main house. They also raise pigs and meat cows and chickens and there were some new baby heritage breed chickens that we fell in love with. At one point we were walking down a quiet pasture adjacent lane when we stumbled upon and startled a groundhog, causing it to literally shriek at us. I had no idea a groundhog could make the noise this one made. And then a minute later we finally found the shady spot where the small herd of 7 pigs were lounging. They immediately started grunting when they saw us and then, after we had walked a good distance ahead, they flat out ran after us. Apparently they hoped we had a bucket of whey. Sorry pigs.

I'll be at Lincoln Center on Thursdays and Saturdays and Union Square on Fridays. Stop by and buy some of the most delicious cheese you'll ever taste! Hurray! Back with food but in a totally new and different way.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

another day in paradise

I seriously need to get the hell out of Dodge. I'm waiting for Jamie to get home with the rental car so we can hit the road and I took Arlo out for a spin around the block. As we were walking down the street and he's meandering along, sniffing for sidewalk snacks, a livery car driver chucks a cup of coffee out of his car window. I shout "Nice! Thanks a lot!" and pick up the cup and chuck it back at his car. In my fantasy it sails back in his open driver's side window, dousing him in old coffee. In reality, it hit the closed back door window and bounced off. But it did alert him to my action enough for him to shout "Stupid fucking cunt!".

Whatever. In a few short hours I'll be listening to the sweet, sweet sounds of John, Exene, Billy and DJ.

Monday, May 19, 2008

i need a vacation from the vacation i'm planning

We've both been really busy lately and I haven't really had much time to buy things/do things/sleep. I had to go after work today to Target to pick up sunblock, toothpaste, etc and as much as I didn't want to, I knew I needed to look for a bathing suit. I've had the same suit for about 6 or 7 years and I like it, but it doesn't fit very well anymore (define fit? it's not supposed to look like a two piece, but it does). This is my own fault, as I've gained quite a bit of weight in recent years. *sigh* I'm working on it, but goddammit I love food. Anyway.

I've been feeling kind of blue lately, kind of like things just aren't really going my way. And I'm not entirely sure that this vacation will do the trick, although I'm willing to give it a try. To add to the blue, I knew I was going to have to take my fat butt somewhere to get a swimsuit and I've been dreading it like a freaking Cathy cartoon come to life. Not willing to spend a lot of money on something that I will not be wearing for more than a season (I swear), Target and Old Navy were my best options. Target ended up having some good choices, but as usual, they were horribly picked over. I ended up finding 2 separates that don't really go together, but I guess I like them both alright. Whatever. I'm just glad that's over with. Ack indeed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

yet another only in new york thing

Our apartment is exactly one block away in both directions from two 4th Avenue funeral homes. It took me a while when I first moved to NYC to get used to having to walk through funerals/wakes while I was coming home from work, the store or walking the dog. I always just try to walk quickly, keep my head down and not let the dog dawdle. Tonight Jamie and I were walking with the dog to the grocery and had to walk past one of the funeral homes (which incidentally has a placard out front with the name of the funeral director, which is Doris V. Amen). Apparently we got there just as what I can only assume were friends of the deceased were trying to haul a loaded casket onto a gurney out on the sidewalk. Four years I've lived here and I've never actually seen the comings and goings of the bodies--the funeral homes are exceptionally discrete. This however was not the doing of the funeral home; these folks were in casual wake-style clothes and seemed to be cracking up. At one point we heard one of them say "I don't think it's (the casket) going to fall off, but it's definitely not stable."

I apparently froze in my tracks, at which point Jamie prodded me on. Our comments to each other:

Jamie: I can't believe your first instinct was to turn around and run away.
Me: It's bad luck just seeing that kind of thing.

Anyone remember what movie that's from?

the elevator rat

Yesterday I finally saw something hilarious and noteworthy at work. And let me say, it's about damn time. That part of town positively stinks of humorlessness.

Here's the set up: My new store has an elevator. The elevator is to shuttle customers with strollers to the second floor cafe and take employees to the basement receiving area and break room. It's only 2 floors plus a basement. Yesterday, during yet another nasty day long rainstorm, my co-worker Terri, a very likable and straightforward woman, took the elevator from the basement to the first floor. When the elevator door opened and she went to step off onto the first floor an enormous New York City street rat got on the elevator as she was getting off. The elevator door closed behind her, with the rat still inside, and headed up to the second floor cafe. At this point Terri bolted up the escalator to beat the thankfully slow elevator. The last thing anyone wanted was to have the elevator doors open into the cafe and have a giant rat stroll out.

She managed to beat the elevator and immediately pressed the down button to send the elevator to the basement receiving area. I was in the basement with a maintenance guy and one other person when the speaker phone starts screaming "The elevator's coming down with a gigantic rat on it! DO NOT let the elevator come back upstairs!" Um, sure. With little time to plan an attack, Tony the maintenance guy grabbed the only things he could find- a handheld shopping basket and a metal shelf. He turned the basket onto its side in hopes of trapping the rat (because of course it's going to run into the basket, not around it) and I suppose the shelf was for shooing or bashing. The three of us waited outside of the elevator for the doors to open and when they did we saw what was indeed a gigantic, rain soaked and frankly confused looking rat standing there. Tony panicked and whacked the rat with the shelf, at which point it bounced and fell right down into the gap, down the elevator shaft.

Anyone who knows me knows I have loved rats before and will probably welcome them into my home again someday. This however was exceptionally funny. It was like something out of a freaking movie! It actually reminded me of when pigeons accidentally make their way onto a subway car, momentarily bonding the people in that car as they scurry away from the pigeon to avoid being shat upon. And speaking of being shat upon, the elevator rat managed to leave a parting gift of a couple of proportionately gigantic turds in the corner of the elevator.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

oh dear

I did not need to know what a good, trashy time Gossip Girl is.

Friday, May 09, 2008

how will I ever sleep between now and then??!!

It isn't very often that I want to go to a concert these days. It seems like even when I'm seeing someone I really like, I'm not enjoying myself the way I used to. I loved all Guided by Voices shows, right up to the very end, but with that exception, there always seems to be something a bit disappointing. Neko Case has an incredible voice live, but her shows seem to be lacking in a certain energy and it makes them feel a little sloggy. The last time I saw the Shins I really enjoyed it, but I suspect that was also because of the healthy amount of heckling that Chris Larry was throwing toward the stage. It could also be that my musical tastes have morphed into something a little less indie, but these acts continue to play indie venues. It's pretty boring to stand there at a Laura Cantrell show when the first 2 rows of fans have decided to sit on the floor of the Bowery Ballroom.

However, I recently learned that my favorite band from high school, X, and my favorite band of late, the Detroit Cobras are playing together at the end of the month. It took me a solid 10 minutes to wrap my brain around that nugget of info and pull myself together enough to figure out how the hell I'm going to go to that show, since it happens to take place when I'm supposed to be in the Outer Banks. I mean, really, I probably want to go to a concert once a year, I mean really, really want to go. And what's the thing that I do even less frequently than go to concerts? Go on vacation. So our first scheduled vacation that does not involve family obligations or ill relatives or friends' weddings in three years and it's when X is playing (with the original line-up----Billy Zoom!!!)!?!?! WTF?

My brain was working overtime on the train last night as I was trying to come up with a solution. Why must the Outer Banks be so damn inaccessible? Why am I 35 and just now getting the chance to see the original line-up of the world's greatest band? I happened to have a couple of Detroit Cobras albums on my ipod and I kept getting caught up in Hey Sailor and Midnight Blues and my mind just got to the point where it was not thinking clearly at all ie, I can rent a car and drive myself to the Outer Banks after the show (totally disregarding the fact that I hate to drive and am terrible with directions and am pretty sure I don't have a money tree growing in my living room). But somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that Jamie would come up with some solution. He's a problem solver, that one. Unlike me, the problem creator.

When I got home and presented this new wrench in our vacation plans, I could see his wheels turning. You see, he understands how rare it is for me desperately want to go to a show. Or even to kind of want to go to a show. A little while after I had begun to lose hope, he points out that the NY show is sold out, but that they are playing on that Thursday in Philly, which is not sold out. What's wrong with Philadelphians? Who cares!!!! We're going to the Philly show!!!! We're heading down that direction anyway on Friday to go to NC, so we'll just leave a day early and spend one night in Philly. Hurray! I'm so excited. I hope we get to have dinner at Monk's--their Monk's Flemish Sour Ale is divine!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

from the debris pile

When my coworker and I were the only ones left at our old store, just overseeing the demo crew, we found a little notebook in one of the piles of crap. In a stroke of luck, it was the notebook of the psuedo-priest that I've written of previously and it's from 1997. It's basically a daily log of the goings-on in the store and with the staff that he was then supervising. Some excerpts:

July 1, 1997
Summary of Evening
With only myself, Leigh and Jeff the night was a disaster. As per info, double and triple shifts of art customer service, as every zone was short of staff. Resort was constant and most difficult to keep up with. While attempting to maintain calm, everyone was indeed highly stressed. Leigh, myself and Jeff were constantly attempting to keep up and shelve resort in as much as was humanly possible.
p.s. Hourly checks were done but for the most part was fruitless under these extreme conditions.
[Um, keep in mind, this was a BOOKSTORE]

July 6, 1997
It appears that Candace is making a good attempt to curtail her talking and playfulness. She also explained that due to medication withdrawal she has been experiencing periods of nervous energy.

July 8, 1997
Perhaps I should give a staff seminar dealing with stress reduction, handling personality problems, good interpersonal relations and work ethics. Yes-good idea!

Wow. Nice find.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

terrifying potential new development

Last night my boss called me and asked, "What do you think of kids?" Unfortunately, he wasn't speaking in a hypothetical way. There is serious talk of putting me in the kids department. On one hand, I know I would likely learn a lot, since it is the number one kids department in the country. However I fear the price would be my sanity and/or my desire to be a mother. The staff in that department is extremely knowledgeable about kids' books, but their primary skill (aside from being barely glorified child wranglers) is an ability to say the right things in the right way to high strung parents. "Is little Taylor reading at level?" instead of "Is little Taylor a dullard?" Pray for me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

next year's christmas card?

This was taken at a wedding in Colorado two summers ago and, as you can see, it was a magical time. We couldn't have better planned the picture that has since been dubbed, The Retard Orchestra Conductor. Thanks Neal.

Monday, April 28, 2008

new store, new weirdness

I started at my new store uptown today. I think it's going to take quite a while to feel comfortable there. In all there were maybe 4 or 5 people who were friendly and helpful. A few were cordial, but kept their distance. And there were about 4 or 5 who were overtly hostile, aka, "Hi, I'm Clockwatcher. Nice to meet you." " I know who you are." So, yeah. They all know that there are big changes in the works and like many people, they are very resistant to change. They also know that I was a manager that now has no home and I'm waiting to be moved back into my position. This is going to be a long month or two.

On the plus side, I'm thrilled to be back around the books. It was a drag to not know what was new and not be able to check out any book I wanted to read. One of the first things I did today was check out a new biography about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. Joni's Blue and Carole's Tapestry tend to outshine a lot of Carly's stuff, but I can never turn my back on the woman who wrote You're So Vain.

Oh, another thing about this store is it's our number one kids department in the country. As I told Jamie, it's like a toddler shitstorm is passing through at any given time. There were at least 35-50 toddlers hobbling around the kids department whenever I looked over. Every now and then one of them would escape and their negligent nanny wouldn't notice. That's when I get to go up to the slippery little sucker and say something like, "Where is your grown-up/adult/probably underpaid, but still inexcusably slacking caregiver?" *sigh*

Sunday, April 13, 2008

life imitating art

Junot Diaz recently was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. If you haven't read it yet, I'd recommend you do so as soon as you can. I read a load of books last year, but I didn't read anything quite like this. It's the story of a nerdy, obese Dominican immigrant in New York as he grows up and goes to college, while also telling the tale of his sister and his mother. The story is set both in the DR and NYC and despite being filled with horror and violence, actually comes off as a comedy. I only wish I spoke fluent Spanish because the book is littered with Dominican slang that I'm sure would be funnier if I understood more than just the proper definitions. Oscar Wao is notable for many things, but one of the more memorable traits is his colorful language. No matter how blue the language got in that book, I felt like I was so in it, that I didn't really notice, or at least, I didn't walk away from the book with that aspect being what I recall the most. But I just came across this interview with Junot Diaz from LAist and now see that Oscar Wao gets his language straight from the source.

thar she blows

So today I saw an iconic New York sight: a manhole cover that blew up. Today was my day to go in to work and do nothing and around 3 o'clock I started to smell something horrible and acrid. We have a debris container on the side of our building on 21st Street and the manhole directly next to it was smoking. Apparently there was an electrical fire underground and as I was standing there with the fire department the cover just popped straight up and barely missed a car parked nearby. It was great! Not so great was that I then was evacuated from the building and had to open the double doors in the front of the store to get the awful smell out of there. An hour and a half later, I was freezing my butt off and ready to smack someone. While standing in the doorway all that time (I had to wait for ConEd) about 50 people either tried to walk past me to go in to a demolished store or came up to me with a crestfallen look and and an inane comment/question. But not a single person asked if the employees still had jobs. That kind of irked me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I'm on an Alfred Hitchcock kick these days. One of my favorite movies is To Catch a Thief, but I realized recently that I've actually seen very few of his films. I've never seen Psycho, for pete's sake. So I've been getting them via Netflix and enjoying them immensely.

Last week I watched Notorious starring Ingrid Bergman and my favorite, Cary Grant. It is set Rio and Miami and has one of the most fantastic drunk driving scenes ever put on film. Though as much as I liked the movie, it was nothing compared to last night's feature film, Lifeboat. It moves along quietly at first, as the survivors make their way into the lifeboat, but part of the way through there's a scene where a massive storm nearly overtakes the boat and I found myself actually shouting at the television "Bail! Bail!" All in all, a great movie. Next week is Dial M For Murder, which I saw as a teenager, but want to rewatch and Vertigo. Can't wait.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy

I finally did it. I went and got a cell phone! I got one of those fancy phones with the slide out keypad so I won't have to mash the pad if I send a text message. I've been sitting here all night reading the manual and I still haven't figured out all of the features. All I know is I just checked my email. On my phone! Thanks for the sweet email Dad! Not that you'll be reading this of course, since Dads are strictly verboten from Clockwatchers. But thanks all the same. I'm giddy with progress!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Come on, really?

I am sick again or still or something. I got sick at the first of March, was sick for a little over a week, thought I was healthy for a week or so, when it then turned into a sinus infection. But not just any sinus infection; the most painful thing I've ever experienced where the maxillary sinus got infected and pressed upon the root of one of my teeth. Blindingly painful. Couldn't take the local train that ran under the river due to massive compression painful. A week's worth of antibiotics was enough to get rid of it for a while, but apparently not for good. Then last Friday I started to feel cruddy again and as of yesterday I had to go back to the doctor. My throat was so sore I could barely swallow, I was coughing, blah blah blah. This time it turns out it's a chronic sinus infection and I tested positive for strep. Awesome! I was supposed to be catering the NYC Bar Association's annual gala tonight, but the doctor very clearly said that, no, I would not be handling food tonight. So now I'm sitting here on the couch with a sore throat and some kind of weird swelling on half of my face. Maybe it's a reaction to the medication, maybe it's karma for secretly smirking at my own good health all winter.

On the plus side, my boss just called to ask me if I can work on Sunday. Work in this case being defined as showing up at 9am to let the demolition crew in and locking up when they're done at 5. He told me I can take a 3 hour lunch, go see a movie, bring my laptop, whatever I want. He also said I can take the day as overtime or take an extra day off next week. I think this will make up for the lost money from today's catering gig. Take that karma!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

city of brotherly something or other

On another, but similar note, I was talking with some of my neighbors this morning and they related a rather funny gentrification story to me. On our street, on the next block up from where we live, there is a newer condo development that opened and filled up a little over a year ago. My neighbor's house is right next door to it. The condo has 2 small patches of grass in the front that have been fairly well neglected since they were laid down. There are also two Keep Off The Grass signs which piss me off to no end. I do not like Keep Off signs no matter what, but especially in a town with so little grass. But that's another screed. Apparently my neighbor was allowing her dog to sniff around on their patch of grass. She has her own yard, but happened to be out front talking with some of the neighbors and she always has her little dog with her because the dog has neurological damage and can't even walk. So some guy in the condo opens his window and shouts "Get your fucking dog off the grass!". My normally kind, friendly neighbor shouted back up "Why don't you come down here and say that to my face! You have to come out eventually and I may not know what you look like, but I know what you smell like, and you smell like shit!". This was retold to me by the other neighbors with looks of awe on their faces for having the good fortune of having witnessed such a battle between the old and new. And of course for having seen our sweet neighbor go batty on some stupid dipshit. Good times.

new local restaurant review

For the sake of full disclosure, I am typing this while I watch Music and Lyrics for, like, the 5th time. And I am not ashamed, even if some would think perhaps I should be. And they can suck it.

Anywho, Jamie and I went to a new local restaurant Saturday night and I thought I'd report back for all of my pizza loving friends. It's called Toby's Public House and it's on 6th Avenue and 21st Street in "South Slope", aka Greenwood Heights aka our neighborhood. We've been watching the construction on the space for over a year, so it's nice to see it up and running. I've seen a lot of talk on other blogs and websites complaining about the "No Strollers" sign they have placed in the window, but personally I'm pretty okay with a place that draws that line in the sand off the bat. And anyway, the place is way too small and crowded with tables and a big bar to fit even one stroller, let alone more than one. We were pleased to get a table as soon as we went in, around 7:30 or so on a Saturday night. Every staff person we interacted with was really nice and there were 2 big tvs with the basketball games on, so my dining partner was happy.

The centerpiece of the place is the really beautiful woodfired pizza oven. The menu is not huge, but it's pretty well rounded with a couple of salads (breasole, arugula) meat or cheese plates and about 10 types of pizza. They also had a pretty good selection of beers, including the Stone IPA, which is delicious. We got the mozzarella, tomato and basil salad to start. The mozzarella just melted in my mouth, the tomatoes were sparse, but that's to be expected in March and the basil was virtually non-existent. We got the double portion which was about 5 slices of cheese, half a tomato and 4 pieces of basil for 17 dollars. Delicious? Yes. Overpriced? Yes. The pizzas are individually sized and we got the Napolitano which was anchovy, olive and caper with mozzarella and the something that neither of us can remember the name of, but it had sweet sausage and red onion. Both pizzas were very, very good, particularly the Napolitano. Jamie felt like the sausage one was a little bit skimpy on the toppings, which it kind of was. The pizzas were 14 dollars each which, while not cheap, was really not outrageous for how good they were.

We got one shared salad, 2 pizzas and 2 beers and including tip our bill was almost 75 dollars. And here's the thing, our food was good, even if the salad was a little on the smallish side, the service was great, the atmosphere was comfortable and casual. But as we were walking home Jamie said "That was good, but it didn't feel like a 75 dollar meal." And it didn't. It feels wrong to pay that much for a meal in our neighborhood, especially a meal that was spent watching a basketball game. And just because you can charge that much for a meal on 21st Street doesn't mean you have to. I did however see the meat and cheese antipasta for 2 as we were leaving and it looked so good. We both feel that if went back, the antipasta and one pizza would be the way to go, but I can't say when we'll go back. I just wish we could have restaurants and amenities without it automatically translating to overpriced places. I suppose overpriced boutiques are the next signpost on our slow march toward "development".

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Coney is open!

For those of you who enjoy the shrieking release that is a ride on the Cyclone, Astroland opened for the season today, with another year's reprieve. We had such a great day, despite the crummy weather.

We took a couple of rides on the Cyclone and enjoyed it as much as ever. There is one difference this year though. They have added new/additional padding to each seat and now most people have to ride solo instead of together. It ended up being pretty great because I could brace my feet and didn't fly around much at all. We then walked over to Tottono's and downed a large sausage pie and a small anchovy between 4 of us. A lot of food, but with the delicious thin crust, not so much that we didn't have a little room for our next stops. We also had a great celebrity sighting at tiny little Tottono's in Ira Glass from NPR's This American Life. That's my kind of nerdy celebrity sighting!

We then headed over to Brighton Beach to visit a market that my Hungarian friend has been telling me about for years and to do a little recon on a restaurant that I think I'd like to go to for my birthday this year. M & I International Foods is a large Eastern European market on Brighton Beach Avenue, in the heart of Little Odessa under the El. There are 2 different meat counters, one for fresh meats and one for cured meats. I got pork loin roast for 3 bucks a pound and we got 2 kinds of sausages. I wanted to get some blood sausage, but it's hard to justify when I know I'm the only one who's excited about it. But know if you're in the market for blood sausage, a chicken type version of haggis or any other speckled fresh or cured meats, this is your place. There were also 2 large baked goods counters. I think the difference between them was that one was more dessert type cakes and cookies and the other was breads, both sweet and savory, and breakfast pastry. I bought a cheese and apricot danish for tomorrow morning and a layered not-too-sweet pastry filled with cherries, raisins and nuts. The abundance of all things cherry was something I was particularly excited about. I love cherries and apparently so do Russians. I also bought some sour cherry syrup that is meant to be used as a cocktail mixer. We got strange capers that are kind of mangled looking and brined, but not in vinegar. I got a very large jar of pitted sour cherries in cherry juice (4 bucks!) and Jamie got pickles (of course), a bottle of some Russian beer, of which they have a large selection and some spiked lemonade stuff. In all, totally worth a trip to Brighton Beach.

We then went to the little restaurant I wanted to check out. It's called Cafe Gelchik and it's on Coney Island Avenue, just a few blocks past the market. We were pretty full already, so we just wanted to sample a couple of things. We got the mixed pickled vegetables first. The standout there was the pickled watermelon, which is addictive. We then got the pelmini Moscow style, which is little meat stuffed dumplings baked in an egg custard with a crusty cheese on top. So delicious. This was followed by the sour cherry vernicki, which is a larger dumpling, more like a true potsticker in size and shape. This was exactly what I was looking for. They also have a green borscht, schnitzel, at least 10 other kinds of dumplings, loads of sausages, etc, etc. For a drink we got their specialty, something they call compote. It's basically a fruit juice with cherry, apple and other juices with a few pieces of macerated fruit at the bottom of the glass. It was really good as far as juice goes. They don't sell booze, but it's BYO, as witnessed by the bottles of vodka on almost every table. I can't wait to go back to this place, but with a better appetite next time.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Going in to work each day has become increasingly more depressing as the days go on. The store closes on March 31st and as of now, almost 1/3 of the shelves are empty. Huge amounts of the store are on clearance and we all find ourselves having the same conversation over and over and over with people.
"Oh no, why are you guys closing?"
"What's gonna come in to this space?"
"What's going to happen to all of you?" [These are the kinder people, the ones who are concerned that we will all have jobs]
And on and on.

It just sucks because there really isn't anything to do with most of our time since we don't get shipments and have very few books. As a result, all of the employees are bonding even more than we already have over long periods of working together. Now everyone's even more bummed about not working together anymore. I'm really going to miss some of these people, but I imagine my next store will introduce to me lots of new, nice people. Unfortunately, I don't think my new store on the Upper East Side will have any regular tranny customers or nearly as many meth addicts and about this, I am sad. I love the diversity of the customers at my store and I just hope that the new store isn't as vanilla as I fear it will be.

say ahhh

I'm still sick, although I do now have my voice back. And along with my voice I've gotten a horrible spasmy cough that wakes me up at night and pleasingly colored stuff blowing out of my nose. Well, pleasing if it wasn't coming out of my nose. I'm off work today because my sweet husband has to have an endoscopy. He plays it off like this: "You can just put me in a cab and go back to work.". Um, no. They have to put him out for this and he wants me to stuff him in a cab and go back to work? Silly man. So I'm off work today and meeting him at his doctor's office. Hopefully they will be able to get to the bottom of his constant reflux problems. He did say that they told him to get a certain kind of pillow that basically will prop him up elephant man style while he sleeps. It's a shame that he has such a fondness for all things pickled. I can't help but think that vinegary goodness doesn't help. I think we're going to try to watch the screener copy of No Country for Old Men today (thanks Erik & Dani!). Nothing like paralyzing fear to put you on the road to healing!

Monday, March 03, 2008


We had a big weekend planned. Saturday was Jamie's birthday party (thanks to everyone who came!) and Sunday was Marc's curling adventure in New Jersey. By Friday night I was sick, sick, sick.At the party on Saturday I wasn't able to participate in any of the revelry, although I did put back a whole bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider. Sunday I missed curling and spent the day on the couch. And today I had planned to go to work, but my head feels terrible and strange. It feels like someone gave me a swirlie in a toilet filled with wet cement. But the best part is my voice which is totally shot. I sound like the offspring of Kathleen Turner and a honking goose. So I am couch bound for one more day. But I took advantage of the wonderful Watch It Now feature of Netflix. I just finished watching The King of Kong, which I really loved, despite my indifference to video games. But it also features Funspot, which I think is one of the greatest places on earth, due to their pinball machine selection. I'm not the only one in the family who loves Funspot. Marmoset has recently sung it's praises also.
Here are a couple of pictures that I took a few years ago when we were there. The best thing about that trip was that when we walked through the doors I didn't feel compelled to stick with anyone else, we all just were drawn to what we were drawn to and that's how it should be. The outer perimeter of the main video game room is lined with pinball machines. I nearly giggled with happiness. I played at least 20 different pinball games before I settled on the Addams Family, which was a great game. The pictures were taken on an old winding type camera, so the quality is pretty lousy, so sorry.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I don't know what brought this up, but Jamie and I saw something yesterday that reminded us of a show we used to love called Petkeeping with Mark Morron. It used to be on Saturday mornings and he was known for his Lon Gisland accent and that he had 15-20 different species crawling all over each other on his set. He had a gigantic Flemish rabbit named Harvey. One of the reasons we loved to watch his show was that he showcased animals that were not just cats and dogs, namely rats. He was a great champion of the rat. Here is an old clip of him talking about reindeer, using Harvey as his prop.

Friday, February 22, 2008

she's delicious

Ruthie, like most cats, likes to find unusual places to curl up and sleep. Today I pulled out a large, covered bowl of melted and solidified chocolate to reheat it and pitch it (it bloomed.....badly). I walked out of the kitchen for a moment and this is what I walked back in to find.

sage advice

When Jamie and I had our sham wedding that looked like a real wedding, my mom put out her Instamatic camera and a guest book for folks to sign. The following day when we were reading people's well wishes and words of wisdom, we came upon this from my grandparents.

Dear Kaci & Jamie,
Never go to bed mad. Always kiss and make up. You will feel better by morning. Never forget how much you love each other. I want a little red headed "baby" soon.
Love, Grandma [quotations hers]

Dear Jamie,
Get used to being wrong. You'll never win a fight, so unless you give in, the argument will never be over.
Love, Grandpa

At the time that we first read that, we were laughing and saddened by it all at once. My grandpa was a pretty quiet guy, but he wasn't necessarily a pushover. My grandma is a total ballbuster however and their years together post-retirement were grating and difficult at times. I stumbled upon the book yesterday as I was cleaning and was really happy to find that bit of advice from him. I don't think Jamie has taken his advice, but I'm very glad for that too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hands down, greatest news item of 2008, thus far

I couldn't stop laughing when I read this tonight. According to the Daily News he also spent $5,000 on colonic enemas. But I think the next to last line is what really seals this as my favorite article.

February 20, 2008 -- Benjamin Lovell says he kept trying to explain to Commerce Bank officials that he really didn't have $5.8 million in his account.But they kept insisting he could take the money and run - and so he did, scooping up $1 million the first day and another $1.1 million over the next four weeks.

Of the $2.1 million total, the married dad invested $1.5 million - badly - gave $36,000 to pals and spent $8,000 on gems for a girlfriend, according to the Brooklyn DA.

The bank, which bills itself as "America's most convenient," didn't turn out to be America's most forgiving. When officials learned of the multimillion-dollar blunder, they called the cops.

Lovell, who earns $600 a week as a salesman for KeySpan, was charged with first-degree grand larceny, and faces up to 25 years in the slammer if convicted.

He was ordered held in lieu of $3 million bond or $1 million cash bail at his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court last night.

Lovell, 48, of Brownsville, had an $800 account at the bank's Montague Street branch in Brooklyn Heights.

The monumental mix-up happened because another Benjamin Lovell works for a firm called Woodlawn Trustee, which has a $5.8 million account at the same branch.Last December, Woodlawn - which manages trusts - asked that its Lovell be added to the account.The bank confused the Social Security numbers of the men, giving the wrong Lovell the right to withdraw money from the $5.8 million account, authorities said.

On Dec. 14, the wrong Lovell walked into the bank to make a $400 deposit. A teller mentioned that he had a second account with $5.8 million in it.To his credit, a confused Lovell spoke to the manager and other bank officials - and he said all of them insisted there was no problem whatsoever with him withdrawing money, he said.So, prosecutor Kevin Richardson said, he withdrew $10,000 and later in the day took out another $990,000.

From Dec. 16 to Jan. 10, he allegedly withdrew a total of $1.1 million.

Woodlawn Trustee officials, meanwhile, were getting bank statements and saw the money was missing.

Cops busted Lovell Monday and he was charged with grand larceny for knowingly taking money that wasn't his.

Lovell invested much of it in loser stocks and only $500,000 was recovered.

Lovell was last in the news in 1998, when Ol' Dirty Bastard, the late rapper, helped lift a car off his daughter, Maati, after an auto accident.

A Commerce spokesman did not return a call or an e-mail seeking comment.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

counting crochet stitches

For the third time in a week, I got less than 2 hours of sleep last night. Thankfully those nights were not consecutive, so while I'm totally wiped out right now, I'm not downright stupid. [Apparently, I may be downright stupid, because as I typed that I accidentally left out the "not"] I have a lot on my mind these days and no matter how tired I am, as soon as the light goes out I'm wide awake and my mind starts racing. Last night I tried to picture crocheting and different crochet stitches in my mind because I thought maybe that would be my domesticated equivalent to counting sheep. It didn't really work. I last saw the time on the clock at 3:30am and I had to get up at 5am. Tonight will likely be easy sleeping, but who knows what I'm in store for tomorrow night. Especially since tomorrow is episode 2 of the new season of Lost! I'll probably be all wired and hopped up on island theories. Maybe I should try drinking my usual evening snack of Metamucil and Ovaltine warm instead of cold. How many people just threw up in their own mouths when they read that? Well, if you haven't tried it, you can just suck it because it's not only delicious, but it's good for you too! Oh god I need some sleep.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


For the past 5 years I have had chronic back problems. It used to be centered around my lower back, but lately it's migrated north, much to my displeasure. I do yoga (not often enough), which certainly helps. But I haven't yet found the silver bullet for back pain. I have found acupuncture though and let me say, it's changed my outlook on things.

About 5 years ago I was working part time as an ice cream scooper and that was when the trouble began. The constant lean forward, bend down, scoop frozen solid deliciousness motion really did a number on my back (not to mention my waistline). As the pain was building and building, it finally came to it's totally unglamorous, somewhat humiliating conclusion the day before Easter 2003. I left work early with my back in total spasm, thinking that if I walked to the subway, the walk would help alleviate the pain as it had in the past. The pain never let up and by the time I got to the subway I couldn't actually get down a step to get into the subway. Okay then. Maybe a taxi. I hailed a cab and found myself unable to physically get in the backseat. crap. So I continued walking to Jamie's place in Ft. Greene, which was quite a walk for someone with a spasming back. But as some of you may recall, Jamie's old apartment was upstairs in a beautiful old brownstone and there were at least 30-40 steps to manage. It took me over 20 minutes to get into his apartment and tears were just pouring down my face. When I got there he wasn't even home so I went into his bedroom, managed to get myself onto the bed and I waited and prayed. I don't remember how long it was before he got home, but I remember squeaking out a little moan to announce my presence. It was a very long night of not sleeping and not knowing what to do, as I'd never experienced anything like that before. The next morning, after one of the longest nights of my life, Jamie called a car service. It took about another 20 minutes to get me down the steps and into the car, but we did it and I went to Methodist Hospital on Easter Sunday. I remember the ER doctor saying he was going to give me a shot that was going to hurt a lot. When I told him I didn't really care, he emphasized, no really, it's going to hurt A LOT. I'm convinced that the shot is so painful so it will take your mind off whatever the primary pain may be. But after about a 1/2 hour I started to feel some relief and we were able to go. The ER gave me 4 or 5 cyclobenzaprine pills to use as heavy duty muscle relaxers during the healing period.

Flash forward to last Tuesday. I woke up with a sharp pain around my left shoulder blade. Over the course of a week, the pain got sharper and more noticeable. Finally on Monday of this week I was in some pretty serious pain. I had tried stretching, ibuprofen, heat, etc, but nothing had even made a dent. On Monday night I was in intense pain and attempted to go to bed. I was completely unable to find a tolerable position and after 2 hours I got up and went into the living room. I found my handy traveling neck pillow (which I would love to just wear all the time as an impromptu napping accessory), my heating pad and tried to find a way to rest sitting up on the couch. No dice. Maybe a hot shower. At 4 o' clock in the morning. Again, no relief. I attempted to make my way to the floor with the hope that elevating my feet (and being horizontal) may help. But then I couldn't get myself to the floor and was afraid that even if I did make it to the floor, I'd never be able to get myself back up. And I've learned from experience that when I'm on the floor for the purpose of exercise or stretching, mobility is key with a stinky breathed dog and a flat, soft surface loving kitty in the house. I could just picture Jamie waking up to find me immobile, Ruthie making biscuits on my stomach and Arlo using my neck as a pillow.

So I waited for the sun to come up and I called my work to let them know I wouldn't be there. I then called my acupuncturist and left her a message about getting in for an emergency visit. By about 11 am I couldn't stand the pain and the lack of the sleep and decided I was going to rifle through our medicine chest for anything I could find. Arlo's pain meds; fine. Whatever. This is what doctors refer to as drug seeking behavior. And what do I find, but one single, beautiful 5 year old cyclobenzaprine! Within an hour I was asleep in a more or less horizontal position and I slept for 4 glorious hours. I woke up feeling a little bit better, as I know my body needed some rest to begin healing itself. When I woke up my acupuncturist called to say she could get me in the following day.

I went to work yesterday and then went to see her and I came home last night feeling refreshed and fairly well healed. Of course, I woke up this morning feeling stiff and sore again, but not like I was. I'm going to do some yoga today and stretch it all out and hope for the best. And I've vowed to see my acupuncturist every 4-6 weeks to help prevent this happening again. And do yoga more regularly, since those are the only 2 things that really seem to make a difference.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is my kitty. Natalie Dee understands.

natalie dee

glasses are sexy, no?

Tonight while I was talking to my mom she asked me to change the background template of this blog because the dark color was causing her eyes to freak out. She said she was able to read it just fine, but when she would try to look at something else she couldn't see properly for 5-10 minutes. I am a little hesitant to say this, but I get it. I am by no stretch old or even older, but lately my eyes have been giving me a bit of grief. I haven't had my eyes checked in 8 years and they have gotten considerably worse. Recently at work I was trying to read something and I actually had to hold it in my partially outstretched arm. Are bifocals in my future? I can't remember how old my mom was when she got bifocals. What was it, 50's? But I also think I started wearing glasses about 20 years before she did.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

there's no way to discuss this usual

I was talking to my dad two days ago and once again, he managed to surprise and horrify me. He lives in Columbia, SC most of the year and goes up to Ohio for the summers. He frequently asks me inane questions like "How do you get to work", to which I've had the same response for 7 years. He still thinks NYC is the most dangerous, crime infested place a person could be. When I pointed out to him that statistically speaking, it's far more dangerous in Columbia than in NYC (see crime stats below), he proffered up this tidbit:

Dad: "Well, that's why I never leave the house without my 9mm."
Me: "What??!!"
Dad: "It's completely legal. I have a concealed weapons permit."
Me: "Jesus Christ, Dad. Is that really necessary?"
Dad: "Well, one time I was just about a mile from the house and I pulled up to a 4 way stop. There was a van and a bunch of people got out and started flashing their gang signs, you know, challenges to each other. Well, I wasn't sure what was going to happen so I stepped on the gas and gunned it. If they hadn't jumped out of the way, I'd have run them all down. And ever since then I don't leave the house without my 9mm."

So that apparently is all it takes to make an already paranoid, nightmare having Vietnam vet tote a loaded weapon around under his shirt. Unbelievable.

Stats courtesy of

Crime in Columbia by Year

Type 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murders 141215101518157
per 100,000 12.410.712.78.412.715.212.75.9
Rapes 7440628358745656
per 100,000 65.835.552.769.748.962.347.547.1
Robberies 510493442497461464381375
per 100,000 453.2438.1375.4417.5388.9390.6323.1315.4
Assaults 860955781949808961859852
per 100,000 764.2848.6663.2797.2681.6808.9728.5716.5
Burglaries 1,2901,2091,4261,6391,3951,7031,3321,254
per 100,000 1146.31074.31211.01376.91176.91433.51129.71054.6
Thefts N/A6,5086,8636,2135,9076,7505,5135,086
per 100,000 N/A5782.95828.25219.44983.35681.94675.64277.2
Auto thefts 748750985916825819837654
per 100,000 664.7666.4836.5769.5696.0689.4709.9550.0
Arson 514729N/A15272627
per 100,000 45.341.824.6N/A12.722.722.122.7 crime index (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 280.8) N/A710.7697.7724.0654.8741.9629.0576.3

Crime in New York by Year

Type 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Murders 671673587597570539596
per 100,000
Rapes 1,7021,6301,6891,6091,4281,4121,071
per 100,000 22.921.020.919.917.617.413.1
Robberies 36,10032,56227,22925,98924,37324,72223,511
per 100,000 485.9420.3336.8320.9300.9304.6287.9
Assaults 40,51140,88034,33431,25329,31727,95026,908
per 100,000 545.3527.7424.7385.9361.9344.4329.6
Burglaries 40,46937,11230,10228,29326,10023,21022,137
per 100,000 544.7479.1372.3349.4322.2286.0271.1
Thefts 140,377139,664129,655124,846124,016120,918115,363
per 100,000 1889.51802.91603.71541.71530.81489.91412.9
Auto thefts 39,69335,84727,03423,62821,07218,38115,936
per 100,000 534.3462.8334.4291.8260.1226.5195.2 crime index (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 281.9) 447.7408.5334.2313.6295.4285.2268.5

And just because the ratio seemed so narrow to me, I've included this pleasant statistic. Welcome to South Carolina folks:

"According to our research there were 677 registered sex offenders living in Columbia, South Carolina in early 2007.
The ratio of number of residents in Columbia to the number of sex offenders is 177 to 1."

It probably isn't fair to include that, since I can't find a comparable stat for NYC, but whatever.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

one way ticket to loserville

Tonight I had to stay to work an author reading/signing for Neil Strauss, the fellow who wrote The Game and who now has a new book called Rules of the Game. When The Game came out Balgavy loaned it to me and while I found it funny and entertaining, I couldn't imagine who would actually take this kind of crap to heart. I mean, this guy spawned Mystery. yecchh. Basically it's all about being totally sleazy and disingenuous to get women into bed. In some ways, the author would disagree with this, but that is how a lot of what he proposes has been skewed. I could only imagine that this event was going to bring in slimeballs, jerks and dorky guys trying to learn the techniques. And guess what? That's exactly who showed up.

It was a big event for our store; probably 300-350 people. And being one of the 10 women there, I was forced to indulge these losers all night. "Can you please take 2 steps back? Seriously, back off. " All. Night. Long.

But it was all worth it when it came to the signing part of the night. I got the awesome job of going the length of the line and asking people if they'd like the author to personalize their book inscription and I then write on a post-it with a sharpie so the author doesn't have to fuss with spelling and the post it spells it all out for him. Easy enough. The beauty is that in The Game, he recommended that each man create his own PUA (Pick Up Artist) nickname ala Mystery. So as I'm asking these guys to whom their book will be inscribed, I'm barely holding it together. A sample:

Guy1: Steve aka Ironman
Guy2: John aka Ramrod
Guy3: George aka Aries
Guy4: Sean aka Sex Machine

But this was the best:
Guy5:"First word M-U-F-F, second word D-Y-V-E-R, third word D-A-N. Pretty funny, right?"
Me:"Uh huh."

So as I am back up at the table where the author is I am telling our Event Coordinator, a middle aged British woman, that Muff Dyver Dan is coming up on the right. When he gets up to the table, she takes the post it, puts it on his book and says in the most upper class English accent, "Muff Dyver Dan, pleased to meet you."
It was brilliant.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

the long slog through a boring book

I finished reading Atonement today. My landlord and I swapped about a half dozen books probably a year ago and it's been sitting there ever since. What with the recent buzz around the movie, I figured, what the heck. I don't know what you may have heard about the book and/or the film, but I kept reading things about how Ian McEwan wrote this amazing book with a stunning plot twist at the end and that the movie, while very good, perhaps even great, is not the same as the printed word. Yes, yes, nothing new in that type of review.

So my experience was that for whatever reason, during the pivotal part of the story, the part upon which everything hinges, my mind immediately went to a different place, a different character. The result of this was that when the big reveal came at the end, the jaw dropping twist, I had assumed it to be so for the entire book. No big reveal, no plot twist for me. Just a book where I found myself skimming over entire paragraphs because he couldn't stop spending 3 pages describing a summer day. What a drag!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

it would be funnier if it wasn't so creepy/depressing

Some of you may recall when I described a man I work with that I refer to as Count Chocula. Over the past year this man's complete and utter insanity has come to the surface, in occasionally hilarious, often unsettling ways. Like the time his robes had become really ratty and dirty and he knew that I had a friend who was handy with a sewing machine. He asked if she could make new robes for him and when she was unable to do it, he made them himself. He looked just like Charlie Brown in his holey Halloween ghost costume. He eventually found someone to make some robes for him, but seriously, if you're a priest, wouldn't the church provide you with clothing? Following is a partial list of some of the gigantic lies/fantasies which he tells us. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Zelig:

-That he is a cardinal and answers only to the Vatican. He insists that he be addressed as Monsignor.
-The time I walked up and he picked up the phone on the desk and said "Hello? Rome?"
-That he voted on the most recent Pope.
-That he was thrown in Chairman Mao's communist Chinese prison for 2 years for preaching.
-That he was thrown in Castro's communist Cuban prison for 2 years for preaching.
-That he was tortured by African "natives" and they shoved wood splints under his nails. For preaching.
-That he was the president of a university.
-That he speaks fluent Urdu, but couldn't understand when someone asked him (in Urdu) his name.
-That he was the medical director of a major hospital.
-That he spent 2 years in a concentration camp (always with the 2 years!)
-That every morning at 4am he personally says the mass for every priest in NYC.
-The latest, and certainly funniest, that he has had an ongoing affair with Tom Selleck. Tom is currently mad at him because he didn't go to LA last summer to visit him. Apparently we have "no idea how firm" Tom is; except for his face, which is withered from years in the sun.

I'll pause there to give you the opportunity to throw up in your mouths.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Brooklyn Cobbler Update

A couple of posts ago I was talking about taking my 2 favorite pairs of shoes to the cobbler to be resoled. Here is what ended up transpiring.

I was told to give it 10 days. No problem; they are fall/winter shoes and it was summer. I went back 2 weeks later and he told me that the guy he uses on the lower east side for the mid soles was on vacation and it was going to take a bit longer. Again, no problem. I went back about 2 weeks later and the gate was down and there was a hand written sign saying that he was on vacation for the month of August, with a return date just after Labor Day. Um, alright. So after Labor Day, every time I went by he was not open, causing me a little concern. I called the number on the sign and it just kept ringing, so that was no help. Finally toward the end of September I went to the Polish deli next door to his shop and asked if they had seen him. They said that they hadn't and that I wasn't the only one looking for their shoes. So then it's October and my favorite shoes are nowhere to be found. I walk past the shop one day and see that the gate is down and padlocked, there are multiple notes stuffed into the gate and the place is for rent. Are you freaking kidding me?? No phone number to call, no sign of the shoes, no nothing. My landlord told me that she heard that he may have moved to Florida.

This is the type of thing that makes me feel like I am living in Seinfeld's world. It reminds me of the time that Jamie and I ordered 2 cans of seltzer with our Mexican food delivery order and instead received 2 containers of salsa. Seriously.