Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brief hiatus

I am writing to let the faithful followers of this blog (all five of them) that I will not be posting anything for the next three weeks. I am taking a long overdue trip to SE Asia and will have limited access to internet, western toilets, and all around good general hygene. I will return with a flurish of pictures taken with my new ultra chic camera and hopefully a barrel of humorous stories. Mark your calendars and check back in with me in mid September.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Going for the gold, then to the bathroom

For my going away party, I had to top my infamous 29th birthday party Rambo themed bar golf outing. I decided to have an Olympic bar crawl. Everyone was paired to a team and at least one person from each team was required to drink at each bar. Your team earned extra points for each additional person that drank at the bar. Plus the team could win bonus points for competing in various Bar Olympic stunts like “sing along to a song on the jukebox…loudly” or “take a picture with another person from Nebraksa” or “have everyone on the bar crawl smack you on the ass”. I had a whole laundry list of random acts. We went to eight different bars (or host cities) to acknowledge the ’08 Olympics. Oh and since we were competing in the pseudo Olympics, everyone was required to dress in exercise clothes. I was so impressed at everyone’s costumes. I mean Rob broke out a team jersey with sweat bands and Olga even had volleyball knee pads on! Ah ha ha ha. Anyway, each team name was something I would miss about New York. Yeah, team names were “street fairs”, “mass transit”, “brooklyn brewery”, “central park”, “canal street”, “free delivery”, and “team olive garden”. What, Olive Garden rocks. I will miss not living so close to the delicious salad and breadstick Mecca.

Anyway the pictures could better describe the night than I. The highlights were Dana singing to Like a Prayer by Madonna and the whole bar got into it and the bartender even hoisted her up to dance and sing on the bar. Seriously, all the people in the bar were clapping and cheering her on. I think it made their night. Also the “team cheers” by Mass Transit (Olga and Rob) was a hilarious spoof on the Spartans. Team “street fairs” went the extra mile to rhyme good eats with cheap streets. I think McDonalds may be giving them a call. Our group basically took over every bar we went to. The best was the shady little hotel bar on 10th & 50th St. The bartender’s eyes practically popped out of her head when we all walked in. Of course, at each bar we would request that they turn the TV’s to the Olympics so we could cheer on our fellow competitors. We spent some extra time at one bar just so we would not miss Michael Phelps winning his 8th gold medal. Dana is so infatuated with him that she actually got up close to the TV and started stroking it. Awesome!

Waiting for the sequel.

The Olympics have basically taken over my life. Yes I know there are many more worthwhile things to do instead of watching TV for four hours a day, but I cannot resist competitions like swimming, beach volleyball, and gymnastics. Actually my love for women’s gymnastics stems all the way back to my childhood when I watched Mary Lou Renton score perfect tens and win the all around title. My sisters and I sported matching Mary Lou leotards till the next Olympics. True, true, I have pictures of all of us in our matching leotards doing “gymnastics” in our living room. Yeah our routines were more like shaking our but or kicking our gangly child legs up in the air with a giant kool-aide mustache smile on our faces.

If the Olympics were not entertaining enough, watching them with Marathon Man is down right hilarious. We like to have a side commentary during the program. During the women’s gymnastics team competition night, we broke out a 6 pack and got punch drunk. I wish I had a video of the commentary that night because it is random and awfully delicious all at once. First came the remarks on the size of the girl’s neck (the one who fell on the beam and floor exercise). She could have been a linebacker seriously. Then we turned our attention to Nastia because she is a Nasty Nasty Nastia girl (okay it is funnier when you are drunk). She has a very large round forehead, so we kept chanting “FOREHEAD” when she landed any tricks. After a minute of silence, M-Man blurted out “Chronicles of Nastia, the lion, the witch and the forehead!”. I almost peed the couch laughing so hard.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NYC off the beaten path travels

Again with the theme of “exploring every last bit of New York City”, I took to the streets on Saturday. I borrowed a guide book that M-Man’s mother gave him. It is great and full of off the beaten path walking tours. Anyway, I explored Bedford street in the West Village. My friends Rob and Dana (along will half of Hollywood) also live down in the neighborhood because it is so quaint, quiet, and eclectic. This street is home to both the “twin peaks” house (which is named so because it looks funky and has two peaks after the new owner added on in a strange way) and the narrowest house in NYC. The narrow house is only 9-1/2 feet across and at one point only was accessed through a back alley. I guess a famous poet lived there too, but I just went to gawk at the house. Also on the corner of Bedford and Grove is the supposed “friends” apartment. They never actually filmed there, just used stock footage exterior shots.

The street was pretty devoid of people probably because it is such a side/hidden street and it was also 9am on a Saturday morning. I did notice a couple slowly walking and looking around. When I got closer I realized we had the exact same guide book! I held mine up as I passed by and they let out a good laugh.

Later that day, I dragged M-Man to sightsee on the UWS with me. Our first stop was the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It is only 2/3 built and will be the largest church in the world once completed. I guess it suffered a fire a few years back, and now it is sparsely used. The blocked off about half of it from the public for fire damage repair and it was still super impressive.

Next to the church is Morningside Park. It is basically a sliver of land that they landscaped the shit out of. I loved the waterfall and lily pond. I wondered why more people don’t explore there until I realized it proximity to Harlem probably gives it a rough reputation.

Sunday night we caught the off-Broadway performance of STOMP. Go see that show! Seriously it was so amazing and choreographed. I warn you to cover your ears for some of the trash can parts though because it rocked the house. I wonder how the people in the apartments around the theatre ever sleep. The theatre is small enough that 2nd from the back seats in the balcony (us) were still close to the action. Plus all tickets at the Sunday evening show are only $40 (as compared to the standard $65 plus all other days).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sightseeing - Waterfalls and Art

I’m counting down the days before my move back to Chicago. Time goes by so quickly in the city, and I am now scrambling around trying to catch all the NYC attractions before I go.

This summer, an artist constructed four waterfalls along the East River in/around lower Manhattan. They range anywhere between 200 and 400 feet tall and are really impressive. One is up under the Manhattan Bridge, one under the Brooklyn Bridge, one at the Brooklyn ship yards, and one on Governor’s Island. Standing at the South Street Seaport, you can see all four.

I also logged in the Frick Collection on the UES. Basically it is the art collection of a rich guy (Mr. Frick) who lived at the turn of the century and was friends with Vanderbilt and Astor. The collection is housed in his gigantic house.

Marathon Man and I toured some Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. Since I am traveling to Asia in a few weeks, I need to build up my Asian food tolerance, so M-Man took me to his favorite dumpling dim son eatery in Chinatown. Afterwards we ran into a rally for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. I love the dancing dragons.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meat on the street

Thankfully, I can look back and laugh at these two stories.
Marathon Man is an avid runner. Well during one run in Central Park, he twisted his ankle bad. No broken bones, just a really bad sprain. I went over to his apartment to help out the poor invalid and play the part of dutiful girlfriend. The first task was to help him hobble over to the bathroom. As soon as I turned my back so he could have some privacy while he peed, I heard a CRACK and a “oh shit”. He was using the towel bar as support and it snapped in half. I then assisted him back to the bed and offered to get him some aspirin. With the best intentions, I filled up a giant glass of water for him to take the aspirin with. Well when I handed him the glass, I accidentally bonked him hard in the head and then dropped the glass in shock. The glass landed in the bed and flooded the mattress and sheets with water. I caught a look from him that read “do you know how hard it is going to be to get back out of bed”. I laid some towels over the wet spots (like what you do with a kid when they wet the bed) and had to stifle laugher because the whole situation was fucking hilarious.

In other invalid news, I got sick for the second time in my adult life. I grabbed a kabob from a street vender and 12 hours later I was puking my head off. I literally puked every half hour from 2am to noon. After the first five or six vomiting sessions, I had completely voided all food in my system. The sessions that followed were a mix of water and stomach bile. I kept drinking lots of water even though I knew it would come back up with a vengeance in 10 minutes. Luckily, that afternoon the vomiting ceased and my fever broke. I ended up loosing 6 pounds in 48 hours. Yep, that is like equivalent to loosing my entire foot. I’m eating solid foods now and for once trying to put the weight back on. The only lesson I learned was not to eat unprocessed meat from a street vendor and that day time TV sucks.

Reason to run

How do you follow up an all day, standing room only, outdoor concert, well by running a half marathon. Yep, I ran the NYC half marathon for the second straight year. I was a bit apprehensive since I hardly trained, competed in a brutal triathlon just a week before, and spent the entire day immediately prior to the race standing up in the sun. Luckily my running friend Aimee agreed to take it easy…nice and easy. We are notorious in run club as the “talking girls” because we non-stop chatter while running. Hey what can I say, I’m a story teller, so I can’t really just shut it off. Surprisingly we didn’t do all that bad by finishing just 4 minutes behind our time from last year. Afterwards, we both felt great and injury free which I think is the most important thing.

I had to ghost run the race because it is a fucked up lottery system. You basically pay $5 for them to put your name in with 30,000 other people and then draw out 5,000 at random. I didn’t get selected, but Aimee did. We didn’t have enough time to photocopy her number for me, so I just wore an old bib hanging down (so I could hid the fact that it didn’t match this year’s bib and make it appear like it just ripped and fell down or something). I figured I could blend in among the thousands of other people in running shorts.

The highlight happened before the race though. I noticed a guy stretching in front of me. I noticed him because he was drop dead gorgeous and couldn’t help but stare at him. After about a minute, I emerged from my fog and realized he was familiar. Too familiar. I stood there running through all the possibilities I may know him (did I see him on TV, is he a friend of a friend, is he the boyfriend of a friend, did I go to college with him, did I play kickball against him….) and then it hit me….we hooked up! Oh yeah! He was the guy I picked up at Alphabet Lounge about a year ago. To make matters even more interesting, he was the 22/23 year old guy who told me I was “well preserved”. Ah ha ha ha, small town. I probably carried the pride (and a silly grin) of hooking up with a total hottie with me for at least 6 miles.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We will rock you.....then sock you

On a Saturday morning, Marathon Man and I hoped on a train to Long Island to attend the Warped Tour. Basically it is 50-60 alternative and punk bands playing in one massive outdoor concert.
They had six stages set up with a new rotation every hour. I was in heaven. Well it did help that I saw my favorite punk band perform. Some highlights were, Cobra Starship, Angles and Airwaves, Say Anything, Beat Union, and of course Against Me!
Another one of my favorites, Anberlin, was disappointingly horrible live. Gym Class Heros and All Time Low were a mess and one-hit wonders. I regret not checking out Reel Big Fish and Pennywise, but there were literally too many great bands going on at the same time to catch them all.
Now advertisements for an outdoor, all-day concert in Long Island must have read “teen freak fest orgy”.
I swear 90% of the people in attendance were between the ages of 16 and 18 who thought this would be a fun alternative to trolling around THE MALL. The only people who looked older than us were obviously bored chaperones. All the skanky little girls wore bikini tops with cut off and rolled jean shorts/hot pants or dangerously short skirts. Okay, you may be thinking jailbait-heaven, but there were many serious examples of childhood obesity out on display. The girls would write in magic marker on their chests or stomachs catch phrases like “free hugs, make out with me, free sex, etc”. What the hell! Okay ever so much loosing my faith in the next generation.
The teenage boys would walk around shirtless with similar crude phrases written across their white hairless un-muscular chests. Since it was super sunny all day, I secretly hoped all of them would get a nasty sunburn and the marker would act as a sun block so they would have “will work for blow jobs” etched on their red chests for a few weeks. Actually that happened to a college roommate of mine back in the day. The only difference is that he had “I (heart) boobs” emblazed on his arm for a month. Awesome!

Thankfully I love punk and alternative live music so much, otherwise the little teenage shits would have ruined the day for me. The venue (a giant ass parking lot) couldn’t sell beer because of the minor majority, so they decided to sell bottles of water for $5 and Gatorade fore $6. Fortunately M-Man and I snuck in a water bottle that we were able to refill all day at a random water truck spigot (don’t ask, it was hot and we were resourceful). The kids obviously were not there for the music, so they decided to entertain themselves by chucking full bottles of water or Gatorade into the crowd or at the band. Yeah full bottles! Not only is that an absolute waste of money (well probably their parent’s money) but it was highly destructive. The bottle would be flung into a crowd of fans gathered in front of the stage and I would see the impact of water spraying everywhere and a person hitting the ground clutching their head. The worst was during the Angels and Airways set when the teen assholes kept tossing the bottles at the lead singer who made an attempt to connect with the crowd and move to the edge of the stage. I kept holding my breath as I would see several near misses. Actually one kid chucked a full bottle far enough to hit the drummer’s cymbal. Yeah, it was mildly amusing for about a split second, but if I was a performer and these little shits hit me or my equipment with a water bomb, I would have unplugged and just ended the show right then and there.

Okay okay okay, I just realized this is more of a rant post than a celebration of awesome live music. Am I getting old? Too old for live music? I hope not. I plan on still attending concerts well into my 60’s and rocking out. Then I can be the “who is that old chick….is she the band’s mother or something?”