Thursday, April 26, 2007

The day my body fought back

I’m dying…well not really, but I felt like it yesterday. Two days ago, I met my Chicago friend Ryan (who was in town for the night for a business meeting) for dinner. I ordered a simple club sandwich with no mayo. Around 4am, I woke up with the biggest stomach ache and proceeded to puke my brains out in the toilet. I mean violently retching puking. Now I always feel better after I puke, strange but true, I went back to bed. When my alarm for work went off, I started going through my morning routine. First thing on the list…go to the bathroom (come on everyone goes to the bathroom when they wake up, we don’t have bladders of steel). While sitting one end on the toilet I had a tidal wave of nausea hit me. I had to make a choice, what end do I put on the toilet? Um…. Thank goodness those NYC bathrooms are sooooo small. The sink is pressed up against the toilet, so I was able to just lean over and empty my stomach in the sink. I decided to take the day off of work and try to get over this bug. Since I had sufficiently rid myself of all of my food and liquid from multiple trips to the toilet & sink, I decided I needed something to drink in order to avoid dehydration. Hmmm, apple juice looks good. Wrong! I guess the acid in the apple juice was not what my stomach needed, and it came back up instantly. I started sipping on water, but that came up as well (come on, water! Damn you body!). I found that I could resist the urge to vomit if I lay perfectly still and horizontal. Yeah tell me how boring that got especially when my body had enough sleep. Luckily, Marshall was a good guy and brought me over Gatorade, 7-up, Pepto-bismol, and ice cream. He found me in bed spooning my vomit bowl and I think he was quite disgusted and afraid to touch anything. My doctor friends (Shannon the MD and Melanie the PhD….okay close enough) both told me it was a stomach bug, food poisoning, or pregnancy. Obviously it was not pregnancy (oh and I have soooo much sympathy for women who are that sick during pregnancy….if morning sickness is like that, I will never ever have kids!). The bug of food poisoning should clear my system in the next 24 hours. Thankfully it has and I am vomit free (well at least for the last 8 hours).

Now I apologize for anyone I didn’t really sympathize for when they claimed they could not keep anything thing down (yes even just water). I never have been that sick before in my entire life, so now I will mean it when I say “you poor thing, you must be miserable and feel as if you are going to die”.

Monday, April 23, 2007

So there was this test and this butt....

A word of warning to any engineer thinking about taking the PE test… will F you up! Never in my life had I experienced such a horrendous test! You see a problem and think “I have never seen anything like this in my entire life….now which reference book should I attempt to scan”! It got to a point where I just flat out guessed on some problems. To make matters worse, those bastards made it hard to guess. The four answers would be 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5! Agggh, you cannot even eliminate some answers to make a better wild guess! You are only allowed to bring a certain type of calculator (there are only for approved models). If you do not have an approved model (you know one that may do more than an abacus), they take it away. A woman in my section had her calculator taken away and I secretly hoped no one would lend her one because then she would do bad, lower the curve, and give me a better shot of passing. Isn’t that horrible and downright evil of me! No worries because her neighbor did give her his spare calculator. Anyway, I left the test with tears welling up in my eyes but waited to all out ball until I got back to my apartment. I’m mostly sad because I put so much time into studying and preparing and I am most certainly going to have to take it again. The awful part is that I don’t know how I can study for it better because the things on there I didn’t know were no where in my notes! Seriously, I had never seen some of those things before in my entire life. I would not know where to start to gather this random information. Sigh.

My misery was not alone. Farrell called while I was sobbing in my own self pity to tell me that he and Bethany broke up. This is the same couple that I wrote about before about becoming engaged by accident. Well misery likes company, so he came over with 40’s. While we were both lamenting, Bree and Ali stopped by on their way home after celebrating 4/20 (oh yeah, did I fail to mention the test was on 4/20). They literally live around the block from me. I mistakenly gave Ali my bag of cheetos and he devoured the entire thing! He also worked on his aluminum foil origami skills, but that is a whole other story. To round out the gang of my NYC hood, Marshall stopped by after band practice only to find all of us far from sober and partially passed out.

My super friend Allison (she told me to write that, but hey…it is true anyway), came into town Saturday for a weekend getaway and film related interview. It turns out that the weather in NYC was actually better than LA this weekend. We had sunny skies and 80 degree weather. I guess it is god’s way of saying, sorry for giving it to you up the butt during that test Lindsay. The good weather had people emerging from their winter hibernation and the streets and parks were full of people basking in the sun.

First thing on the agenda was to return my spare calculator. I did not end up using it and figured I may as well get my $15 back! While we were walking thru Bryant park we passed the carousel and decided it would be fun to ride it. Hey the sign said adults could ride and for $2 it was a mountain of enjoyment. We scoped out the horses and jockeyed our way around children in order to secure the two prettiest horses in the ride. One of the kids was a little girl with her mom. Now they were dressed exactly alike! Seriously down to the pink izod shirt and white long sleeve undershirt and white capris. I wonder what level of hell the father is in.

Still feeling childish after our spin around the carousel (which by the way was a huge amusement to the other adults around the ride) we sipped on juice boxes and would have eaten fruit roll ups if I would have remembered to pack them.

We headed over to Macy’s so that Allison could get some pantyhose for her big interview. While there I had to show her the tulle garden of prom dresses. In a whim, we decided to each try on one long ball gown and one short one (who in their right mind would wear a knee-length yellow tulle ball gown?). Sadly I couldn’t take pictures in the dressing room (too pervy even for me) while we giggled and showed off the hideous baby blue green orange and yellow sequined and frilled creations. Is it sad that we are two grown women trying on hideous prom dresses or that there were high school girls in the dressing room trying on the dresses for real? Ponder that thought.

After a long lunch at “Burger’s and Cupcakes” (seriously we were there 90 minutes….the waitress must have suffered from narcolepsy….I hope that is the one where you fall asleep and not want to hump dead people), we headed off to central park. We laid in the “sheep’s lawn” in central park along with over a thousand other people. I think everyone had the same idea of taking a nice nap in the sun. Mmmmmnnn, nap. Anyway we had our own soundtrack thanks to some nearby guys strumming the guitar. A brief bit of entertainment was provided by the enormous ass crack showing of a nearby girl. Seriously, Allison and I talked about it for ten minutes. We could not tell if it was the upper, middle or lower part of the crack because we did not see the top of it. At one point, Allison said “I swear, I feel as if her vagina is getting a breeze”. We had to take a picture of it just to prove how horrible it was. Yes we are perves but at least we tried to pretend that we were not trying to take a picture of her giant exposed ass crack!

Friday, April 13, 2007

We have all been there

As some may know, I am currently cramming for the upcoming PE test. A friend sent me these clips from actual tests to add humor to my otherwise boring study filled current lifestyle. Enjoy! (I like the elephant and ship ones the best)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Hot Purses = Cool Stories

Although this weekend was a sober one since my Mom was in town visiting, it is not without the wacky and entertaining stories people have come to expect from my blog posts.

My Mom and I started the trip with the usual tourist attractions (see previous tour de NY posts). Additionally we ate at the famed Katz deli in SoHo and the Sardi’s restaurant (the place with all the character portraits of famous people). I wouldn’t recommend either. The over priced food was mediocre just because the atmosphere let them get away with it. Additionally, we hit the Museum of Natural history. That I do recommend if you A) sneak in food, B) have all day to spend, and C) are wearing the most comfortable shoes ever.

We had our own personal war against the weather man. Days where the temperature was supposed to hit mid 60’s, turned out to be barely 50 and rainy. Fool me once…you get the drift. Seriously, every day was way off and we paid the price with dressing to match.

I wanted my Mom to have a real NY experience. Thankfully my prayers were answered. She learned (as I have) that when you bump into a person on the street, you don’t stop and say “sorry” or “excuse me”, you shoulder check them back. Also we came across an Asian man sprawled out on the sidewalk with his bicycle and a large woman bending over him. He started cursing in broken English (yes I am so bad), “Fuck you…(unknown)…fuck you fucking lady”! The woman started to walk away and then turned on her heels to shout back “I was going to try to help you, but then you cursed at me, so Fuck you too”! The whole time my mom and I stood and stared at the scene with gaping mouths. Ah ha ha ha.

The moment of torture came at Macy’s. My sister is getting married in Jamaica this summer. Well since it is an island in the Caribbean, my mom is obligated to visit the beach. She was in need of a new swimsuit since the last time she was at a beach or pool was 1985. Okay get the mental picture in your head of a slightly overweight 60 year old lady who hasn’t seen any sun in 20 years…not get it out of your head…this is my mom you are thinking of. I approached the sales lady in the swimsuit department and asked where the more “matronly” suits (you know something with a skirt) were since all we saw was itty bitty string bikinis. She gave me a confused look, looked at my mom, and then said the “one pieces are in the back”. Okay I was forced to sit outside the dressing room only to be called in every other minute to look at my mom in a bathing suit. This lasted an hour and she even tried on two identical suits….twice! I will forever be scared.

The funniest moment of the trip occurred on the last day. We ventured to Canal street in SoHo to buy a good knock-off purse. My mom and sister both wanted some imitation purse for a working man’s price. While in a costume jewelry shop, I asked the Asian sales lady if she had a friend who sold coach or prada purses. She told me to wait there. A few minutes later we were approached by the sales lady and her “friend” who told us to follow her. Canal street is known for people walking around the street with rolling luggage, boxes, or even tied together bed sheets full of purses. You simply follow them around the corner (out of the public view) and look at their “stash” and purchase, cash only of course. We I was surprised when she took us to a crappy convenience/dollar store across the street. She whispered to the guy behind the cash register. He turned around and opened an “employee’s only” door and said “you follow me now”. We walk down the stairs into a dark basement/storeroom. My mom was scared out of her mind and was grasping my arm like crazy. She later told me that we could have “taken” him since he was a small Asian man and we were two burly women. Well we weave in an out of the various boxes in the basement/storeroom and come to a pad-locked door. He unlocks it and swings open the door to reveal a room full of purses. We looked at the selection and some were priced over $200 (of course you have to ask the price since everything is bargain down). We found a nice coach purse and a nice Louis Vinton purse for $40 each. I was only half looking at them (mostly just keeping an eye on the guy) and decided they looked like decent to good knock offs. While we were making our purchase, another tourist woman walked in the room. She said she was there over the weekend and decided to get herself some more purses. I was thinking why would you want more than one or two imitation purses. I later found out her reason. He put our bags in the non discrete black garbage bag (because nothing says I just purchased some black market goods like a black garbage bag) and we left. On the way out, my mom brought to my attention the sign on the basement door. It said “please close the door behind you, thake you”. Ah ha ha….thake!

Anyway, we got home and started to look more closely at the purses. I took out my imitation coach purse from Chicago and compared it to the other. The new one had the correct fabric…in fact it had the correct everything…even the details. The lining for both was correct, the buckles said Coach/LV, the zipper was metal and said Coach/LV, they both even had the sew in label tag on the inside of the purse. In fact they had the key chains, purse storage/protector bags, and retail price tags from Coach/LV. My mom and I looked at each other and realized these were not good knock offs, these were the real things and they were probably hot! We called the sister and told her “we just got you a stolen real Louis Vinton purse!” Now I figured the woman visiting the “store” again realized they were real and was either trying to make a profit of reselling them or give out some mighty nice Christmas/Birthday presents.

Tour De New York City - Part 2 (Upper tip of Manhattan)

Part two in my tourist series. This one actually has gems that most tourists (or even NY residents) don’t see because they are mostly unknown. For example, some one recommended visiting Grant’s tomb. I responded “Grant’s tomb, wait that is here…”

Columbia University Campus
For those who know me, I like visiting college campuses (especially old ones). Well how could I resist Columbia University which is not only very old (founded in the 18th century as King’s college) and Ivy league as well. A little know fact…the ivy league was originally founded with four universities (I think Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Brown?). The roman numeral for four is IV, hence ivy (eye vee) league was dubbed.

As expected, the university campus was full of very old colossal buildings. For fun you could try to wander around with a book bag and coffee to go cup and try to fit in with the natives in their natural habitat. I already feel smarter for being there.

On the NW edge of the campus is a huge church. Seriously, huge church! Since it was palm Sunday, my mother and I ventured inside (careful to hide our cameras since our jeans and backpack combo outfits didn’t already scream TOURIST!). I have rarely seen chapels with that high of ceiling. The part that blows my mind is that people still attend services there. I guess I would be awestruck being in that place every week.

I give it a grade B just because any grade lower is not acceptable at an IV league school.

Grant’s Tomb
Just a block from Columbia’s campus is Grant’s tomb. Now when someone asks you “who is buried at Grant’s tomb” you can respond “no one”. The former president and his wife are laid to rest there, but they are in above ground coffins (crypts). On the outside, the monument looks huge. On the inside, it is tiny. This makes me believe that the building is secretly housing additional covert government documents and services. Hmmm…was those eyes in the painting really following me…

Any chance to squeeze in learning, they take it. Fortunately, the historians at the tomb only put interesting tid-bits. Civil war…blah, president…been there, drug addict….what! Turns out the old guy had cancer so they hopped him up on cocaine and opium. Plus he was flat broke after serving as president because retired officers and former presidents didn’t have a pension/retirement plan. He had to hurry up and write/sell his memoirs just so the family could eat.

The best part of the monument is the view. It is built along the water’s edge with a lengthy park behind it. I predict it will be gorgeous come spring.

I give it a grade B- because sneaking history lessons into my sight seeing is….well sneaky.

The Cloisters
Take the “A” train all the way to 190th street. Yep, we are talking about the upper most tip of the island. The Cloisters is an authentic French monastery from the medieval times that was sent over piece by piece by a rich man (most likely Rockefeller since a lot of items were from his collection). You first enter a grand park that is full of winding paths and landscaping. In a month the place will be gorgeous with flowers and trees in bloom. The park is located atop a large up cropping of rock because you can look over the edge of a cliff to see the river and highway below.

The Monastery is full of medieval artifacts like paintings, architectural columns and details, arches, tapestries, stone sarcophagi, and monk written/copied manuscripts. The famed “unicorn” tapestries are there. Everything from the walls, chapels, and artwork are dated from between 1000ad and 1600ad. Yep, this shit is old.

The building contained several terraces and walking gardens that have great views of the park or the river (or New Jersey if you care).

I give it a grade A because beautiful stuff like this was able to emerge in a time where stoning to death and burning by bonfire was an acceptable means of execution.

Tour De New York City - Part 1 (Lower Manhattan)

Since I have had my share of visits from friends and family in NYC, I have become a pro at sightseeing. Here is a tour of sights that Lower Manhattan has to offer. Note all of these are literally anywhere from a couple of blocks to a few steps from each other.

Statue of Liberty
**Tip: go on line or call Circle line cruises prior to your visit and order your ferry ticket and pass to enter the Statue of Liberty. The monument entrance passes are free, but they are only available ahead of time. Since it was spring break, there were a lot of school groups on the Ferry with us. It was sad to see them all arrive at the island only to be turned away from entering the monument because they didn’t pre order the pass.

The monument only housed an exhibit detailing the history of the Statue of Liberty. The interesting fact is that the sculptor modeled the face after his mom and the structural engineer who designed interior structure of the monument also designed the Eiffel tower. You are only allowed to the top of the stone base and can not travel up to the crown or torch. Honestly, without traveling up to the crown, the view was not that much better than from the ground. It is neat to see the statue up close, but the wait in the ferry line will likely be longer than your stay on the island. I give it a grade C.

Ellis Island
Ellis Island was the immigration place to be from 1892 to the mid 1950’s. The original buildings still stand on the island and their size is impressive. The island housed a main check-in building, a few dormitories, a very large hospital, an insane asylum, and numerous “quarantine” buildings. The only building open to the public is the main check-in building. I guess after the island closed in the 1950’s, they stopped taking care of the grounds and buildings. In the 1980’s they came in and found the plants and trees overgrown and the buildings in utter destruction. They renovated the grand hall first and are planning to finish off the entire island in the next 10-15 years. I was disappointed you couldn’t visit the quarantine and asylum buildings. Yeah, I’m disturbed like that.

Anyway, the check-in building is one giant museum. They had a cool exhibit where you can type in your ancestry and find out where the majority of population is living in the US. Being English and German, I found that both of these ancestries populated the west coast and great lake areas. Also they walk you through the steps an immigrant would have taken back in the day. It was cool to think that the rooms I walked in, benches I sat on, and places I stood where the same spots my ancestors could have been years ago.

**Tip: you can go online to the Ellis Island website and look up your relatives. Since there were around 5 million immigrants that went through Ellis Island, you can narrow your search by name, approximate age, and country of origin. I was able to track down my Great-grandfather who came over with his widowed mom in 1905. If your relatives came before 1892, you can search for them on the Castle Clinton website. When you know when your ancestors came through, it makes looking at actual photographs of the place even more interesting (ie see what they saw at the time).

I give it a grade A (we spent hours there).

The Bull of Wall Street
The Bull is a statue of a Bull that used to be across the street from the NYSE. They moved it to a park nearby (Bowling Green) that is really close to the Statue of Lib/Ellis Island ferry drop off. Behind the Bull is the US Custom house. From the look of the building, it looks like a museum. No review on it since we were on the move.

**Tip: People congregate around the Bull to take pictures. If you want a shot of it alone, you can just angry yell at the tourists to “wait a minute please!” They scatter like pigeons….well they did for me at least. Also, the bull has balls. If you go to the rear of the statue, you will see the pair all shined up from people touching and rubbing them. Boy does it have the life.

I give it a grade C just because it doesn’t offer anything but a picture.

World Trade Center / Ground Zero
Now my Mom said to me “I have a whole roll of film set aside for ground zero”. I warned her it was probably not what she expected. I was right. It is essentially one big construction site and hole in the ground. Now that sounds disrespectful, but I am being honest for all the people who think it is going to be a glorified monument or something. There entire site is surrounded with a tall and covered fence. There is one part of the covering open at the south end of the site. You can see how deep down the buildings were. If you look close, you can see a few vertical orange columns. These are new for new building under construction. If you look very close, the center one is painted white with the word “freedom” written vertically on it. This is the first column placed and they let victims families sign it before it was installed. Also near the open spot in the fence is a “wall memorial”. Friends, family, strangers, etc have posted pictures, stories, words of inspiration, etc on the wall as a tribute to the victims. I’ve seen different stuff both times, so they must periodically take the mementos down.

**Tip: There is an organization that offers free tours of the site at certain times and days. You can look online ahead of time and time your visit accordingly. I briefly listened in on one tour and I learned a lot of interesting information.

I give it a grade B+

St. Paul’s Church & Graveyard
Across the street from WTC is St. Paul’s Church. It is a church that has stood the test of time. It is one of the oldest in the city dating to the 1700’s. The graveyard and church are open to the public and surprisingly still offer services. The graveyard is full of old headstones dating to pre revolutionary war times. Inside, the church is baby pink and blue with grand crystal chandeliers. It resembles more of a nice parlor room or ballroom than a sanctuary.

On one side, the old pew of George Washington still remains. Back then, the capital of the USA was New York, so they pew was the official president’s spot. On the other side is the official governor of New York’s pew. The church is full of WTC memorabilia since it was the resting and restocking place for volunteers. Surprisingly, not a single plane of glass was broken during the catastrophe due to the surrounding trees.

I give it a grade B+

Trinity Church & Graveyard
For those movie buffs out there, they may know Trinity Church from the blockbuster National Treasure. It sits at the beginning of Wall Street. Like St. Paul’s, the cemetery is full of pre revolutionary war graves. The first treasurer of the US, Alexander Hamilton, was buried there after he was shot by Aaron Burr. The church and graveyard are open to the public, and still offer services. Unlike St. John’s, Trinity church looks like….well like a church. High vaulted ceilings, stain glass windows and intricate wood work details. Yep, very church like. The details are impressive and the shear fact of its age is astounding.

I give it a grade B-

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Literally a block from Trinity church is the NYSE. The grand building is donned with a giant American flag. The white columns and cobblestone streets add charm, but if you are not into the stock market, it is just another cool old building.

I give it a grade C because my stocks are down and mortgage interest rates are up.

Federal Hall
When looking at the NYSE, you only need to do a 180 to view the historic Federal Hall. On the steps of this old Greek temple style building was where George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States. Afterwards he went to St. Paul’s church for a service because they didn’t have TV back then (poor bastards).

I give it a grade B only because it is historic….U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!