Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swanky Pool Time

On Wednesday, my girlfriend invited me to the pool at the Thompson Hotel, a swanky hotel in the Lower East Side. Only hotel guests or celebrities were allowed at the pool, but my girlfriend knew an employee at the hotel that let us in to enjoy the amenities. Lucky us.

I typed Thompson Hotel into my iPhone and it took me to a different hotel in another part of town. At first, I didn't realize the mistake. I just knew to walk up to the doorman and ask for Christian, the guy who would lead me to the pool.

"Are you Christian?" I asked the doorman.

He tilted his head and cocked his eyebrow.

"Um... excuse me," he said.

"Are. You. Christian?" I asked again.

"I, well..." he stammered.

By this point, I stood very confused.

He continued, "I'm Catholic. That counts as Christian, right?"

"Oh!" I exclaimed. "I mean, is your name Christian? Not your religious affiliation!"

I finally made it to the right place 
and enjoyed this view for the next couple of hours. 
Pretty, pretty nice.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Locked In

My girlfriend, Jennifer, vacationed in NYC and stayed with me for a couple of days during the week while Ben was in Washington DC for work. I planned to leave early for work on her last morning in city. The night before Jennifer left, I showed her how the automatic door lock worked so that she would not need a key.

I opened the door, flipped the switch, and let the door slam shut.

"Easy!" I exclaimed.

"Easy," repeated Jennifer.

I reminded her that once she shut the door from the outside she would not be able to get back inside the apartment. So, if she forgot anything, I would mail it.

Everything seemed fine and dandy.

I woke up early the next morning. Got ready for work. Tiptoed to the door so I wouldn't wake Jennifer sleeping on the air mattress in the living room. Grabbed the door handle and tugged. Tugged again. Tugged a little harder. Tugged with all of my might. Tugged with both hands on the knob and one leg on the wall.

The door did not budge.

Jennifer, awake by now, laughed. I panicked. I called Ben who vaguely recalled that the automatic lock was broken. Not only does it lock people out, but also locks people in!

Jennifer laughed again, but this time a little panic crept into her voice.

I called our building superintendent to help, but he had a doctor's appointment in Brooklyn and would not be in our building until after 10am. What?!?! Work would be half over AND Jennifer would miss her flight. Uh oh.

I then emailed my principal and told her that I would be late for work because I was locked in my apartment. At first I worried that she would think I made up the story, but the whole situation was so absurd that I knew she would believe me. And, she did. She mainly worried about our safety, which I said was no big deal. If needed, we could climb onto the fifth story fire escape and shimmy down to the ground. In fact, I assumed that was how Jennifer would have to leave to get to the airport on time.

A few minutes later, our super called back and called his brother who came an hour and a half later to unlock the door from the outside. I could not thank him enough. He just shook his head.

We survived. Crisis averted. Mostly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

16 Again

The other day, my girlfriend drove four of us in a car to our monthly book club meeting. A car! Ah, the luxury. A beautiful, quiet, clean, climate controlled, uncrowded car!

Nobody pushed me when I opened the door. Nobody crowded me. I had a good 12 inches of buffer space all around me. Honks, street noise, and people yelling were inaudible. The temperature stayed below 100 degrees. The commute turned easy, almost effortless.

Excuse me while I sit back I relish the memory.


I feel 16 years old again whenever I ride around the city in a car. It's like one of us just got her license and her parents let us borrow their wheels for a night of freedom. A friend with a car is a rare find in the city. A true gem.

Thank you to my friends who have let me sink into their backseats and join them for the ride.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Watch Out Below!

Earlier in the summer, I waited at the crosstown bus stop in the early morning with a dozen other New Yorkers on their way to work. Everyone stood quietly and read their papers or sipped coffee or closed their eyes for those last few minutes of solitude. The only sounds belonged to cars driving by and honking.

Suddenly, a woman screamed and everyone jerked their gazes in her direction. I couldn't see what made her scream, but everyone started to hop around... something... moved... weaved around feet and bags...

Then a huge and extremely disoriented (or brave) rat escaped the crowd and commotion and ran by me. Pretty sure he winked and flashed a thumbs up as he sped down the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, the lady a few feet away wearing earbuds and listening to music missed the excitement and the rat ran right over her feet. It literally ran across the top of her sneakers. She shrieked and we looked on, horrified.

My only thought... groooooooss.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Picnic in the Park

On Monday night, Ben and I joined friends on the Great Lawn in Central Park for a free concert by the New York Philharmonic. As expected, people crowded into every available space and corner with picnic baskets full of food and drinks. The ground quickly became a patchwork quilt of tarps, blankets, and beach towels.

For awhile, the five of us crowded into a pretty tight space. Our blanket was definitely not spread to its full capacity. Only two could stretch their legs at a time and poor Reed sat with his legs at an odd angle for the first half of the show, but he never complained. Good sport.

During the second half of the show, a huge group in front of us moved and left a large open spot. We pounced on their spot and stretched our blanket to its full queen size. We felt like royalty.

Real estate in New York is hard to come by whether you're looking for an apartment, seat on the subway, or a spot of grass in Central Park.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Jimmy McMillan Knows

Sadly, the Gap store on 86th and Broadway closed. Before they closed the doors forever, I bought one last item and cried a single tear for the store that had served me for so long. Where would I get my wardrobe staples now? The Gap on 86th and Broadway was within walking distance.

As the cashier put my new purchase in a bag, I casually asked why the store was closing. He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "They raised the rent so Gap didn't resign the lease." I gasped.

They raised the rent. Expected. They raised the rent so much that even the Gap can't afford to stay?!?! Shocking.

Jimmy McMillan, a beloved NY politician from The Rent Is Too Damn High party (Republican according to Wikipedia), is right... it's time to get out of the city because "the rent is too damn high!"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hot Times

The other day, a handful of fire trucks parked outside our building with their lights flashing as a dozen firemen searched our building for a "gas leak." Apparently, one of the residents in our building smelled gas and called 911. Fortunately, the firemen figured out that our building superintendent had used a lot of WD-40 on all of the third floor door hinges earlier in the day and that caused the smell.

Once I knew we were out of danger, I returned to lounging on the couch and reading a magazine until Ben got home from work. About five minutes later, I heard heavy footsteps running down the hall. Our apartment door swung open and Ben burst into the apartment, frantically scanning the room until his eyes settled on me.

"Whoa," I said. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," Ben replied, out of breath. "I saw all of the fire trucks and got really worried... I thought you tried to cook dinner again."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Latest Celebrity Sightings

People love to ask if I've seen any famous people. Below is a rundown of the celebs I've seen randomly in the past couple of months around the city.

1) Zoe Saldana

Ahhh... so much to say about her. She is a film actress and has been in movies like Avatar and Center Stage. We saw her at The Spotted Pig restaurant in the West Village. She sat at the bar with a friend while we waited (unsuccessfully) for a table. She was so beautiful that Ben, my girlfriend, and I couldn't stop gawking. No one else in our party seemed to care, but it's all we could talk about for the next 20 minutes, hours, and maybe days. I made mental notes to choose a healthy entree for dinner, start working out that night, and get Botox.

2) Countess LuAnn de Lesseps

She is from the Real Housewives of New York City television show. We saw her at a fundraiser in the Lower East Side. I recognized the countess immediately and almost dropped my mojito. I tried not to stare, but couldn't help it. The countess sashayed around the room (sans cameras) obviously looking for someone... sadly, it wasn't me. She exited the room and my girlfriend and I looked at each other, bummed that she didn't perform her hit song "Money Can't Buy You Class."

3) Richard Belzer

He is from the Law & Order: SVU television series. We saw him at one of the best places to relax and hang with friends, the Boat Basin restaurant in Riverside park along the Hudson River. He happened to walk by our table and my girlfriend recognized him.

4) Mario Cantone

He is an actor and played one of Charlotte York's best friends on the Sex and the City television series. We saw him in the Chelsea Market (a great place to visit when needing respite indoors). 

 5) Richard Sommer

He is an actor on the television series called Mad Men.  We happened to walk past him in Chelsea after having brunch with friends. I think he had just had brunch with friends too. See, everyone, US Weekly is right... celebrities are "just like us."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ireland: Last Night

Here is the very last post about our European vacation... one year and many, many posts later. My grandpa once asked, "When will it be over? It feels... interminable." Now, grandpa, it's over now. I promise.

We left Spain and spent the last night of our month long European adventure in Dublin, Ireland. Dublin did not disappoint. It sure packed a punch for such a small city.

We enjoyed the evening walking through the downtown and moseying into restaurants and pubs, most of them in buildings older than our country. We met locals and tourists, including a couple of footballers and an Elvis impersonator who worked at the local casino. Elvis invited Ben and I to gamble for free at his casino, but I declined for the both of us despite the dollar signs that flashed in Ben's eyes. No need to end a perfect vacation losing money in a windowless building with the King of Rock 'n Roll. That wasn't how I envisioned the end of our journey.

The last place we ventured into for the evening had a great classic rock band that played a mixture of American and Irish music. We made some new friends while singing American hits at the top of our lungs, readying ourselves for the trip home.

The band at its best.

Representing the stars and stripes among the locals.

Walking through downtown.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spain: Beach Bunnies

The beaches in Barcelona rocked for many reasons, but mostly because "food vendors" (I use that term loosely) walked by sunbathers and sold big pieces of real coconuts, which I excitedly bought. Surprisingly, real coconuts taste completely different from the coconut shavings I usually eat... those found in the gooey richness of Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars. The coconuts in Barcelona tasted nutty, kind of like almonds.

I couldn't get enough.

I don't think it's too late to start this trend at Long Beach on Long Island...