Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Look at all that green grass over there!

Last Saturday I was subjected to taking yet another civil service exam for the Librarian positions in Suffolk County. In order to get a full time job as a librarian in a Suffolk County public library, one must take these standardized tests every year. They are mandatory in order to even be considered for a full time position and even that isn't guaranteed. It costs money to take these tests each time and because the offices of civil service in this county are apparently unable to keep applications on file for more than five minutes, you have to fill out a new application each time you take a test. And that shit is not online either. It may as well be on that dark blue carbon copy paper we had in the 80s. The system, the testing, the questions on the tests, all are such complete and utter bullshit that I never forget to pack an enormous chip in my bag for placement squarely on my shoulder during the test. This time was no exception.

The tests are always given in the local community college. I think of this as the one bonus because I am bereft of formal education at the moment and have been since completing my masters' degree back in 2003 and I miss shoving my shapely form into the hard laminate of school desks, reading the grafitti scratched into the desktops telling me who "wuz there", smelling the industrial cleaner on the floors, etc. Yes, I am one of those dorkuses that enjoys class, school, degrees, regretful hookups, Pearl Jam, Vivarin tablets, insecurity, cheap beer, inappropriate touching, Goth skirts, badly written poetry and gross living quarters. Ok maybe not ALL of that but I sure did like it in the 90s. I digress.

The test took almost three hours to complete and I can say, definitvely, that out of all the time I've wasted in my life up until this point, I have never wanted three hours back so badly. I literally paused during the test to contemplate the myriad things I could be doing otherwise and cleaning my bathroom was one of them. You are in dire straits, my friend, when you daydream about cleaning your bathroom. But the test was finally over and because I was hoping to catch a train to NYC to meet a dear friend for brunch, and the fact that I could not find it in my heart to care less about a test, I hightailed it out of there. I am confident that I will never take another one of those again, as I am planning to move back to the city in the next two years. And though the public libraries out there don't pay very well, at the very least they do not make you prove yourself beyond your expensive graduate degree and years and years of experience. And you can stick a #2 pencil up that, civil service.

I had a lovely brunch with my friend Lauren (aka Wactwu) here:

Kitchenette Tribeca

which was kind of like throwing a party and inviting 20 people to fit in your apartment and then having 45 people show up and sit on top of each other. But we do these things in restaurants because the food is worth it. And so was the company!

I say this now because I am once again ensconced inside a prison from which I may never escape work, but I will take any and every opportunity to go to NYC. In recent weeks I have come to a conclusion that I'm accepting as fact: it was a mistake to leave. And presently I have my eyes focused on getting back. Don't get me wrong. A lot of very significant things have happened in my life in the past four years since I moved underneath the long, long skies of long, long island. And I can't say that any of it was bad. Seriously. The ending of a relationship, the clearing of (and subsequent rebuilding of) significant credit card debt, quality time spent with my family and the two close friends who live here as well and the sheer proximity to vineyards are nothing if not life changing. But try as I might, I can never seem to squelch the unease of not belonging. Sure, I'm a restless sort of person in general, as the people who know me best would tell you. In the past it was generally accepted (by me) that the grass was always greener where I was not. But I know I belong in NYC. I sort of always have.
Adding to this feeling is an insight I gained from a complete stranger I was chatting up in a bar in the city a few months ago. We talked a bit about our lives and he asked where I live. When I told him he said, without knowing me mind you, "Well you need to find your way back here." See? A drunk stranger told me that. I bet I can find a Magic 8 ball that will back that up as well. Fate!

In summation:
  • Civil service can suck it.
  • I like classrooms.
  • Brunch is good with dear friends, even in an elevator sized restaurant.
  • NYC has a thin, steel wire wrapped snugly around the center of my heart.
  • You can gain insight about yourself from total, drunk strangers. (wow, I dig the placement of those adjectives.)
That's it for now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cats. And how they freak me out sometimes.

My cat was being a total wang this morning and would not let me get her into the carrier so I could take her to the groomers. How do they know the difference between a friendly cuddle and one that is tricksy and a ploy to get them to do something they wouldn't normally do i.e. enter the confines of a carrier to be poked and prodded at? I often believe cats can read minds. In fact when I was considering adopting my cats I did a lot of reading up on what to expect as a cat owner and at least three books mentioned that a somewhat effective way of teaching a cat to do or not to do something is to think and visualise what you want the cat to do or stop doing. It really freaked me out when I read that just because why is that advice from cat experts? Why am I just now learning about the psychic abilities of cats?

I had a cat growing up. He was named Catsy. Yes, I know, I know. He was all white and we adopted him as a kitten from what sticks out in my memory as the white trashiest house in Louisiana and that is REALLY saying something. I have this memory of picking him out of a litter that was in a dilapidated cardboard box in the front lawn. In actuality it was likely just a normal house and the kittens were cared for but memory is a tricky thing. Back then and down south, people rarely neutered or spayed their pets. I don't know why. It just wasn't/isn't done that often. A lot of shelters up here in NY will make trips down south to bring up the excess stray animals for our shelters. Anyway, I loved Catsy with all of my heart. I adored that cat. The problem with him was that he was a bastard. That cat hated us and he was feral and mean and he would scratch the ever loving shit out of us at every opportunity. He had the gait of an alley cat and the indifference of Saharan lion, chillaxing in the desert. He hated being pet. What fucking cat hates being pet? Catsy, that's who. One time my mom tried to pet him as a last ditch effort for you know, a purpose to having him at all and he cut a gash so deep in her lip that she not only had to get stitches but she still has a scar. I honestly don't know why my parents let us keep him, he was that mean. But we all, my mom, my father and my sister all developed an attachment to him. But to this day I honestly think I loved him the most. Does this speak to my constantly seeking out affection from people who are indifferent/mean to me? Or am I watching too many episodes of "In Treatment"? What do you, the viewer, think?

Catsy lived with us for many years up until we moved out of our home after my parents split up. We couldn't take him to NY with us and both my mother and sister told me that on the last day when we got our stuff out of the house they called for him but he didn't come. He was an outdoor cat, he had no patience for being indoors. I always got the sense we were his hotel. So we had no choice but to leave. Catsy became just another casualty of that sad, sad time for me and I have felt guilty about that ever since. In my heart, I know he was likely totally fine since he didn't really like us much and spent most of his time outside, killing animals and burying them under our house (the John Wayne Gacy of cats mayhaps?). But still, that was one of my first hearbreaks. I hope he psychically knew I didn't want to go.

And in keeping with the whole cats are weird, psychic, creepy yet adorable animals, about 6 months ago I saw a cat that reminded me of Catsy, all white and sleek, arrogance written on his face. I was flooded by memories of him and felt this incredible guilt (a feeling I'm really adept at frankly) and I was thinking about him and how I missed him and hoped he either made his way with a new family or at the very least was able to live off the fruits of his hunting. As I sat there thinking about him and feeling terrible I had my front door open with just the screen door closed. A neighborhood cat who I know well came walking up right to the door and he just plopped right down in front of me and did that stretchy thing on his back that cats do when they want a belly rub. And he just stayed like that for a few minutes as I pet him and then flipped himself over and lifted his nose up to me and off he went to find some adventures. I don't really know what to make of this, if anything so what do you, the viewer, think? If someone had told me this story I would have said "What a lovely, comforting coincidence." But since it happened to me, I think that cats read my mind and I may need an intervention soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Over the past weekend I attended a bachelorette (why does blogger make that a misspelled word?) weekend for one of my besties and an assorted crew of women from all walks of life. Not being in any way ordinary, my friend chose to go away for a murder mystery weekend in beautiful Jim Thorpe, PA. If you don't know about/haven't been to Jim Thorpe, you should. It is a small, small town in eastern Pennsylvania with a storied history and colorful locals. We stayed here:
at the Harry Packer mansion, erstwhile home to one Harry Packer, son of Asa Packer, coal baron and all around big wig. Actually, I found the story of Asa and Harry Packer quite interesting but suffice to say that they were father and son and they were incredibly rich and they lived next door to each other along the steepest hill known to man. Some words exchanged while climbing said hill in various states of inebriation and food coma are as follows:

"I'm so out of shape."
"Man, I need to rest."
"My hamhocks hurt."
"I shouldn't have eaten that entire crab cake."
"I'm detoxing on Monday."
Silence...apart from heavy breathing.

Harry Packer died when he was just 34 and it may or may not have been a direct result of climbing that hill to get home. But I digress.

We had reserved the carriage house because even in this day and age, we aren't really "main house" people. I, of course, speak only for myself. The carriage house had five rooms and we had four of those booked for the eight people at the party, necessitating our sharing the fifth with a couple of strangers. Due to the murder mystery goings on we had the opportunity to talk to our carriage house mates and get a good look at them. They were a couple away for the weekend, the woman shared my sister's name, which was odd and the man was about 2 years away from being the old pervert that everyone in the neighborhood goes out of their way to change their schedule arond in order to avoid passing conversations. But they were nice enough and I really didn't see them at all aside from the murder mystery sessions of the weekend. And they didn't see any of us. This didn't stop the pervy older man from saying stuff like "So you gals didn't make too much noise last night. I guess the stripper was late." In fact, there is something about the words Bachelorette Party that send people's (in particular people beyond a certain age) imaginations into orgiastic paroxysms, imagining Caligula's den despite seeing the participants in broad daylight, being told they are all (way) older than 21 and discussing fine wine, children and professions merely hours before. Over the weekend we heard comments and were asked questions by all the anniversary celebrating older couples in attendance. It reminded me of how pervy everyone is. Again, digression.

After settling in, we took a walk around town to get some lunch and explore. We got some booty pictured here:

That was to take home people. Didn't I just tell you how tame we all are? 

I also bought some rather delicious hot pickles, the thought of which is currently making me salivate. We ate a lovely lunch at a restaurant called Crave which was situated, as most things in Jim Thorpe are, inside an old mansion. Whilst there we drank pumpkin martinis, pumpkin beers and wine. Because we didn't just buy a case and a half of wine. Oh and also we had to finish up lunch so we could go back to the mansion and participate in a wine tasting. I'm starting to think my blog should be titled "After So Much Wine Girl." Thoughts?

The wine tasting was enlightening, the small town wine distributor was worldly and knew what he was talking about and most importantly he left the bottles out after the wine tasting and enabled us to serve ourselves. A particular highlight of this event was looking over at Marianne, the bride to be as she caught my eye and slowly mouthed the word "Balls." This was a throwback to a private joke that took place in the van on the way down to PA (oh who am I kidding, the word balls is bandied about in our group of friends.) and it was triggered by the man running the tasting saying it in context. Seeing my friend's happy face as she mouthed the word balls for some reason just sent me into a fit of laughter. This resulted in a nice, quiet state of drunken happiness. Which was just what was needed for the intro to the murder mystery story.

The mysteries that they do at the Harry Packer mansion really play off the setting and from what I understand they all feature real historical figures and members of the Packer family as main characters. The purpose of that first night was to get our character assignments. I was assigned the wife of an explosives magnate based on a real life man who may or may not have caused the deaths of 200 Irish immigrants and coal miners. Without going into a long detailed description about the murder mystery game, suffice to say that a cook named Brumhilde was dead and we all had to find out why/who. Like I said, I was drunk but it was fun!

After our character assignments we went back to the carriage house exhausted and sat up talking and snacking and general catching up, well most of us anyway. Our plan was to tour the town the next day and come back in time for rounds 2 and 3 of the game and dinner. So we went to bed with nary a penis in sight.

The next day we were able to have breakfast on the porch of the beautiful mansion that overlooked the mountains on the clearest, bluest day in a long while. The town was having a fall harvest festival and we had been warned the previous night that it would be "mobbed" and to our city sensibilities we doubted. Sure it will be mobbed but mobbing is relative. Yeah, no it was mobbed. Not unpleasantly of course but still. After wandering around the three or four blocks that comprise the town we drank some more and ate some more and then climbed back up mount Everest to nap and refresh for the evening. All in all, not too shabby a way to spend an afternoon among friends.

And then we had a quick round wherein more secrets were revealed and none of us were any closer to figuring out who the killer was but although he was rather long winded, the leader of the game was really knowledgeable about local history and he was adept at creating the mystery. He just needed to stop talking after awhile! Also he looked like this:

Which was odd considering one of the other participants looked like this:

True story.

Dinner was delicious. Our group was seated at a long table. On one end some of our group were really, really involved in their cell phones and on my end of the table, I was sat next to a mother and daughter, cousins of the woman who could be confused for Molly Shannon. They were cute but you could tell the daughter was very embarrassed by her mother as evidenced when the mother said "I really hope I don't get a lot of gas from this food." and the daughter said "Please! Please stop it." Guess what else we did? We drank more wine!

As a side note, the mansion has its own "bar" which was really a table with a lot of booze that was called the LIBATIONS LOUNGE. This was to the dismay in particular of my sister and Dana S. who conjured the word labia each time libations was brought up. I know they are both reading this so this is for them: LIBATIONS.

After dinner we all gathered to find out who the murderer was and to my own personal disappointment, it was someone I had completely forgotten about in the game heh. But the game guy brilliantly gave us a bunch of false endings a la Peter Jackson and those made me chuckle. I have to say I really enjoyed the murder mystery. I just kind of wish I'd been more sober for a lot of it. Funnily enough, that's how I feel about all four years of college.

Anyway we went back to the carriage house energized and five of the eight of us went out for drinks in town while three of us stayed home and looked at cell phones and magazines. I think you probably know who had more fun. While at the bar we ran into Norm MacDonald, a very friendly woman who waved vigorously at us but none of us recognized, a father and son from Long Island of all places, some lovely pinot noir and a handful of friendly locals. Jim Thorpe is a lovely town!

Stumbling back up the hill in utter silence due to our inability to breathe comfortably it occurred to me how lucky I am to be living the life I live with the people I live with and among. Maybe it was the wine but I just felt happy to be able to be with a friend, celebrating the fact that she found someone great to spend the rest of her life with, something that is both natural and awe inspiring in the same breath. 

The next morning was breakfast on the porch again. I was a tad bit hungover but nothing terrible and we decided to visit the famous jail that is in Jim Thorpe. It was the scene of the hanging of four members of the Molly Maguires. Google it, lazy people! The jail is also said to be haunted. It certainly was creepy enough for me to believe it was haunted. Our tour guide was 15 and spoke too quickly so I tuned out a bit of what he said. The coolest part of that tour was seeing this:

The hand print that does not disappear, even after several attempts over the last 200 years to remove it from cell 18. Again, Google might be your friend here.

After the tour we wanted to eat something for the long drive home and unfortunately chose a Mexican place in town. Scratch that a Mexican place in a town that had two Hispanic people in it, myself and my sister. The food was horrendous but the company was worth it. 

Thoughts on Jim Thorpe? I'd go again. Thoughts on murder mystery weekend? I'd do it again. Maybe in a haunted mansion. Thoughts on my soon to be married friend? I love you and hope you had a good weekend, despite the fact that there were dicks, but no penises! 

Peace out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What hell might be like

Man I'm complainy today.

Several months ago I mused that the walls of hell were lined with law serials, needing updated looseleaf parts. This was mainly due to the fact that I had to go through a large quantity of law serials where I work to see what needed updating. Yeah you know some people my age are making movies, travelling the world on the company dime or simply sitting at home eating pork rinds. Me? Oh I'm checking bookshelves to see if the law serials need updating. Or I was a few months ago.

I've amended my assertion to include book review publications. The walls of  hell are lined with law serials needing updated looseleaf parts and book review publications. Maybe it is because I have two jobs and I'm tired by the time I get to my second job. Maybe it is the mostly ass backward way they do almost everything there. Maybe my back really hurts today and I'm not in the  mood to be sitting up much less reading some review of a book that this place either is or isn't going buy based on everything BUT the review. Maybe I'm antsy because I'm on the cusp of a three day weekend and I really don't want to be here right now. Maybe the teenagers that are in here every day for hours and hours just laughing to themselves that are about to send me over the edge. Maybe I....I have completely forgotten what my point was going to be here. Oh right, I don't want to read any more book reviews. Frankly, I'd rather nosedive into a swimming pool full of mayonaise than look at another review publication.

I know when I am feeling stressed because I get really annoyed by really stupid things like I outlined in the paragraphs above. My comedown from Paris, my inevitable return to the doldrums of life and the ease of my first world life is apparently congealing into a large sized and rather painful knot in my lower back.
I think maybe I need to take up yoga again as often as I did it last winter. Three times a week. Unfortunately my very good yoga instructor got knocked up (why are babies such ruiners?) and I strongly disliked the woman who replaced her. I mean how exactly does one teach an hour of yoga in which no sweat is produced? Meh.

I'm really only posting this right now to avoid the stack of publications on my desk. THAT'S why this post is so lame.

Ah well, I'm going away this weekend to a murder mystery weekend for one of my best friend's bachelorette parties. I hope I'm the murdered one so I can spend the rest of the weekend drinking wine.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Car Full o' Visors

Since returning from my trip about 2 weeks ago, it has pretty much rained in either torrential downpours or in little spittles for 20 minutes and then the tease of sunshine. This has resulted in a couple of things:

Firstly, I've discovered that I have a bottomless supply of (5 dolla! 5 dolla!) umbrellas. All of these umbrellas are kept in my bedroom, the place I almost never am when it begins to rain. In addition to those, I have two very large and long umbrellas in my car, provenance unknown, that I'm reasonably sure I've never used before. I think I need to get rid of them. That seemingly insignificant factoid has led me to accept that...

 I sincerely need to rid my apartment of unnecessary things, namely, large mountains beyond mountains of clothing I no longer wear.  I began this process over the weekend when i opened one of my closets and saw a huge mound of sweaters and it moved slightly. Turns out one of my cats was embedded underneath one of the piles and it made me feel instantly hoardy, you know? Like I was one step away from justifying keeping an empty bottle of body wash in the toilet bowl because I've run out of room elsewhere. I just can't go down that road. Plus I have seen so many wonderful things in the stores that I can't really justify buying with the amount of stuff in my closets at the moment. Yet I...

...continue to purchase clothing. This has to do with the fact that I'm very bored at work of late and that coupled with hours on the computer coupled with a shrinking waistline propels me forward to Spendyville. The internet can be an evil place for a woman just returned from Paris, a city where everyone emerges from deep sleep fully dressed in fashionable outfits and glowing skin. Kind of like most of NYC. In my neck of the woods, most people look fine, some people look supercool, other people are effortless in style like....

...that woman I was stopped behind at a red light this morning. She drove a Mercedes station wagon. (Side note: If you are going to purchase a Mercedes, just get a proper fucking Mercedes and not a station wagon, k?) She wore a visor, nestled deeply in her bottle blond curls. As we waited for the light to change, she looked in the rearview mirror to adjust the hotness that is her essence and decided that she should lose the visor. So she tossed it nonchalantly in the backseat, looked again in the mirror and reached into the passenger seat and put on ANOTHER, albeit shinier, visor. After adjusting it to perfection, she drove off into the promised land, a land where everyone is from the 80s and no one can tolerate a full hat. A visor is the fanny pack of hats, just as a Mercedes station wagon is the visor of Mercedeses. The woman I was idling behind at that light this morning may have been the fanny pack of Tuesday mornings.

That was my stream of consciousness post. Did you enjoy it? This weekend I'm taking a road trip as part of a bachelorette (aka hen) party. Expect hijinks. Expect me to write about them.