Monday, November 28, 2011

These trains are the color of sadness and bad pornography

Today is Monday but it feels like the first Monday that ever was. I attribute this to the fact that I had what felt like the longest head cold/cough and viral infection that ate up nine of my days. And normally I would not have cared but it arrived just in time to mar Thanksgiving and my sister's birthday celebrations. Wah wah wah. You guys, it is HARD living in the first world. Regardless, by Wednesday I felt not unlike Ray Miland, circa 1945, without the effort or detriment of ingesting large quantities of booze. And really what is the fun in that?

Thanksgiving arrived and vanished, leaving behind only about 2 pounds of fat and really funny memories. This may be the warping of my memory by the illness but this year was louder by quite a few decibels in my family. It was really nice to see a few members of my extended family that live far away though and my brother brought the most delicious pumpkin pie I have ever eaten in my life from his job. That pie ran a very, very close second to the stuffing which is always the highlight of my thanksgiving meal. I am always beyond thrilled to find that food can one up itself. I'm not entirely sure that the tense/prounoun usage of that phrase is correct but here's to the contemplation of grammar. I nerdly enjoy it with same aplomb that I enjoy adjectives and adverbs and the inventing of them. Again, awkward sentence I don't want to edit.

Much of Friday is foggy. I know I ate a lot more what with leftovers and my sister's birthday dinner. I know I watched a lot of television and I blew my nose a lot of times. I purposely avoided black Friday shopping and murderous crowds of hungry discount seekers because rudeness makes me stabby. After the birthday dinner for Lorraine, we took our little cousin Ashlyn to see the Muppet movie. I was awash in nostalgia and I teared up more than once just because the Muppets make me happy. Or they remind me of being happy. Or I remember what it is like to be happy. Something involving happiness. And it was so wonderful to see so many young children truly enjoying that first Muppet giggle of many. It was a circle of life moment. Go see it with a tiny tot, unfamiliar with the Muppets. You shan't regret it.

Saturday was the piece d'resistance. That is due to the fact that I was feeling eons better and I had plans. I went Mount Olympus NYC to visit Lambden (Nancy and Jon) at their apartment which is filled with good feeling, a huggably fat cat or two, cinnamon raisin French toast, an early afternoon viewing of Birdemic (which left us all with pounding headaches) and general fun. This was all a terrific prelude however to the epic fun I had with Nancy at a screening of Breaking Dawn: Electric Boogaloo (that is the actual title of the film). I knew ahead of time that it was going to be a good experience when, right before boarding the subway, Nancy said "I hate these trains because they are the color of sadness and bad pornography."

Bam chicka boo hoo.

Nancy and I have a long running love to hate affair with the Twilight series. The reason for this is that those books are godawful which would be fine on their own but when you couple that with a rabid fan base, the mockery it inspires in us reaches a fever pitch. Nancy is my humor soul mate in many, many ways and the opportunity to experience something like the Twilight series made film, complete with vampire pregnancies (seriously? wtf?) and a severely unattractive vampire love interest is a gift of manna. I will spare the blog the blow by blow of this film as I'm reasonably sure the Riff Trax guys can and will do something superb when this series is over but suffice to say that I had an awesome time watching this film. Go see it with a grown adult who is silly and understands the kind of love that only a bad movie can inspire. You shan't regret it.

Saturday night after a lovely dinner we all headed down to the East Village for Lorraine's birthday celebration. On the way there Lamden, Lorraine and I shared a taxi that was freshly arrived from depths of fear. By that I mean it was the most frightening cab ride of my life, complete with slamming brakes, turn indicatorless lane changing, speeding and a driver on his cell phone. More than once I felt the urge to vom. More than once I clung to Lorraine and Nancy with the kind of intense purpose that I haven't used since I was 5 and clinging to the doctor's office chair to avoid getting a booster shot.
As for the party, it was everything a birthday party should be: drunken, intimate friends and family surrounding you, loud laughter and music. And dark and stormies by the vatful. Happy birthday my sister! I arrived back at chez Lorraine and Andrew with Kristen and James and I was introduced to my new favorite bagel concoction: salt bagel with cucumber and dill cream cheese. I was born to taste it.

Sunday was a day to start late and aside from getting back to wrong island nothing much else was done. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the week ahead but since it is now Wednesday and I still don't feel prepared, I think I did a bad job.

And so life carries on in the waning days of 2011...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

If I didn't drink for four days straight, I'd know how to blog about this wedding

I have been trying to formulate a cogent way of describing the wedding of one of my best friends, Marianne to her betrothed (I love that word.) Rob last Friday for about a week and change now. For some very odd reason I cannot seem to gather my thoughts into anything understandable and one of the major reasons I suspect this is happening is that I was drunk for a large majority of it, as you do. I have also been "suffering" the lasting effects of a cold that will not die. Barring all of that, this is one of those times where I was just having too much fun to sit around observing everyone and their nuances. It may make for a disjointed recounting of events in this blog I'm afraid.

Being part of a bridal party is a unique experience, unless it isn't, i.e. I have friends who have been in more than 5 weddings. I really did enjoy it and I did like my dress as the bride was kind enough to not pick the same dress for every bridesmaid. Why that was ever a "thing" I will never know. It probably falls under the same category as making jeans with incredibly wide legs also have incredibly wide waists because naturally, all women are tubular. I'm getting off track. How about recount what I can remember in bulleted points?

  • The rehearsal at the church was for many of us, bride and groom included the cold water in the face as it were that this wedding was, in fact, happening. More than once Rob said "Wow, it is really hitting me now." I agreed. The engagement happened two years ago and even after all the planning and discussing and whatnots, all it takes is your loved ones to walk in a procession in front of you to make you take a step back and go "oh, so this is what it feels like."
  • The rehearsal dinner was lovely, tinged as it was with anticipation (and wine). Catching up with out of town friends, family members of the couple all over a meal...these traditions are worth preserving, whatever you think of weddings and their trappings.
  • Thankfully all the wedding related events took place within a mile of my apartment, allowing me to relax about getting from A to B (that is a euphemism for "allowing me to drink at my leisure") and as a result I remember having several interesting conversations, the kind of which I feel like I'm always chasing and never having time for in normal life. But the details of those conversations are foggy. I know we discussed Paris and trepanation and love for certain but don't ask me details because I wouldn't know. I left the rehearsal dinner party after party feeling tipsy and satisfied. Is there a better state of mind to be in?
  • The day of the wedding came sluggishly b/c I awoke very early and very groggily and had 1.5 million things to do on a very tight schedule. But problems don't get more first world than having all the things one has to do be related to hair and makeup and getting ready in a pretty satin dress. 
  • I made it to the bride's house on time and in time for a lot of milling around excitedly and the first cocktail of the day which was made out of wine. I should probably just fully adapt to the life of wino right now. 
  • Marianne and Rob had rented a school bus to transport the bridal party to meet up with the groomsmen at Rob's house and then to the place where we took the photographs. I really loved that idea and it proved to be such a fun part of the afternoon, all of us as excited as overgrown schoolchildren only in wedding gear. And with beer.
  • Standout snapshot of my memory: seeing Marianne traipse through the endless backyard of Rob's parents' house with Dana behind her, holding the train of her dress to the tree where Rob was waiting. The day had turned out to be quintessentially autumn with leaves falling and a chilly breeze blowing. It may pain Marianne to admit it but it was really quite romantic. 
  • Taking the portraits was freezing and I anxiously await the final products as I'm reasonably sure my hair was flying in opposing directions. I'm told that wedding photographers can defy gravity in the photo lab (old school) so I'll be looking forward to that. Amazingly everyone's hair looked fine as we boarded the bus again so I'm optimistic. But most of us were buzzed so maybe I should be worried.
  • Before this wedding I had no idea that the bride and groom sat facing each other on the altar in the Catholic (cat-lick) church. I liked this as well. It could have been the 100 year old church we were in but everything about the wedding ceremony felt so charmingly traditional.
  • I am the type of girl that cries at weddings. I wouldn't think so about myself but there is something so fearless about promising something to another person for the rest of your life.
  • All of us in the wedding party piled into pedicabs to get from the church to the reception. It was a charming way to travel, if a bit freezing. I focused mainly on the straining muscles of the calves of our driver and my chattering teeth.
  • The reception was gorgeous as the many, many photos peppering facebook can attest. By this point in the day I had continued my steady drinking, with fortitude so what I remember is a room full of happy, dancing people. That's really all weddings should be.
As time goes on the best part of wedding celebrations is in the remembering.  I started this post three days ago and over the course of those three days, my cold has gotten worse. I'm sitting in a darkened living room,coughing, blowing my nose and drinking tea to the click clack of my keyboard and were it not for recounting the memories of the wedding, life would certainly seem a bit grim. That's all I've got and that ain't so bad.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meditations during a bit of quiet

For several weeks now I've had an unopened but very old copy of Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency. I borrowed it from work because I saw again the episode of Mad Men when Don Draper asks a stranger in a bar about it. I enjoy it in movies and films when a stranger in bar imparts information that moves the character to do something; it's probably why I so enjoyed Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Anyway, it has sat on my living room table for weeks and weeks because I am in the habit of a short attention span and very little time simultaneously along with the desire to remain a well read individual, a well watcher of films, a well listener of music. Facebook, Twitter and texting has melted away key parts of me and lately, I'm looking to be a bit more solid. (No, not like that.)

So I finally got around to opening this ancient edition. It is entirely possible this is a first edition; it certainly smells like one. The binding is breaking but the thinness of the volume keeps it together. Anyway, amidst the chaos of my recent days Mr. O'Hara's words have managed to reach across half a century and they have given me pause. It is what I used to experience daily when my attention branched out and spanned longer. I loved having this respite from the din of clickety clack and one word responses and the ease with which I can shrink away from actually thinking about much of anything. I just thought I'd share my favorite part so far. It is variation 2 from the poem Two Variations.

I'm glad that the rock is heavy
and that it feels all right in my heart
like an eye in a pot of humus.
Let's write long letters on grand themes,
fish sandwiches, egg sandwiches and cheese;
or travelling in Mexico, Italy and Australia.
I eat a lot so I won't get drunk and then
I drink a lot so I'll feel excited
and then I've gone away I don't know where
or with whom and can't remember whom from
except that I'm back with  my paper bag
and next time my face won't come with  me.

Something about that particular stanza...I don't know what it is exactly but I don't think I want to know. I guess I just want to read it over and over again for a little while.

It seems apt that I finally opened this book on a day when I found out an old (and I mean old) professor had passed on. Aside from that whole hilarious/creepy story (the man claimed to have bedded Mae West...I told you he was old), it reminded me of a state of mind I used to inhabit. Amazing how sometimes the news of the end of someone's life can be a footnote to another, bigger thought. Well, maybe not amazing. Interesting at least.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Initial Smell

As weekends go, this past one was right up my alley in that it contained many of life's little bonuses including but not limited to friends, cleanliness, booze and television. Here's a recap because this is my blog and you arrived here somehow so I assume you want to know about this non?

I count Thursday night as my weekend beginning because I didn't have to go to my second job and whenever that happens, an angel gets his wings. My friend Dana and I had heard about a wig party happening at a local bar on Saturday so compulsory wig shopping and dinner eating had to happen despite the cyclonic weather we were having. Going to a party supply/Halloween costume supply store three days before Halloween is not the smartest thing I've ever done in my life. I picked up a geisha girl wig that was really random but the randomness was offset by the fact that it was $10. The long, long wait to pay combined with the long, long line of people waiting to get their "custom" costumes drove home the fact that Halloween is like Mardi Gras for me: a once magical and amazing day of the year that has since been muddled by the boozy fakery of it all (booby fakery if we are talking about Mardi Gras). In my memories I don't ever see the brassy falseness of Halloween wigs and the lame, lame things people try to sex-FY. But there under the fluorescent lighting, the grown ups buying their own versions of cat suits and the candy stealing toddlers, it was all on blast, so to speak. Most people love Halloween. I love the idea of Halloween and the way my brain conjures up a filtered version of the past. So sue me.

On Friday I made plans with an out of town friend, Sylvia, in from Houston for the week and as previously stated in this blog, I will take every single opportunity to hang out in NYC. My sister also joined us and found out about this incredible speakeasy (strangely they still exist) right in the middle of Chinatown. Though I lived in the city for about 10 years, I think I only ever really went to Chinatown about three times, each time to eat. And if I recall correctly, each of those three or so times, I got lost. Apparently when the city becomes anything more intricate than a clearly outlined grid, I'm hopeless.  Friday, however, was different due to the fact that I simply followed the exact opposite of what my instinct told me to do (made a left when I really felt I should have made a right) and I ended up on Doyers street, a street which is really an alley. Apart from the clear signage of the post office on that small street, there were quite a few unlabeled/ unnumbered buildings and I was the first one there so I kind of stupidly walked up to nondescript doors only to discover they were closed. As I stood there waiting, two women walked by looking very confused. I asked if they were looking for the same place I was and they told me about a "secret" Mexican restaurant on that same block. Ok, so a speakeasy I understand but a whole restaurant that is hidden? I felt so exclusive. And yes I acknowledge the falseness of that "exclusivity" but I've already explained that my brain makes things more fun after they are over. Can we move past this?

Sylvia arrived and we spent some time catching up and walking around Chinatown while we waited for Lorraine. Among other things we talked about how much we miss the city. My first apartment in Manhattan was with Sylvia and that was many, many moons ago. Walking around chatting with a good friend with no schedule or aim to adhere to is truly one of life's pleasures.  Eventually we made it back just in time to meet with Lorraine and we decided to try out the "hidden" Mexican place before drinking expensive cocktails at the "hidden" bar. It was the right choice. The food was delicious, authentic Mexican and I tried a cocktail I've never had before (perish the thought) called a pulque. Honestly I didn't much care for it. It was rather viscous for an alcoholic drink. I think I will stick to nectar when it comes to agave.

And after dinner was the piece de resistance, a visit to Apotheke. For my birthday this year a group of my friends and I went to a show called Sleep No More that was a whole experience in itself but this particular bar we went to on Friday night reminded me so much of that show in its design and in its concoctions. I could visualize the Lady Macbeth of Sleep No More downing one of their cocktails.
And oh, what cocktails they were. Lorraine got this amazing beet cognac based cocktail that I will never forget. I drank the "Violet Hour", each sip of which was like an event. There were layers to it that you could experience separately on different parts of your tongue. Lorraine kept saying "I love the initial smell you get from each cocktail." For a drink to have an initial smell is both hilariously put and really kind of incredible. It being the weekend of Halloween, the bar had the smoke machine going, the lights dimmed (there is no natural light in this bar) and the bartenders and wait staff were wearing ghoulish face paint. It was positively Victorian. But you know, dirtier? I wish I had the capability to explain it.

I crashed at Lorraine's house and made it home early the next morning due to an impending nor' easter we were bracing for and pretty much just scrubbed my apartment clean, nursed a slight hangover and endured the cancellation of the wig party plans due to inclement weather. Because I am loathe to stay at home (only when I'm told I should do exactly that) I decided to go see a movie. I originally wanted to see Anonymous but when I arrived at the mega maxi extreme ultra multiplex it was sold out. (!) A film about Shakespeare selling out in suburbia blew my mind. And though the sensible thing was to go home I decided to watch 50/50, again. Yes I enjoy watching an attractive young man as he suffers through cancer. Twice. No but it is a really well acted film. With a very attractive lead. Did I mention that?

Sunday I helped Marianne do some wedding shopping for the wedding which is unbelievably next week We had an early dinner which involved a lot of wine and not nearly enough food to be the foundation for all that wine. As a testament to that, I started writing this blog on Monday and am now just finishing it on Wednesday.
I expect the rest of this week will be uneventful as weeks often are in the buildup to a big event. I'm working on some poetry that I'd like to share here but that is turning out to be way more torturous than it used to be. I'll keep at it though.

You keep at it too. Yes I'm talking to you.