Just when I think I’m out…


Looks like I’ll be heading back to London tomorrow…but just for a few days. I’m actually scheduled to fly back to NYC wednesday night, at which point I’m going to take a limo from the airport all the way to Massachusetts. Hopefully I’ll get up there by 3 or so in the morning.

Some people have wondered why I don’t just go up Thursday morning, and I have to point out that my new living situation makes that impossible. Living right next to Central Park is wonderful in many ways. One of the ways it’s not so wonderful is the fact that Thanksgiving morning is going to be a zoo. And I’m pretty sure my street will be closed. For a little thing called the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. If I was staying in the city it would probably be cool, but trying to get to the train station, which requires crossing the parade route, is pretty much a physical impossibility.

Of course, I also envision all of my careful planning being completely thrown off by getting stuck in London for longer than expected…

And as an example of how awful the last two months have been, I totally and completely forgot about the events on my trip home last time until the other associate I flew home reminded me…

We had actually had a pretty uneventful flight – sat in the bulkhead row of the business class section (which did kind of suck – for some reason the seats in the front row don’t recline as much), but otherwise, it was fine. They had re-routed our plane further north because there was some choppy air in the middle of the atlantic, which made us about a half hour late. Not a big deal, and I’d rather sleep for an extra half an hour than wake up halfway through because I’m getting bumped around….

And just so you get the full picture, we were on a 777, and I was in the very middle seat (the business class section is 2-3-2, and I was in the middle of the 3. My co-worker was right next to me on my right). About a half an hour before we land, the stewardess comes over and asks the woman to my left if should would be willing to switch seats for the landing, because there’s an elderly woman who they want to get off the plan as quickly as possible. No problem…

Until they seat the lady next to me, and it turns out she’s suffering from senile dementia or some such thing, and is trying to get off the plane, because "her sister is meeting her at 11, so she needs to get off the plane to meet her". nevermind that we’re still 10,000 feet in the air. She keeps trying to escape from her seat and the stewardesses keep buckling her back in. At this point, I’m trying to ignore what’s going on (because really, what can I do?), by chatting with my co-worker…but apparently, the woman wants me to help her get off the plane, and since I’m not paying attention to her, she starts…hitting me.


We call for the attendants, but at this point, the plane is in landing mode, so they’re all strapped in…It was all I and the guy across the aisle from the woman could do to keep her in her seat (mostly by talking sternly, but also by keeping her from taking her seatbelt off).

Afterwards, the attendants told us that she should have never been allowed on the plane without at least some sort of family or aide, but that they didn’t know until we were already in the air…

I think the most amazing part is that I forgot about this. Normally, this would the the highlight of a crazy trip. Yeah. I can’t wait to go back.

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Maybe I should have sent him over the bridge…


So this little entry in curbed actually reminded me of a totally silly conversation I had last week while walking home from work.

As I turned onto Central Park South from 7th Avenue, this happened:

Random Touristy Guy: Excuse me, how do I get to 59th Street?
Me: Um, Central Park South IS 59th Street…it’s only called "Central Park South" for the duration of, um, Central Park
RTG: OK, but what direction is 59th Street?
Me: You’re on Central Park South, which IS 59th Street. It’s 59th street in BOTH directions!

Now, if he was looking for a particular address, he never mentioned it (and frankly, he never even said whether he was looking for "east" or "west" 59th, which would have enabled me to at least point in one direction or the other based on our location). I just watched him wander away (east, by the way), and shook my head in exhaustion.

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Reason I’m glad I’m moving number 53,473,242,984


Of all of the myriad of problems about my current apartment that I have not discussed before, one of them is the blackouts. The 11th and 12th floors of my building (I’m on 11) run off of a particular building circuit down in the basement, which trips on a regular basis. It’s been doing so since April. The only person who has access to the electrical panel, which is under lock and key, is the Super, Mario (and yes, we’ve all made the requisite Nintendo jokes already). The power has gone out, pretty much at least once a week, going on 3 months now. This week, it went out on both Monday night and Tuesday night. Monday wasn’t so bad – Mario was home so it was back on in about 15 minutes. But last night? was the last straw.

See, part of what happens is that the power in all of the apartments goes out, but the hallways, which are apparently on a different circuit, stay on. So everyone stumbles around their apartments to open the front door so that it’s not quite so dark. And then we all hang out in the hallway creating, essentially, a mob effect. Well, last night? 15 minutes go by and Mario is nowhere to be seen. I try calling both his home phone and his cellphone, and get voicemail in both places. I try buzzing the doorman but get no answer. So I finally trudge downstairs to ask the doorman what’s going on. First, apparently our buzzer system is broken, which they didn’t bother to tell any of the tenants about (brilliant!! so much for, you know, security!). Second, apparently Mario is "out". And no one else can fix the problem. So we’re all stuck in our non-air conditioned apartments (did I mention that it’s been in the 90s, with about 120% humidity all week?). Doorman claims that Mario will be back in "5 minutes". 20 minutes go by while I’m standing in the lobby. Mario finally shows up, to, now, a mob of angry tenants all hanging out downstairs.

When he finally comes upstairs to check the second panel (which is on 11), I mention that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to call ConEd. He shoots back that it’s not a ConEd problem, it’s a building problem, and over the past two months he’s made repeated requests of the management company to hire an electrician to fix the problem, but doesn’t seem to get any response. Maybe if we all called in the morning, we’d have better luck…

So at 10 this morning, I call Windsor. Finally get transferred to someone who knows what’s going on – apparently I’m the fourth person to call (go neighbors!). She responds to my questions with a very chipper "well, you’ll be really happy to know that we’ve scheduled an electrician for Friday morning." I, of course, respond in my total bitchvoice (trust me, I’ve got one – it’s the one that I use when I know better than to yell at the customer service people, but want to really convey my aggravation), questioning why they didn’t hire someone when Mario first alerted them to the problem, months ago, as opposed to waiting until they got a whole bunch of phone calls from pissed off tenants.

She then jumps down my throat not to use "foul language" with her. I am actually at a loss as to what she is referring to. Apparently in her really tiny little world, no one should ever say "pissed off". I mean, come on. If part of your job is dealing with angry tenants who have problems, in the notoriously ugly New York real estate environment, you really need a slightly thicker skin than that. So, in the interest of helping her along, I responded,

"I’m sorry, but ‘pissed off’ is not foul language where I come from. Now if I had said that I was ‘fucking pissed off’, that would be foul language."

She kind of backed down at that point, even though she had no answers for me. I also, of course, pointed out that while I have no more rent to pay (and hence, had none to withhold next month), I was not averse to explaining to all of my neighbors (perhaps during the next blackout!) what an implied warranty of habitability is.

But the best part? I get home tonight to a flyer in the building stating that the electrician is coming between 7 and 10am tomorrow, and all electricity in the building will be shut off during those hours. Way to inconvenience your tenants even further! I’m fairly certain that those are the hours in which the greatest number of people in the building are trying to get ready for work.


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I have a confession to make.


I have a deep-seated, blinding fear of bug…photographs.

Bugs themselves? no problem (well, except for cockroaches which are just gross on any level). I know how to wield a hard-soled shoe like the best of them. That time that we had a bizarre fly infestation in the country house, leaving me, in my glasses-less almost blind state to step into the shower and to hear them practically crunching under my feet? I had the presence of mind to get redressed before screaming for my dad. That scorpion inside my suitcase in Mexico? Sure, I stood on a rock and yelled for Daryl, the bartender-slash-scorpion expert, but that was the correct response, because otherwise I couldn’t keep an eye on it to make sure that it didn’t scurry into, like, my bed. Heck, growing up my room was in the basement (don’t get me wrong, it was a cool room because I had the entire basement), and spiders were constantly showing up for my cat to kill. or stare at for hours. Never bothered me.

But watch me flip a page in a book and come across a photograph of an insect? and you’re next watching me run from the room trying not to vomit. Even when I was a little kid, and I got my first world book encyclopedia, I’d come across a photograph of an ant or a fly, and I had to turn my head and oh-so-gently flip the page over by the very corner, so that I wasn’t even touching the picture of the bug.

I don’t know where this comes from. I know it’s completely and totally irrational. But that didn’t stop my heart from beating through my chest when the NY Times Magazine ran a photo of giant cockroaches a few months ago (article abstract only, it’s too old, but the intro paragraph gives a nice sense of the article).

I only bring this up now because yesterday, in all of the brouhaha over the whole fruit-fly gender reassignment thing, the Times decided to publish, on the front page of it’s website, a super-magnified picture of a fruit-fly. I had to avert my eyes and shut down my browser. And then I refused to go back and read the Times for the rest of the day.

Part of me thinks this is all some bizarre latent reaction to the fact that the movie Them! scared me half to death the first time I watched it. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 at the time.

And seriously, I’m just reading through my newsreader, and here’s another one!

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The New Yorker this week has a really fascinating article about the recent phenomenon of high school students suing to become valedictorian. Kids with extremely close GPAs, kids who get "regular" grades (as opposed to weighted "honors" or AP grades) for participating in certain activities like sports, kids who figure out how to game the system (sign of creative thinking or just plain sneaky?).

But the phenomenon is not so new. And perhaps I find the article so interesting because 13 years ago, when I graduated from high school (wow, now I feel old), my high school was involved in a similar situation. My high school was incredibly competitive, and my class was, at the time, the smartest class to graduate in the 20 years that the school had been open. I wasn’t exactly a dummy, and took multiple honors and AP classes, but out of 380 kids, I ranked somewhere in the 70s (they only gave out actual rankings to the top 10 kids).

Anyway, when it came time to name the valedictorian and salutatorian, the principle called these two guys (let’s refer to them as M and S) into his office and explained that their GPAs were only .008 apart, so he had a proposal. If they both agreed, before finding out who had the higher GPA, they could be named co-valedictorians and J, who was third in the class (and who was all of 15, had completed high school in 3 years, and went on to study physics and math at the University of Chicago) would be salutatorian. I think S (who was a friend of mine), didn’t really care – he had already gotten into Harvard early and been a Westinghouse finalist. But it didn’t matter, because M, confident that he was in first place, refused. And then found out that he had the lower GPA, meaning S would be valedictorian.

So M sued. He sued the school, the principal, and our AP English and Chemistry teachers (for giving him As instead of A+s) in order to be named co-valedictorian. He argued that because S took band, which was ungraded, and he took art, which was a "regular" class, and therefore did not receive honors weighting, he was at a disadvantage (nevermind that he could have signed up for band). He guilt tripped our AP English teacher until she did change his grade (and the grades of everyone in the class to be "fair"). She actually took early retirement at the end of that year after all of the chaos. He tried to guilt trip our AP Chemistry teacher, who flat out refused – grades in his class were based entirely on exams, which had no leeway. M got what he "earned", and Mr. W wasn’t about to bend to the pressure.

When it eventually got to court (and yes, it got that far), the judge laughed M out of his courtroom. In the judge’s view, the school set up rules, gave M an opportunity that he rejected, and then when he didn’t get the answer he wanted, insisted on a do-over. He made his own bed…yadda yadda yadda…

It all seemed so crazy at the time, that someone would go to such lengths over what was essentially a title. But apparently we were just at the front of the curve.

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The point at which I realize that I’m officially too old for pop culture.


Wednesday morning, on my way to work, I saw, quite possibly, the scariest thing ever.

That’s right, I was in the same car as a Kevin Federline wannabe. It was so bad that I actually pulled out the paper notebook I carry with me everywhere (normally handy for keeping track of new kitchen appliance dimensions) to write down the following:

guy on the subway today, trying waaaay too hard, wearing super baggy "hip-hop" pants with, like, ribbons hanging off of them, "retro" windbreaker, and this plaid hat. That looks like something I’ve most recently seen on K-Fed [not that I spend a lot of time looking for pictures of the guy, but he shows up on Go Fug Yourself so often that I knew I’d find a picture of the same style hat there]. He sits down next immediately next to this woman, even though half of the subway car is empty. This was only after his failed attempt to look cool standing without holding on to anything when the train started moving. He keeps adjusting the hat so that it sits at "jaunty" angles on his head, but clearly doesn’t know what to do with it.

I kind of felt bad for the guy – he was clearly trying so hard. But I had to use all of my willpower to keep from just cracking up.

Oh, and in other news, It’s now 13 days until I close on my new apartment. Two weeks from today I will be an official property owner. I’m going to be in full freak-out mode until then. I took myself to my favorite sushi place last night (Yama), where I’m actually a regular. It’s pretty damn hard to become a "regular" anywhere in NYC, but I walk in there and get greeted by name, and I can actually order my "usual". And then I started getting all sad, because It’s a lot harder to stop off for sushi at 17th and Irving when you’re commute takes you from 52nd street to 72nd street on the west side. I’ll still go there, because my friends and I all agree that it’s the best sushi in the city, but the trips will be fewer and further between.

Man, I’m already getting nostalgic and I won’t be moving for, like, three months. That’s just sad. Ok. so here’s something silly that happened on my way home from dinner. Walking up Park, I see these two idiot "punk" looking guys (again with the trying and not so much with the succeeding), who are making somewhat of a scene. They’re walking around, being very loud, exaggeratingly "drunk". And then I notice Ice Cube hanging out in front of the W Hotel with the doorman (clearly waiting for his car). And I realize that these idiots are trying to get his attention. Which is funny, because they did – but only because he was basically pointing them out as idiots to the doorman.

So that was my week so far.

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Sometimes crazy people can bring other people together…


For some reason, the oddest experiences I’ve had with complete strangers here in New York seem to occur on the bus. Tonight for example, I took the bus home, and as it was approaching my stop, I got up to go stand by the front door (as you do when you want to get off the bus), and a few people lined up behind me presumably for the same reason. About 20 feet before the stop, this woman comes barging frantically up to the front of the bus, pushing the standing passengers out of the way, to ask the driver an urgent question. She wanted to know when the bus would stop at 68th street.

I should point out here that this was the downtown bus, and we were at 20th street. I had been on the bus since 52nd street. 5th Avenue only runs in one direction. But it gets better.

The driver, of course, points out that she’s going in the complete opposite direction from where she needs to go, and she asks whether the bus will eventually go uptown (ok, that’s not the crazy question). However, this is the last run for the driver, so he tells her that he goes to 8th street and then takes the bus out of service to go to the depot. This is where she starts arguing with him about why he can’t just take her where she wants to go (um, because he’s a city bus, and not a cab?). He tries to tell her that she can get off the bus and walk over to either Park/Madison or 6th Avenue (one block either east or west, depending on where she wants to go) to catch an uptown bus, and she reacts like this is the most ridiculous suggestion in the world because "‘it’s too cold to get off the bus". This is, of course, when I and my fellow passengers disembark, looking at the poor driver with pity, all thinking "lady, it’s not going to get any warmer when he kicks your ass off the bus 20 blocks further downtown." And then, as soon as the bus doors closed, the group of us, with your typical New York mix of ages, races and classes, just all stop in our tracks and crack up laughing.

Ten seconds later, we were all back to our usual selves, walking in our respective directions like it never happened. But man, I love those little moments.

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What exactly goes through some people’s heads?


This afternoon, I was minding my own business, running errands and generally wandering around the ‘hood. When I came out of the Virgin Megastore, the guy who had been standing against the wall with two other guys runs out into the sidewalk just to get my way, keeps his arms outstretched and won’t let me pass. As I bark at him to get out of my way (with a few profanities for good measure), he says "Do you like comedy?". Huh? I didn’t stick around to find out what it was all about, but I’m just wondering, if they were a legitimate group of guys trying to busk through humor, they’ve really got to get a better tactic. Because physically blocking the path of single women walking down the street, is going to get them hurt. Not the women, the guys. Because the immediate "fight" part of the "fight or flight" reaction that I had was to kick the guy in the balls. I didn’t, but if he took one more second to get out of the way it very well could have happened.

I get approached quite a bit on the street, by all sorts of people, and I know it has to do with the fact that I’m apparently completely non-threatening looking. I’d say that 90% of the time, I’m more than happy to help, but it’s somewhat amusing to then watch the reaction when an utterly Bronxian (thanks, mom and dad!) profanity-laced invective comes out of my mouth.

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weird neighbors


Pamie and Dan are two of my favorite bloggers, so when Dan said to check out his friend Darren’s new blog I ran right over to read it. It’s quite amusing. His first entry was actually about some of his odd neighbors, which made my think of my own recent encounters.

I got home one night last week, at an actual reasonable hour, to find that several of my neighbors had put up one of those "safety-gates" in the middle of the hallway. Why would they do this? why, in order to create an artificial play area for their little dogs. Part of me found this amusing, but the part of me that had to actually get to my apartment on the other side of the gate was somewhat annoyed (and yes, they did move it for me, but still).

Here’s the thing. I love dogs. I grew up with both dogs and cats (2 of each). But the reasons that I don’t keep a dog in the city are that I have a crazy schedule and a small apartment. There’s a certain amount of common sense that goes along with having a pet as well, and part of that is recognizing that dogs (like children) don’t give you carte blanche to start ignoring the rules of society. Carpeted hallways? not play areas. Particularly not play areas to set up fire hazards in the middle of. If you don’t have the time/energy/inclination to take your dog outside for exercise (or the money to pay someone else to do it?), particularly when one of the nicest dog runs in the city is only a few blocks away? you shouldn’t have one. And yeah, I know I was just complaining about the cold weather, but if your dog is too fragile to handle it, buy it a damn sweater.

Heck, my dad spends so much time in Central Park with his and my stepmother’s unusual menagerie of three dogs (two jack russells and a Bernese Mountain Dog) that several of my friends have mentioned seeing him, even though they’ve never met him. As soon as I describe the dogs, they’re like "oh, we see that guy in the park all the time!".

I guess it’s really that I was less irritated by the dogs themselves, which were cute, than by the idea that these new (human) neighbors were apparently not taught proper boundaries.

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Starting back up.


I’m slowly working my way back through pop culture this weekend, in between running errands and going to work for a few more hours today. One thing that will help me catch up more quickly? My cable went out some time over the middle weekend that I was gone – so TiVO recorded dead air for my second week of vacation. Sure it sucks, but it also means one less week of shows to try and catch up on.

First, I totally forgot one of my other favorite pictures – oooh, barracuda! Earlier in the week, we actually saw one that was enormous – 4 or 5 feet long, but it was too far away to get a good shot (ah, photography, the new venue for "one that got away" stories).

I finished a few books on the trip, including Smartest Guys in the Room, the Know-It-All, and The Family (Kitty Kelley’s book – I know, it should be beneath me, but first, I always like reading fairly mindless stuff when I fly, and second, it was a loaner – I wouldn’t actually pay for the thing). I may be compelled to write something longer about them later, but I’m lazy right now.

I actually tried to avoid much news while I was away, giving my brain a vacation as well. Once in a while politics would come up on the boat, but I tried to avoid taking part. Actually, it was largely because this one woman, who was actually a lefty, was driving me absolutely up a friggin’ wall with the never shutting up and the passing judgment on everyone else. I have strongly held political beliefs, but part of the reason that I keep this blog is that it enables me to vent – to be as shrill as I want without driving even the friends of mine who agree with me absolutely nuts (I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been in conversations with both friends and family where we would get so heated about a topic that, even when we all agreed, it would turn into something resembling an argument). Call me crazy, but I generally think it’s a good idea to not completely alienate the NRA member from North Carolina who may be my only lifeline if something happens to my O2 supply 70 feet below the surface. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not going to change his mind with my brilliant rhetoric, and at that point we’d both clearly rather talk about the giant puffer fish that seemed to know exactly how to avoid being photographed.

Actually, crazy lady was just annoying and loud and nosy about everything. I have a LiveStrong bracelet, and after asking me what it was (which was fine), by grabbing my wrist (which was not), I explained (along with the other folks on the boat who knew what it was) that it was part of a charity. Her next statement? "And clearly you wear it so that people will ask you about it" (in a tone that was pretty much "and clearly you just want attention"). Well no, given that not only are they the trendiest thing in NY right now and four other people on the boat helped explain exactly what it was (not to mention the fact that the nike advertising juggernaut helps to market it, they’ve sold millions of the things, and even her favored Presidential candidate has been wearing one for months) I’m pretty comfortable with the fact that most people who I don’t know won’t grab my wrist in an accusing fashion to ask me about my "jewelry". Ugh. She was just annoying. And then she sat behind me on the plane ride home (She was that person who kept laughing uproariously at the in-flight movie – the only one. y’all have been on a plane with that person, right? The one that everyone else keeps shooting dirty looks at because she doesn’t understand that headphones don’t muffle her voice?).

See? venting.

The only "news" channel we got down there was a bad feed of CNN Headline News, which frankly, makes Sesame Street look like trenchant political analysis. They didn’t show the debate, and the mindless airheads that they have speaking the headlines kept annoying me with their incessant grammatical mistakes (Hint: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania? the "e" in Barre isn’t silent – I’m sure one of the thousands of locals who showed up to this Philadelphia suburb to see a presidential candidate speak could have clued y’all in. Instead of actually listening to the news the only thing I could think was "thank god Kerry’s not in Bala Cynwyd"). I basically checked in for a few minutes a day to make sure there wasn’t any earth-shattering election news.

Anyway, I’m currently suffering from a nasty head cold, as is everyone else in my office – of course, since I caught mine several thousand miles away, we all spent yesterday trying to have conversations from 15 feet apart and using tissues to hand things to each so that we don’t cross-contaminate. I imagine this will last for about three more hours before we all resign ourselves to just being incessantly sick for the next month.

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