Friday, February 26, 2010

Losing Friends, One Fanboy at a Time

Are you people for real?

I conservatively estimate that 80% of you have been going on and on and on about this for years; some of you I trust in matters aesthetic, some of you, certainly not, but until now, that didn't really affect our friendship. And I know that tastes differ, but 80%? That's a pretty tough to debate number, and you people are everywhere. Talking about it, asking people to not talk about it until you catch up, having parties and countdowns about it.

Well, last night, we attempted to join your ranks. Despite my long-held belief that it was a pile of dross, I attempted to clear my mind and heart of prejudice long enough to sit down and watch...

the pilot episode of...





And I repeat my self: are you people for real?

It was EXACTLY everything I feared it would be: intellectually lazy, preposterous, and an unironic, unintended demonstration of the idea that there's nothing new under the sun. Just so you don't think I was hasty, we watched the entire first disc - four episodes, each more laughably pathetic than the previous.

My friends, my friends, are you perhaps familiar with the website TV Tropes? Cause the writers of Lost are certainly familiar with it. I know this because every hackneyed, overused, underachieving one that exists has been used in the creation of Lost and, not to put too fine a point on it, but has any of you watched Predator recently...? Is no one concerned at the central-casting stereotypes that populate this island: I'm a bad boy, I'm a girl with a past, I'm a sidekick, I'm a redshirt, I'm a terrorist (btw, the darkest Iraqi ever discovered, possibly because he's Indian, though I realize that my complaints about never casting Arabs in Arab roles is fodder for another day), I'm Jesus Christ who gives a shit? I can't believe that four episodes went by without anyone saying, "well, back when I was in 'Nam," that's how caricaturish this ensemble is.

So, before every one of you has a chance to erase me from your contact lists, I'll simply say that Lost is the aughts' Twin Peaks; a show that makes the X-Files look realistic. Now that I have empirical experience with the show, I will return to mocking the rest of you and sadly for you, you will not be able to fall back on the, "but you've never even seen it" defense.

I have. It sucked. Let's move on.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Compromising My Blogging Integrity

You're My Brother and I Love You...
but for the love of all things holy, shutup!
I asked nicely, really I did.
An untrained eye wouldn't have even seen
the glint of "or I swear to god
I will stab you in the neck with my knitting needle."
Originally uploaded by reallyct
So, even though I know a lot more about this guy (what he looks like head-on and his name), after an especially poorly-timed walking out the door "discussion" with devoted partner, I am erring on the side of not having this flucktard show up on my doorstep threatening to bean me in the head with a can of Schlitz.

Apparently there was a gruesome murder/attempted suicide that happened in Westchester the other day. I wouldn't have known about it because I selectively listen to 1010WINS and since people are always killing other people, I can kind of drown it out. Fortunately, this guy, who I'm going to call "Fredo" so you can sort of understand the level of esteem I hold him in, knew the family involved and was re-telling the gruesome details to his friend on the phone. Next to me. On the train. In what I would conservatively estimate was 45% louder than a normal speaking voice. While, I like a good hanging stabbing story as much as the next girl, I decided that this was not appropriate public behavior and, as nicely as I could, asked him if he could please (I used the word please) lower his voice. When he didn't I added that it was kind of an inappropriate and graphic topic for public.

Instead of heeding what was, in all likelihood, my nicest version of what I wanted to say to him, he continued telling his story in his 45% louder than normal voice.

Then he called, literally, 3 other people and told the same story.

In between, he called some buddies so he could gossip about one of their wife/girlfriend's habit of "talking like a man," the remedy for which he described as "punching her like a man." He called maybe 3 buddies and said the above verbatim.

Even the least familiar of you with my particular brand of crazy can probably imagine that it took all my self-control not to talk to this man like a man so that I could precipitate his punching me like a man which would lead to his being incarcerated like a man, and then suddenly learning what it's like to be surrounded by, ahem, those more manly than one in a prison-type situation.

I really weighed the consequence: my broken jaw for his difficulty sitting/evacuating for a period of, oh I don't know what you get for first degree assault, but let's say he gets off easy with a year. I still am not sure I made the right decision in not provoking him. I would have enjoyed visiting him in jail and bringing him care packages of vaseline and kleenex. For his tears.

But let's be frank. Any dbag who publicly advocates hitting women who have the gall to, well, talk, is the kind of dbag whose mother probably still folds his underwear. He'd be about as likely to hit me as buy me a new Cadillac. Fredo was about as intimidating as a Jack Russell terrier. Still, I have to wonder about the kind of person who won't shutup when asked to. I knew that after I asked him to lower his voice, he was talking loudly and making multiple phone calls just to annoy me (at one point he moved up one row so we were directly opposite from one another). I know that his choice of conversation topics was aimed at me (you know how I enjoy talking like a man). And I know that the best course of action was to continue silently knitting and not engaging him further.

But it wasn't the fun course of action. Stupid adulthood.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The 2nd Most Extreme Friend Eats Dinner

Chef Mimi's Revenge
If you can believe it, there's more dessert out of frame.
Originally uploaded by reallyct
I'm so pleased that my father doesn't really know how to use the internet because this posting pretty much eradicates all the hebrew school and zionist summer camp foisted upon us children. It happened during my first visit to dbgb where The Boy works and where my former pastry chef boss now presides. I'll admit, when The Boy moved from Bistro to gb, I was sad; after all, I get pangs of something akin to love just thinking about the scallops and I'll admit, I did anything I could to get Mamadou and Ali to share their french fries on nights when the kitchen sent them down. So, my first impression was, eh, sausage.

Let me say that the sausage has won and I have lost (though when I bravely stepped on Herr Scale this morning, I was pleased to know that no long-term damage had been done). Actually, it might be safe to say that the graceful and noble pig, even in death, totally pwned me.

The menu at dbgb can be a mite bit intimidating, especially if you were once a child who refused all foodstuffs save grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti with (yes) cheese, and some non-cheese-related items such as pb&j and broiled chicken breast with rice. Veal tongue? Pigs' feet? Duck gizzard (which incidentally, Ed, is esophagus)? These were not on offer in yon childhood. And, truth be told, while my diet is so preposterously more varied than I ever could have feared as an 8-year old (hell, I get nostalgic for the barnacles Antonio made us eat), I do fear that some things will still squick me.

But I had a point to prove. You see, recently Ed admitted that we may well be, devoted partner and I, his 2nd Most Xtreme Friends. This pleased me immensely and definitely made parasailing in Turkey a priority. Surely, a 2nd Most Extreme Friend would not shy away from head cheese (which has NO CHEESE in it). And Ed was really psyched about the head cheese which I was frankly terrified by. After all, while I have happily eaten beef cheeks, and possibly halibut cheeks, I felt certain that head cheese would look a little too much like head for my comfort.

Yeah, well, obviously I'm an idiot, and secondly, Etienne is sneaky. Head cheese? I've been eating that crap for years. Mushy porky bits tied together by gelatinous ooze? Yeah, the goddamned French have been surreptitiously feeding it to me for ages - I hope you guys got a good laugh out of that. So, turns out, I love head cheese.

But the 2nd Most Extreme Friend was not about to stop at a little mushed together boiled-off pig head terrine. I have studiously avoided boudin noir each and every visit to the aforementioned French. Vinie loves it, Etienne does not, and frankly, I wasn't so sure I liked sausage enough to want it bound by pork blood. But I hear things, one of which was that the boudin noir at dbgb was awesome so when Ed omitted it from his menu wishlist, I put it back on. No way was I going to let a little pig's blood get in the way of my Xtreme-ness. The verdict: not my favorite, but nothing to get worried about.

Finally, as we make our way down the pig, we got to his crispy trotters. Easy. Been there, done that, made the trip to Montreal.

In between there were other delightful things, most surprisingly the calamari salad which I a) ate and b) loved. I'm generally not a go-to squid kinda gal, but The Boy brought it to us, so I dutifully ate it and then went back for more. The sausage injected with cheddar cheese served atop an unnecessarily thick potato pancake? Yeah, that was a big win. Also I liked the pork and duck gizzard sausage quite a lot, and not just because it was like cassoulet in a tube.

But I knew there was more coming. I knew this because Chef Mimi told me to save room for dessert, which I knew could not mean anything good for the waistline. Sure enough, 7, yes 7 desserts came to the table: meyer lemon tart, blood orange chocolate cake, coconut pineapple kalamansi ice cream sandwich, mandarin souffle, and three ice cream sundaes, honey grapefruit, coffee bourbon, and mint chocolate. Needless to say only a couple of bites could be managed of each though all, under less stuffed circumstances could have easily been consumed in their entirety.

The 2nd Most Extreme Friend draws the line at boot and rally.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

But, No, Really, I'm Not That Good

In a fit of extreme economic intransigence, I have been wasting my audible credits. Having poured who knows how much useful money down audible's gullet, I sought to rectify the problem by using some of my credits this weekend. Devoted partner and I wish to learn some Spanish, so I got us some Spanish 1, and I, in preparation for the daunting task of acting as translator between my parents and Etienne's, thought I'd do some refresher work in French, downloading French 3.

This was a mistake as it gave me an inflated sense of self. I should have known when the English introduction kept harping on about how this course would allow me to have interactions while traveling that I might not gain much from it, but when the lesson started with, "would you like to come to my house for dinner next weekend?" I knew I had just been screwed out of an audible credit.

If you have ever had occasion to speak French with me, you'll know I'm no great shakes. Yes we can go on about how frickin' impressive it is that I taught myself, but when you listen to me actually speak, or better yet be incapable of answering the sous chef's "do you eat pork?" because I couldn't decipher his accent, you'll know that to call me an intermediate student of French is generous.

Still, I can handle do you want to come to my house for dinner next weekend. Because I've been doing this for over ten years. And now we come to the dilemma: it appears that there are no more audio courses available to someone like me who can get along perfectly well in everyday situations, but would like to be able to speak at least half as intelligently in French as I can in English and, more importantly, understand the intelligent speech of others.

This isn't difficult, you say, why there's an Alliance Francaise right in Greenwich. Yes, this is true, however, due to the unusual nature of my French acquisition, I don't readily fit into a group class - I have a mixture of really advanced concepts tempered by some inabilities that a French 1 student would scoff at - and the private lessons are ridiculously overpriced - I want to speak better French, but not at $80/hour.

And I'm pretty damn picky when it comes to tutors. Yes, I could go back to the tutor I had five or so years ago who I really really liked, but she's in Tribeca and I'm not sure I'm willing to commit to that...again. The others I've tried have been uniformly, well, children. One of whom spent our lessons trying to convince me, albeit in French, that the CIA planned the World Trade Center attacks. The tutor has to be actually from France, not Quebec, not Brussels, not Rwanda, and preferably not from the very-difficult-for-a-novice-to-understand Marseilles regions. And, since there are things I should be learning, perhaps someone who has ever taught before, not just someone who happens to be French.

So I'm going to give a look around the neighborhood and see if I can find some native French speakers who will tutor me in the Fairfield county at a rate more friendly than the Alliance's (though I will consider looking into their next period's intermediate classes), but I did so hope I could have just done it on the train with the iPod.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Tao of Vince

Devoted partner claims that were I to write this post using specifics, angry people from across the interweb would somehow find my little site and make anger on me. So, in a nod to the charming paranoia of the charming devoted partner, let's generalize.

Badass. That's what Americans want to be. The cowboys, the marines, the manifest destinizers. And you know what those three groups have in common: they feel no pain. Shoot a marine in the knee and he'll limp at you with guns a blazin' to wreck your shit up. Or at least that's what popular culture has conceived. And frankly, it's an ethos I'm comfortable with. Americans will soldier on uncomplainingly. And if you ask about a hardship, Americans will sneer at you, John Wayne-style, and claim not to know what you're talking about (or, will offer to punch your lights out with their stump of an arm).

Or at least that used to be what Americans were like. In my lifetime, I definitely sense a shift from never letting 'em see you bleed, to doing a 10-talk show circuit discussing the minutiae of your bleeding. Much like explaining the punchline because you think your audience won't get it, today's competitors think that it isn't enough for the announcer to mention that the day before the event a wild moose bit off your thumb - they think the audience won't understand that it is supremely badass to compete with a rabid-moose-inflicted severed thumb, instead they must remind you, ad nauseam, how painful and difficult it was to compete with only nine digits.

Reporter: So, we hear a moose bit your thumb off, how did that affect your performance?

Old American: (ignoring blood dripping from open wound) I don't know what you're talking about. I came here to win Olympic gold and that's what I did.

New American: OMG, I know, it was, like totally, so painful and I didn't know if I was going to be able to compete, and like it just hurt so much.

New American seems emblematic of an easily conquerable people.

We already KNOW that if you're injured, it makes a winning performance that much more admirable; bitching about your injury makes you seem like a pussy. And, after the ninth time you're interviewed about your (in the grand scheme of things, minor) injury and you make a big deal out of something that equates a hangnail with Greg Louganis's losing half of his head to a diving board, my opinion towards you changes: I now want you to lose.

I want you to lose because I don't think you're doing your part for the myth of Americans, and I like the myth of Americans. I watched Ski Cross this weekend, and there was a guy who DISLOCATED HIS HIP 3 WEEKS AGO at the X-Games, and when asked about it, he locked his jaw in a smile and said, essentially, "I feel great, No problems at all. Everything is a-ok."

I hope he wins medals in sports he's not even competing in! He is holding up his end of the American Badass bargain (similarly, the kid who severed half his leg at the Olympic trials in speed skating and then won a medal took a decidedly badass stance as well). I know that when the Olympics are over, all of these winning athletes need to parlay their winning into paying jobs (thus the absolutely ridiculous habit of wearing eye makeup during competition for athletes who are not figure skaters), but I want the guy who DIDN'T complain about his injury and won medals on my Wheaties box!

With all the pat answers the athletes are told to produce when asked about their competitors, the I'm-just-happy-to-be-here-and-do-my-best crap that nobody believes, couldn't the PR firms that manhandle the athletes remind them that no one likes a crybaby? Winning with an injury you never speak about is super cool. You're the ubermensch to everyone else's mensch. You giving interviews to anything with a press credential about how much you had to overcome because you competed with split ends? Untermensch.

Personally, I recommend deportation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's The Free Market, Stupid

Capitalism is one of those things I take for granted. Having never lived in a non-Capitalist society, I don't much think about it (also, I am no longer 16, and therefore deeply skeptical of Marxists). We can debate the finer points of how capitalism intersects with social policy, but for today, I'm more concerned with business vs. business/business vs. consumer, and not the oh-god-I'm-so-over-it capitalism vs. healthcare vs. socialist-fake-Muslim-presidents.

Over the weekend, while the TV was being used by devoted partner, cutting into my DVRed Olympic schedule, I took some time to answer a push poll sponsored by Cablevision, my utterly useless cable provider. How do I know it was sponsored by Cablevision? Because even neolithic man would have been able to suss out the subtle leading of the questioner. Over the new year, Cablevision caused me great personal distress by discontinuing HGTV. The company that owned HGTV wanted more money, Cablevision didn't want to pay for it, I ended up having free time and no Property Virgins. This matter has since been solved. To my satisfaction as now I have the channel back. Well, while I haven't been paying attention, apparently there's going to be trouble with Cablevision and ABC, who also wants more money for broadcasting rights. In an effort to shore up my support, Cablevision paid some company a lot of money to write and administer a survey guaranteed to raise my hackles and spur me into action against the evil empire of ABC.

Except for the itsy bitsy problem of my being smarter than, say, tree bark.

Question: "Don't you think it's unfair that ABC wants to charge 40 million more dollars for the right to broadcast it's channels on Cablevision?"

Well, that depends. How many Cablevision customers are there? Ok, a quick google tells me 5 million. So ABC wants 8 more dollars from me this year for ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, and whatever other channels they own that I don't watch anyway. Or 66 cents a month. Hey, that doesn't sound outrageous. Did you think I'd be tripped up by that very large 40 million number?

And wait a second, what's fair? ABC has a product. Cablevision's customers presumably want it (not me, of course, I am merely a cable customer because, when bundled with my phone and internet, it's literally like 10 extra bucks a month to get cable so I can watch Jon Stewart and the Olympics). So if Cablevision wants to continue to purchase a product on behalf of customers who want it, Cablevision will have to pay the asking price. It'd kind of be like my going into the Manolo Blahnik store and asking the salespeople if they don't think it's unfair that a simple pair of leather pumps costs $500. Maybe it is, but that's the price and if I don't like it, I don't buy the product. I only took one econ class in college and cut many of the individual lessons, but I think there's probably a word for this phenomenon.

Question: "Don't you think it's unfair that ABC will use the increase to bailout its failing holdings like Walt Disney World?"

Well, holy poop, you used the loaded word bailout. Since I might be deeply frustrated with the government bailout of Wall Street (sitting here on good 'ol Main Street), I will naturally hate any company that wants to bailout anything. Right? Ooooh, except, again, if ABC wants to use its profits to shore up a failing holding, while I might not agree that it makes good fiscal sense, seeing as I'm not a stockholder, I don't give a pluck. ABC, as an independent company, is pretty well free to use its earnings for whatever it wants, including magic beans. Fair doesn't even enter into it. And even if I was a shareholder, if I didn't like the magic bean buying policy of ABC, I could sell my shares.

Question: "How upset would you be to no longer be able to watch Oprah."

Well, now we've reached the crux of the matter, haven't we? It's not a question of whether or not I'd be upset, it's how upset would I be. Sadly, this is where the survey hit a dead end. While I could talk at length about how I thought ABC had the right to charge whatever it wanted for its goods and services, when it came to wondering about my upset threat levels vis a vis lack of Oprah...well, I'm sure you can imagine. Note: I have never watched an episode of Oprah. When the nice survey-lady asked me how often I watched ABC, I had to remember the last time I DID watch ABC - it wasn't until she reminded me that the Academy Awards are on ABC that I could tell her, yeah, I tuned in last year.

I don't like intellectual laziness, which is what this survey was hoping to capitalize on. The bottom line is that ABC would like 66 cents a month more from each of Cablevision's customers. Cablevision has every right to pass that increase on to me or absorb it at the risk of seeing people switch companies. I then can choose to pay more or choose to make alternate cable arrangements. This is how our system works. I never thought it mattered to me much until I was asked, in no uncertain terms: don't you think it's unfair for companies to charge money for their goods and services and to increase the amount of money as they see fit and as the market will bear?

What the hell have we become? I think it's unfair that money doesn't fall from the sky! I think it's unfair that devoted partner and I have to work to pay for the things we want as opposed to just being given them. I think it's unfair that I PAY FOR CABLEVISION AND IT STILL CAN'T RECORD A SHOW WITHOUT THE DAMN BOX RESTARTING IN THE MIDDLE. ABC raising its prices this year doesn't show up on my top 1000 unfair things.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You Can Pick Your Friends...

Very Eligible
Originally uploaded by reallyct
Now, I'll be the first to admit that in the privacy of my own home, when I think devoted partner isn't looking (and sometimes, sadly, when he is), I do all of the following: nose picking, shower peeing, ingrown hair extracting, audible flatulence. If this lessens your esteem of me, you must not know me. However, I draw what I think is a not at all arbitrary line when it comes to appropriate private behavior and appropriate public behavior, and prolonged nose picking is way way way on the inside of the private line.

I understand that sometimes you need to clear your nasal passageway and are bereft of tissue - in these cases, emergency dispensation may be granted, provided the offender in question makes some nod to propriety.

This man, who looked mostly innocuous and like he a) had a job and b) had sex with humans, spent his entire commute searching for something (obviously very important that he had lost - like his dignity) with his finger in his nose and occasionally in his ear.

While he sat across from me.

I don't know how many times I can say this, but you people totally disgust me! In fact the only thing that keeps me from wishing the whole lot of you to a fiery death is the thought of this.

Ahhhhhhh. There, don't you feel better? I almost can forget Captain Fingerb@ngs His Nose.

But not quite. I am reminded more and more of the SNL skit Eddie Murphy did about putting on whiteface and learning that white people have a whole secret society thing with one another that they hide in the presence of non-white people. It's as though the denizens of Fairfield county have a secret alliance that enables them to behave while on the train (and before it stops at Fordham) as if none of them had ever attended Deerfield. I obviously have a totally skewed view of the world because I always thought that the price on paid to have a lifestyle that enabled one to shop at Brooks Brothers necessarily precluded such anti-social behavior as is in ample photographic display here (oh, and yeah, sorry if you were eating when you clicked on this). I'm surprised there aren't more of them with boomboxes blasting Michael Buble (and/or John Tesh depending on how current you want to be).

I am seriously reconsidering traveling with a spray bottle of water and treating my fellow passengers like misbehaving cats, but then I remember, no cat would be caught dead being as disgusting as this guy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Greenwich, Good and Bad

I thought twice about penning this post since it could inadvertently be seen as a critique of the wrong party. For the record: devoted partner did a bang-up job of our first non-Chinese/bathrobe Valentine's Day. I mean, come on, people, breakfast in bed and got me this! Which I love and am buying appropriate citrus for this afternoon. So devoted partner gets a non-asterisked win.

But let's talk about dinner.

Last year, Ed and I dined at Scarpetta, the trendy Italian joint in the oh-so-trendy Meatpacking district (where I'm pretty sure no meat is still packed) and ordered a $24 plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. Yes, you read that correctly. $24. Pasta and sauce. And simple sauce at that. If you have read any of the reviews of Scarpetta, you'll know that the spaghetti and red sauce was universally praised as the best plate of pasta and sauce you're likely to find. But still. $24 for the grown-up yuppie version of Ronzoni and Ragu. I won't lie. I liked it but didn't find it as transcendent as some, but it was a damn good dish I would consider ordering again.

So I'm not opposed to opulence from simplicity.

The menu at Polpo, located at 554 Old Post Road No 3, was entirely average and what you might expect from any number of average Italian restaurants. The prices were not. The prices were, in fact, more than Scarpetta, more than Babbo (and there was no goose liver ravioli to be found). The prices were veering ever so closely to 4-starish territory and the incongruity of the prices and the uninspired offerings made me immediately suspicious. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all surprised to go into a steakhouse and see mammoth prices for one-word plates, but you go to a steakhouse to eat meat, potato, green. When I see pastas that are all over twenty bucks, I'd like to know someone took a little time to do something more inspired-sounding than: Linguine alla Vongole: Choice of white or red clam sauce. Really, I get a choice? Are both equally good? Don't you have an opinion? Maybe you could tell me a little about your clams...

I'll admit I was panicked. While eating out is something I really enjoy and think is worth a splurge now and again, devoted partner sometimes needs more convincing. When the meal is going to be a splurge and it's not going to be very good, I brace myself for a bad time. Devoted partner has changed. The man who almost made a waitress cry at Prune after being served, if memory serves me correctly, what appeared to be fish floating in a broth that I assume was meant as stock, but tasted of water, made nary a grab for his butter knife cum weapon. Instead, we ordered. Safely. I wasn't about to go for the out-there items on a menu that cried out to be conservatively ordered from. I figured it would take a lot to mess up a Caesar salad and spaghetti bolognese.

I can admit the rare occasions when I am wrong.

The "salad" was a single segment of romaine lettuce with two whole marinated anchovies, one tablespoon of dressing plopped in the center, and huge hunks of parmesan cheese. The spaghetti was from a box and I could discern no ingredients in the bolognese save meat. It was delightfully appetizing. For the record, Scott Conant's $24 spaghetti and tomato sauce is made with house-made spaghetti. Someone made the spaghetti. I'm willing to shell out $24 for that. Making spaghetti is annoying and time consuming. When a restaurant charges the same for something it paid 15 cents for, I'm less forgiving if the resulting plate looks like hamburger helper. (It should be noted that the polpo website does a great job of not showing you what the food looks like.) Listen the food was edible...if we were paying 1/4 the price.

But I think what made the evening complete and something we could good-naturedly laugh at was that the staff clearly didn't give a shit whether or not we enjoyed ourselves. Now, I know a little about restaurants, hell, I staged in one, and I know restaurants actually hate nights like Valentine's Day because they are overbooked and the people who book for V-Day are frequently not the same kinds of customers who come the rest of the year, especially at fancier restaurants. Yet, somehow, other restaurants can make their infrequent customers feel a little less like chattel. We had an 8pm reservation and were hustled through our meal even though when we left there weren't people clamoring for our seats - we WERE the late seating. And, if I can let the thinly veiled snobbishness that has been peering out from corners take center stage:

You're a restaurant in Greenwich. You're not the 8:00pm coveted table at Marea, or the frankly impossible to get even ten years later table at Babbo. I walked out of a restaurant in Paris because the service sucked so badly, but at least I was in Paris where an argument could be made for bad service being part of the ambience. Not so in Fairfield county. I know that Polpo is a hub for hedgies and that won't change, because there's nothing better than being a hedgie and taking clients out to a place that does more of a 4x wine markup than a 2.5x (I also really love an Italian restaurant that gives about equal space to Italian wines and Bordeaux and California - nothing says class better than linguine with clam sauce accompanied by a 1990 Haut-Brion).

But, for the people that I know occasionally come here from one of the Greenwich blogs, take note: the Batali/Bastianich empire has an outpost. Tarry Lodge was so far superior in every way the two times I ate there to the frankly embarrassing meal we had at Polpo that I am absolutely flummoxed the latter has managed to stay in business since the former opened. And it's about 40% cheaper.

And, to reiterate: none of this could have been anticipated or prevented by devoted partner. Who rocks!

Now a little bit of good. You might remember that I am still on the hunt for an aesthetician who neither mocks me nor does a half-assed job. And I may have found her. Suzana (or Susannah?) at Hopscotch on Railroad Avenue gave me the best waxing I have had in years. The Best! I literally only had to go back over her job to get like 6 pesky hairs - everything else was as smooth as I've seen it. She listened to what I wanted and adhered to the shaping and sizing of certain areas without editorializing. Yes, it was more money than I ideally would like to spend, but if the results are this consistent, well, crap, I'll spend the extra money.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Easiest Way To Make Me Cry (That Doesn't Involve a Coffee Commercial)

In addition to discovering that I am a rabid free-market capitalist (after responding to a push poll paid for by Cablevision, the bane of my existence), this weekend also proved that I am an utter and complete sap. And it had very little to do with the feast of St. Valentine (though let me say, Devoted Partner brought me breakfast in bed and added to my collection of Alessi decor and for that he should be universally praised - also there was a Carvel milkshake and Dune). While other, less sentimental types were focused on themselves and their ephemeral celebrations, I was glued to the couch (big surprise, I know) watching the Olympics.

When first the Olympics did their special-interest bs coverage of the athletes, they were hamfisted about it. Their cloying interviews and soft-focus montages frankly blew. And I was pissed that I saw fewer events and more stories about people's moms driving 59 hours a day to and from practice for little Johnny Ski Jump. But Olympics coverage has improved. Drastically.

Now the coverage of individual athletes is shorter and more strategically targeted to your heartstrings. And they're running more of the events - even the boring ones like 15k cross-country. And I am lapping it up.

You see, once you take the time to scrape the black black plaque from my heart, I want nothing more than for the Chinese pairs skaters who have come out of retirement to win gold to, well, win gold. And the ski jumper with the older brother who has cerebal palsy? Yeah, give him a medal too. But it's not just the medals. The kids from countries that barely have two nickels to rub together who sold all the goats in all the villages so they could send one athlete to Vancouver? I love them. I want to hug them and make them cupcakes. The teenagers who might be contenders 4 or 8 years down the line? I love seeing their smiling, holy-crap-I'm-competing-in-the-Olympics faces. The earnest interviewees who might actually believe the I'd-like-to-buy-the-world-a-coke idealism they're delivering to jaded NBC broadcasters? Could someone please give them lucrative sponsorship deals?

Yes, it's true, Michael Phelps did nothing for me (possibly because I could almost hear his mother screaming, "sing out, Louise" from the sidelines), and I don't really care how far anyone had to drive to go to practice. But if you blew out your ACL, or broke your back, or, like little adorable J.R. Ceski, slashed your own frickin' thigh with your skate blade down to the bone in September and then won a bronze medal on Saturday? Holy fothermuckin crap I am so in love with you.

I think idealism is a fairly passe concept; people who get idealistic about saving the rainforest, making our political process not about money, banning naughty words in music videos, don't realize those ships have sailed. So, much like getting nostalgic for indigenous peoples who still live bronze age lives, the Olympics is an opportunity for us to (for the most part), see what sportsmanship is like (obvious exceptions are pro-hockey and basketball players and drug abusers), and what dogged pursuit of pure goals look like. It fills me with a kind of happy usually reserved for documentaries about the space program.

So while my gut reaction is of the Go USA! variety, in truth, I want them all to win. All the countries, all the athletes, everyone. And the little part of me that hides most of the time, comes out at Olympic time and really truly believes that just competing at the Olympics is an epic, epic win.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Praying to the Great Hallmark Gods

If you know us, you know we have spent all but one Day of the Valentine in sweats, eating Chinese food out of the containers, and watching a movie, most likely Dune. The other Day of the Valentine was spent at a restaurant using the reservation a friend couldn't because he had already broken up with his Valentine and didn't want the reservation to go to waste.

Now before you accuse us of being woefully unromantic, there are some reasons. The primary reason always was that our anniversary is in March and, were we going to blow money celebrating our love, we would prefer to do so on a day that is unique to our love and not have to share loving each other with the rest of the world (ok, that came out way icky, I hope you know what I meant). This made a lot of sense back in the college days, and the rootless 20s. After all, much like New Year's, restaurants and other facilities that cater to the Valentine crowd, jack up prices and crowd as many people into their spaces as possible leading to a very unromantic atmosphere; booking travel over V-Day is also distressing as it either coincides with the public school holiday/president's day or is price-inflated solely due to Herr Cupid. We just kind of hated being taken advantage of like that. So we happily ate chicken with peanuts, exchanged $25 gifts, and waited to do the fun things in March.

And we've done some fun things in March. Nepotism aside, do you know how much easier it was to get reservations at Daniel for the middle of March as opposed to the 14th of February? See also boutique hotel in Montreal; vacation rental in the Abacos; oh, and yeah, last year we went to Egypt. Now, it is true, aside from Montreal, we would have gone to those places anniversary or no anniversary, but it is nice to schedule a trip during an already lovey time of year. So, while I have not been the recipient of $12 teddybears holding wilted flowers and chocolate flavored candy...yeah, I can't complain.

But I kinda did this year. Which I guess means I suck. Here's the thing: I just kind of wanted to do something other than hand over sock-monkey figurines and eat chinese food. And I hope that doesn't make me a bad person. (Notice I did not say anything about watching Dune because I'm secretly hoping we'll do that too.) I wanted a little commercial romance (when I reveal to you next week what I bought devoted partner as a gift, this will seem really really funny), I wanted to have to wear pants for at least part of Valentine's Day.

So for the first time, we have our own Valentine's Day reservation; I have spent more than $25 on a gift and I have bought really loud wrapping paper and a card with hearts on it. And I'm having an uncharacteristic inner giddiness vis a vis doing what it seems everyone else does. Though I did make devoted partner promise he would not buy roses (the apex of V-Day price gouging), and he wouldn't buy me chocolates, as a) we're not eating these days and b) well, duh, I make chocolates and 99 out of 100 times mine are better than what can be bought, so perhaps I'm not that great at preserving Valentine's traditions.

Therefore, let me wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day and say that, had I gotten my shit together (this idea just came to me), I would have very much enjoyed making construction paper heart cards and sending them to you. Maybe next year. Although, it is equally possible that next year we'll be back in front of Kyle McLaughlin noshing on scallion pancakes, having learned we're just not those traditional Valentine's Day people.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Collateral Damage

I think I need ski pants. No, dear readers, not for skiing, which is an activity I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around (cold, wet, high likelihood of torn ACLs), but to avoid what happened yesterday.

Since Cablevision's DVR sucks like a thousand black holes of uselessness, one cannot have a series set to record and then, prior to recording, choose to not record certain of the episodes; if you attempt this, the DVR assumes you no longer want to record the entire series. So, if, for example, you want to record HGTV's House Hunters, you must record either only new episodes or ALL episodes; it's up to you to delete them post recording. I decided that a good use of my snow day, rather than say, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or writing the great American novel, would be to selectively watch and delete as many episodes of House Hunters and Property Virgins as I could.

Some things I have learned: St. John is really viciously expensive and there is no beachfront property; Toronto is expensive for no reason I can come up with; Arizona, if you care to live there, is a place where for the price of a Manhattan studio apartment one can have a sprawling house with pool; and everyone in humanity wants granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, but none of them knows why. See where I'm going with this? My brain was officially a wasteland yesterday, to the point where around 6pm, I seriously considered re-tiling things just because. While it is true that I also knit the front section of the sweater I am working on, it just doesn't seem like the trade-off was worth it.

So I'm making at least a mental list of the things I need prior to the next snow day. It includes: waterproof pants; waterproof gloves; long underwear; wool socks. Because the snow was actually sort of inviting-looking. Had I these necessary items, I could have dragged devoted partner from his work, at least for a moment or two, that we could do such fun things as make snow angels, throw snowballs at each other, sled down our driveway (which is hella steep) on the lids of our garbage cans, craft the world's least life-like snowperson, and, snow-texture permitting, make igloos. In my mind these things seem somewhat fun, though whilst a city dweller, I would have never considered any of them (dog waste makes snow evil and dog waste in snow occurs immediately in Manhattan).

The fact that I will most assuredly look like a misshapen yeti in the above outfit is ameliorated by the fact that in the suburbs fewer people are around to see you. I promise, if the above ever comes to pass, I will take pictures!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That's E for Exceeds Expectations

I know what you're thinking: oh she got her snow day, she's sitting around the house dirty in her robe and slippers with funky ratty hair and a peculiar smell trying to see how many simultaneous handfuls of granola she can cram down her throat.

It is true, I am in my robe and slippers, and you would be too if you owned my robe and slippers which are objectively the dopeness, and yes, I gave serious and careful consideration to being filthy today - after all to not take a shower is infinitely easier than to take a shower - but I resisted the urge to give myself totally over to sloth. I am clean, people, and what's more, underneath my robe, yeah, you heard it here first, I am wearing clean underwear. So there, haters!

I am even doing a mildly decent job of suppressing my indignation at the current crop of nancys we call today's youth who, in addition to needing to wear helmets during social studies class just in case the grandeur of ancient Greece is so overwhelming they become dizzy and fall out of their chairs, get preemptive snowdays for less than, I don't know, two feet of snow. No wonder we fall behind all other countries that can feed their populace when it comes to, well, all subjects, frankly. (I think we also get our collective asses handed to us by Cuba.)

Instead I am focusing on the positive: I will be able to clean out my DVR; enjoy a cup of tea while watching snow I will not have to shovel fall on the yard; dodge phone calls from my parents all day long (see also: Ed); wonder why I didn't go shopping in advance of the storm because all I have in the house is yogurt, granola, and low fat hot dogs. Ok, so maybe this snow day isn't all its cracked up to be. I'll still have to do some work, and devoted partner certainly has work to do so it's not like we can make a fire and enjoy being shut-ins (particularly as we have no fireplace).

But I might paint my nails, something that is a rare occurrence, with the silly color I'd been looking for these past months and finally found yesterday, and my nails are already clean because, remember, I showered. And in the end, I think that's the important thing to take from this day: I sacked it up enough to not smell like feet. I hope you can say the same.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day?

I asked the conductor this morning if there was a chance the trains wouldn't run tomorrow (or Thursday for that matter) and he said, yeah, there's a chance.

This is one of those new things.

I remember the blizzard of '96 and the subways shutting down. It might be the only time, excepting the strike, that I remember subways not working (ok, and September 11th). Subways are more reliable than postal workers. Yet this train thing, I just assumed a little precipitation would totally short its circuits. After all, it's above ground (yes, I know, subways too are above ground in some places, I just don't go to those places) and runs on wires or something.

Also, will my street be plowed? How soon does this happen. We had that other snowstorm, but I think it was short, or at least short enough that by the time I woke up, our drive had already been plowed (Pablo rules!). Will there be enough traffic to make the main streets passable? Do people just flip out and huddle shivering in their houses? Do I have enough diet-friendly snack food?

Additionally, how is my house heated? I know it's gas, but does it need electricity to make the gas? See also hot water. Will we lose power? So things freeze and/or explode? Will trees fall on my house and/or the electrical wires? Will we, god forbid, not have television? See also internet and phone service.

Much like not every paying for water or steam heat, this whole navigating winter in a house as opposed to an apartment is fairly bizarre. I don't know if we're going to be out in the abandoned streets searching for stray cats to eat for dinner or forced to talk to one another by candlelight because we have no alternate entertainment (and don't scoff at me, you know that 1 hour of candlelight chatting is way different from 6 hours).

Or, much like the buttload of snow I was expecting on Saturday, this could turn out to be another false alarm designed only to fill 36 hours worth of news. Still, if you don't hear from me by Friday, please, send help.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hands Off, Ladies, This One's Mine

I will save the sentimental post for the big 1-3 next month, but I wanted to take today to talk about why Devoted Partner rocks. Big time!

In 2005, devoted partner bought me my first iPod. It was a terrific toy that kept me company in the kitchen and was also invaluable for long trips both as a music delivery system and as a place to offload photos to free up memory cards. Sadly, and I will give Apple some blame, in 2008 the thing started acting wonky: freezing in the middle of songs, turning on with the sad Mac face, being generally temperamental. Generally a hard restart gave it back some mojo, but it was not the iPod it once was. Yet I was damned if I was going to buy another one - these things aren't cheap.

When the new nano colors came out, you might remember I had avarice in my heart. Until I saw them and realized they were shiny pieces of junk, not nearly as hot as their photos. So temperamental iPod stayed. Friday, he finally gave up the ghost: no sad Mac face, no ability to reset, just a formerly $300 paperweight. I even tried dropping it on the floor (I can't be the only one who remembers that this was a nearly foolproof way to fix a broken walkman; though I also blow into my cd/dvd drives when they're acting up, so maybe I'm a creepy relic from 80sland). Devoted partner, who has offered up a replacement for several gift-giving holidays running, yet again offered a shiny new iPod of my choice for the upcoming Valentine's Day, saying it would actually help him out because it would be a good present and he wouldn't have to agonize over whether or not his other ideas were good ones. And he almost had me too. I figured I would get a red or pink nano and be festive. But then I remembered the price. $200. For a machine I'm sure will also last three years before its planned obsolescence kicks in. I know he meant well and I told him so, but I then reminded him that $200 could take us parasailing in Turkey and that there was another iOption.

Jamie, dear friend and total Apple fanboy, sold us his not 3G iPhone (it would have killed you to have left the sim card? see below) before he moved west. I opened it, learned that it wanted me to sign up for an AT&T contract in order to use it (even as just an iPod, mind you), tried inserting other sim cards into it, read a little on the internet before realizing this was not my bag, and returned it to the shelf where it remained an attractive $500 paperweight. I asked devoted partner to use his skills in a) things computerish and b) deciphering the ramblings of people computerish to see if we could make the iPhone into an iPod substitute without needing to buy a mobile plan I don't want or a new machine altogether.

And damned if he didn't spend most of Saturday messing with the thing, going out to buy a prepaid AT&T sim card, reading the ramblings of those way way geekier than he, and finally, around 5:00pm, presenting me with a fully functioning iPod Touch in an iPhone body. I mean it works. I put music on it, I downloaded the flickr app, I tweeted from the thing. It works. And I think the total investment was $25 for the sim card.

But more than the toy itself, devoted partner spent a number of his precious weekend hours, the hours he has to himself to read a good book, and he donated them to me. I know he didn't want to monkey about with the iPhone and would probably have been happier to just buy me a new iSomething, but he didn't. In the spirit of our new attempts at frugality, he sat down and worked at the problem and solved it. And he did it for me. Just because.

We're a couple like any other, and we do our share of "raised voice conversations." I worry that I don't tell him enough how much I like him - the love I hope he knows is boundless, the like, the day-to-day like is both harder and less acknowledged - because he's one of the good ones. The least I could do is broadcast his qualities a little wider.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Only Know What I Like

Many posts ago, I spoke of perceived vs. actual wine snobbishness, how I didn't think I was a wine snob because I really don't know anything about wine, only what I like. I feel the same way about art. I never took art history in college because, if memory serves, it met in the dreaded 8 or 9am hour, so my knowledge of art is pretty limited. Sure, I was a snooty New York kid who spent a day in which she cut school wandering around the Met, and I certainly have been exposed to my fair share of art, but I've never learned much about it. Couple this with my absolute inability to produce art and you see what I mean.

Much like poetry, I don't think I could rattle off works by the greats (or give you a title if you gave me an artist), though I could probably, for the real biggies go, oh yeah, the one with the woman and the shell, I know that one (for a poetry comparison please see the one about the road that goes in different directions and both of them make me roll my eyes at Robert Frost). But I think I like looking at art, though I don't do it as much as I should.

The past two Thursday nights, however, have seen devoted partner and me looking at art. Non-famous art. In an effort to explore the local offerings, we went to an art gallery last Thursday to see the work of a home-grown artist and last night we went to the opening of a photography exhibition at the Greenwich library (to anyone who has ever spent any time in the Mid-Manhattan library, you would not believe what the Greenwich library looks like - as devoted partner remarked, "I think those are Aeron chairs at the computer terminals.").

Devoted partner will, from time to time, lament that when he looks at art he doesn't 'get it.' Meaning, I assume, that without a background in looking at art critically, one is left with either I like this or I don't like this piece of art. I don't know. I remember an especially rewarding tour of the Guggenheim with Etienne where we loudly remarked (in the fashion of the snooty art-heads that always seem to be right in front or behind you in a museum) on the various hidden monkeys/penises in the obtuse modern paintings we were viewing. Sometimes art is like that. Where the only enjoyment I can derive is by pretending I see hidden monkeys. Other times, I get the creeping suspicion that the art I am looking at is intentionally obtuse as a way to compensate for not actually being any good. In either case, I understand what devoted partner is saying, but I'm not sure I feel the same way.

As an aside, my mother complains similarly when she reads a book. She worries that she doesn't get the allusions and deeper meanings. As a former lit crit nerd, I have done my time in the literary penis scavenger hunt and here's the thing: if the book sucked, no amount of hidden penises can make up for it. When a book is really good, you get the message.

So I am art-savvy enough to know that the paintings at the gallery were influenced by certain Picasso and a heavy serving of pop-art, and I can also understand that conflating those styles is interesting. But I'm not sure I got it. Meaning, I didn't have a visceral reaction. The art didn't touch me. I just looked at it and went, "hey some of this is evocative of other stuff I've seen." I can't make an educated determination on its relative merits, I just know it isn't the kind of art I'd hang on my own walls.

When we went to the photography exhibit, I felt a similar thing. The exhibit featured works by three different photographers covering three very different subjects. One artist worked with cityscapes, one with tobacco farms, and the third with traveling circus performers. Since I'm trying to understand more about photography and take better pictures myself, this was especially interesting. Except when it wasn't. For me. Again, I wasn't emotionally swayed. There were some pictures I liked and some I didn't, but none of them left a lasting impression.

So, I found myself thinking that art appreciation and wine appreciation are plagued by similar problems. Having drunk California Zinfandels that people rave about only to discover they taste like cough syrup and having been completely nonplussed by Important Art, I know that sometimes hype trumps aesthetics. A groundswell occurs where if you don't like said cult wine or artist, you must not know enough about the subject, and I think this makes people wary of exploring either because it either seems too exclusive or too damn full of itself. And I think that's an effin shame because both mediums produce pleasure and something to talk about. The only pitfall to avoid is not liking something on principle in the same way people seem to rave about things just because it's the fashion to do so.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I'm Just Like Gandhi, But Fatter

Don't mind me, I'll just be putting
my wet dirty feet on the seat.
Oh, you want to sit down in the seat
not taken up by my feet? Cool.
But I'm not moving my feet.
Try not to scuff the leather, ok?
Originally uploaded by reallyct
We haven't heard much from the Hall of Commuter D-Bags recently. It's not that they've disappeared, it's more that the average level of dbaggery has stabilized. Yes, the woman with Fran Drescher's voice continues to loudly talk to her dawwter on the phone about banal shit; yes, the elite of Fairfield and Westchester counties continue to treat the train as an extended rubbish heap, leaving overturned coffee cups, bakery paper, and crumpled NY Posts, Times, and WS Journals in their wake; yes, men and women of every shape size color disposition guard empty seats in their vicinity with the ferocity of bears; but the outsize dbaggery worthy of comment has been minimal. I almost wrote about a whistling epidemic (people whistling inside the train, not on the platform), but when I reviewed it in my head, I sounded like a refugee from the 1920s who would then go on to complain about women wearing slacks in public while smoking.

So it with a mixture of sadness and relief that I bring you Sir Thisdick. That's him, sleeping in the above picture. Upon entering the train yesterday, I found Sir Thisdick awake sprawled across about four seats: the one his ass was in, the one his hand was in, and the two his feet were on. As that meant there were three technically free seats, I decided to sit in one: the outside seat facing Sir Thisdick. Now, let me begin by saying that even though I find it abhorrent that people put their feet on seats where later other people's asses, possibly in light pants or skirts, will sit, it seems more the norm than the aberration and I am coming to terms with the fact that I might be the sole person who wants to chop the offending feet off. That being said, it is no longer even within the realm of tolerable for someone to keep his feet up on the seat when someone is sitting in the next seat. That means that dog-shit covered soles are in the personal space of another person. Not ok. Ever. Even if you irrevocably effed up your leg in 'Nam and need to keep it elevated at all times.

So, as I'm sure you will have guessed, Sir Thisdick kept his foot on the seat. And then put his second foot on the seat, near enough that if I moved my left arm at all, it would knock into the foot. Please imagine the acts I contemplated with my knitting needle. But I have been told by the finest lawyers I know that the, "but his dirty feet were touching me" defense is flimsy at best, so I keep my knitting needles free of the blood of mine enemies. This left me with a dilemma: how to best fight the war without getting arrested. It should be noted that in the aisle seat on Sir Thisdick's side was a nice man who was quiet and not bothering anyone and therefore was a collateral damage consideration. Also, I didn't want to do anything that was against my moral code: put my own dirty foot next to him or start having a loud cellphone conversation.

Something I just happened to find in my quiver...
Originally uploaded by reallyct
So I did the only thing I could. I emptied the plastic bag full of knitting stuff into my hand bag, put the plastic bag over one of my feet, and put the plastic-bagged foot on the seat next to Sir Thisdick. Yes, you read that correctly. I delved deeply into the pot of crazy to prove a point no one but me gave a crap about. And you know what? It didn't work. I think he knew why I did it, but the magic moment where he said to himself, "maybe she's pissed because I'm behaving like I was brought up in a ditch and I should take my feet off the seat because it's what contributing members of society do and also it was slushy this morning which means my feet are ickier than usual; come to think of it, why am I such a clocksmucker that I put my feet on the seat in the first place?" never came.

So I had to get my retribution from an unexpected place. Like Ronald Reagan, Iran, and Iraq before me, I chose the enemy of my enemy. Standing in the vestibule was someone who might have been in the running for the Hall of Commuter D-Bags on any other day, but who on this day, was a blessing. I'm speaking of course of self-important businessman using train time to conduct Very Important Deals in a Very Loud Voice. Distracted as I was by Sir Thisdick, self-important businessman's bloviating was just so much white noise. Until I noticed how pissed off it made Sir Thisdick. He started occasionally blurting out, "too loud" at the businessman, huffing in his seat, pretending to sleep, waking up again and saying, audibly, "too loud!"

So there was a chink in Sir Thisdick's armor. From this moment I begged the gods of poor breeding to make the very loud conversation last forever (or at least until 125th street at which point I don't much care if the entire train car rips each other limb from limb). It lasted long enough that Sir Thisdick's train ride, a once comfortable and spread-out affair, was marred significantly. Praise Xenu.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ok, The People Have Spoken

And though none of them has been explicitly invited anywhere, they would prefer a brand new air mattress or dog bed to someone's old bed. Point taken. You may call off your hunting for craigslist beds - we will contemplate different avenues (though not the hideous reproduction chaise so nicely submitted by Antonio). But you seemed to enjoy hunting, so I've got a new hunt.

Find me something interesting to do.

Devoted partner and I were all primed and ready to take beginning Spanish through the nice folks at Greenwich Continuing Education. That is, until the winter schedule came out. People, don't you have jobs? Who can be at a class at 5:30pm on a Tuesday? Unless you worked at the high school where the class is held, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone with a job where pants are mandatory who can both be out of work by 5:30pm and seated in a classroom. So no Spanish for us this semester. I could take it by myself, but it was one of those together things we were going to do.

But I would like to learn something. Yes, I tend towards wanting to learn languages, but I could be swayed in a different direction. So now I invite your suggestions. The requirements: location should be within 30 minutes of house (so White Plains - Stamford); class can't have already started; class should not cost more than $250 (of Alliance Francaise how I despise your heavy handed pricing).

I'm fascinated to see what you turn up!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Invitation to a Hunt

We had a lovely dinner with friends Jim and Erica on Saturday night and joked afterwards that we would have been happy to stay up late and make it a slumber party. This works, in theory, because Jim and Erica have that special thing we currently lack: a guest room. Though, in theory, so do we.

When we started setting up house, I assumed that my Room of One's Own would eventually play very occasional double duty as a guest room - mostly because my bookshelves occupy a mere single wall and my desk a small corner - the rest of the room is strangely empty and clearly large enough for a bed. However, I didn't want an actual big lump of a bed hanging out in my room. Then it would no longer be my room, but clearly a guest room that I used as an office.

Recently, I have permitted devoted partner to move some of his items into my room. Devoted partner chose poorly when he selected the basement rumpus room as his office as our heat does not vent down there. So currently, devoted partner's office is a constant balmy 50 degrees. So the spare television (which I desperately wanted to destroy) and the PS3 have taken up residence in my heated room. It would now be nice if there was seating that one might not sit on the floor while playstationing.

So I invite you, especially that one of you who finds things on craigslist and emails them to me and who, coincidentally, was the first person thought of as a potential user of the guest room (since otherwise there would be that uncomfortable three-in-a-bed moment), to assist us in locating the perfect used daybed. My requirements: no bedbugs, bloodstains, or mold, and I don't want to spend more than $150. Also, please nothing larger than a queen-sized apparatus (if they even make daybeds that big - I was hoping for a double) as it will need to somehow fit in or on a Suburu Outback.

Joke entries welcome!

Monday, February 1, 2010


There is an old and well-worn joke about New Yorkers and their need for noise as a prerequisite for sleep. It's not entirely false. I, myself, am creeped out by silence, ask any of the people who have ever lived with me and they will note that I do not watch television so much as listen to it; the only place my iPod ever really gets used is in the kitchen; and once upon a time I needed the soothing sound of television to lull me to sleep. The house in Greenwich is obviously less noisy than the apartment in Manhattan.

Noises that city dwellers are accustomed to include sirens, brakes, hooligans, gun shots, loud music, and the gentle hum of traffic. Add to that the sound of dripping faucets, the upstairs neighbor flushing, the hiss and clank of steam heat, and you start to understand the background cacophony that is city life. There is a limit, of course. I remember being shown an apartment that was directly across from the elevated subway line at Broadway and 125th and looking at the real estate agent with what I hoped was a look that conveyed that someone could pay ME to live there, but that I would not be paying SOMEONE ELSE for the privilege.

But now I live in a calm suburb, cloistered from the noise of people doing things. On the bright side, I do not have to find ways to block out my superintendent's infinite loop of the same six really crappy Spanish-language pop songs; on the less bright side, I'll admit, it's creepy. Fortunately (and anyone who has ever looked for suburban real estate will proceed to shudder in horror), our house is in the approach path for Westchester County Airport. Yes, I know, I'm a freak. Strangely, given the complaints I have heard about such locations, I don't hear the planes most of the time. I guess our house is far enough away that if any other noise is present, one doesn't notice (or this ONE doesn't notice), yet at night, especially in the winter when, thank god, the crickets are on hiatus (I hate the sound of crickets. HATE), that gentle hum of jet engines is calming.

Consider the alternatives: our house, as I guess all houses do, creaks - for no good reason; even when the heat is off, the sounds of the heat remain, and they're not the familiar hisses of apartment steam heat; the toilet will burble periodically - not because someone has used it, just because.

A couple of weeks ago, I had this conversation: "Babe, when I pulled into the garage this evening there was an armadillo with a rat's tail in our driveway. Is that normal?" "That's an opossum." Great, so now a giant rat is my neighbor. Now all outdoor noises are the rat. I go to bring trash out and I am in constant fear that the rat of unusual size will be waiting for me. Not that I long for our old neighbors, the mice who shat everywhere and chewed things, but really, a rat the size of an armadillo?

Don't even get me started on the honking of the non-migrational Canada geese which are, apparently, endangered meaning that taking potshots at them with the pellet gun is verboten (see also, running them over).

So I will take the sound of a jet gracefully descending in the night. It conjures thoughts of travel - always a good thing - and reminds me that even though I am surrounded by geese and massive rats (to say nothing of the presumed animals that live in the attic: bats, ferrets, hornets), there is something normal out there. Something built by man in his noisy period that burns kerosene and, one hopes, occasionally sucks a Canada goose into its turbine.