SS moves in….

30 Aug

… for a couple days.

For the past two years, SS has been planning a major renovation to his apt. This project was in the works long before we met, and has him very excited.

The past six months have been interspersed with architect meetings, permit applications, visits to kitchen showrooms, samples from Home Depot and god knows what other legal dealings he had to take care of to get his dream abode on the runway. Oh, and for the past few months he’s been living in a place full of holes that the contractor requested he create so he could figure out if the architect’s plans were feasible. (You should have seen me bounce out of the bed when I was there alone and heard a scamper in the wall. Ooooooh boy!)

So after years of anticipation, today’s the day! SS left his apt his morning never to see it the same again!

We got up early to finish the last of the emptying — moving the mattress out back and the rest of his belongings into my car — and as he got ready for work, three “gorillas” showed up armed to demolish the place. (Apparently they were the voiceovers for the “Snatch” cast.)

As luck would have it, he’s got a few weeks of travel planned so finding a place to stay isn’t necessary, except for the next couple nights. And I’m the lucky one! (No, I’m not being sarcastic!)

I am also the unlucky one. His trips and my cross-country road trip overlap so I won’t be seeing my SS for a good three and half weeks or so. I think subconsciously it’s taken a toll on me.

Travel, no matter how well planned, always comes with a small black hole: There is always the potential for an unknown outcome. It’s this unknown possibility that triggers my desire to visit somewhere new. But it also instills fear. A good kind of fear. The kind that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat wide-eyed craving more.

I guess from that perspective, it’s not completely abnormal to feel a sense of stress about watching the one you love fly off one way, while you drive the other.

I am going to miss him. But at the same time I couldn’t be more excited for his vacation. Having lived abroad, I understand the “travel-bug” and what it can do to a person when left unfulfilled. It’s not pretty! It’s the reason that I’ll be singing in the car with my little brother somewhere amid the rocky peaks of the West when SS’s plane touches back down in NY. We may be off on different journeys for the next month, but his sense of adventure is one of the things that draws me to him.

It’s a trip he’s be anticipating for a long time. Just like the renovation, it was part of him before we met!

And just like his brand-new shiny apartment, I’ll awaiting his return.

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When wearing sequins, do you dance or watch?

27 Aug

Earlier this week SS and I, along with a few of his friends, went to the Scissor Sisters’ show at Terminal 5!! The show was fantastic for a number of reasons.

1) The band is fantastic. If you’d have asked my opinion on them a month ago I’d have said, “who?” But when SS got a notice for pre-sale tickets, I committed to learning — and liking — their music. And I fulfilled my duty. Their music is described as being a mix of “disco, glam rock and the New York City club scene.” And that pretty much sums it up!

2) It was at Terminal 5, which apparently used to be a club and offers that exact vibe. Similar to the ballroom venues in the city, it’s open floor with two mezzanine levels and NO SEATS! This is the best part. What’s a surefire way of making sure your audience is standing and dancing?? Book a venue without seats. We walked around, hit up a few different bars and DANCED! And since I was in the middle of reading  Notes From The Night by Taylor Plimpton, a book about the NYC club scene, I was really craving a night out at such a venue.

3) I got to wear my sequined top that MJay gifted to me over a year ago — which I received a number of compliments on.

4) SS hit the dance floor with me! 🙂

Other highlights of the night included a very flamboyant man who seemed fascinated with my “twirl” and stood to the side for a while encouraging me to twirl. Being sober and extremely acute of the silliness of the situation, I entertained him for a while and proceeded to innocently go back to getting my groove on.

The night also made me think.

Reading Plimpton’s analysis of the club scene in his book made me acutely aware of the atmosphere around me. Part of what he talks about in his book is the transition from normal everyday reality to the reality of the club scene, a transition influenced by atmosphere, drugs and energy. When discussing the end of a night of clubbing, he talks about the reality that hits when the lights are turned on, when people are forced to see things for what they are. I think it’s the similar to watching an event full of intoxicated people from a sober standpoint.

It was two-thirds of the way into the concert and we had ventured up to the second floor to find a new bar and in a new view. There was a lot more room up to dance… and watch! Standing in front of me was a guy with his shirt off dancing like he belonged behind them on stage. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone; he was just lost in a moment of having fun. At the other end of the aisle was a girl and guy grinding their way through beats on a small staircase. (Yeah, not safe!) Everyone who passed stopped to watch. They didn’t care; they were just living in the moment. It made me smile.

At the same time, I caught a couple girls sitting along the balcony watching the stage intently. All around us there were people trying to capture cell phone pics. And some people were just watching the crowd. They also made me smile.

There was such a distinct contrast between people who were “living in the moment” and “watching the moment.” I reckon this is noticeable everywhere, even though most of us never take note. And I began to wonder where I fit in more.

Am I a “liver” or a “watcher?”

I would like to think I am a liver. Isn’t it natural to want to think we live our lives to the fullest? But there are times I can recall in which I, objectively, watched! And a little bit of me is embarrassed about that. Why would I be an onlooker when I can be in the middle of the action?? Unless, maybe we all need a bit of both?

What are you? A watcher or a liver (not the body part!)?

Fight the Fear!

24 Aug

I came up with an idea today that got me really excited. It was probably the 5th or 6th thought that lit up my right cerebral cortex before noon, but I had a feeling about this one.
It’s a concept for a blog that I thought would be both entertaining for followers, and allow an outlet for others to share their experiences. I’m obviously not going to tell you what it is; I’d rather surprise you when it comes to fruition.

But as I always do when I get an idea that intrigues me, I jump into the planning phase and then, slowly, decide against it, lose interest or get bombarded with another “FANTASTIC IDEAS!” I have creative ADD!

As I began to think out my plan, I felt my enthusiasm dwindle. That’s not accurate, I was still super enthusiastic I just started to doubt certain aspects of it.

Will people really read it?

How do I entice people to contribute?

Will it be entertaining enough?

What lessons will readers get from it?

As all these thoughts ran through my head, it occurred to me “I’m afraid to fail.” I don’t necessarily fear the kick to my pride; I am scared of dedicating a tremendous amount of time and effort to something that does not pay off.But what kinda pay off am I looking for? Nothing! I want it to be fun! With this realization I felt foolish; I’ve never left fear stand in my way before.

I am going to do it. I am going to start it, promote it, dedicate time to it and see what happens. If it doesn’t take off, so be it; I tried.

Then again, if I really really try, it will be a success, won’t it…

Tea & Sympathy & Thai Sweet Chili Crisps

26 Jul

So after the excitement of two footie games, the Red Bulls fan club, the Tottenham drunkards and one sporadic Vuvuzela, I was STARVING! SS suggested we hop off the train early and get food. When we got off he gave me the option of 1) someplace I don’t remember because the second option was so much more amazing, or 2) Tea & Sympathy. Although I had never before eaten there, I had analyzed the menu, stared at the shelves of food in the adjoining store and chowed down at the Fish & Chip shop two doors down. Eating here was at the very top of my list of things to do in NY.

SS’s idea to carry over the afternoon’s British theme to our nightly feeding was one of the best ideas he’s ever come up with — and he’s a smart guy. So sitting in the front window of the quaint tea shop, we chowed down on a Steak & Guinness Pie (my choice) and a Sunday Roast (his).

My pie was, as the English would say, gorrrrrgeous! And although the roast was, IMHO, overpriced, SS cleaned his plate. It was a proper pub meal served by proper Brits and left me properly smiling at the end.

After sitting through a couple hours of rain there was absolutely nothing that could have brought a better end to the day.

Well, maybe one thing could have made the night better. The Tea & Sympathy shop next door had Walker Sensations’ THAI SWEET CHILI crisps! High five SS!

Red Bull gives you wings, but Brits with Beer are louder!

26 Jul

Yesterday my family, myself and SS hit up a double header “football” game at Red Bulls stadium. Tottenham played their second friendly in NY (having beat the Red Bulls 2-1 three days earlier) against Sporting Clube de Portugal, ending in a 2-2 draw; followed by the Red Bulls beating Manchester City 2-1. (Goooo Bulls!)

It was SS’s first round of birthday gifts experiences and I think he had a great time. I know I did — both in the hot sun and then in the downpour that pleasantly followed. I was excited to take him to this game in particular because I knew he had been to a Tottenham game in England when he was over visiting. Not quite the same experience, but as close as we can get over here.

The Red Bulls victory was very cool. I mean, Man City is an EPL team, and the Red Bulls are, well, an MLS team. They are in a different league… both literally AND figuratively. (ha. ha. ha.) It was fun to watch them win!

But while NY showed up the Mancunians on the field, we definitely failed in the stands.

The Tottenham team has either a) a strong fan base in the NY/NJ area, or b) very dedicated fans who followed them across the pond. Every few minutes during the Tott v. Sporting game, they broke out in song: “Ooooh when the Spurs go marching in…” It was quite catchy, and as I was happily supporting the crazy Brits, I jumped up and chimed right in.

When the second game started, the Red Bull fan club took their seats at the end of the field and started in with their cheers, chants and bouncing. I thought, “We’re American; the number one thing foreigners hate us for is being loud. Bring it on boys.”

Well, I was wrong. It seems the Mancunians didn’t bring their cheer team, but lucky for the Brits, the Tottenham supporters had nowhere else to be — and the bar was still serving. It was only a few minutes in when we heard, “Ooooooh whennnnnnnn the Spuuuuuuuurrrrrssss come marching innnnnnnn…” … louder and faster and louder and faster.

I looked at the Red Bull fanclub as if to say, “WTF boys? Crank up the volume,” only to see them all screaming and clapping and cheering their lil’ hearts out. They were trying, and they just couldn’t compete. Their lungs had not received the years of training given to footie fans in the UK. It’s in their blood.

It’s not just volume that they have mastered; they got stamina. They continued to cheer for their beloved team — who I remind you wasn’t playing anymore, and once it started pouring wasn’t even sitting in their seats on the field anymore — the entire time the Red Bulls battled with Manc. And with such a catchy tune it’s hard to ignore. More than once I caught myself humming and tapping my feet before I remembered that I wasn’t cheering for the bloody Brits anymore. GOOO RED BULLS!

We did drown them out when we scored. I’m not sure the Totts fans were even watching to know we scored. And I bet there were some annoyed NY fans in the stadium. For me, personally, it just made me want a beer… and some Thai Sweet Chili chips!

“Water Me Please!”

24 Jul

Some people say that if you can’t take care of a plant, you shouldn’t get a pet. But I seriously disagree.

This week SS came back from a 2 1/2-week business trip. It wasn’t until a couple days before he returned that I remembered he had asked me to tend to the plants that cover his patio.

I completely forgot. And not all the plants are forgiving.

I feel horribly guilty for killing his plants — not to mention pretty stupid that one of them actually came with the yard when he moved in 6 years ago. Apparently I am a worse plant-carer that’s passed through these walls in the past 6 years. Siiigh. I feel even more guilty, because I know I am useless with plants.

The victim!

I never remember to water plants. This is the number one reason I don’t have any. When my parents go on vacation and my dad asks me to water the plants, I always forgot. He has to leave notes around the house in places I can’t miss. And I still miss them. I am a forgetful person. I have techniques to help me remember things, but they don’t always work — and I have to remember to employ them.

This does not, however, at all imply that I could not take care of a pet. The major different between caring for a plant versus a pet, or any living thing for that matter, is that a pet will make their presence known and will damn well tell you if it’s hungry. During the 6 months that I cared for Max, I never, not once, forgot to feed him. Even when I wasn’t home: I remembered that he needed to be fed and made sure someone else could fill his bowl so he could nudge it all over the ground.

And when you compare it to having a child, well, come on now!! You can’t overlook feeding a child without bearing a painful amount of auditory torture.

Therefore, I think it’s a silly statement. I hope no one ever suggests I try keeping a plant alive before getting a dog, because clearly it’s not possible. But a dog and I would be BFFs.

Birthday Cupcakes: Semi-Successful

21 Jul

So a little over two weeks ago, while everyone in the USofA was out and about enjoying the sun on the Monday after the 4th (bank holiday for you foreigners), I was at the airport waving good-bye to my SS.

My SS is a computer programmer for an big unnamed company. And along with being so brilliant comes important responsibilities around the world. I’m not sure the travel is always necessary, but there it nothing wrong with exploiting your company for a bit of foreign face time. (See why I love him?) So for the past two weeks he’s been in Asia sharing his knowledge, eating yummy sushi and traveling to dangerous places.

SS's birthday presents!! (Yes, that is a stuffed cat!)

He comes home today. And you know what’s even better? Tomorrow is his birthday.

I took advantage of his lack of presence and planned some little surprises. For example, sitting on his kitchen table are an array of wrapped pressies. (I never wrap pressies; I use cardboard and newspaper. It killed me to BUY paper that is inevitably gonna be thrown into the garbage, but I thought he deserved at least one nicely wrapped celebration before introducing him to my ‘save the planet’ ways.)

The other part of my surprise, besides dinner reservations at a delicious place that, get this you’ll never believe it, HE’S NEVER BEEN TO … (This is no small feat people, he’s been evvvverywhere!) … was CUPCAKES!

I came up with this fantasticly creative idea to make him a variety of fun flavors. The tasting menu was as follows. (All were with chocolate cake.)

S’more Cupcakes: Graham cracker inside with marshmallow frosting
Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes: Peanut butter chips inside with marshmallow frosting
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes: Jelly-filled with peanut butter frosting
Nutty Cupcakes: Crushed nuts inside with peanut butter icing
Minty Fresh Cupcakes: Crush star mints inside with butter cream icing
Birthday Cake Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles.

Now imagine a dozen of those. Appetizing right? Yeah, well, didn’t work out as planned.

First off, I used a chocolate cake recipe that I didn’t read thoroughly until in the process of putting it together. It was a recipe for Smore cupcakes that required a graham cracker/sugar baked bottom and then a layer of cake on top. I was making just the cake part and it oddly called for “1 cup of boiling water.” I have no idea WHY it called for boiling water, but as the batter looked ace without it, I didn’t add it.

Was this a mistake? I have no idea!

What I do know is that you can’t baked crushed mint into this recipe. Instead of growing to be fluffy and mushroom topped, like the plain ones, or small and solid, like the graham cracker stuffed batter, these collapsed on themselves.

Mint-infused cupcake failure.

At this point I was losing confidence and stamina. My baking partner AAA — who was ridiculously sweet to help me bake for my SS, and is solely responsible for the icings — was her typical optimistic self, attempting to focus me on the positives — and eat her way through the failures.

The next batch I tried sprinkling the crushed mint on top mid-way through baking. This didn’t work either. They instantly went from having a healthy dome top to being sucked into the black hole of the cupcake tin. Argh. The other ones that proved uncooperative were the PB&Js. Attempting to correct my mistake from last week’s PB&J mishap (all the jelly slid to the bottom when baking), I put the jelly in half way through the baking process in hope that the bottom was baked enough to support it. I have no idea if that worked or not but they didn’t seal over on top in the way I had hoped.

There are holes in the PB&J cupcakes.

At this point I was stomping around the kitchen, spastically shaking and moaning about my baking failure. I was at a loss. Should I bother bringing any to the city for him? Should I take a few? And if I do that, should I ice them before I go? Should I bring the icing and do it tomorrow? Should I just pick up Billy’s on the way over? He has no idea I’m going to see him tonight. But even though he has no idea cupcakes were meant to be waiting for him upon his return home, I felt like I was letting him down by giving up so easily. And after 2.5 a half weeks of planning, if my surprise failed in any way it would just break my little heart.  I’m not the type to give up and, well, he knows that. So I persevered.

In the end I salvaged six that agreed with my oven. There were three S’more-themed cakes and three Fluffer Nutter, which were just turned into Peanut Butter and were iced with PB instead of marshmallow. I would have liked to decorate a few plain ones too but they grew so big, they wouldn’t fit in the carrying pan. I’m guessing the boiling water may have changed that outcome somehow.

Either way, the final product looks pretty nice.

Half a dozen delic cakes are better than none.

This also left me with a challenge. That is to master the art of baking mint into cupcakes. But in the meantime, I am definitely going to make the collapsible cupcakes again. This time in a bowl in which they can be served to guests with a big spoonful of ice cream in the middle. Yummm… now we’re talking.

As for the failed ones, they stand at home waiting to be enjoyed. And the handicapped ones, well, the ladies of the house seemed to like them just the way they were. (Seriously, this was taken like 20 minutes after they came out of the oven!)

Mint-infused cupcakes flavor-success.

Now I’m scheduling this to post just as I should be surprising SS at the airport. But if he somehow catches this post before my face, WELCOME BACK SS!! Now come home and eat!!!