On the D train

This morning there was a woman on the subway popping bubble wrap. She got on at 145th St, settled into a seat, and started popping, and she was still going when I got off at 59th. It wasn't the wimpy kind, either; the bubbles were huge, so that every time she popped one it sounded like a gun firing. POP! The arhythmic popping was impossible to tune out, like trying to fall asleep next to someone with sleep apnea. Several times it seemed as if she had stopped, and I started to relax, until POP! she snapped me out of it.

I kept my head down, ostensibly still playing iPhone solitaire, but my eyes were scanning the train, trying to figure out who was making the noise, hoping against hope that it was some kind of mechanical issue, because nobody would actually pop bubble wrap in the subway, right? POP! Wrong.

We all like to pretend we're the only person on the train. Headphones in our ears, eyes on our book or our Daily News or our sudoku puzzle, we try to block out everything and everyone around us. No one raises an eyebrow as a woman applies a full face of makeup during her morning commute. Twice in the past couple weeks I have been forced to hold onto a pole that has a napping man leaning his entire body against it, leaving me just the space next to his neck to grab on. And today in the subway, as I peered through hooded eyes at the woman popping bubble wrap, I realized that I was the only one looking. Even the people right next to her seemed blissfully unaware that it was even happening. POP! They waited patiently for their stop. POP! They turned the page of their book. POP! They stared at their phones.

While I was driven slowly crazy, never more thankful to be on an express train, and using every ounce of willpower not to stand up and scream, "Seriously? Bubble wrap?"

Clearly, I am not a real New Yorker.

POP!

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 10

  • NYC Restaurant Week: Restaurant Week is a glorious time when fancy schmancy restaurants give you beautiful 3-course dinners for $35. That's how I was able to have escargots, veal, and chocolate mousse with The Banker at Cafe des Artistes last week. There's one more week of it to go; I might just have to go again.

  • Jet Blue: I was lucky enough to be able to take a 3-day weekend visit to Houston, and Jet Blue was incredible. They've built a new terminal in JFK, complete with free wi-fi, lots of food options, and comfy seating galore. On the plane itself, you get 30 channels of TV at your seat! Umm... yes, please, I will spend 4 hours switching between The Millionaire Matchmaker, Law & Order: CI, and Jon and Kate plus 8, all while munching on sweet potato chips. Don't mind if I do.

  • Kiehl's: Not surprisingly, my skin has been freaking out ever since I left warm, humid Houston 3 weeks ago and came to cold, dry New York. My usual skincare regimen just wasn't cutting it, so I paid a visit to Kiehl's, where they hooked me up with the best cuticle cream I've ever tried (and I'm something of a connoisseur), lip balm, and samples of several different moisturizers to try. Much better.

  • Chick-fil-A: You better believe that the first meal I had when I got back to H-town was chicken nuggets, waffle fries, and lemonade from Chick-fil-A. Yum. Just don't try to go there on a Sunday.

  • President Obama: I have a pretty strict no crying at work policy, but I almost made an exception on Tuesday around, say, noon. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the Chief Justice's screw-up and the god-awful robotic voice of the poet and Aretha Franklin's ridiculous hat, I probably would have completely lost it. I can't wait to see what he does next.

16/365

The first fruits of my 365 project. It's going well so far, don't you think?



Maybe one of these days I'll post some actual content here. Don't hold your breath.

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 9

  • Strangers with Candy: My roommate DancerMan introduced me to this ridiculously funny show. I haven't laughed so hard in a long long time, and I can't help but wonder what kind of crazy family could produce both David and Amy Sedaris.

  • Cait Doyle's Hot Mess in Manhattan: My Gay Husband brought me to this cabaret show, and despite the horrifying comedian who opened, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Cait Doyle is adorable, lovable, and so talented. If you're in NYC, go see her show on Friday; it's the last time it's playing!

  • Thinsulate: Yeah, it's been cold here. Really, really cold. Thank goodness for my Thinsulate-lined coat and gloves.

  • Netflix Instant Play: This feature just recently went live for Macs, and I watched my first Instant movie today. It's amazing! You can watch as many as you want, on top of your regular subscription, and there are lots of movies available. I'm loving this new way to use my computer.

  • Christina Courtin: I saw Christina Courtin perform last week with Gabriel Kahane, and since then I've been listening to her CD nonstop on my iPod. My fave song is "Foreign Country," which makes me want to dance when I listen to it on the subway.

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 8

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: I loved this film more than I could have imagined. It is a beautiful, epic love story, an incredible feat of special effects, and a major tear-jerker. It's also an homage to the city of New Orleans, which looks absolutely gorgeous. Go see it.

  • Gabriel Kahane: I had the great pleasure of hearing this singer-songwriter-composer at Le Poisson Rouge this week, and I was blown away. I immediately went home and downloaded all his music from iTunes. You should, too.

  • Tarte tatin: My amazing roommate made this for dessert the other night, after cooking me a dinner of steak and pesto pasta. The tarte tatin was the perfect ending to the perfect meal. Best with vanilla sauce.

  • Suite Fran├žaise: My Gay Husband gave me this book for Christmas, and I've been enjoying reading a bit of it each night before I go to sleep. It's exquisitely written, and the characters are all fascinating. Also, there's a chance reading it will get me into an exclusive book club I heard about.

  • Gossip Girl: I tried to resist the siren call of Gossip Girl, but it was too strong. Since arriving in NYC, I felt the need to catch up on the episodes I had missed, and I was not disappointed. So trashy, so addictive. And the clothes…perfection.

It takes a village

Wow, I actually made it to New York. There are so many people I need to thank...

WienerLover and The Almost German, for driving me to the airport.

Mama and Papa Bossy, for instilling in me at an early age the vital importance of building in a buffer when going anywhere.

Steve Jobs, for creating a phone that syncs my contacts list to my computer. Turns out, the only phone number I have memorized besides my own is my parents'.

The nice stranger lady, for digging around to find quarters in her purse when I discovered that calling a non-local number from a payphone costs $1.

WienerLover and The Almost German, for turning around and driving all the way back to the airport to give me the iPhone that I left in their back seat.

The Continental employee who checked me in, for seeing that I was in no mood to pay an overweight baggage fee and letting my 52-lb. suitcase through without comment.

WienerLover and The Almost German (again), for bringing me marzipan back from their trip to Deutschland. Trust me, it helped.

Gossip Girl, for keeping me distracted on the plane from the fact that one girl took my window seat and another threw my coat on the floor and left it there.

My cab driver, for knowing exactly where I was going in the Bronx so that I didn't have to pretend that I knew.

DancerMan, for greeting me at the door, feeding me beer and ice cream, drawing me maps, and making fun of Mike Huckabee's Fox News show with me.

The construction workers outside my window, for waking me up nice and early with their pneumatic drill so that I got on East Coast time right away.

Thanks, everyone. I couldn't have done it without you.

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 7

  • Slings and Arrows: PiGuy always sings the praises of this Canadian series about a Shakespeare theatre company, but for some reason it took several months for me to take notice. Now, with the urging of The New Oregonian, we've been Netflixing the first season, and it is fantastic. It's laugh-out-loud funny, but it has some surprisingly poignant moments as well. I'm currently attempting to learn all the words to the opening theme, "Chin up, Hamlet." Oh, and I officially have a crush on Paul Gross.

  • The New Best Recipe: Each recipe in this cookbook comes with an extensive explanation of exactly why every ingredient and step have been chosen by the authors. It's fascinating. On New Year's Day, we made their recipes for French toast, chocolate mousse, and a yummy pasta dish with asparagus, arugula, walnuts, and blue cheese. All were amazing. If it didn't weigh 10 pounds, I probably would have brought it to New York with me.

  • Rachel Maddow: I don't generally have access to cable news (although that has changed now that I'm in New York), so I was really excited that full episodes of The Rachel Maddow Show are now available as a free podcast through iTunes. She's smart, funny, and a brilliant interviewer. Not a bad way to get the news.

  • Brookstone n-a-p socks: The Best Friend just sent these to me for Christmas, and they are the softest things my feet have ever touched. I know she gave them to me for cold nights in the Bronx, but I've been wearing them around the house in Houston despite the 80° weather. That's how awesome they are.

  • My 365 project: I am attempting to take a picture every day this year, and I'm posting them all in a set on Flickr. Probably about once a week or so I'll share my favorites here on the blog, but if you want to keep up with the project on a more regular basis, you can do so here. You can even subscribe to its RSS feed if you're so inclined. So far I'm only 4 days in, and I'm really enjoying it, but I'm giving myself permission to fail and try again some other time. Because 365 days is a really long time, and I might not last that long.

Bonjour, 2009

Last New Year's Eve I drank too much. I was rooming with The New Oregonian, and CameraMan came over and mixed gin and tonics and we all watched The Big Lebowski and took a drink every time someone said "Dude." It didn't take long to feel tipsy. CM and I were feeling smug with the covert knowledge that earlier in the day, after several long discussions on the subject, we had decided to start dating. We didn't think it would last long (February 9, 2008 was the end date we had set, actually—we were expiration dating), so we weren't telling anyone else just yet. After the movie was over, we stumbled upstairs to a party, where I took huge numbers of dark blurry pictures and bonded with my co-workers in a series of deep conversations the details of which were a bit hazy come the next morning. Right before midnight, the balcony conveniently emptied, and CM and I shared a private kiss to ring in the new year. (Feel free to make retching sounds right about now.)

This year I didn't drink nearly so much, partly because we were driving to a party, and partly because we chose a different movie. I made fancy mac & cheese, The New Oregonian came over, CM mixed gin and tonics, and we all watched Superbad and took a drink every time someone said "McLovin" or mentioned any euphemism for the male genitalia. After the movie we drove to a party and chatted with our co-workers, and left well before 12, enduring the jeers of our friends, just so we could be at home alone by midnight. We got back to the apartment, uncorked a special bottle of champagne we got for our birthdays, and then we toasted and kissed just as the time-delayed ball dropped on TV.

The details didn't change all that much from last year to this one, but everything's completely different. There's something about the start of a new year that makes anything seem possible. 2009 feels full of excitement and promise, and I can't wait to see where I am next New Year's Eve.

I'm going to need to find a new drinking game by then.

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