Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Week That Was

Sacred or profane? Your choice.

I was at church this past Sunday, and the choir director told me that she wanted me to provide the music for a service at the end of October.  She said, "The topic is sin."  I said, "Sin? Ooooh!" She said, "Yeah, we thought you'd say that.  We thought of sin and right away we thought of you."

So when people think of sin, they think of me.  FUCK YEAH!  I feel like I've arrived.

In other choir news, at practice Thursday, the director gave me a fat solo in a gospel piece the choir is doing in a couple of weeks.  So, I guess when people think of gospel, they also think of me.  And, truthfully, both the sin and gospel associations are so appropriate that it's tough to think of which is more apt.  Or which I like more.


Wordsmithing.

I believe I am in the midst of another dating-type situation going south, and because this now happens with some minor frequency, I have developed a new acronym: YARD, or Yet Another Romantic Disappointment.

Please note that I have used "acronym" appropriately here.  People these days (the bastards!) routinely use "acronym" when they should use "abbreviation."  An acronym is (properly, that is: the descriptivist motherfuckers who run our online dictionaries these days will change the definition of a word any time a few people start misusing it) an abbreviation that can be pronounced on its own.  So, for example, if I'm talking about a friend with privileges, and I use the term FWP, that can be either a simple abbreviation -- if you say "eff double you pee" -- or it can be an acronym -- if you say "fwip," like I do.  The relative ease of making that an acronym is why I prefer FWP to the more common FWB.  I think that saying "fwib" sounds ungainly and a little ridiculous.  YMMV (abbreviation, not acronym, thanks).

Anyway, having this particular brand spanking new acronym is, on the whole, better than having this particular guy, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of occasions to use it in the future.

I think "Descriptivist Motherfuckers" would be a great name for a punk band.  Sadly, I don't play any instruments, and my voice is all wrong for being a punk front man. Still, a boy can dream.

Tangentially, am I the only one who's amazed at how little time it took for "motherfucker" to go from being taboo to commonplace?  Five or six years ago, it's something I would never have said (and, yes, I know I'm late to the motherfucking party), and nowadays it elicits not a twinge.  I'm not sure what's left that you can call someone if you truly want to offend him.  I'm partial to "douchenozzle" for people I legitimately despise, but I'm not sure that really bothers anyone, either. Alas.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Let's Pretend It's Zen

So at this very moment, I'm sitting in my office on a Saturday, and I want so very badly to avoid doing what I should be doing that I'm going to update my blog.  It's not that I don't want to update my blog, it's just that my last post was going-on-a-year ago and should have been followed up with more details of my (soooooo great!) trip to Peru, and I feel somewhat sheepish about even posting after never having gone to the trouble of uploading my pictures and giving you a rundown of my (soooooo great!) vacation, but, hey, that was a long while ago, and I'm meant to get better at living in the moment, right?  Let's pretend it's zen, rather than laziness, that has me posting this here right now.

Life continues apace, and to while life is undeniably good, I'm having some adjustment difficulties with the transitional nature of my early fifties.  For such a long time now, I've defined myself by my relationships to other people.  Parent, mostly, but also husband and partner to some (relatively minor) extent, and right now I'm facing a time where it could all be about me.  Me me me.  My younger daughter is in her senior year of high school, and her plans are in no way shape or form set, but they definitely included going somewhere else.  My older daughter is currently teaching elementary school in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and I reckon she'll be back stateside in a year or so, but I think there's a good chance she'll move to another part of the country. 

In the past, at least since I came out, when the twin time sinks of work and parenthood allowed me any free time, I mostly used that time for horizontal pursuits.  And I have been really good and successful with that, but if I'm going to have more time and/or mental energy freed up by the diminution of parental responsibilities, I don't think that bedding men is going to be enough.  And, honestly, while I feel like my slut years represent time well spent, I am getting to the point where the hunt has gotten both easier and less fulfilling than it used to be.  I kind of want something more.  Or maybe something else.  I feel like if I'm going to be on my own, then I need to be more interesting to myself. 

I've been doing some dating recently, and I guess it would be nice if that turned into something more long term, but I just don't think I'm ever going to be any good at dating.  I don't know how it is that Logo hasn't approached me to do a reality show where they shoot me going on dates and then bring in a panel of experts to tell the viewers what I'm doing wrong.  I think that could be both comical and instructive.  I usually know what I'm doing wrong, of course, but I seem to be powerless to stop doing it.  Part of it is that the available dating pool is mostly crazy men, but most of it is my own misdeeds.  And, truly, I don't mind all that much.  I am more amused than abashed by my misadventures.  And I think being more successful at dating probably would require me to be someone I'm not, and I'd sooner not bother.

Anyway, dating isn't the answer.  Working more/harder (God, no) isn't the answer.  Having more sex isn't the answer (Too bad: is there some way I can make myself shallow enough so that I could find having lots and lots of casual sex to be nourishing to my soul?  If there is, let me know, ok?).  But the answer(s) is(are) out there.  And, hey, maybe posting regularly is a good start.  If so, I'll probably post again soon.  If not, then you'll probably here from me again next April or so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TED´s Excellent Andean Adventure - Part I

And let me just say, right up front, that before you judge, YOU should try typing on a Peruvian keyboard while slightly drunk.  Fun fact: when typing a blog entry in Peru, almost every word, even ¨Peru,¨ gets highlighted as a spelling error.

Anyway, I am having a great time in Peru.  I will post some details at length later (I'm keeping notes), but for right now, please enjoy this small sampling of some of the street art from the Miraflores district of Lima.















Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Incomprehensibles

So, if memory serves (meaning that I'm too lazy to look it up), two, three, or four years ago on one of my blogs, I said that I was going to make the day after the final tax deadline the day when I allowed myself to whinge on my blog. And then I never did it again because, well, whinging is very, very common in the blog world, and it's almost always tiresome, even when it's well done (i.e., rarely). Also, I have a strong inhibition against whinging. I have an even stronger inhibition about whining, which is why I'm using the British version: it makes doing it more palatable somehow. Which is strange, when you consider the U.K.'s reputation for barely palatable food. But I digress. Of course.

Anyway, this past filing deadline (for those of you who don't know -- i.e., everyone -- Americans who can't or won't get their returns filed by the normal April 15th deadline can get an extension to October 15th; this means that when you get close to 10/15, what you have left are a) the most difficult returns, and b) no possibility of a further extension) was especially intense, and I went three weeks without even a Sunday off, and I guess I could whinge about that, but I knew what I was getting into when I took this career and this job, so it would be bad form to complain. Besides, after all these years, I'm kind of used to it, and when you get to the Friday before the deadline and realize that all of your work is done, there's a certain level of elation. And then having a weekend off is suddenly a big deal, and that's kind of great.

The thing that I'd really like to complain about, of course, is politics. Almost everyone I know considers me very laid back, sometimes to a fault, so they would be surprised if they could hear my inner monologue about American politics, which boils down to "Really?" and "AAAAAAAAAAGH!" It depends on the day which of those two predominates, but let's just say there are plenty of both. But I'm not going to say much more than that because it's impossible for me to talk about American politics without eventually concluding that a substantial number of my countrymen are idiots, and then heading down the rabbit hole of whether particular people are stupid or evil and how blurry the distinction can become.

But maybe "idiots" isn't even fair. I have long since concluded that the world has become such a complicated place that we who live here aren't intelligent enough to handle it. What I mean by that is that there are so many complexities in so many areas that no one person is smart enough to understand everything that needs to be understood to get by. Even if you're a rocket scientist, chances are you don't understand tax law. And if you're a tax whiz, like me, you might still not understand very well how your car works, even if you know how to change a tire and the oil.

 So most of us, myself included, end up relying on experts. And that works out pretty well with things like auto repair because even if you don't know a tachometer from tachycardia, there are mechanisms by which you can find out whether your mechanic is competent and/or honest. But these mechanisms fail in the political sphere.  If you're getting your information from people who are only pretending to be impartial when, in fact, they have an axe to grind AND (this is important) you don't have a healthy level of skepticism, then you end up like this guy:

Where to begin?*  As a general rule, I don't favor bumper stickers.  I'm willing to give you two, or possibly three, but after that, you devolve pretty quickly into eccentricity slouching towards madness.  Even if your bumper stickers are all things I agree with, I don't think you need to wear your heart on your bumper. 

That said, I suppose I'm a pseudo-hypocrite because while I don't have any bumper stickers on my car at the moment, I do have a yard sign supporting Maryland ballot question 6. I'll be voting absentee this year, for the first time ever, because I'll be returning from Peru on the day after election day.  And it'll be an even longer flight if Willard wins. Visit Peru and come home to a Republican victory.  That has the potential to be the steepest descent ever.

Romney's very candidacy is incomprehensible to me, but let me leave that alone for a moment and pivot to a couple of other things that I also don't get, but that I managed to take a picture of.

Let's start with Martha Stewart pet toys.  Really?  Really:



It strengthens, if only a bit, my faith in humanity that these were on clearance because no one was buying them.  I have nothing particular against Martha Stewart, most of the time, but pet toys really doesn't seem like a natural fit for her brand.  When I saw these at PetSmart, I averted my eyes and quickly purchased a different brand of toy to replace one that Luna had chewed to bits after months of diligent effort.

Speaking of Luna, I was out walking her  a couple of weeks ago when I spotted this:


Usually, Americans' fascination with their NFL teams bugs me a little, but when someone goes to all the trouble necessary to put a pair of ten-foot, inflatable football players, I have to give them a) some grudging respect for effort, and b) my sympathy over their addiction.  DC-area football fans are particularly rabid, which cannot help but intensify their frustration when the Redskins fall short yet again.  In my youth, I was a rabid Skins fan, and I would like to say that I gave it up out of solidarity with native Americans, but I have to admit that naming sports teams after indigenous peoples is something that doesn't really bother me, though I do draw the line at anything involving tomahawk chops or other weapons of individual destruction.  Grow up, sports fans.

Off topic, and totally comprehensible:

Here are two quotes from a semi-recent post from Mimi Smartypants:

WE MUST APPLY THE WIRE BRUSH OF KNOWLEDGE TO THE FORESKIN OF IGNORANCE
and
Nicholson Baker is somewhat well known for writing about sex. For the record, I don’t particularly care if he writes about sex, although the sex certainly deteriorates with each of his “sex books.” Vox was semi-enjoyable as a wank book, Fermata was an elaborately sick postmodern fantasy about how it’s kind of okay to rape as long as you are extra-considerate and make sure your victim enjoys herself, and House of Holes is an unreadable disaster that lurches from scene to scene while employing some of the most ludicrous sex-talk ever. “Fill my mouth with your manly nutbag?” Please.

It has become something of a mission for me to work the phrases "Apply the wire brush of knowledge to the foreskin of ignorance" and "Fill my mouth with your manly nutbag" into my personal discourse.  I reckon the former belongs in a political debate (I can't believe Joe Biden didn't use it.) while the latter needs to be pillow talk, uttered -- obviously -- to someone with whom I never again want to share a pillow.  I have, as yet, been unsuccessful on both counts, but I think you'll agree that it's a worthwhile project, and I encourage you to take up the cause.  If you manage to say either of those, let me know, ok?






*You'll note that the guy is a cat owner, and I point this out only because I understand that some sort of microorganism that cats carry can end up in human brains.  I don't believe the full extent of the effects of this infestation is known yet, but maybe we can blame birtherism on the cats.  Then again, in medieval times, they blamed the plague on the cats, and the cats were, in fact, helping to keep the true disease vectors (the rats) in check, so maybe we shouldn't be too quick to blame Fluffy. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You're Meant To Be Lazy in Summer, Right?

Sometime this past Friday afternoon, I made a checklist of the things that I needed/wanted to get accomplished this past weekend.  It seemed like a pretty good list at the time, but yesterday morning when I was getting ready for work, I looked at it again, and 90% of it was still unchecked.  As usual, the problem isn't that I'm lazy: the problem is unrealistic expectations.  Next weekend, I'm going to put items like "sleep in," "play video games," and "breathe" on the list. 

To the Dogs

Speaking of sleeping and breathing, we did have a guest this weekend.  Greyhound Welfare, the organization we adopted Luna from, has a mailing list, and people sometimes post there in hopes of finding a greyhound-owning sitter for when they're going to be out of town.  Someone local sent a short-notice email last week, so I said I'd take care of her grey.  I thought it would be fun for Luna to have some company and a good idea to start sitting for other dogs so that people might return the favor if I want to travel dogless sometime.  Anyway, here are Luna and RC, in an action shot.


That was about the most energetic RC was for the entire weekend.  I sometimes joke that Luna's main activity is holding the carpets down, but RC made Luna look like a Jack Russell terrier.  I will say that the carpets have never been flatter.

I did manage to get both dogs out for a longish walk (2.5 miles, Luna's standard evening walk) Friday evening.  It occurred to me that if I were to treat Luna and RC as a single unit, I'd probably call them LC so that walking the dogs was just like being on an episode of The Hills.  In the same way that a deerstalker cap is just like sardines.

After that indignity, and a not-very-long hike in the woods on Saturday morning, RC apparently felt that he'd expended enough energy, and when we went for our Saturday evening walk, I got about a quarter mile from the house, and RC turned into a fencepost and absolutely would not move until I started heading back for home.  Luna really likes longer walks, so I made it up to her with a three-miler Sunday night, while RC chilled in the house with EFU.  Everybody was happy.  Still, I was a bit relieved when the rug flattener's owner came to pick him up and I could get back to just having my fun, energetic dog who doesn't feel that every tree needs and deserves to get pissed on. 

TED Discusses Politics

Paul Ryan.  Really?

Vacation Matters

I've probably whinged before here about my ineptness in planning vacations.  Back when I was partnered, I never had to plan vacations because b&c would suggest a location; I'd say, "Make it so;" he'd suggest flights, hotels, museums, and such; I'd say, "Whatever;" he'd complete the arrangements; I'd write him a check for half; and we'd be off.  But since I've been single, I haven't been able to arrange anything that didn't involve either a) me in NYC or b) me and the kids visiting family.  And since the girls went for two weeks to the West Coast with their mother and step-father this year, and EFU didn't have any additional vacation time, I didn't plan anything at all for the summer.  A few weeks ago, I was starting to feel anxious about the lack of vacation and trying to figure out what I could do, but I hadn't come up with anything. Then I called b&c to see how he was doing (his mother died recently, and he inherited her cat), and he asked me if I was interested in going with him to Peru. 

I knew without asking (though I did ask, of course) that if b&c was suggesting Peru, the trip was sure to include a visit to Machu Picchu.  It was something I'd always assumed I'd never get to see, but now it looks like I will get to see it.  We discussed dates, then we had a conference call with the tour company, and we're going at the end of October.  I'm very excited.  I already have a prescription to help with altitude sickness.  Also new hiking boots, which I am very carefully breaking in.  (We are not doing serious hiking -- i.e., we aren't walking the Inca trail -- but the tour guide representative said they'd be a good idea, and I have a history of spraining my ankle, so better not to take chances.)  I think that breaking in hiking boots is mostly about breaking in my feet, but as long as the boots and the feet get along well, I'm not that picky about which has the right of way. 

Apparently, the end of October is the beginning of the rainy season in Peru, but I'm hoping that my and b&c's good luck with weather on vacations holds.  I'm told the worst of the rainy season doesn't really hit until December, and at the end of October, the crowds have started to attenuate somewhat.  Anyway, I'm not going to worry about it.  If I disappear -- along with Machu Picchu -- in a mudslide, I'm sure I'll learn a valuable lesson from the experience.

The tour company has provided me a very detailed itinerary of what the group will be doing, but I haven't really focused in on most of it. I know that we spend one afternoon and the following morning in Machu Picchu, and there are two travel days, but I'm not so sure about the rest of the eleven days.  Presumably there will be llamas.  It occurs to me that Llamas in the Ruins is an excellent title for a satirical travel novel.  Somebody write that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Better Late Than Never


The view from my hotel room
Hey, nobody's perfect, right?  I meant to make this post about my post-tax season trip to NYC back right post-tax season, in April, but, well, life, you know?  Whenever someone writes "life, you know," I believe you're obligated to imagine an unshaven Frenchman in his late fifties, sighing the line through a cloud of smoke that he has just exhaled, and just before the non-cigarette-bearing hand brings a glass of red wine to his lips.  Soon after, there will be a wry smile. 

Anyway, I really did have a great trip to the city way back in April.  It was full of delights in all of the areas that I want a vacation to hit: ambulatory, gustatory, cultural, and horizontal.  And let's tackle that last one first: I made the horizontal acquaintance of six guys during my stay.  I realize that is not such a large number, but I was only there for three nights, and I had a lot of other things to do. 

As for the guys, well, I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice that New York is chock full of men who think of themselves as New Yorkers but don't think of themselves as Americans, and five of the six guys matched that description.  I have a thing for men with accents, and these accents, and the accompanying guys, were all just swell.  The sixth guy (who, fortunately, was somewhere in the middle of the order) was actually from Maryland and lives about fifteen miles from me.  He was not swell, and, unfortunately, not long after my return, he hit me up on Scruff, looking for more of the same.  I said no.  Or maybe I just blocked him: I don't remember which.

But the other five were entirely charming, and I especially enjoyed meeting a French New Yorker who works in finance and a Colombian New Yorker who's a personal chef.  The latter gave me some good restaurant recommendations.  The former told me (only after I asked) that he'd been in New York so long that he now thinks in English instead of French.  I think that's a tiny bit sad.  He came to see me on his way home from the opera.  He'd spent $439 for his ticket.  "Wow," I thought -- and said.

I hadn't even been sure that I was going to NYC this year, but sometime during the first week of April (this is where many accountants* would make an April-is-the-cruelest month joke, but a) seriously? and b) March is worse) when I was feeling especially beaten down by work and life, you know (long exhale, red wine, wry smile), I took a break between tax returns, checked the deals on one of the discount travel sites, and found a 3.5 star room for a price that I could not (or at least did not) resist.  It was one of those deals where they give you the price, the rating, and the approximate location, but you don't get the actual hotel name and address until you book the room.  In this case, I ended up at a very nice hotel at 57th and 7th. 

I arrived Wednesday afternoon.  I was there early, but they were very nice about it and checked me in immediately.  The room was so nice that I may have done a happy dance as soon as I was inside it, though I suppose that 85% of the happy dancing could reasonably be attributed to not having to work 75 hours a week any more.

I got started immediately on the ambulatory portion of my visit.  I'd decided beforehand that I wanted to have a small picnic in Inwood Park, so I headed over to ninth, then south to International Grocery, where I picked up some taramasalata, kalamata olives, and pita bread, then I took the train north. 

I had my first only-in-New-York moment of the trip when the A train got to a part of the trip where it doesn't stop in what would normally seem like forever.  But on this occasion, two young gentlemen stepped forward, turned on a boom box, and started dancing.  And they were incredible.  One was short, compact, and acrobatic; the other was long and lean, and  he had a tendency to balance on one hand while the rest of his body snaked through various positions.  Who can stand on one hand on a moving subway car?  It was crazy: even the locals seemed amazed. They switched off and danced for three or four minutes, all in an area that couldn't have been more than ten square feet.  I gave them a couple of dollars, which seemed like not enough, but it was more than anyone else gave them. 

Inwood Park seems a lot more practical than Central Park: everywhere you go there are people playing baseball or softball or ultimate frisbee or tennis.  I found a bench and watched the frisbee players while I ate my little container of taramasalata (so, so good; so, so filling; so, so cheap) and the pita bread.  The olives were not so much to my liking, but I have good kalamatas all the time, and good taramasalata is not findable out here in the provinces. 

After that, I set off walking.  You pretty quickly get from where there's everyone to where there's no one.  I headed up a big hill and strolled for a half hour or so.  I found a trio of hanging chickens:


And then, a few yards father on, another:



I decided that they must be some sort of Buddhist monument to a friend who had died recently.  I am likely mistaken about that, but I am fond of saying that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

Much of the rest of my perambulation involved Central Park.  I can't imagine going to NYC and not sitting down at the Bethesda fountain.  I did that a couple of times during my visit.  One of the time a group of high school girls who were visiting from the Midwest struck up a conversation with me.  They were very nice, but I kept wondering why no one had warned them about not talking to strangers.  On the other hand, I have been reliably informed that no one ever finds me threatening.  I find that fact approximately 4% insulting and 96% reassuring.  Also, I feel like I ought to be able to profit from it somehow, but I have not yet written a business plan.


I walked many other places, as well.  The weather was amazing throughout my trip.  I took the subway a few times, but mostly I just walked everywhere I wanted to go.  I have learned not to plan so much when I travel.  I typically like to go on a vacation with a small  number of activities that I know I can get to.  Sometimes, I just have a single goal.  There's so much going on in NYC that I had a few more specific activities in mind before I arrived, but I still left a lot of time for discovery.  I mean, it's New York, so you can rely on two things: a) there's no way you can see everything, and b) you're always going to see something interesting. 

I'd arranged to have lunch on Thursday with an Internet acquaintance, someone from a website where I've participated for many years.  I had never met him in person. I always face such meetings with some degree of trepidation, mostly because I'm not at all extroverted, but they always turn out to be a good time.  I had a very specific restaurant in mind, and we decided on a later lunch so that we would be sure to get a table.  I was in the Park in the morning, and he suggested that I take the subway down to Union Square and then walk east on 14th Street.

It will tell you most of what you need to know about me ** when I tell you that -- even though I rarely drink -- one of the big highlights of the trip was the discovery that NYC has a (wait for it) Trader Joe's wine store!  Oh to the em to the gee! 


This is what I bought there.  We must conclude that I bought it principally for the label since it's sitting, still unopened, on my kitchen floor, next to the refrigerator, even as we speak. 



I also bought an inexpensive bottle of Prosecco, but that one didn't make it off the island.

Apparently, TJ's is only allowed to sell wine at one location in all of New York, and that's why there's a separate wine store.  Or at least that's what the cashier told me when I whinged about how the TJ's in Maryland aren't allowed to sell wine.  I considered going into the regular Trader Joe's, which is just down the block a bit from the wine store, but even though I had plenty of time and an appetite for discount chocolate, I decided not to: there are plenty of them back home, after all.

Then I walked over to First and south a few blocks, where I waited for my friend at Momofuku Noodle Bar.  I realize that Noodle Bar stopped being really trendy a few years ago, but I'd always wanted to eat there, and I had reliable intelligence that the food was still very good.  My friend showed up (he'd ridden down from his office on a bicycle that he was considering buying from a co-worker) a few minutes later, and neither he nor the restaurant disappointed.  I went for the signature ramen, and we split an order of pork buns and an order of snow peas.  Nom. 


After we finished at Noodle Bar, we walked around the corner to a tiny little coffee shop, where he had an espresso and I had a latte.  I am normally not a big fan of the coffee unless it is heavily adulterated with the chocolate, but my friend is something of an expert, so I figured that it was worth trying something from a place he frequents.  It was very good.  As chocolateless coffee goes, that is.  While we were there, a group of young men came in, and one of them attempted to order a decaf.  When the coffee guy (there's a word for that, but I am not using it) told him they didn't sell decaf, the young man seemed nonplussed and asked whether he'd committed a faux pas by ordering a decaf.  The coffee guy assured him that it was ok, but it was clear that the young man would never have coffee in that town again.  I wanted to hand him a shovel.

I'd mentioned to my friend that I thought I'd stop by Grand Central Station on my way back to the hotel, just to enjoy the atmosphere, and he suggested that I head upstairs and have a cocktail at the oyster bar and watch the passengers come and go.  I tried to do that, but I somehow ended up at a different bar, one owned by a basketball legend whose name also graces a very successful line of athletic shoes.  It was fine, though.  I still got to sit and watch passengers, and I had a very nice Manhattan.  Cocktails are pricey in New York, but this one cost less than I'd expected to pay, so I was pleased.


I had plenty of other good food during my visit.  I went to Milk Bar for some cookies, and they were very good, mostly (I will pass on the corn cookie next time, but the one with the crushed potato chips in it is great), but my very favorite meal of the trip came on Thursday night after I'd had the conversation with the aforementioned Colombian New Yorker personal chef, and something he said made me google best new york dumplings, and I ended up (after a long walk during which I attempted, unsuccessfully, to acquire a knock-off designer handbag for my younger daughter) at a hole in the wall on Mulberry Street where -- for the princely sum of not quite five bucks -- I stuffed myself on dumplings (and Snapple):


The steamed ones were chicken and mushroom.  The fried ones were pork and scallion.  They were amazing.  This establishment also sells their dumplings frozen, in bags of fifty.  If I lived in New York, I'd eat those all the time.  I'll go back, but next time not alone so that I can try more varieties. 

After Dumplingfest 2012, I walked north through Little Italy and had a cannoli.  I have one every time I visit the city. 
My big cultural goal for the trip was to -- finally -- visit the Guggenheim. 


The central exhibit (on the long, twisted inclined plan, sort of like walking up the threads of a screw) was a John Chamberlain retrospective.  He spent most of his long, productive career making sculptures out of crashed automobile bodies, but in later years, he turned to twisting foil. 


There were many pieces that I liked a lot.  I walked up the screw twice.  Near the top, there was an alcove that had one of his pieces that was neither car part nor twisted foil.  It was a huge piece of foam, covered in plastic.  There was a sign on it that asked patrons to remove their shoes before sitting on the sculpture.  Everyone, including me, assumed this meant that you should stay off it, but the price of admission had included an audio tour, and I listened to the explanation for the piece, and it said that you should go ahead and sit on it.  So I took off my shoes and sat for a while.   


Within a couple of minutes, it was covered with people, including many visiting students who had not removed their shoes.  The guards did not seem to mind, but one of them chastised me a few minutes later when I took a picture, even though I was not pointing my phone at any of the artwork.  That time.

My other main cultural outing was to see Other Desert Cities.


I'd somehow stumbled across a rave review for the play online, so it was my first choice.  I almost always catch a show when I go to NYC, but I am down with neither paying full price nor for standing in long lines at TKTS.  As it happens, the lines are generally dreadful in the afternoon, but they disappear by early evening.  I walked over from my hotel Friday evening and got a ticket after waiting for no more than a minute.  ODC had been around for a while, and it wasn't a musical, so I figured that the chances of getting a ticket were high.  I also figured that if the tickets were all gone, I'd find something else worth seeing.  There's always something worth seeing. 

The play was terrific.  It's a very well written play, and the entire cast was first rate.  I'd always wanted to see Stockard Channing perform live, and now I have.  Good live theater may be even better than good dumplings, though it's admittedly a close call.

Saturday midday, I took the bus back to Maryland.  There are numerous private bus lines that specialize in going from the DC area back and forth to NYC, and I have never yet found one with empty seats on the trip north, or one that was more than half full on the trip back south.  We didn't run into any bad traffic (either way).  It was a great trip.  I reckon I'll do it again next year. 


*Accountants who've read The Waste Land, that is, which is substantially none of us.

**The only thing that's possibly more revelatory of my character is that I have recently concluded the most important personality trait any prospective boyfriend can have is the firm and unshakable belief that Wile E. Coyote is a nobler character than Road Runner.

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Article Is a Stub

Yeah, I know, cheap trick, but I'm putting this here to force myself to come back, hopefully this weekend, to upload some pictures and write some details about my post-busy season trip to NYC. For now, a few observations:
  • This was my best trip to New York so far. It seemed like the perfect mix of cultural, culinary, and horizontal activities.
  • I remain committed to the notion that whenever you go on vacation, it's important to have one goal that you know you can accomplish and otherwise not to have too detailed an itinerary, but if you're going to NYC, you can probably increase that to one goal/day without fear of failure.
  • I have also determined that no matter what sort of fabulous dining experiences you have planned for your trip, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. Your days will be much more congenial if you find a pleasant breakfast spot near your hotel and enjoy a leisurely meal while appreciating your surroundings. This is part of why European vacations are so often successful: your hotel will usually provide a nice breakfast for no additional charge.
  • I spent a lot of time walking around the city and especially walking in the park. The weather was almost embarrassingly wonderful. Thanks, climate change! Sure, entire Pacific nations will disappear, but let's not forget the silver lining.