Bob B. visited this weekend.
I don't think we've seen each other for three years. So it was very nice to spend some time with Bob again. Though he was up to his old tricks, getting himself thrown out of bars and such.
I took a few pictures, but they all look lousy. I need a new bounce flash.
When we had left my grandmother's apartment the weekend before, all that could be seen on her screen was a blinking cursor light. It appeared as if the hard drive was dead, dead, dead.
During the week, my grandmother called me several times. Each time, she said she thought she would just check the computer to see if she could find solitaire, but then suddenly a box would pop up. This made her nervous, so she shut down the computer.
I was completely baffled, and asked repeated questions about what she has seen on the screen, if the computer appeared to be functioning normally, and what were the words in the box. On Sunday, I made a trip back to the Upper East Side to check the situation out.
The computer did appear to be functioning normally. Her email was back up. We located solitaire and made a short cut to the desktop.
The box that had been popping up was that rascally Norton Internet Security. I tried explaining Norton to my grandmother by I comparing it to her doorman. Delivery boys from websites were arriving at her building and asking to be let up to her apartment. Norton, the doorman, was just calling her to make sure she knew they were coming up. Sometimes, rogue delivery boys might arrive, intent on coming to her apartment to rob her. Norton the doorman would let her know if the delivery boys appeared unsavory.
And just like her actual doorman, Norton was often slow and plodding, temperamental at times, and capable of making poor judgment calls. However, isn't it better to have a lousy doorman than none at all? She seemed to get the analogy.
When I got home that night, I found this email in my inbox. I thought it was sweet.
From: Julia Schwartz
My face scabbiness is flaking off. Which is good, I guess. But it looks a little gross. The worst area is at the tip of my nose (why?). It kind of looks like I've got a boogey.
I met my friend Bob for lunch today. I don't think we've seen each other in person since 2003. Though we had a ton of catching up to do, it was as if no time had past. I wish he would hurry up and move to New York so we could get together more often.
I am the laziest friend.
On the way back, this tough looking individual with an oversized t-shirt, tattoos, and chains around his neck got on the train. When we started moving again, he looked over, and his eyes lit up. He called out to an older, lumpy woman at the other end of the train. She looked shocked, but filled with joy. They called out to each other, and then the tough guy ran over to embrace the older lumpy woman. They were both laughing and crying, looking at each other, talking rapidly, and hugging again.
It made me think about serendipity. In every place I've lived before New York, there got to be a point in time when I couldn't go to the grocery store without running into someone I knew. My mother has said she likes that small-town feeling Hollywood has. I hate it. It always makes me feel claustrophobic.
One of the things I love about New York City is there is just so many people here. With so many people, so many streets, so many tall buildings stacked like LEGO blocks, it's hard to keep running into the same people over and over.
New York is a city of extras.
But when one does run into a person serendipitously, when this does actually happen, it feels like magic. New York is a city where you can lose your cell phone and have a bum return it, a city where you can walk around with a burned face, and nobody even notices. And it is a place where you can run into people you already know and have it feel an enchanted cosmic encounter.
I guess, like my mother, I like that small-town feeling. But I like taking the long road to get there.
This morning, I found myself standing in front of the printer with a coffee cup in my hand.
I remembered getting up from my desk. But couldn't remember why. I stared at the printer for several minutes. Finally, I realize that I had gotten up from my desk to refill my coffee. I have no idea why I thought the printer would help me achieve this goal.
Sometimes I wonder if I have white spots on my brain.
Maybe it's the white spots that led me to blow hot wax on my face.
I ran over to the dermatologist yesterday and she gave me samples of a cream for healing burns. She said it was just out of France. This made it sound all the more classy. At that time, my face looked miraculous unmarred by the wax burn.
I put on the cream when I got back from the doctor. I put it on when I got home from work. I put it on before I went to bed.
When I woke up this morning, I was horrified to discover that my eyelids and brow were mottled with mild brownish burn marks. The affected areas are still very sensitive. One of the scars makes a little "L" on my forehead as it heads into my right eyebrow. I guess this is god's way of letting me know I'm a loser.
Or maybe the "L" is for Lovely. Or Life-long-learner. Or Loiting-by-the-printer-waiting-for-a-coffee-refill.
I hadn't slept well for three nights in a row.
At some point last night, I lit one of those air freshener candles that come in the little bowls. I went through several matches trying to light the wick, and I guess I thought it would be a swell idea to just throw the snuffed matches inside the bowl.
I woke up at six this morning feeling groggy and tired, and noticed the candle's fire was quite high. I leaned over to blow it out. But it didn't work. I tried again. I blew with gusto, like one does for candles on a birthday cake. I didn't realize that all the wax had liquefied. I ended up blowing the liquid wax up onto my face.
"MY FACE IS BURING!" I screamed.
Brian initially thought I had blow the flame onto my face. I ran around for several minutes screaming like a village idiot with a burning face. I had not a clue in my head what to do.
"Cold water!" Brian said. I came to my senses and dunked my face in cold running water. I washed off the wax. This felt good. As soon as I dried off my face, it began to grow hot again.
Brian went online looking for first aide tips for people with burning faces. Most sites agreed that you should go to the emergency room.
More cold water. Then I applied some soothing sunburn lotion. Then more water when it got hot. Lotion. Water. Lotion. Water. Then I found some aloe. Water. Aloe. Water. Aloe. I did this for about an hour and a half, until my face didn't feel too painfully hot and my eyelids weren't sticking to my aloed eyebrows anymore.
I was sure I was going to have a blister on my right eyebrow, as it had been the brightest red and had begun to turn whiteish-purple. But it actually looks okay now.
So remember kids. Candles are dangerous. Aloe is healing. And don't be an idiot. Even if you didn't sleep well.
In March, the problems we were having with our desktop were pronounced.
Around the same time that Brian and I began serious machinations to acquire a new computer, my grandmother began having serious problems with hers. Though our computer was no spring chicken (we had had it since 2003) hers was the grandma to ours. It dated back to the mid-90s.
It took us a very long time to get to the point where we felt we were ready to pass off our old machine. Since it had been quite a bit buggy, we felt it best to wipe the hard drive clean and reinstall the operating system. I did that on Saturday morning.
But it took several hours, which was a lot longer and much more complicated than I had imagined.
Brian wrapped the desktop in some luggage and we took a car service to the Upper East Side. Once there, we began setting up the computer and installing the necessary software.
Mostly, my 89-year-old grandmother uses the computer to write letters and to receive and forward dirty email jokes. For the latter, she connects via Road Runner, and checks her email through Outlook. When I was setting up her Outlook, I asked her, "Nonna, what's your user name and password?"
She just restated her email address. I said, "No, I need something different." I pointed to the screen. "For this, you need a user name and password too."
"I don't think I have one."
"But you have to have one."
"If they gave me one, no one told me."
Thus began three more hours on the phone with technical support. The correct answer was that she did have one, but she was never told what it was. The man came up to set up her modem, set up her outlook settings, and never bothered to tell her these things. But none of it mattered, because there was something intrinsically wrong with the account, and she had been locked out in such a way that she could send mail but not receive.
Brian and I worked from about 3 pm until about 8:15 setting up the computer, the software, trying to set up the email account, and installing the printer. Finally, it looked like things were under control and we were ready to leave.
I turned to get my stuff together. But heard my grandmother, who had been sitting at her computer, say, "I don't want to shut down. I'm just typing an email."
Everything after that was like in slow motion. Brian leaped out of his chair. "NOOOOOOOO." He said.
I turned around. "What's shutting down?"
And there it was. A blank screen. Completely black, except for a blinking cursor light. We restarted the computer -- once, twice, three times -- same thing. The keyboard was unresponsive. Safe mode didn't work. The hard drive was fried.
I don't remember the last time I felt so disheartened. Brian likened it to the last scene in Treasure of the Sierra Madres, when they watch with wide eyes and gaping jaws as their gold dust blows away. We felt a little like that.
Meanwhile, my uncle was mostly bored and annoyed. He looked a little like this:
MomCentral wrote in last night:
Your blog's Coney Island outing reminded me suddenly that your own [maternal] grandfather (after whom your brother is named), David Seigel, was given a nickname "Coney Island Jigger". He loved to dance, and he and Fanny would leaving their son Sam alone in his carriage on the Boardwalk in Coney Island to step into a Dance Hall for a little two-Step. We even have a picture of him somewhere in Coney Island, straw hat and all.I'll try to find it.
On Saturday we went to Coney Island.
Susan and Nick met us there. Truthfully, much of Astroland is a bit of a rip-off. One of the games required you to pay $2 to have one chance to shoot a basketball into a hoop. If you won, you got an ugly plush pillow. Brian played a round, and it might very well be the fastest $2 he's ever lost.
We watched the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, which was mostly freaks and absolutely no clowns. So I had a nice time. After that, we went to Nathan's, where I spent ten minutes trying to explain to the woman behind that counter that all I wanted was a bunch of sauerkraut in a hot dog bun -- NO MEAT. I don't entirely blame her for not understanding, but she kept not listening to me, nodding her head in agreement, then bringing me out another hot dog.
We took a stroll down the boardwalk and watched about a dozen people trip over the same loose plank. It was funny at first, but then we got concerned. Brian tried to report the loose plank to 311, but had similar luck to mine with the hot dog lady.
Brian and I were on our way back to the Subway when Nick forcibly detoured us onto the Cyclone. Now, I don't feel too terribly strongly about roller coasters. I've been on a bunch in my lifetime, and mostly I could take them of leave them. So I wasn't too terribly nervous when we got on board of the cramped little car on the rickety old tracks.
It was the scariest and most uncomfortable one-minute-and-fifty-seconds I ever passed in my entire life. When I wasn't positive that train was going to go flying off the seemingly unsound, "historic landmark" tracks, I was reeling from the cars' herky-jerky movements as they rumbled from plank to wooden plank. Centrifugal force my foot. Brian had to hold his glasses the entire time, as they kept jumping off his face. I was positive that purse was going to go flying out of the car.
When we came to a stop, I had trouble standing up. Susan told me that once she rode the Cyclone 3 times in a row. I think only two would get me to disclose government secrets.
That evening, we went to a friend's graduation party at the Brooklyn Brewery. And on Sunday, we spent the day at the Museum of the City of New York to see their new baseball exhibition (that Susan helped put together). That evening, I spoke to my grandmother. I told her I had ridden the Cyclone.
"What did you think?" she said.
"It was harrowing. Did you ever ride it?"
She chuckled. "Once. I rode all those roller coasters once. That's when a ride was 25 cents. But that was a long time ago.
"Well, it's still around. But it's six bucks now. Was it always so rickety? I thought I was going to die?" She laughed again. "Isn't that the point?"
I had a dentist appointment at 8:30 in Midtown
It was 7:30 on Friday morning and I still felt half asleep. I swiped my card at the entrance to the F train, one of those big vertical turnstiles, and when the green light lit up for me to go, I went.
But the turnstile stopped suddenly, ricocheted back, and knocked me in the teeth.
I was stunned and in pain. I was awake. I felt embarrassed. I must have made some horrible noise, because a number of people were staring at me. So I cried out, "But I said 'Go!'"
That was not my finest moment. When I tried gingerly to push the turnstile again, I was able to proceed through. Arg.
My gums were not bleeding and my teeth all thankfully appeared to be in my head as they should be.
On my way back from the dentist, Brian stepped into my train car. "What are you doing here?" I said.
He told me he was picking up some papers around 14th Street. A random old man with a floppy summer hat said, "Is this man stalking you?" He smiled.
"No. He's my husband."
"Well, then, give him a kiss!"
We kissed briefly, and then I said, "The strangest thing happened to me today." I told Brian the story about the nasty turnstile.
"Hey," he said, "That happened to me too! But I got knocked in the forehead."
We established it must be a demented turnstile, then he said, "But something even weirder happened to me. I was around Union Square and crossing the street when I noticed my cell phone was no longer in my pocket. I started to walk back across the street to retrace my steps. I called my phone with my Blackberry. It rang through the first time. When I called again, a bum picked up."
Brian said he asked where the man was, and was told, "I'm on 14th and Irving, but I'm headed to the park." So Brian ran to meet him. He was a tall, thin individual pushing a shopping cart full of plastic bags and garbage. The bum handed back the phone, and when Brian reached to give him some money, he simply held up his hand in quiet protest. He didn't have time to stop, as he was heading to the park.
"Wow," I said. "That was weird." We looked at the old man with the floppy hat, and he smiled his blessing at us. So I gave Brian a hug.
Later that evening, Brian lost his house keys, and I yelled at him.
It's been terribly hot lately.
Uncomfortably hot. Grotesquely hot.
One travels from the hot city streets to the hot subway platform, and then one takes a hot, crowded train back to one's small, hot apartment. I hate being hot. I left the subtropics of South Florida for this reason.
I am lucky enough to work in a very well air-conditioned building. Working long hours doesn't seem too lousy if it means remaining within the enveloping arms of cool.
The other day in my cool office, I tried to print a document. The printer is located on the other side of my cubicle wall. When I walked around to pick up the document, none was there.
I ended up spending the better part of the morning sending documents to the printer and being baffled that nothing was coming out.
I finally realized this was because of a paper jam. A really freaky paper jam. I removed every removable part of the printer in search of the jammed paper. I finally found a sliver of yellow at the very bottom of the inside of the printer. I stuck my fingers in but couldn't quite get a hold of it. I was able to pull on it enough to confirm that it was in fact the jammed paper, and not a printer part.
I jury rigged a paper clamp and slowly began inching the paper out.
Ten minutes later, I finally dislodged an 8.5 x 11" piece of canary yellow heavyweight paper. When I flipped it over, I saw the following:
I think someone in my office is messing with me.
This weekend we got some culture.
We went to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Richard Serra exhibition. I hoped it would be really awesome, but feared it would be obscure and lame.
But it was really awesome. It felt pretty damn awesome to be walking around inside of enormous slabs of weatherized steel. But if you don't like that sort of thing, this may not be the exhibition for you.
With my camera phone I took a picture of us outside one of the sculptures in the garden. I accidentally cut off Brian's head in the shot, so he took the phone and tried to get a better angle.
Maybe it was because we were in the universe of an Art Museum, but we looked at the two pictures in wonder. Wow. So much depends on ones point of view.
My point of view, apparently, is about three feet from the ground. Brian is a little higher.
Here's a recent gmail chat I had with Bob, who, by the way, lives in DC:
me: you should make a simpsons avatar too and join the party.
It's a party!
Heck's Kitchen has introduced us to Simpsons Avatars. And now we're having a party on her banner.
And here is Brian and me hanging out in the Slope.
Feel free to come out and join us.
It's weird to get a day off in the middle of the week.
Enjoyable, but weird.
We crawled up the fire escape to Susan's rooftop to watch the fireworks. It's looked like this:
Susan's Rooftop (watching fireworks and the fuzz)
The best part of the evening came after the grand fireworks displays. A group of young delinquents on the street below were setting off their own fireworks. Suddenly, a black sedan drove up and two police officers jumped out. Uh-oh, we said, the po-po's here.
An officer shook hands with what appeared to be the delinquents' legal guardian. There appeared to be some conversing, then the cops handcuffed the older man and put him in the back seat of the car. Two riot vans pulled up. I'm not sure if they took away the children too. A woman came out and was gesticulating wildly. Then the vehicles all drove away.
It was very amusing.
Also, because babies are fun to look at, here's a picture of the aforementioned baby:
I haven't gotten to meet her yet, but she certainly looks like she has devious potential.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is lovely this time of year.
Brian and I rented a car and drove up for our friends' Valerie and Chris's wedding. The weather was gorgeous: bright, clear, and warm, but with a perfect chilly breeze.
We walked around Portsmouth's historic downtown, and crossed over the bridge to Kittery, Maine. Here are some pictures:
The wedding was held at the Red Hook Brewery. Here are a couple more pictures:
Everything was so beautiful and fun. Except me. About halfway into the evening I became bizarrely tired. And a half an hour later, I was convinced I was having a reaction to a suspect cookie I had eaten earlier in the day. Maybe it was the heat and the beer and the ecstatic dancing, or maybe I'm a hypochondriac, or maybe there really was something wrong with that cookie, but I had to run out into the bushes, because I began to dry heave.
Brian drove me back to the motel, where I laid in the dark wallowing in shame and self-pity. In another hour, I felt fine again, but it was a little late to return to the party.
Sometimes when I think about how I acted at the party, I am convinced that I comported myself poorly. But then again, as I have real stomach issues, I very well may have vomited. And wouldn't that have made me even more of a party-pooper?
Overall, though, the weekend was beautiful and relaxing and highly enjoyable. Except for the nausea part