Friday, December 30, 2011

Monopoly and myrrh

Okay, I actually got photos a few days ago (very efficient uploading, parents!), and if I don't post them before New Years their relevance will certainly be devalued. However, I'll keep it short because I have friends and family in town and would rather hang out with them than write in my blog (just as I would prioritize hanging out with all of you, readers, were you to visit me in person! Well, unless I don't know you, in which case it would be on a case by case basis). Suffice is to say, Christmas was fun and basically time spent can be divided into the following categories: food eating and playing board games. Luckily, these are a couple of my favorite things. I will alternate them thusly.


Here we gather around the island at my uncle's house that is perpetually covered in junk foods and sweets otherwise known as the Alter of Gluttony.

Board game:

My cousin gave his friend this strategy game that took about an hour to explain, so once we finally understood it, we played it about 20 times.


Christmas Eve dinner tradition: hibachi. See if you can pick me out on the other side of the smoke.

Board game:

I didn't participate in this train-themed board game that I might eat chex mix by the hand full (which thankfully you can't see in my hands or else I would have no choice but to label this one food).


Semi-annual family reunion at an Italian restaurant that severs Alfredo by the vat. I'm proud of myself for being the only one to turn away from food long enough to notice a picture was being taken.

Board game:
One of several monopoly games played. This was National Parks monopoly of course when Boardwalk becomes Yosemite and hotels transform into ranger stations.

Hope your end-of-Decembers were as merry and bright and board game filled as mine. Here's to good things in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Everything's awesome and nobody's happy

I promised a run-down on my trip to Richmond, VA, and a run-down of my trip to Richmond, VA you shall receive! However, it will not be today because I'm waiting until my parents send me some photos of the occasion (and am actually hoping they will read this very blog post and thus save me an email). In the meantime, I'm updating anyway because no one is at my office right now because who would come into the office the week between Christmas and New Years? Thankfully, unlike last week, they left the heat on for me.

At any rate, the topic I'm choosing to write about while slowly amping up the anticipation for stunning photographs of a Richmond Christmas (seriously, I haven't technically seen them yet, but I'm expecting photographic fireworks), which is only tangentially related to my trip, is air travel. I'll try to make it more interesting than it sounds.

My flight yesterday was supposed to be leave a little before 1 and get in at 2 (actual air time is about 45 minutes, but they have to account for 30 minutes of taxiing and being delayed apparently). Anyway, we were on the plane exactly on time and even pulled away from the gate a little early, so I was both surprised and optimistic to think that both legs of my trip would be perfectly on schedule. Of course, that was not to be due to a storm coming through New York that caused traffic to back up in La Guardia. We were told that we would be sitting on the runway until 2 to see if the airport in New York would let us land, and if not, we would go back to the terminal and deplane. The reaction to this was a plane full of pissed off people. I can't help but think part of this reaction was a result of the usual post-holiday crankiness felt particularly by those who see their families once a year for a reason and are all too happy to finally get to head for home after an uncomfortable weekend. But from my perspective, the protesting seemed a little much.

One woman in a plaid coat kept flagging down the flight attendant to ask more questions about the delay. Plaid coat had recently gotten off the phone with her friend/family/therapist in New York who had told her that it wasn't yet raining there. She preceded to tell the flight attendant this and that she really didn't understand why weren't leaving now so as to get ahead of the storm, as if her phone contact's weather observations would really supersede the ruling of the air traffic controller. To her credit the flight attendant just nodded and smiled and, apparently, brought this woman's concern to the pilot, who then explained in detail on the loud speaker how airports work and how air traffic might be affected by an approaching storm even if it could not yet be noted by laymen on the ground. Plaid coat then spent the rest of the grounded hour on the phone with various people talking about her anger for all of the following: La Guardia, the Richmond airport, the city of Richmond, airplanes, and stupid people. I thought it was nice of them to let us turn our phones on to contact people and let them know we would be late, but overall, I think the waiting would have been a lot easier if at some point they had made up a need for people to turn off all electronic devices again. Although, had they, I would have missed the plaintive whines of the young woman behind me asking whoever she was talking to "why do these things always happen to me?"

The positive thing about being delayed on the airplane instead of in the terminal is that it allowed me the chance to peruse the entire Sky Mall holiday catalogue yet another year in a row. Which leads to the following questions:

Who's idea was it to try to sell adult footie pajamas with sex appeal?

If anything shouldn't this man be more offended if people assume this muppet fuzz is coming from him rather than his "Flair Hair Visor"?

Why? And also, why $24.95?

Luckily, our flight was not canceled and after being delayed for an hour, we were released by the ground crew to soar above the clouds. And remarkably, even after being delayed an hour I reached New York hours before my sister who had left from Richmond by train several hours before me. I guess there's something to this air travel thing after all. The whole experience reminded me of this Louis CK interview about, among other things, whining on airplanes. So I guess this whole post was really just an excuse to post that link.

Anyway, I'll post soon with details about my Christmas in Richmond (surprise sneak peak: we ate a lot), just as soon as I get photos from anyone who was there and took photos and wants to send them to me!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter celebrating not necessarily associated with a particular holiday

I think this will be another Christmas-type post. I guess all I do anymore is celebrate the Christmas season. I was actually invited to a Hanukkah party on Sunday, which might have lent my blog some much needed balance and perspective (and also granted me my annual opportunity to gorge on latkes). Sadly, a prior engagement kept me from attending. Nevertheless, the weekend was still wonderful, for the following list of reasons:

1) People played board games with me. This is an all too rare occurrence sadly. I can't count the times I have hopefully dragged board games to a get together only to have the night end game-less. There's nothing lame about Scattegories. And I stand by that.

2) An enjoyable tree-trimming party at my friend's apartment (well, I showed up too late for the tree trimming, but was just in time for the brie and mulled cider, so it was a party nonetheless!). Also, I made these little guys:
They're Texas snowmen! Or I guess the snowmen of the warm climate-d place of your choosing Some of them are blissfully unaware of their fate, but the more self-aware snowmen have the appropriate expressions of horror. And what is any holiday party without morbid, sentient snowmen death?

3) My first shopping spree with a Make-a-Wish child. It was a wonderful experience and it was totally worth braving the toy stores on the last shopping weekend before Hanukkah and second to last shopping weekend before Christmas.

4) The discovery of absurdly tacky quantities of Christmas lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I suppose I wasn't the one to discover this as the Dyker Heights Christmas lights are apparently the stuff of legend, but for some reason I only read about it this year. I have quite a history of going on tacky light tours. There is a neighborhood near(ish) my parent's house that requires homeowners in their deed restrictions to put up absurd quantities of lights and obey their block's theme in the grand tradition of taking things way too seriously. That said, it makes for some great displays. Also, when I was a kid I went on a tacky light tour through Richmond, Virginia that involved a limo, three hours (plus an additional 30 minutes for us because our limo almost instantly sprung a flat tire leading to countless Gilligan's Island references while we waited impatiently in the cold), and driving all over the city to see Richmond's tackiest homeowners' handiwork.

This was not one of the beautiful, professionally decorated houses (because those didn't come out in photos quite as well), but this was definitely one of the tackiest.

5) My boyfriend's family coming over for lunch allowing me an excuse to make this:
Yep, that's asiago mac and cheese with caramelized brussell sprouts and cranberries. You can probably tell I didn't take this picture, and I don't want to take credit for it either way because this chick is awesome.

Really, that wasn't as Christmas-centric as I thought. Perhaps my next post will be though, as I'll be celebrating Christmas in earnest next weekend in Richmond, Virginia--the land of tacky Christmas lights and high-end outdoor shopping malls.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas time in the city

If you like being crammed against other people, there is no better place to be for the holidays than New York City. And apparently thousands of people do enjoy just that as there are more tourists than ever this year. I too wanted to partake in the holiday spirit of the city (well the free part anyway--not the paying $25 to ice skate or $75 to see the Rockettes do high kicks), so on Saturday I went to 5th Avenue to see the window displays and the tree at Rockefeller Center. More importantly I wanted to walk down to Bryant Park to get some delicious hot chocolate. These are the dreams that a secular Christmas is made of!

Of course, due to the aforementioned crowding, this journey of approximately 15 blocks took close to an hour of fighting tooth and nail with people people with Midwestern accents who use their strollers like tanks to push through the crowds. That said, there were lights and Christmas cheer and a nice December briskness in the air, so I didn't mind the crowds (and minded them even less once I had my $5 drinking chocolate). My boyfriend got a few shots on his iphone (somewhat reminiscent of the same outing we did this time last year), so I'll post them that you might enjoy the experience as well, although enviably more crowd-free.

The Bergdorf holiday windows are always a sight to see. They have sort of the reverse advertising affect on me because seeing how much money clearly goes into making the window displays just reenforces my realization that I should never actually enter the store as I clearly won't be able to afford anything. Then again, maybe this is exactly the kind of advertising they do intend as it keeps the hoi polloi like me out. At any rate, while looking at one of the windows I heard one tourist remark on how they were pretty but "not very Christmasy." If a life-sized polar bear in a chef's hat covered in silverly tasseling isn't Christmasy, than I really don't know what holiday I've been celebrating every December for the last 20 odd years.

This enormous Norway spruce is the tree lit in front of Rockefeller Center each year. As you can see there are hundreds of people crammed into the plaza to see the tree and the ice skating rink at its base. Some friends apparently went to see the tree last week when it was 30 degrees and pouring rain and said there was not soul there except for some poor security guard. I think it would be a really neat sight to see, but as I recall I spent most of that miserable night tucked happily indoors, so perhaps I'm not tough enough to endure the elements and beat the crowds.

This isn't from my 5th Avenue jaunt (I realized there weren't as many pictures as I thought), but from my friend's annual cookie making party (well annual in that she did it last year too). Those who saw my Halloween post might recognize the cookie in the center. I didn't make the beauty, but I admire the artistry nonetheless.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday spirit wherever you are. Or, if you're not into that, I hope you are enjoying the fact that Monday is nearly over.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Blogging about bloggers' blogs

So I've been thinking lately about why I keep a blog. Is it to keep a record of when and what I do for myself? Is it just to keep myself writing consistently? Is it to let friends and family know that I haven't yet become a hopeless shut-in? Or is it to communicate with strangers who will be wowed by my subtle cynicism on big city living and ability topost photos that I didn't take? I think at this point, it is only some mix of the first three things. And I've decided I'm okay with that.

For a while, I'd entertained the idea that people I don't know would enjoy my thoughts (which I guess is the goal of any would-be writer). I think I'd hooked one for a while, but she drifted off around the same time that I stopped reading her blog (which probably had something to do with it.) The thing is, I read a number of blogs very faithfully and almost all of these blogs are from strangers or near strangers since only a handful of my friends really write. So I guess because I do this, it surprised me when strangers or near strangers didn't stumble on my blog, or stay when they did stumble.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this post; however, it's one of my favorites of the "50 incredible animal photos taken in 2011" that has been circulating the Internet lately.

Consequently, I've been trying to figure out what it is that causes me to continue to read certain blogs, and I've come to a conclusion. The blogs I read regularly very in theme from food to television and even several Christian housewife blogs (more on that in a minute), and I realized that none of them are really terribly interesting or special, but that they all have one thing in common: they post daily. Well, if not daily, they post on a very strict schedule. I work in an office job and am in front of a computer with some downtime five days a week. I like having blogs that I can reliably check each morning and know that they will have new posts. That really is the entire draw.

On the subject of Christian housewife blogs (were we not on the subject? well, we are now!), I started noticing I was reading a number of these. It started with just a handful of Mormon mom blogs, and then has expanded to any number of conservative women writers. There's one in particular who is fairly political and routinely updates with views that are the antithesis of my own. The only thing she has written that I have ever agreed with is that people should probably eat less sugar and more whole foods. But for some reason, even when her anti-feminist views frustrate me, I still keep reading it daily. I guess it's just interesting to see how the other half lives. Most of my friends are also city-living, godless singles without kids so it's interesting to see another perspective on life.

Or maybe it's not interesting at all, and I only find it so because I'm here, predictably at my desk writing book captions and talking to sales reps while somewhere in Kansas City some woman I don't know is baking bread and homeschooling five children. After reading this particular, polarizing woman's blog for a while, she frequently talks about how great a housewife her daughter-in-law is and how Christian and feminine and submissive she is. She also mentioned that her daughter-in-law was writing a book, so I continued my voyeuristic stalking and discovered she too had a blog. I had assumed it would be along the same lines and that she would be a carbon copy of her mother-in-law, but the thing is, she's actually a fantastic writer, a really interesting person, and doesn't at all define herself solely by her faith or her husband or her job as a housewife, although all of these things do help inform her writing. Which is really neither here nor there, but it does remind me why I enjoy reading the blogs of strangers to begin with.

In the end, I guess none of my conclusions or musings are terribly helpful to me in my hopes of getting people I don't know to read because I have no interest in updating every day or in updating with something just for the sake of doing so. So I guess I'll stick with those loyal readers I do know and treat this blog as a way to keeping a record of what I do for myself, as well as for anyone else who cares to read them. Maybe it will evolve beyond that at some point, but for now, that's where we are, and I'm enjoying that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Let it slide

A few weeks ago, a friend wanted to go to the New Museum to see their "Experience" exhibit not so much because we are aficionados of cutting edge art as because we wanted to ride their three-story slide. However, when we rolled in at 2 in the afternoon, we discovered that we were not the only slide-loving people in New York and that particular exhibit had an hour and a half wait. So instead we went and got donuts. We are, if nothing else, people who appreciate life's simple pleasures.

At any rate, this preamble is all to say that this past weekend I was much more dogged in my pursuit of experiencing art through attractions more often seen on playgrounds. I insisted friends arrive by 11 (the museum's opening time) and that I would bring donuts lest we get distracted. I correctly deduced that the type of people who go the New Museum are likely the same people who don't like to get up early on Sunday morning. I deduced correctly and my friends and I (well, at least those friends who didn't bail because they preferred not to get up early on a Sunday morning) were part of the first 10 people in line. We were informed that the "psycho tank" was closed because the heater was broken. Apparently, this is a part of the exhibit where you float naked in a sensory deprivation tank, which seems very much just like a regular elevated hot tub, but I guess it's cool because seldom are you invited to disrobe in a museum. We were willing to overlook it's closure; however, and accept that we would have to go home and "float weightlessly" in our bathtubs to compensate. Thus, after signing a few waivers, we were soon once again slide-bound!

Actually before he hit the slide, we made a concerted effort to appear to look at other art first. We were some of the few people who stopped for a couple of turns on the random mirrored carousel that was adjacent to the slide entrance. This meant that we allowed a good 10 people to slide first, but having paid $16, we wanted to patronize the exhibit to its fullest.

Note that all the other chairs are empty. Some people have no respect for interactive art that does not require a helmet.

My friend embarking on her slide voyage. This photo and that previous sentence just made me realize how lame this post is.

This was the next floor down (the 4th floor). You could watch people sliding through. This person was not one of my friends, but he/she is a good stand in. I think that's pretty much what we looked like.

Here we are at the slide's endpoint (on floor 3). My friend and I are standing by that blue baby gorilla for scale (well for scale of the slide, it's hard to tell how large the baby gorilla is, but, based on my knowledge of primates, I'd say assume it's about life sized).

Okay, I hate to disappoint, but this final photo will have no slides to speak of in it. In fact, the rest of the exhibit was a photographic snooze, so this last photo wasn't even taken on the New Museum premises. However, I have to include it because it's the bacon and kale quiche I made last night. It's one of the better things I've done with my life.

It's just hard to go wrong with bacon and kale.

I hope you all had excellent weekends as well! I'm going to try to depart from my usual, "let's talk about what I did this weekend" commentary. I'm not sure what I'm going to replace it with though, so stay tuned. If I don't's because I'm still thinking of ways to make myself more interesting.