Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dance Fever

There are a number of things that come up during the course of planning a wedding that lead you to do and say things you might never do or say under normal circumstances.  For instance, I never thought I'd hear my fiance, T, say the words, "Absolutely not. I hate that FONT." Nor did I ever think I would be letting a strange woman stuff my bra (while telling me just how small my chest is) in front of my mother and my niece.  And not since the day that, as a chubby six year old, I ripped off my sequin-embellished top hat, threw that hot pink feather boa on the floor and stomped off the stage before the curtain even opened, did I think I would be taking dance lessons ever again. However, this is the nature of the year that leads up to the biggest day of your life.

Some time ago T and I took on the arduous task of picking out what would be our first dance song.  As two music lovers, this was no easy undertaking, but after hours of arguing in front of iTunes, we settled upon the perfect song.  A song that has meaning to both of us, that speaks to our relationship and will probably be forgotten by everyone who attends our wedding while we're still on our honeymoon.  After listening to it a few times, we gave each other a look that said, "Sure we can dance to this, let's give it a try."  Shoving the coffee table out of the way and turning up the speakers we took our first spin around the apartment.

For the first few measures we kind of stood there, stared at each other and we each did a little Oompa Loompa knee bend.  Watching T carefully, since he is the better dancer, I tried unsuccessfully to emulate the up and down bop to the beat.  Without saying a word we knew it was time to try and come together and dance like a real couple.  Over the next minute I basically let T swing me around the 4' x 4' space we had cleared in the apartment, trying desperately to move my feet in any sort of way that made sense.  When the song really picked up he spun me around and I did my best not to fall.  Then, subconsciously we both retreated to our old standby dance moves.  Mine consists of me throwing my hands straight up in the air and swinging my head back and forth to give whoever's watching a glimpse of how shiny and long it is.  T usually begins his snapping his fingers and doing his sexy-back hip swing which looks so good that it draws the attention away from my signature head flail and manages to make me look half decent since I'm dancing with him.  By this point I was really excited, so I backed up for a running start, went full steam ahead and yelled, "Dirty Dancing Lift!".  T did his best to stop me from taking both of us down as I jumped into his arms, then he settled me back onto solid ground, rubbed his back and said, "Dance Lessons."

So when we hit the milestone mark of one month until the big day, we decided it was time to call up Manhattan's premier wedding dance studio and clean up the Oompa-Loompa-Hair-Flail-Hip-Swing-Try-Not-To-Get-Break-A-Leg-Lift combination we had pieced together.  By the time the clock struck six we were safely inside the dance studio with our instructor, A.  A is about my size, maybe a year or two older than us and lightyears more poised than either of us will ever hope to be.  She put on our song, grabbed one of my hands, placed her other hand firmly around my waist, and threw me around the floor while I laughed, stumbled and said, "Oh no. I can not do this."  Next up was T who caught right on and twirled A around like they'd been dancing together for years.  Immediately, my competitive side kicked in and steam was all but pouring out of my ears the minute T chimed in to try and help me find the rhythm of the song.  

I thought about the time T's dad mopped the dance floor with me at his cousin's wedding and about all of the times I've had to grab onto a wall for balance and just shake my butt while out dancing late night.  As these moments flashed through my head, my resolve set in and I put on my serious face.  I watched A's feet, hung onto her every word and repeated over and over in my head, "One Two Quick-Quick, One Two Quick-Quick.  Before I knew it I had the basics down and had almost managed to move my hips.  Almost.  

Over the next five days, whenever T walked in the house, I had him practicing with me before he could even take off his coat.  Thanks to my stay-at-home status I was also able to practice in front of our bedroom mirror every day, making sure to shut the blinds because I would do so in my pre-wedding, stay-at-home uniform which consists of my new satin Prada d'orsay pumps and my new honeymoon bikini.  I like to wear these around the house a) to serve as a reminder to stay away from chocolate/wine/ice cream and b) because I love wearing those effing fabulous shoes and need to break them in for the big day.

After trudging out of the house, sick with a sinus infection and cranky, we arrived at the dance studio last night for lesson # 2 and showed A our stuff.  "You HAVE been practicing!" she exclaimed and that was all the validation I needed.  Now I have just one week to go to manage that new spin move she taught us without tripping over my own feet or getting flung into our wedding cake.  I've let my competitiveness subside and actually listen to T when he offers up his expert advice and I can't tell you how good it felt when he said, "Baby, I actually saw you moving your hips!".  

I now have a new appreciation for dancing with the stars and dreams of one day appearing in a Britney video.  I'm already signing us up for a post-honeymoon dance class and have the unexplainable urge to tell everyone I come across, "I found rhythm."  The truth is, when it's all over and we're back from our honeymoon, fat, happy and having spent two weeks on our asses, I'll probably fall right back into the hair-swing-head-flail and just sit back and let T make me look good.  I'll be happy enough just having the memory and the video tape of the day UnPlain Jane danced like 200 people were watching.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tits, Ass or Tears

Just a few short months ago, after carelessly leaving my wallet in a cab, I received a call from Commerce Bank letting me know that they had the gentleman who had found my wallet on the other line.  They connected me to the good samaritan and the following Monday morning I met him in front of his office, handed him a bank gift card to thank him and headed on my merry way with my wallet safely back in my hands.  Walking down the street, I carefully cataloged my belongings and to my surprise, they were all in there.  My ID, seven dollars, credit cards, a check for $554 that I had already endorsed and my beloved Sephora Beauty Insider card were each safely in their place.  For the next few weeks I ran around town praising the good nature of my fellow New Yorkers and humanity as a whole.

Cut to Wednesday.  It's exactly one month before our wedding and I'm meeting "T" at Ripley Studios for our first wedding dance lesson.  Having just guzzled a double cappuccino at a meeting half an hour earlier, I immediately headed for the bathroom.  As usual, I was carrying more than I could handle.  My purse, containing our just-picked-up-and-not-yet-insured wedding bands; a tote, containing "the perfect" dance lesson outfit I spent an hour picking out; my giant puffy coat and my most prized possession, my blackberry (aka: my entire life).  After changing and a quick pee, I dragged all of my things over to the sink to wash my hands.  I rested my blackberry on the counter and made sure to keep a careful eye on the purse that was squeezed between my knees because I was filled with fear that if I took my eyes off of it for half a second, it would be gone and, with it, our wedding bands.  Turning my head to grab some paper towels, my eyes left my blackberry for what couldn't have been more than 5 seconds and when I turned back, it was gone.  F-ck Humanity.
In disbelief, I began searching through my bags.  There I was, on all fours on the bathroom floor on the verge of hysterics, shouting into the stalls asking if anyone had seen a blackberry.  After fashioning gloves out of paper towels, I took the cover off of the garbage can and started digging through it, fighting the urge to gag and convinced that I must have dropped it in there or something because people just don't take things like that, do they?  When one of the girls in the bathroom offered to call my phone for me, it went straight to voicemail.  Sh-t, F-ck, Sh-t.  Who would do this?  I went so far as to patiently wait outside one of the stalls while some poor girl tried to stifle a violent "number two" with coughs and courtesy flushes.  I apologized when she was done, but for the love of god, I had to check in there for my Blackberry.  I had no choice.

Still unconvinced that someone would actually steal my blackberry right out from under me, I headed over to the front desk where I was informed that no one had turned anything in.  In tears, I looked up and saw that "T" had arrived.  The first thing out of his mouth was, "I've been trying to call you."  "Someone stole my Blaaaaaackbeeeeeeerrrry!" I whined and before he could offer me any consolation I continued with, "What am I gonna do! My WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE is in there! Who would do something like this?!"   Luckily for "T" our dance lesson was beginning so I had to suck it up and stumble my way through our wedding song, already in a bad mood and now seething because my competitive side can't handle that he's a better dancer than I am.  I continued acting "mature" the whole ride home including tossing out a "You don't understand!" in the cab; stomping away and once again breaking into tears when we arrived at the already-closed T-mobile store; and actually kicking my building before rounding the corner so the doorman wouldn't witness my tantrum.  I ended the rage with a good old fashion wall-punch-throw-my-purse-as-hard-as-I-can-on-the-floor combination the minute we walked in the door.  

As is my usual MO, the next morning I was done with my rant and ready to spring into action.  I gave "T" my standard, post-tantrum apology and thanks, then decided I was going to get a new Blackberry at a discount if it killed me.  Having visiting plenty of T-Mobile stores thanks to a long history of breaking Blackberries, I was familiar with the stereotypical wireless sales worker, so I thought my best bet was to a) shake what my momma gave me and b) bring cash.  Getting ready to go get mine I put on an outfit that was not classy, nor stylish, but perfect for the occasion: The tightest jeans I own and a loooow cut shirt that barely hid the cleavage I had fashioned out of my favorite push up bra and a pair of "chicken cutlet" inserts that I keep in my underwear drawer in a plastic bag labeled "Jane's Boobs".  I topped it off with high boots, the shiniest lip gloss I own and with "T" in agreement, left my engagement ring at home.  On my way to the store, I stopped at the ATM and took out $200 because, just in case my feminine wiles didn't work, I would offer to "pay cash" and "throw in a little extra".

The times they are a changing, because when I walked into my local T-Mobile I was greeted with a plain looking young lady and her manager, a gay man.  I didn't even bother taking off my coat because clearly giving either of them a gander at "the girls" wasn't going to get me anywhere. Time for Plan B. She asked me the usual questions and I informed her that no, I do not have insurance and yes, I just extended my contract two weeks ago so I could get the discount price when my Blackberry broke in Vegas.  She politely informed me that, unfortunately, I was going to have to pay the full $350 price tag for a replacement device. With her manager hovering over, I knew I wasn't going to have the opportunity to invoke Plan B and try to grease her, so I did what came naturally and broke into tears.  Again.  Within five minutes she had me on the phone with T Mobile corporate, where between sniffles I told my sob story to Bob, my friendly customer service representative.  Ten minutes after that I was armed with a new SIM card, a loaner phone and the knowledge that my replacement Blackberry was in the mail for the bargain discount price of $150.  

I thanked Shonda and Miguel profusely, apologized for crying in their store and asked where I could call to sing their praises to the higher ups at T-Mobile.  After walking out the door, I immediately dialed "T" and informed him of the situation.  As usual, after I break down, throw a fit and then spring into action, I try to take whatever just happened and learn something from it. This time around I learned a few things.  First, there are lots of bad people in this world that will take advantage of your mistakes;  Second, even though there are lots of bad people out there, there are definitely more good people than bad; and finally, perhaps the most important lesson of them all, where tits and ass don't work, tears do.  That's one you can take to the bank.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Afternoon at Unemployment Land: The Most Miserable Place on Earth

It came in the mail a week ago.  It was bright orange, as foreboding as a piece of paper can be and instructed me to report to the unemployment office for career counseling on Tuesday, December 2 at 2:30pm.  I believe my exact reaction was "F-ck", but I'm not 100% sure because I was immediately distracted by the questionnaire I had to fill out.

Do you have a resume?  Yes.
Do you need help obtaining a GED? No.
Is English your second language? No.

If these questions were any sort of precursor to the afternoon I was in for, surely this would not be time well spent.

Mustering up the most positive attitude I possibly could, I headed downtown thinking that I would at least have the exciting opportunity to watch our city's government at work.  When I entered the building and checked in at the visitor's desk, I started to feel a little down on myself. Maybe it was because as soon as I said I was going to the 7th Floor, the man behind the desk yelled, "Oh, You're Going to Your Unemployment Today!!".  Yes. Thank you sir and thank you for announcing it to all the well-dressed, good looking people who are getting off the elevator on 4, not 7.  Even the landscaper-esque man standing next to me, who I was sure was riding to the same floor as me, got off on 4.  So there I stood, the last man standing on an elevator headed to the saddest floor of any building I've ever been in.

When I got off the elevator, I was anything but alone and the jovial, Will-Smith-Circa-The-Fresh-Prince-of-Bel-Air-Wanna-Be security guard let me know it.  He cracked jokes, was louder than my mom and her sisters after a few glasses of wine, and commented to one of his colleagues about us, the unemployed, saying "if I don't keep them in line, they start fightin'!"   I'm sorry, I didn't know that I, the girl who oh so politely asked him if he could point me in the direction of the ladies room just a minute before that, posed the threat of violence as I took my place in line. At the first checkpoint, my ID was checked and I was herded onto another line a little further into the room.  This was my opportunity to finally get a look at the cast of characters who were now my peers.  I expected the crowd to resemble the crowd at my local OTB, but was greeted with a mixed bag of people that was mostly comprised of professionals.  In fact, it was fairly easy to discern who was unemployed vs. who worked at the unemployment office, because we, the unemployed, were dressed better and more full of life.

When I reached the second checkpoint, I was greeted by a man so old that not only shouldn't he be working, but he shouldn't have been alive.  He was less a man and more the tiny, pale skeleton of a man who has had the life sucked out of him by 100 years of working check-in on the unemployment line.  He used all the strength he had to staple my paperwork together and tell me to take a seat amongst the blank faces waiting behind him.  I took note of his outfit and would later find out that all of the employees in the office shared his fashion sense and wore what I've decided to call the "Unemployment Workers Uniform."  It consists of a hideous tweed jacket, a mock turtle neck that's seen the washing machine one too many times, a pair of pants that are too big and a large, ugly accessory (his was a pinky ring, others donned brooches, hats, and velvet flowers).  I'm just amazed that so many people could wake up in the morning, peek in their closet and think, "This is the Perfect Ensemble!".

After sitting for about five minutes, a Rosie Perez like voice shouted, "Will the two-thirty appointment please follow me!"  En mass, about 50 of us stood up, collected our things and were instructed to please move all the way down and fill in every seat.  When she shouted to the table next to me, "Will you gentlemens and the lady please move down one,"  I couldn't help but say to myself, "How is someone who yells across the room and uses the word 'gentlemens' going to help me get a job?"  

As I sat there, watching her instruct everyone to fill out the form that should have already been filled out before we got there, I took a look around the room.  One depressed face after the next greeted me, it was like the DMV on crack, no one wanted to be there and on top of that, everyone in this room had lost their job.  Although if I had to guess I would say that, like me, the other people in the room, young and old, were less distraught about losing their jobs and more annoyed that they had to be there.  What struck me most though was just how normal everyone was, and when a tall blonde walked in and plopped her Louis bag on the table next me I thought, "My sister."  

After twenty minutes of collecting every one's paperwork, the lecture began.  A woman about the same age as my grandmother asked if anyone had ever heard of LinkedIn?  I almost responded by asking her if she had ever heard of the Internet, but thought it was best to just stay quiet. Shortly after that, she suggested we use "Faceplace" to network for our job search. No one attempted to correct her, but instead we all just rolled our eyes at each other.  I sarcastically thought to myself "Yes, Facebook, with my pictures of Vegas, status updates like 'Jane is 4 champagnes deep on a Sunday afternoon' and snarky comments from friends like, 'I can see your camel toe' is really going to help me make my next career move.  Perhaps I could become a hooker using my social network?  I would be hiding the truth if I didn't tell you that there was about five seconds, that I was half inspired to go out there and change my life, but as soon as the Powerpoint started it ended.

Luckily the presentation lasted about five minute and afterwards we were instructed to stay put. Some of us would be called in for a one on one meeting while others would be dismissed and that it was completely random.  We all shifted our eyes nervously as the first few people were called into their one on one's.  Then, an ancient relic of a woman entered the room with the stack of dismissals and took a good twenty minutes for her to get through calling the names. I began to get desolate.  She had finally gone through every name in the pile and mine was not one of them. There I sat, one of three people left out of the fifty or so that were in that room, knowing that not only did I get selected for a one on one, but worse, I had to wait for it.  

When the young, plump and possibly recently immigrated case worker called my name and led me to her desk, I did my absolute best to be as cheerful as possible.  "How's your job search going?" she asked.  I told her things were going great, that I was using my contacts to network, had a few interviews scheduled including a second round coming up and left out the part that I'd rather be a stay-at-home-anything than go back to work soon.  She looked surprised and said, "Well than I guess you don't need help with your resume since you're getting interviews."  Correct.  Then she continued, "Then let me show you the Internet."  No, I am not kidding. I am 100 percent serious that this is what she said to me just before she asked if I've ever heard of a Podcast.  I did my best to act appreciative and after each item she showed me on this mysterious interweb, I interjected and let her know that not only was I aware of it, but that she should let me show her another, better site/widget/whatever. 

Not a minute too soon, just before I broke down into a pile of hysterical laughter and/or tears she wished me luck and sent me on my way letting me know that should I ever end up back here, which in her opinion I likely would, there are many resources to help me.  Thanks.  

Luckily they only make you attend once and I'd be lying if I said I didn't learn anything.  I learned one lesson:  City Government is like Ellis Island.  It's where the tired, poor, huddled masses go to work and where the energetic, well dressed, but unemployed masses go to have the life sucked out of them for 2 hours on a Tuesday afternoon.  I do not plan on going back in either capacity.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Annual, Un-Original, I Hate Tourists, Rant

Warning:  What you are about to read is not new.  You've heard it all before from many different people, with many different points of view, in various states of annoyance.  But as I sit here, fighting the urge to bash my head against the wall and thanking my lucky stars it's Cyber Monday so I don't have to venture out and deal with the "Old Gals Club" who took the train in from Lon-guy-land for the day to do some shopping and see a show, I can not resist the urge to purge myself of my annual Holiday Season Rage.

Living in Manhattan allows me the daily joy of taking my stress out on the other 8 million people making their way through the concrete jungle.  I take pleasure in bumping into someone on the sidewalk just a little too hard because both of us were determined to claim our space and too stubborn to move 1/2 a foot to the right.  When the UN is in session, I relish the opportunity to yell at a delegate and let him know that "here in New York", we let women through the door first.  And, by far, my favorite is giving cab drivers the combination "Middle-Finger-F-ck You A$$hole-yell" for almost running me over as I cross the street after the Don't Walk light is already lit. This is a pedestrian city and pedestrians have the right of way (unless it's the rare instance where I am the one driving, in which case you better move your a$$ off the crosswalk because the light is green and I will run you over - don't test me).  While this may seem overly aggressive and unacceptable, to most people here it's unspoken, understood and perfectly normal.  I don't really have a problem with that b1tch who slammed into my shoulder and who's hair I subsequently yelled looked like a bird's nest.  She needed it.  I needed it.  We got it out of our systems and we could probably become best friend's over cocktails.  It's just how we roll.

Enter Late-November.  The temperature drops, the SALE signs go up, the mood starts getting festive and tourists invade.  Fifth Avenue becomes inundated with funny accents, odd clothes, and the unmistakeable calling card of the Mid-West, blue eyeliner and bad hair.  So last Wednesday at 9am, I made my way across 34th Street to beat the crowds at Macy's.  Always tempted by the call of cheap jeans and long T Shirts that I pass off as dresses, I pushed my way through a group of tourists doing the dreaded five-across-block-the-whole-sidewalk move and ducked into Forever 21.  What awaited inside filled me with an incomprehensible mix of fright, naseau and hysterics.  Like Alice in Wonderland I gasped at the cast of characters that surrounded me in what is usually my turf.  

Forever21 had been invaded by the throngs of bubbly Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Participants dragging their Mom's excitedly through a store they can find at any mall in their Ohio suburb, beyond thrilled to fight crowds and pay sales tax on items they could get cheaper at home, just because the store is bigger.  I winced each time my delicate ears were met with southern twangs practicing cheers and the attack continued on my nose with the unmistakeable scent of Jean Nate wafting off every 45 year old, bleach blonde mom who's fake smiles seethed jealously and vicarious living as they chased their teenage daughters around the store stopping only to contemplate if there's any chance they could get into a mini skirt like that just one more time.  Determined to grab a pair of jeans and give these girls the kind of New York experience they could go home and tell their friends about, I bumped, pushed and told-off my way through the store to the enormous line at the cash register.  Immediately I picked up the phone and called someone to b1tch loudly and make funny comments about the Middle American Travesties I was surrounded with.  

After 15 minutes, I was off the phone, still standing on line and in pain.  If I heard one more squeel, screetch, or Oh-My-Word-Look-At-These-Earrings!, I was going to lose it.  It was at that point that I looked at the door longingly, dropped the jeans and ran for my life.  They had beaten me.  Here I stood a few year veteran of New York City taken down by a gaggle of high-schoolers with high pony tails and ribbons in their hair.  Dejected, defeated and determined to get the hell out of Herald Square, I trudged across 34th Street trying to make my way past Fabio, Donatella and their four beautiful Italian children, all of whom strolled slowly, seductively smoking cigarettes blocking any chance I had of getting to the east side as quickly as I hoped. Once again, I was reminded of the simple fact that I Hate Tourists.

I Hate Them! I Hate Them! I Hate Them!  Now, please excuse me while I stomp my feet, clench my fists and am left no choice but to do my shopping online.  Wah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lunch With An Ex

How long are you supposed to wait before seeing an "ex" after a painful break-up?  A month? Two? I'm not sure what protocol is, but when I got a text message from an ex late last week asking me to lunch, I was somewhat tentative, but also intrigued so I said yes.  Besides, I never turn down a free meal.

Before you start calling "T" and telling him I'm running around town having liquid lunches with a man who may or may not have seen my breasts before, let me tell you that I'm talking about about an ex-coworker, not an ex-boyfriend (and no, he hasn't seen my breasts - unless he was at Key West Fantasy Fest in 1998-2000).  Our breakup was somewhat painful, I didn't want to leave, he didn't want me to go, but due to circumstances beyond our control (the massive layoff my previous employer went through), things just weren't going to work out.  So about a month ago, we hugged goodbye, went our separate ways and promised we'd stay friends.  It's not you, it's me. 

As I bussed-it across town wearing a cute-but-casual outfit, the kind you always wanted your co-workers to see you in, but just couldn't get away with at the office, I wondered to myself what we would talk about.  Would we keep our distance and keep it all business?  Would the conversation revolve around the co-workers we used to share but he now has custody of?  Or we would "go there" and talk about the stuff we could never talk about when we were "together", entwined as professionals.

I got my answer about 10 minutes after we hugged hello.  As soon as "The Ex" said, "UnPlain Jane, let's have wine," I knew where it was going and within five minutes the conversation turned from "How's Business?" to "Tell me every last dirty detail of your trip to Vegas and I'll tell you how I was no different from you 8 years ago."  I guess some things never change.  All it takes is an expensive meal and a $16 glass of wine (which is better than the $1 pitcher of beer and plate of hot wings it took in college) to seal the deal.  By the end of the meal we were both fully aware of a) how funny we each think we are and b) how awesome his wife and my future husband are for putting up with each of us.  

As sad as it is saying goodbye to the people you spent at least 40 hours of every week with, there's something especially fun about getting together, after you've split, and getting to hang out without the looming threat of "Monday Morning" and revealing just a little more than you ever would've in the office over a muted conference call. 

I would love to have the opportunity to get to know all of my "EXes" is this way, but I think it's best kept to those I've always had the sneaking suspicion are "just like me."   I have a reputation to maintain and I wouldn't want to ruin the image of the sweet-nice-class act-UnPlain Jane.  After all, if I wanted them to know who I really was, I would've owned up to spreading the funniest-but-most-vulgar-joke XYZ Company has ever heard. Instead, I gave credit to a man, because that kind of joke couldn't have come from the mouth of a woman and certainly not UnPlain Jane.  Not the one my ex-co-workers know anyway.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Hour

When it comes to being on vacation there's really no inappropriate time to have a cocktail. Bailey's and Coffee over breakfast?  Sure.  Bloody Mary at brunch?  Absolutely.  But what about when you're home on a random cold Tuesday afternoon?  When is it really appropriate to pop the cork on that bottle of wine that's been calling your name since you walked by your overly-full wine rack in the kitchen to cook breakfast?  

As my best friend likes to say when we're down at her shore house and the clock strikes noon, "It's five o'clock somewhere!"  And it is.  Especially now that I'm enjoying a life free of a job, a boss, and tomorrow's early meeting/conference call/Gossip Girl discussion at the water cooler, it seems like every hour should be happy hour.  

Upon first receiving my pink slip I firmly decided that I would not lose my motivation or become lazy in any way.  I told myself that I would continue to get up early to workout and keep myself on a strict schedule designed to pack as much possible into each day; furthermore,I would achieve world peace and end world hunger.  This lasted for about a week.  Since then, I've decided to become, as I like to look at it, more European.  I am doing so by sleeping in, getting workouts walking about town rather than in the gym, and eating late lunches that are full cheese and wine.  

So when I decided to become a connoisseur of my local wine store's bargain bin, I began my samplings at around 7 or 8pm over dinner.  Soon I started having a glass at 5 or 6pm as I cook because a little vino just makes everything taste better (and look a little sloppier).  In fact, think vino is responsible for me inventing the suprisingy delicous, zuchinni-cinnamon-jalepeno burger. A few days later, when 4pm rolled around and I took my "Oprah break", I thought, "What the hell? That malbec is calling my name."

Now as I sit here, fresh off a late lunch thinking about how nothing gets my creative juices going like a yummy cabernet, I'm wondering, how early is too early?  Would one consider me to have a problem if I were to sip a cocktail in front of my computer at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Monday? If I changed my name to something French, would that make it OK?  If I started wearing lots of black eyeliner and smoking, would that make it OK?  If I started hanging out with Lindsay Lohan, would that make it OK?  Throw me a bone please! 

Until I can justify it in my own head, I'll have to stick to a 3pm coffee fix instead of a mainline of that sweet-grape-nectar-of-the-gods.  I don't think it'll take too long to figure something out. 

For now, having no better excuse, I'm just going to call myself Jean-Francois-Michele-Baguette, so I can sip my wine and eat my cheese guilt-free no matter what time it is. To my close friends, I look forward to the intervention.  To my party-buddies, I look forward to the relapse.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean

After being away from home for a while, even in the most spectacular of accommodations, I always find myself longing for two things:  My bed and my shower.  So you could imagine what it felt like, after I dragged myself through my building's lobby, barely functioning and bleary eyed last Sunday, only to be greeted with a sign near the elevator letting me and my fellow tenants know that we would be without hot water.

There I stood, stinking of three days of indecency, desperate for a good scrub and steam to sweat out whatever toxins remained in my body, with no hope for either in site.  Although at this point the gym was a distant memory and I was more concerned with getting myself clean than even attempting to work out, it dawned on me that if I could get myself there, I could shower there. From the minute my head hit the pillow it was filled with dreams of a shower.  A shower in my glorious, overpriced-to-everyone-who-signed-up-after-me gym locker room.  I thought of the minty fresh steam room, the spicy cedar sauna and the giant towels piled so high you want to take a running leap and jump into them the way you did a pile of leaves when you were ten.  

Still hungover and looking just slightly better than the guy who lives outside the McDonald's across the street from me (who incidentally is crazy and shouldn't be spoken to - lesson learned the hard way), I threw on some workout clothes and trudged down to my beautiful, glorious health club.  Out of breath from being a non-smoker who smoked enough cigarettes in one weekend (smoking is a law in Vegas and Europe) to suffocate a small village, I spent a good 15 minutes on the Elliptical until I could actually smell myself and knew it was time to step off the machine and into the shower.  (For those of you who don't know, listen up: it is a rule that if you can smell yourself at the gym then everyone around you can smell you too and it's probably ten times worse than you think).

I headed for the shower so fast I think I may have torn off my pants before I even got into the locker room, but I can't be sure or accountable at this point.  I grabbed whatever I remembered to bring from home, which wasn't much (a loofah, face wash and conditioner I think) and sprinted buck naked toward the showers.  Now in any other scenario I would be self-conscious and too embarrassed to run full speed, unstable in flip flops, wearing not so much as pasties, but Manhattan locker rooms are a world unto their own.  I cite the first time I set foot into a women's locker room in NYC and went into sensory overdrive after being greeted by breasts of all ages, bent over 60 year olds and the most precisely styled, yet incredibly full bush resembling an aerial view of Richard Simmons that I had ever seen.  According to "T", the men's locker room isn't much different as he learned when a fully nude man pranced up, got right in his personal space and asked him for the time.

As soon as I hung my towel on the hooks and turned on that perfect stream of just-the-right temperature water and made it rain on myself, I started to think about how awesome showering at the gym is and why I love it so much.  

There are lots of reasons the gym shower is so great.  It's big, someone else cleans it and there are lots of fun products that come out of cool pumps attached to the wall.  These are all great, but the real reason I love showering at the gym has nothing to do with any of these things.  The real reason I love showering at the gym is the fantasy.  

The minute I close the frosted glass door and lather up I am transported to every unrealistic movie locker room scene that ever was.  Suddenly, I am starring in Porky's or Revenge of the nerds.  My mind wanders to a place where I am one of 30 hot women prancing around a locker room, taking an extra extra long shower than stepping out of the stall, forgoing a towel for the more preferred method of air-drying.  As I wash my hair and imagine that the 60 year old in the next stall is actually a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie and that the girls in the other showers are creating beautiful shadow silhouettes on the stall doors. I'm tempted to break into song like it's some locker room musical.  Like by magic, we all at once start singing into hair driers and dancing on the benches.  

Just before I start belting out "We are hot women!" (the imaginary first line to the opening number in the locker room musical going on in my head), I shut the water, towel off, cover up and step out to the realization that I forgot to bring deodorant, moisturizer and undies.  As I ask Sally Loose Skin who's standing next to me to please pass me a Q-tip, I start lusting after my tiny, doorless, cold-water shower in my little apartment just four blocks away.   I put on my clothes, sashay out the door for good measure and head home to sing into the blow dryer alone. Somethings are better kept private.  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Kids, A Dog and a Large Glass of Expensive Wine

Not by choice, but by nature, I am uncomfortable around other people's children.  They are strange, small creatures who look at you with innocent eyes and expectancy, waiting to be entertained.  It's so unnerving to me that every time I find myself around someone else's children I wind up acting like I would around a dog.  

Step 1)  Pat child on head.  
Step 2)  Smile and speak loud, high-pitched statements at said child like, "You're a good girl!".  

It's awkward for everyone involved and reinforces my nagging insecurity that I am going to raise a child that either thinks it's a dog or behaves like a 40-year-old when it's 10.  I was going to go back and correct myself in the previous sentence, but I think the fact that I used "it's" as a pronoun when referring to my future child, just further illustrates the deep disconnect between me and my maternal instinct.

You can imagine my fright when one of my favorite cousins asked me to babysit for her at the last minute yesterday.  I was visiting for the day when she had to run out for a couple hours. Now, having spent a few hours prior with the whole family, I was slightly more comfortable around these teeter-tottering little people than I normally would be, but that's not saying much. Perhaps sensing my fear or perhaps because I blurted out the word "wine" like someone with turrets syndrome, my cousin's husband whipped out a bottle of the good stuff and poured me what was the equivalent of a bowl of my new favorite Cabernet.  

Halfway through the bowl of wine, I was feeling much more comfortable, enjoying The Hound and the Fox Sequel # 576 and making up scary stories at the four-year-old's request.  Then, just before the 1 and a half year old's bedtime ( I know - in baby speak I'm supposed to say how many months she is),  the half bowl of wine hit me and I had to pee.  I told the kids I'd be right back and headed toward the bathroom just a few steps away, petrified that as I emptied my bladder, they would somehow learn how to skateboard, build a ramp in the house and crack their heads open trying to do Ollies.  What I didn't expect was the 1 and 1/2 year old to teeter as fast as she could behind me, appearing as if out of nowhere, just as I was about to unbutton.

Now, I am sure, for parents this is common and not even thought about.  However, as someone who's babysitting experience does not extend beyond the number of fingers she has, and as Aunt UnPlain Jane, it's a little awkward.  

Pop Quiz Hotshot

You're babysitting and have to pee.  The child follows you into the bathroom.  You really have to pee. Do you:

a)  close the door on a crying child's face so you can take down your pants and go in peace, or
b)  drop trou in front of the about-to-scream-if-you-shut-that-door child's face?

I went with A and here's why:

I could deal with five minutes of crying and my own intense fear that these two were going to break their arms/heads/legs/insert body part of choice.  I could not deal with the thought of little Suzie watching me pee then announcing to mommy and daddy later, "I saw Aunt UnPlainJane's Hoo-Hoo on the Potty Today!"

It made sense at the moment.  

Magically, thanks to either the wine or my cousin raising insanely good children, putting them to bed was a snap.  Before I knew it I was on the couch, back in my comfort-zone, surrounded by adults and downing bowl of wine number two while thinking to myself what a great mother I'm going to be one day.  So long as there's wine.  Lots of wine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Wedding's Back On

They say it takes one and a half times the length of a relationship to get over it after a breakup. I say the same holds true for recovering from a trip to Vegas.  It's almost unnecessary for me to recap the details of this latest trip to Sin City, also known as my bachelorette party, since it was basically a carbon copy of the trip I took two years ago including:
  • One smashed blackberry;
  • One called-off relationship;
  • One trip to the Las Vegas mall for a new phone;
  • and one changed flight.
I got all of this for the bargain price of 3 gained pounds, 1300 spent-who-knows-where dollars, and 2 and 1/2 days post-trip spent in bed reevaluating my life, myself as a person, and sobbing through the decision of whether I can ever face my fiance's family and friends again.  

So, yes, to answer your question, I had a GREAT F-CKING TIME.  

Somehow, between repeatedly exposing my bra, holding on to walls for support as I attempted to dance and paying a $10 ATM Fee at a strip club, I not only had the time of my life, but I learned some important life lessons too.
  1. It is stupid to get mad at your fiance because he is having just as much fun as you are so he didn't pick up his phone.
  2. It is even stupider to be as mean as you possibly can to him and call of the wedding once you finally get a hold of him.
  3. It is most stupid to continue the argument the next morning because, even though you know you're wrong,  you can't admit it.
Perhaps what's really stupid is popping a Zanny on the plane, double-fisting for the entire five hour flight, drinking anything you can get your hands on for the next 12 hours, followed by no sleep and a 6:30am breakfast of Vodka-Cranberry and Petron XO?  Did I mention I had the time of my life?

Now that I'm done sounding like a first-timer sharing at an AA meeting, let me go over the real highlights.  In one single day I got to attend Stripper 101 and Stripper 201.  Stripper 101 takes place at the V Theater in Planet Hollywood.  The pack a rowdy group of birthday girls and bachelorettes into a room filled with poles, chairs and boas.  Throw in some drinks and a ex-"exotic dancer" to teach some moves and you have yourself a good time.  The clothes came off faster than you can say lap-dance and I am left with some awesome pictures and a giant bruise on my leg from swinging around the pole over and over and over again.  
Disappointed that I would have to put clothes on for dinner, I put on the skimpiest thing I own (to quote one of my best friends, "a napkin and heels") and headed to dinner.  We mowed through our meal at Nobu, ancie to get to Stripper 202.  Yes, 8 women, jumped in stretch limo number 156412 of the weekend and instructed the driver to get us over to the Spearmint Rhino, STAT.  

After convincing the doormen that we were lesbians and pinky swearing we would not talk to any men and take away any attention from the actual strippers, we were escorted to a booth in the corner and got our lap dance on.  I find it necessary to explain that my last lap dance experience took place on Staten Island and ended with me clutching a piece of the stripper's weave that had fallen out.  With that said, I am considering this my first "real" stripper experience and here's what I learned:
  • Strippers are smooth.  Ridiculously smooth.  Where do I find that lotion?
  • Strippers DO let you touch.  A lot.
  • Motor boats (especially those involving surgically enhances breasts) are not so much sexy, but a hell of a lot of fun.
Upon waking up on Sunday morning, painfully longing for home and starting to feel REALLY bad about the fight (more accurately described as unwarranted attack) with "T", I managed to get me and my cohorts off of the Red-Eye and onto a 2:35pm flight back to the East Coast.  Now, many days later I have finally managed to get out of bed, face the world, and recap the highlights of my "last weekend of freedom."  

Nudity, Booze and Fighting aside what I took away most from this weekend is that my future sister-in-law is AWESOME.  So awesome that the quality time I got to spend getting to know her and letting her get to know me was worth both:
  • the post-fight, heart-breakingly painful because-I-was-mean-to-"T" guilt and 
  • the intense fear that my future brother-in-law will either a) hate me forever or b) mention in his best-man speech that, given enough booze, I am a complete psycho.
I've also realized that I have two choices going forward:
  1. I can remind myself to pace myself BEFORE I start drinking (not after 12 drinks when pacing myself means going from Vodka Straight to Vodka Soda) or;
  2. I can lose 10 more pounds and get some fake boobs and a tan so I can maintain equilibrium on the Hot-Crazy Scale (the hotter a girl is, the crazier she can be).
All in all the weekend was great.  My friends are amazing, my future husband is beyond amazing (despite all the things I said about him at 4:30am Saturday morning) and I am a very lucky girl.  I'm sure I could have learned all of these lessons without the high-price of Vegas by watching an episode of Oprah and reading Eat, Love, Pray, but this was a lot more fun.  

I'd like to say that this was probably my last trip to Vegas, but I'm probably wrong.  I have some goals for the next trip and those include seeing the light of day and seeing the Las Vegas Sign. Moreover, on the first trip, I broke up with "T"; on the second the second trip, I called off my wedding to "T"; I'm guessing a third trip is necessary so I can threaten divorce.   Sounds reasonable, right?   

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Since I am heading off to Sin City this weekend for my bachelor(ette) party, I thought I would leave you with a recount of the last time me and a few friend's hit the strip/stripped in Vegas.  It's plenty long, so take your time and enjoy.  Hopefully, when I land back in NYC on Monday, I'll have the strength to get back up and blogging, but you may have to wait until Tuesday if this trip is anything like the last one.

September 2006
Viva Las Vegas - The Intro 

I've been home for a full 24 hours and have finally gotten in the essentials I need to begin feeling like a functioning, contributing member of society again.  A shower, a snuggle and a good night of sleep have all helped fade the memory of my 2 filth-soaked days in Sin City.  The last thing I expected to garner from this experience was any sort of life-lesson or useable information for the future, but in the strangest way, class was in session from even before we stepped off the plane and were told by security that our files would be marked for the future (I'll get into that later or just look for us on a future episode of Airline).  On the other hand, if touching down in Newark at 5:45am on a Monday morning, a day and half away from your last shower and at least 3 days away from anything resembling a night of sleep, knowing you have to go straight to the office doesn't teach you anything, then I would say that's a problem.  So without further ado, the stories that follow outline my trip to Vegas in multiple parts, as best as I can recall.  I guess you could call it my own personal version of It's a Wonderful Life.

Viva Las Vegas - Part 1: The Prep

About 4 days prior to blast off I started having visions of toned, tanned and big-breasted gorgeous beauties lurking in every nook and cranny in Las Vegas.  Although I had been 
working out twice a day for the last 2 months and was probably in the best shape of my life, my nagging insecurities started popping up and I was determined not to feel inadequate.  So it was decided (in my mind) that I absolutely needed a) Hair Extensions - from here-on-in termed "The Weave" and b) a tan.  I immediately called up NYC's resident White-Girl-Weave expert and screamed "I Need Hair"!  Less than 24 hours later I was walking out of Harlem's Pizazz hair salon feeling like Jessica Simpson / Lindsay Lohan / an Olson twin.  

I find it necessary to mention that in order to get to this point of celeb-ness I had to first go to the shadiest "office" in Manhattan and buy myself some weft human hair that was probably shaved off the head of some orphan in an underprivileged country.  Secondly, I got to take my first trip to a Harlem salon. This experience definitely lived up to everything I expected and more thanks in part to the crack head who walked in and tried to sell me an industrial strength flash light, because hey, you never know when you might need it and how when she left, the hairdresser told me that the above-mentioned crack head used to be a model. Yeah right.

Regardless of what it took to get there I was on top of the world as I strutted home flipping my new long locks and checking myself out in every reflective surface I passed.  Only the next morning, after a work out, a shower and my first attempt to blowdry I started to realize that maybe being unbeWEAVEable wasn't for me.  I basically ended up throwing my hair in a big bun because I looked more like I was wearing one of those rasta hats with built-in dred locks than the celebrity impersonator I thought I was the night before.  I basically locked myself in my office for the day and frantically emailed my weave-expert friend, Hustle & Flow, who graciously offered to come over that night with her "tools" and take care of it.  In the meantime, I figured I'd feel (and look) better if I just got a tan.  So after what seemed like the longest 8 hours of my life I headed home and along the way stopped at yet another shady Russian salon where it took 15 minutes of arguing to convince the lady that all I wanted was 1 session of tanning, not an entire make-over and a year's stock of beauty products.  I cranked that bed up to 20 minutes and basked in the glow-de-melanoma.  I finally made it home and waited for Hustle & Flow to arrive. In less than an hour she had fixed the mess on my head - cut about 6 inches off that too-long weave and instructed me that I was not to get it wet.  I felt a lot better about the situation and went to bed ready to conquer the world. 

That was until I woke up in the middle of the night in the severe pain thanks to the 3rd degree burns I had apparently inflicted upon myself in this quest for physical perfection.  By the time I actually looked at myself in the morning here's what I saw:  A Fried Lobster with a Straw Wig.  I was beyond sunburned and leaving for Vegas in less than 2 days.  I just prayed that it would tone down in time for Friday when we were leaving.  Thankfully, it did and I was fairly tan by the time we left, but I vowed to make it my last time ever in a tanning bed.

Only after working and spending to put myself back to where I started, I managed to look as cute as I had hoped when I met Hustle and Flow at Penn Station and we began the long journey. I think this may have been G-d's way of telling me that I'm fine just the way he made me.  

Lesson # 1 - Check. 

Viva Las Vegas - Part 2: The Plane

Call me a day dreamer, but I had it my head that my flight to Las Vegas was going to be like a ride on a party bus.  I just assumed that a 6:00pm flight on a Friday night out to Vegas would be solely occupied by crazed party animals all under the age of 30.  Loud Music.  Lights.  People slamming shots out of tiny bottles of booze and high-fiving each other all over the place.  Your average trip on Hooters Airlines.  All I can say is Continental doesn't roll like that. However Hustle & Flow, myself, and the dude sitting next to us do.  

We lucked out and were seated right behind the poverty-curtain that leads to First Class in the first row of bulkhead seats in coach.  We sat down next to Manny and found out he was 26, 
from NJ and on his way to bachelor party.  Check, check and check!  Even better than that, 
we found out that homeboy was rollin' in dough and married which basically equaled free drinks for us without even having to try and front like we were the least bit interested.

Good conversation ensued and about 15 minutes after take-off the three of us found ourselves double-fisted and raring to go.  We were throwing 'em back 2 at a time and in the time it took me to get up and pee 5 times (yes 5), take about 20 pictures of flight attendants throwing up gang signs, and get everyone's email address we were making our final approach.  

I guess one would say we were rowdy, but I at least thought we were being funny.  (And so 
did one of the flight attendants because he was sneaking us free drinks up until the captain 
boomed "Flight attendants, please be seated for take off.")  Unfortunately, there was another flight attendant who didn't think we were so hilarious.  This was the same flight attendant who had so nicely grabbed my bag for me when I wasn't allowed to stand up before take-off, but now she had definitely had enough of the antics of Hustle & Flow and The Juice and was pursing her lips, shakin' her head, and muttering "Oh no child" as we were screaming "Viva Yo' Mama!". 

Then came the last straw.  Just as we were walking off the plane and she told us to be quiet and 
then turned around, Hustle & Flow thought it'd be funny to give her a smack on that extra large caboose.  My reaction was a twisted mess of "Oh Shit" and "That's the Funniest Effing 
Thing I've Ever Seen."  The flight attendants reaction didn't resemble either of those.  I now know what Eddie Murphy was talking about in his stand up when he talked about the fear he felt when he saw look his big black mama would give them right before she smacked him upside the head for doing something wrong. 

As it turns out, spanking a flight attendant is a so-call "Federal Offense" and we were told to stay put as the authorities were called.  Of course we did the sensible thing and the minute she turned around I whispered, "just go" and we tried to sneak away.  At that point, this woman was no longer a flight attendant and had turned into Big Momma Sha Kay Kay.  And when Sha Kay Kay tells you to stay put the second time, you listen.  Luckily for us, the "authorities" that showed up were a lone, mid-level manager from Continental Airlines.  We stood there like two school children while he chastised us, made us promise we'd behave and then told us that our "permanent airline files" (whatever the hell those are) would be noted.  Thanks Dad!  I guess it rings true that when Mama yells at you, just cry to Daddy and he'll protect you.  

We ran down the gangway laughing our asses off and high-fiving each other that we'd almost been arrested within 5 seconds of landing in Vegas.  The only thing I learned from this part of the trip were 1)  It's not a good idea to spank flight attendants.  2)  I can drink more when I am in the presence of Hustle & Flow that I ever thought was humanly possible.  She has the same effect on me as the oxygen they pump into the casinos. I guess I knew both of these things already though.

Viva Las Vegas - Part 3: The Party

After grabbing our luggage, meeting up with V, aka: "The Commish" and Mandy "Mandizzle" and getting settled (which included an all out classic college brawl and a few flight changes) we were in a cab on our way to Tao.  We chose Tao because our boy Manny had a table there so we figured what better way to party than to continue with the free booze. 

 When we arrived at the Venetian, drunk and screaming, following the signs to Tao, we were immediately greeted by the first of many packed lobbies, long lines and big dudes with clipboards.  I do not know what came over me, but the Juice was in full effect and I had us swept in the VIP, with free drinks courtesy of some 40 year old Czech dude in under 10 minutes.  It was on.  

There's something about Vegas that makes men want to spend their money on women who make it completely obvious from the first second that as soon as the drink is in her hand the conversation is over.  It's almost too easy.  I prefer a little bit of a challenge. 

Tao was packed with hairy-chested foreigners, gigantic black men and a handful of locals. Thanks to Hustle & Flow and the pink taco shorts we managed to swoop ourselves into somebody's boothand in under ½ an hour I found myself dancing (aka: thrashing my arms and swinging my hair around) on a ledge high above the crowd.  I couldn't tell you how long I was up there, but sometime after grabbing the big fake boobs of the RythemLESS nation dancing next to me things went bad. 

My first mistake was dropping T's digital camera and watching the button that actually snaps the pictures fly off into the sunset.  I would like to send special thanks to the dude who crawled around on the floor with me looking for it to no avail.   T's first prediction came true and the camera was broke.  Damn.

I can not recall the events between the camera breaking and what ensued next, but something in there led to me being kicked out of Tao.  I like to think of it more as being denied re-entry after being escorted through the door by a 6 foot 5 inch, 300 pound male.  But who's splitting hairs?  I was begging the fifteen individuals charged with guarding the velvet ropes to PUH-lease let me back in because my friends were in there when I figured maybe I should prove just how sober I am.  How would I do that?  The only answer would be to stumble backward over my own feet then drop my phone and watch it shatter into a thousand pieces.  Luckily I wasn't wearing a skirt because I spent the next five minutes scooting around the floor, toboggan-style, like a dog with worms trying to pick up the pieces and put them back together.  

Thankfully, around that time my three accomplices showed up and were ready to take me home. V ordered me to have a seat on the fountain and by no means was I to go anywhere. The minute she turned her back I was in a cab on my way to our hotel.  Upon arriving at what I thought was my hotel I was quickly challenged with the feat of finding my way to my room 1504. Here's the problem:  The hotel I arrived at only had 3 floors.  But that couldn't be.  I specifically remembered telling the cab driver the Marriott Suites.  (Needless to say there's about 15 Marriott's in Vegas).  After noting that the elevator only went up to Floor 3, I immediately realized, that DUH, I must be in the wrong elevator (not the wrong hotel) and I'd just have to take the stairs to the 15th floor. 

What follows next is my best recollection of sights and sounds before reaching my hotel.  There was a stairwell, some heavy doors, a dumpster, a parking garage, a road and some bushes.  Then, Viola!  I was back in the lobby of the Marriott suites. I'm still laughing when I think back to what happened next.  The Marriott had a gift shop which basically consisted of a metal stand in front of the front desk containing cookies and chips.  If any of you have ever been beyond inebriated, you know how good that looks at 5am, but in the spirit of having strangers buy all my drinks I had no interest in actually paying for it.  I grabbed 3 bags of cookies and 2 bags of chips and began my sprint towards the elevators when I heard "Wait!"  I swear to you the girl working the front desk must have leapt straight over it because next thing I knew I was face to face with her trying to use my best basketball moves from high school to fake her out and get around her.  She was squatted down low, arms out as if she was coming off a defensive suicide drill when she said, "You have to pay for those!"  "Oh, of course, I'm sorry" I replied and it was over.  A few hours later I woke up next to Hustle & Flow who was wearing nothing but her undies and a face towel as we lay in a bed of cookie crumbs surrounded by half eaten plates of bacon and eggs. (It was just like college.)

It only gets worse from here….

Viva Las Vegas - Part 4: The Phone

Upon awaking my immediate first thought was to call T and let him know that after almost 24 hours in Vegas with the Destruction Crew I was still in one piece.  I flung my arm over to the nightstand and picked up my phone which felt oddly light.  Wouldn't you know it, the fcking thing wouldn't turn on.  I shook it and pressed the buttons as hard as I could, but it was dead.  I pulled out the charger and when I plugged it in nothing happened.  
Finally, I turned the damn thing over and could see through the translucent backing that the 
battery wasn't in there.  SHIT!  Frantically I searched my bag over and over again, but nothing. It became sadly apparent that when I was scooting around the floor in the lobby of Tao doggy-style, picking up the pieces, I had missed a very important one.  The Battery.

 I used the girls' phones to call my boyfriend T and my parents to do the "safety check" and after speaking to the girl at the front desk figured I would head over to the mall where there was a T-Mobile stand and get a new battery.  Well, hailing a cab in Vegas isn't so easy and after twenty minutes of the bell-hop trying I finally agreed to pay $10 and split a stretch limo with two 70-year-olds who were heading to the airport.  

At this point we had already had two mimosas and were dressed for the pool, so when I actually headed out to the mall I was wearing nothing but a bikini, an uber-short cover-up, and heels. But I figured, hey, it's Vegas, no big deal.  Well, when I got to the mall I realized that no matter where you are, going to the mall half-naked is a big deal.  I actually heard one snotty-little teenager say to his friend, "She came to the mall to buy some clothes."  

With each step I felt more and more like a prostitute and 4 stores later I headed back to the cab stand, with a broken camera and still no battery for my phone.  I guess that's what I get for using a phone from 1993 that's made for Asian Teenagers.  

Back at the hotel we swam, had a few more drinks and eventually it was 6pm and time to get ready for another night of debauchery.  We all headed back up to the room and wouldn't you know it, I picked up my bag and staring me in the face was the tiny, white battery that powers up my little, blinking Nokia.  Beyond excited I put her back in a called T professing my joy and undying love.  Woooooooooooo! 

I think G-d was definitely teaching me a lesson here:  Be more careful with your things or I'll humiliate you by making you walk around the mall dressed like a street walker.

Lesson # 2 – Check!

Viva Las Vegas - Part 5: Pure

The plan for the night was to eat a late dinner at Nobu and then head over to Body English to work the VIP tickets we had bought in advanced.  (Clearly I'm just trying to drop venue names right now to seem like the scenester I always wished I was.)  Anyway, as we were chowing down on the best sushi I've ever had the pleasure of eating in my life when the Kings of California, Devon and Yawn (yes, Yawn) entered the scene.  After finishing dinner and exchanging texts with Devon and Yawn we were handed our comps and brought to the front of the line at Body English.  Veronica, thinking she had just been handing a lame flier, proceeded to dump both hers and my comp card into the garbage can and had to go dumpster diving to retrieve them so we didn't have to pay the $20 cover.  And it was a good thing we didn't because Body English didn't live up to half the hype that Entourage precluded. 

It was a lame mix of bachelor and bachelorette parties all taking too much care not to even look at someone of the opposite sex as if they were the slightest bit attractive for fear that their future Mr. or Mrs. might find out they (gasp) spoke to someone that weekend.  I'm sorry, but Hustle & Flow and I did not do rock our best Austin Powers girls outfits for this.  

Thankfully, we met a loner named Ari and within 5 minutes I was at the bar doing my free shots and drinking my $7 bottle of water thanks to his wallet.  Just as I was making my exit the text message from Devon came through saying he and friends had a booth at Pure.  SCORE!  We thought we had no chance of getting in so we weren't even gonna try, but after a few texts we got the "list name", Kevin Lane, and were headed over. I have never in my life seen a line so ginormous to get into a club.  There had to be literally 1500 people in lines twisting every which way in the lobby.  Putting on my best runway walk, we strutted over and within 10 minutes the bouncer Tyler was opening up the velvet rope and me and my girls were in cover free.  All I can say about Pure is this, I had the time of my f-cking life.  Standing on top of those gorgeous white couches, a bottle of goose in my hand, dancing my a$$ off with Enrique Iglesias about 5 feet away, I definitely brought sexy back.  Two hours later, sexy was gone and sweaty had replaced it.

Around 3:30 am, I was a sweaty, drunken mess as I stumbled out and made my way into a cab and somehow managed to direct the driver to the correct hotel.   During this time period, 
not realizing it was 6:30am on the East coast, I decided to call T because I was all by myself and just really wanted to talk to him.  I called about 4 times and couldn't get a hold of him.  The first few messages I left were sweet as pie.  The next 75 were a montage of me declaring "This relationship is now over!" since he couldn't "care" enough to pick up the phone when I'm calling.  (Please note the sarcasm here).

Well, I will only say I'm one resourceful beeyotch because I somehow managed after a bunch of calls to 411 and waking up Gregg ( the bachelor who's bachelor party T was attending in Montreal) I was connected to his hotel room in Canada, in half a rage at this point.  

Turns out, my phone had accidentally dialed him all through the night so he eventually had to turn it on silent b/c the vibration was waking everybody up.  I continued to explain that I just "needed him to be there" when I was all alone and that's why I was so mad.  A few hours later, after the maid walking in on me half naked and snoring several times, I realized I'm an idiot. 

The solution:  Head over to the Hard Rock.

Lesson 3:  Breaking up with your boyfriend at 4am because he didn't answer the phone because it was 7am his time is probably unreasonable.

Viva Las Vegas - Part 6: The Pool

It was now 11am and we were 11 short hours away from our flight back to reality.  Not having been completely sober since Friday afternoon we figured the best bet would be to hit up 
Rehab (the Sunday party at the Hard Rock pool) and keep it going until it was time to head home. 

Once again, we were escorted right past the massive line of dudes waiting to get in and upon entering it felt like we were in Disney Land.  After 3 massive vodka tonics, a few hours of 
dancing like it was MTV Spring Break, and a dip in the pool (which was basically a sea of STDs), Hustle & Flow and I looked at each other and realized we were in the land of trashiness andwanted nothing more than to get home.  We cabbed it back to the hotel, scooped up V and Mandy, packed our bags and were headed over to the Bellagio to spend our last few hours with Veronica's new man, The Commish.  

During these two hours, I ran into a co-worker and met the dude who had me kicked out of Tao two nights earlier for spilling on him.  We started snapping at each other and it was clear that it was time to go.  Thankfully the time passed quickly and Brynn and I were two dirty messes on our way to the airport to catch the red eye home. 

Viva Las Vegas - Part 7: The Plane Ride Home, The End

Just about the time we arrived at the airport back on the East Coast was when I began contemplating suicide.  I was tired, sort of hung-over, dirty, hungry and I knew that the only thing awaiting me was a 5 hour plane ride followed by 8 LONG hours of work.  My body was craving nutrients and sustenance at this time and after getting through security I ordered a burger and fries and scarfed that thing down like someone who had been raised in poverty and was eating her first meal.  BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.

We boarded the plane and slept the whole ride home, but when I woke up something wasn't right.  I had the fiercest burning in my stomach that was so bad I could barely stand up 
right.  During the 2 hours it took us to get our bags and get the train back to Penn Station it didn't subside and at 7:45am I arrived in my office dirty and sick.  

What proceeded was the worst day of my life to date.  The only reprieve came around noon when I trucked it over to a salon near my office and had the dreaded weave cut out of my 
hair once and for all.  As George removed the last track and shook the crumbs out of my hair I nearly jumped out of the chair and hugged him in a joy.  The shampoo and blow out that followed was sheer bliss.  By the time I got back to the office and grabbed a muffin, I was beyond ready to leave and only thanks to T's phone calls and IMs I actually made it to 5 'o clock (okay, 4:45) and found myself in a cab headed home.  What followed was the best shower of my life and the moment I had been waiting for most, a hug from T.  

Lesson learned:  I'd rather be home.

I don't know what it is about Vegas, but even when you go just to party, and you do nothing wrong like cheat on your wife, drugs, etc, it still makes you feel sort of like a bad person. I spent the next two days after returning home contemplating my life and realizing how happy I was to be back to being a normal, good, productive person who spends most of her evenings getting tasti-d-lite and staying in with her boyfriend.  I often reminisce and jokingly call myself lame for no longer being the party animal I was in college and only going "out-on-the-town" maybe once a month because most weekends are spent tending to family obligations, parties, etc. Vegas made me realize that being half-a-homebody isn't so bad.  In fact, it's pretty awesome.

Viva Yo' Momma!  Viva Las Vegas!  Viva my bed and my apartment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lazy Bones

Most people wouldn't consider four loads of laundry, an hour of ironing, a workout and an at-home mani-pedi followed by a home cooked meal an unproductive day, but given my non-stop hustle and bustle of late, I consider yesterday a bust.  My deeply rooted Italian guilt combined with a healthy topping of my neveau-Jewish guilt, left me feeling like a failure, making excuses for all that I hadn't done by the time T got home from work yesterday.  

I couldn't help but focus on what I didn't do, instead of what I did do.  I didn't meet anyone new.  I didn't go anywhere cool.  I didn't discover some new corner of NYC.  In fact, I barely left my neighborhood save for a trip to the 27th street Food Emporium in the search for some Kosher Chicken Cutlets (also known as the bane of my existence).  At least I took a shower, but that wasn't until 3pm and was followed by me soaking in a few episodes of Dr. 90210 that subsequently resulted in me deciding I need breast implants and a Brazilian butt lift before I can ever go out in public again.

Before I knew it, 5 o'clock was rolling around, I had poured myself glass of wine number two while starting the second hour of a phone call and watching the episode of Oprah that I had DVRd.  As I uttered the words, "Oh my Gawd, what a freakin' more-on," I heard my long-since squashed Long Island accent come out in full force.  It was when I stretched  out on the couch, grabbed my wine glass off the table and continued my conversation that the outer-body experience occurred.  I watched the floor turn to linoleum, the couch morph into black leather and my hair grow to a height only a body wave could achieve.  That's when it hit me - I am my mother circa 1987.   All I was missing was the Spiegle catalog, a cigarette and two kids to tell to be quiet because I am "on the phone with your Aunt!"

Half frightened, half loving the "good life" I chugged the rest of my wine and watched the room morph back to the present day.  At that point I vowed that tomorrow, with it's upcoming job interview, doctors appointment and plans to work on my book would be at least more productive than today had been.  As T and I settled into bed he thanked me profusely for all the laundry and ironing I had done for him and told me how much he loved the dinner I had made.  I think he even called me "the little woman", unable to wipe the smile off of his face thanks to my day of housewifery. It was then, feeling like just the right moment, that I filled him in on my new-found need for boobs, a butt and a couple of kids to yell at.  Two seconds later, just before drifting off to sleep he whispered, "please get a job."

I don't think so.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Borrowed Time (and Books)

Still in awe of all the free time I now find myself with, I figured I should take advantage of it and catch up on my reading.  In my previous life as a productive, employed member of society, I usually found myself able to read about 1 page of a book every night before I would be fighting to keep my eyes open, my body begging for sleep to get me through the coming work day.  Now, having been given this gift that keeps on giving - unemployment - I could actually pick up a book on a Tuesday afternoon and head off to the park to relax and read.  How novel! (no pun intended).

My usual MO when it comes to scouting new reading material is to head down to Borders, pick up three or four books that look intellectually stimulating along with one that I actually want to read, not just say I read (usually something along the lines of "Shoes, Sex and Why Women Like Them") then shell out the $60 - $100 to the cashier without thinking twice.  However, my new socioeconomic status doesn't allow for such careless spending so off I was to that foreboding monster of a building on Fifth Avenue called the New York Public Library to get myself a Library Card.
Climbing the many steps to the beautiful building I had passed so many times before, I started to feel like Rocky running up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, my mind wandered and I started thinking about why New York is so much better than Philadelphia.  Typical. Thinking I would prance right through the giant doors and and immediately be surrounded by shelves and shelves of books, enough to scare the pants of the Dewey Decimal System, I pushed the revolving door as fast as I could until I was inside and abruptly stopped by the giant line of people going through security.  Did I forget I was in New York for a second?  I happily opened up my bag to let the security guard dig his way through my notebook, a couple of Pepto Bismol Pills, a tampon and my gigantic makeup bag until I was finally inside and free to roam the New York Public Library.

I bounced up to the information desk, all cheer and sunshine and said, "Excuse me, but you can tell me where I go to get my Library Card?!" Anything but charmed by my positive attitude, the woman behind the desk replied, "You're in the wrong building.  You need to go across the street." 

"Damn," I thought.  The building across the street is plain, there are no statues, no exhibits, just a big dusty, quasi-book store.  How can I experience this momentous occasion without the grandeur of statues and stairs and artwork surrounding me?  Where will the gospel choir that is going to sing as my library card is handed over to me going to stand?  Resigned to the fact that my Library Card experience would be more like a trip to the DMV than a day at the Met, I decided to pop into an Art Deco exhibit being held inside this pretty building that I so desperately wanted to borrow anything from before heading across the street to get my card.

Once inside the glass doors to the exhibit, I took a look at the five or so other people in there and decided to pretend I was just as genuinely interested in the art of this period as they pretended to be.  And so I read each and every informational piece on the wall when I came to the a descriptive on how the Art Deco period came to be.  It began, "On Thursday, October 24, 1924 as the Stock Market crashed sending the United States into the Great Depression..." That's when I stopped.  I did not need a reminder that I am unemployed and not a lady of leisure, so I decided to head across the street to get that Library Card.

Resisting the pull of BCBG to my right and Lord & Taylor to my left, I trucked it into the building where the nice lady at the information desk directed me to the long line at the Library Card Registration Desk.  Wanting to whip out my AmEx and bolt back across the street for some shopping, I trudged over and took my place in line.  When it was finally my turn, I handed over my Driver's License, which still has my New Jersey address on it, when Stanley, the man running the desk said, "I need something with your New York address."  I desperately dug through my purse, determined not to have wasted an afternoon looking at art I don't get and waiting on line.  Viola!  I pulled out a bottle of Antibiotics my doctor had prescribed for the Sinus Infection I had a few weeks ago. Embarrassing?  Absolutely.  But it had my New York address on it so I handed it over.  Stanley, clearly uncomfortable with the situation, reached out and grabbed the bottle, gave me a look that said, "Sure this is antibiotics, it's probably Herpes medication" and copied my address from the bottle, into his computer.  

Within two minutes my antiobiotics were back in my purse and my New York Public Library card was in my hand.  "So I can take out books RIGHT NOW?" I confirmed.  "Yes," replied Stanley desperate to have me and my pills away from his desk.  "Sweet!" 
I was off.  First to crime and mystery to pick up a book for T, then off to the "Oprah" section to pick up one for me. I looked around in wonderment at just how many people were here borrowing and returning books, in awe of the fact that here, at this place in New York where nothing is free, they will just give you a book or a DVD and trust that you will return it.  I'm just glad they didn't do a background check and find out that I am permanently banned from Blockbuster for failure to return movies.  

When I checked out and passed through security to leave the building, this time I barely noticed all the retail therapy that surrounded me upon exiting.  Slightly skeeved by the fact that thousands of other hands have probably touched the books I was holding, I whipped out my bottle of Purell for a quick fix, then bounced the rest of the way home like a little kid on the first day of school.  The minute T walked in the door from work, I proudly displayed my Library Card and handed over the book I selected just for him.  That night, we settled into bed and read ourselves to sleep.  For free.  Nice.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The Cold. 
The Rain. 
New Jersey.  

None of these things top my list of ingredients for a kick-ass weekend and yet somehow I managed to have one of my best ever.  I am a sad excuse for a Rutgers Season Ticket Holder, having been to only two games so far this year (for reasons beyond my control of course.)  A girl can't help when she's going to get sick, throw out her back, or desperately need a manicure more than she needs to stand up and yell "R U!" with 10,000 other people.  This Saturday, as another home game was set to begin promptly at12 noon, I was well-rested, healthy, and had no choice but to throw on a red Rutgers T-Shirt and a pair of sneakers and head out with T for the long train ride to New Brunswick, New Jersey.  

We had cautiously packed up our "rain gear" which consisted of a couple of red ponchos and a full on, puddy-colored Men's Extra Large Rain suit.  Annoyed already because I was already wearing a baseball hat due to the light mist that was coming down, I dreaded the thought of having to don either a poncho or that rain suit.  I had carefully chosen my black skinny jeans, pumas, and just the right layers for underneath my Rutgers T Shirt to scoff in the face of American Sports Fannery and show that I can still be cute while being a fan and not in that pink-crystal-embellished-team-tank-top-Staten-Islandy way. 

When we got off the train, I had moved way past function and onto form since I had to now sport my Rutgers Sweatshirt, the hat and a hood since the rain was now coming down faster than my mood.  Four seconds away from turning around to get on the next train back to New York, I looked up and saw T's excited face and decided to suck it up, because that's what you do when you love someone.  Dammit.  An hour and a half later, I was completely soaked, sitting on a wet bleacher, wearing a rain suit and could literally feel my hair growing into something resembling Richard Simmons' famous 'fro.  With every good play, someone near me would stand up and cheer sending a tidal wave of water (and a scowl) onto my face.  Yet, even though I would've preferred to have been dry and pretty much anywhere else in the world, in that hour and a half of sopping wet misery, I also managed to soak up (pun intended) an hour and a half of fun with my fiance, my future bro and sis in-law, and some friends.  

At half-time, when I decided I couldn't take it anymore.  I called up NJ Transit, found out when the next train was and told T that I love him and that because I love him, I am leaving before I break down into a cold, wet tantrum.  I gave him a kiss, said my goodbyes and told him, genuinely, to enjoy the rest of the game.  As he was walking me out, he stopped abruptly and said "Wait here.  I'm going to get my stuff because I'm coming with you."  Begging him not to leave on my account, I asked him 10 times if he was sure before finally agreeing to let him go get his things.  40 minutes later, when we were thawing and drying out on the train, I looked over and he looked happier than he had sitting on that bench, screaming his head off at every first-down (the only football term I know), because, hey, that's what you do when you love someone.  

On Sunday morning, happy to see the sun shining and be back on my turf, T and I got ready for a day of shopping and errands.  He diligently printed out and packed up all of our coupons as I diligently applied the perfect shopping make-up and 3 hours after we woke up, we were headed out the door.  Stop 1:  Bed Bath and Beyond.  Just as a Sunday at Barney's is a religion for New York's single and fabulous, BB&B is the holy grail for NYCs coupled-up.  T and I live in Murray Hill, the most pseudo-suburban neighborhood of Manhattan, surrounded by young Jewish couples walking beagles, pushing strollers and driving Range Rovers, so naturally, Bed Bath & Beyond is the new Bergdorf.  

Just as we had finished buying that new shower curtain and 40 other items we didn't even know we needed until we set foot in the store, T's phone rang with a call from friends who had just joined the club called Parenthood.  They happened to be just across the river, visiting family, and next thing I knew we were back on the train heading across the Hudson.  Just 45 minutes after T's phone rang, I found my self surrounded by puppies, babies and the smell of a delicious meal being prepared in a kitchen the size of my living room.  Thankfully, our host promptly provided a large glass of wine to save me from the New-Jersey-Family-Living-Anxiety-Attack I was about to have.

Two glasses of wine and a great meal later, I was shining my engagement ring, petting the Pomeranian, holding a baby in my arms and mugging for the camera.  I thought to myself, "Is this how it happens, is this how New Jersey steals your cooler-than-thou Manhattan soul?" Even worse, I was thinking to myself that it's really not so bad, even good.    What tops an afternoon of good friends, good food and adorable mini-people?  I started weighing the pros and cons in my mind.  Was it better to pay for an overpriced brunch at Fred's, wearing overpriced clothes, carrying an over priced bag and gossip about your friend-who-moved-to-Jersey's under-priced earrings from Kohls?  Or, honestly, was it better to be wearing your most casual, drinking your favorite wine, eating an appropriately-priced, home cooked meal surrounded by people who's company you genuinely enjoy without the necessity of a chic backdrop?

After a car ride in which I ignored all conversation to coo at the adorable baby, wrapped up warm and cozy in her car seat next to me, T and I were back in Manhattan, walking cross town toward our apartment.  Clutching the brochure for the New Jersey condo-complex we had just visited in my hands, I found myself blurting out statements faster than they could enter my mind to T. "Ya know, it's really close to the city!  Just a Ferry wide away!  What a big kitchen we could have!".  I bounced along excitedly, dreaming of our new life in New Jersey and stopped revelation-style, looked up at T and said, "I want a dog, a baby and I want to be a stay-at-home mom."  His reaction was a mix of half joy (because I was finally letting go of my city-fabulous attitude) and half fear (because it was clear I don't want to go back to work).

I yapped and yapped about being a housewife all the way to Tasti-D-Lite.  After a five minute conversation with the faux-ice-cream-store's owner, whom we've gotten to know well over the past three years, we were headed home to watch the Giants play.  

We were finally back in our hood and we were approaching the entrance to our building when  the world turned normal again and once more I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked up at T, a new revelation on my mind, and said defiantly, "F-ck that.  I'm never leaving this city."  

All we can do now is wait and see.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mrs.Movie Phone

One of the best things about living in NYC is the complete and utter acceptability of doing things by yourself.  It's one of the few places where, even on a Saturday night, you can go to a restaurant and see a random (insert man-woman-old lady)  having dinner alone at a table for two and think nothing of it.  No reading materials required, pull up a chair, enjoy your meal and people watch to your heart's content.  

With all of my newly acquired free time, I decided I would take advantage of one of New York's other favorite solo activities.  The movies.  It doesn't hurt that on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday any movie at my local theater is only $6 if you go before noon (that's only $1 more than renting one On-Demand and about $6 less if that On-Demand selection is a porno.)  Can't beat that. 

As I logged onto Fandango last night to check out my options, I thought to myself, "Finally!  Now is my chance to see all the 27 Dresses-Sex and the City-Made of Honor-Other Boelyn Girl crap that I always want to see and that T refuses to!" I pulled up my theater's show times, excitedly scrolled down the page to check out my choices and then my face dropped.  With my choices being Madagascar, Role Models, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, I watched my girly day go out the window and unpacked the mini-Kleenex from my purse.  Clearly I wouldn't be needing them.

After a quick trip to RottenTomatoes, I decided that I would go to the 10:50am showing of Role Models, then swiftly switched on my inner neurotic and moved my browser to DietFacts to figure out exactly how I can work a tub of Popcorn into my day.  It took me a good year and a half to stop equating the movies with an all out Salty-Sweet-Crunchy-Chewy binge fest, but I just couldn't imagine this momentous AM-Solo Flight without those delicious,  salt soaked kernels to pop in my mouth one by one in my best effort to make the bag last the entire movie.  Thus, after doing my research, I decided the only way to go was to wake up late, go to the gym, and swap my normally nutrition packed breakfast and lunch for a small movie theater popcorn brunch and a hot chocolate.  Best move I've made all year.

I dressed carefully doing my best NYU Freshman impression by throwing on my skinniest jeans, a pair of Convos and a bright thermal shirt, messed up my hair just right and headed out the door.  I don't know what gets into me, but with each new activity, I get so excited and this time I practically skipped up to the box office to buy my ticket.  I ordered my popcorn, let the girl behind the counter  convince me to get a medium before making her dump it out and change it back to a small and within seconds was climbing the stairs to my favorite seat.  2nd to last row, right smack in the middle.  I scanned the theater and saw 9 other people.  The crowd consisted of about 7 dudes scattered around and one couple fiercely tounging each other down in the front row. Hot.  

Trying to hold out until after the previews, but failing miserably, I began the one-by-one pick a piece of popcorn and put it in your mouth dance which lasted until about 15 minutes into the movie at which point I was grabbing handfuls that were clearly too big to shove into my mouth, but doing my best to get them in there anyway.  The best part was that I had no need to be embarrassed.  I wasn't squeezed into a packed row, so surrounded by people, that I had to watch the angle of my knees as not to disturb the person next to me.  There was no one within 50 seats of me.  I was free to pick up my practically finished bag of popcorn, tilt up my chin and dump every last crumb into my mouth.  Honestly, I could've put my hand down my pants if I wanted to and no one would've been the wiser, but I resisted.  

The movie itself was hysterical.  It was Juvenile, Chauvinist, and every time I laughed at a boob joke, the fact that I was laughing along with the 19 year old two rows in front of me who was still wearing his oversize headphones, made me laugh even louder.  The only bad part was when, inevitably, about 45 minutes into the movie, I had to pee.  Now generally, when I'm there on a Friday night with T, I ask him to watch my bag as I sheepishly apologize to all the people who need to move so I can get to the aisle and run to the bathroom.  But here I was, by myself, a big bottle of water, my jacket and my purse marking my territory.  Should I pick it all up, lug it to the ladies room, have the 9 other people there look at me strangely like I was leaving the theater and then lug it all back?  I started panicking, toying with the option of leaving the bag, jacket and water and just taking my wallet and blackberry with me?  What the hell was I going to do?  
What I did was hold it. Painfully. For the next 50 minutes.  I just didn't see any other options. There was no one to watch my stuff and no one to fill me in on what I missed.  I had no choice.  

2 hours, one bag of popcorn and the longest pee of my life later, I'm back home having enjoyed yet another "social experiment" and chronicling it here.  What's next on my list?  Stay tuned to find out and your suggestions are always welcome.  You say, I'll do it (maybe).