Monday, November 30, 2015

5 Cents and some sunshine.

I've been walking to work as it gets colder.  I'm not a big fan of the amount of time it takes, but when I get out of the office at 5:00, it is dark.  If I don't walk to work, then I spend my entire day seeing just 10 minutes of daylight.  I have a feeling that this will impact my mood and my waistline in the long run.

During my walk today, I found five pennies on the sidewalk.  They weren't all together, but were spread out.  Now they are all warm and cozy in my back pocket.  The pennies in my back pocket remind me of my family and friends.  Although we are far apart sometimes, we get together on occasion to share some love and warmth. Saturday, I found a penny and a dollar on the floor in DSW shoe warehouse.  That combined with coupons and the good sale made for a good mood.  I was able to get warm boots for my fiance, David, and something for his brother's birthday this week.  

I dug out my first Holiday tie today.  I have a dozen or so that are all gifts from my mom.  I wear them starting the day after Thanksgiving and through the entire season.  One of favorite ones had to be retired after getting seriously stained.  It had the three wise men on it and could be worn through the 12 days of Christmas until epiphany.

Leading up to Christmas, I hope you all remember the gifts you have been given.  I'm thankful for the gifts in my life.  I'm also thankful for my family, even if we won't get together for Christmas.  I'm also hoping that you all find laughter, joy, and warmth with your friends and family.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Family - try not to fight.

I am awake after a solid night of sleep.  I drove back yesterday after a few days with my family.  My older brother purchased a new house and is renovating it before moving in.  His home is probably the most central location for everyone in our family.  We decided to meet there.  Initially, we were all planning on crashing in the house under renovation in sleeping bags on the floor for a few days.  That was until we discovered just how much renovation it needed.  My older brother ended up tearing out almost all of the walls.  He also didn't really have a functional bathroom.

Just a week before we were all supposed to arrive, we had to figure out a plan B.  In spite of the added cost, we chose the hotel route.  My sister and parents split a suite, and I picked up two more rooms for my brother and his family and David and me.

The plan was for us to gather for the big meals at my older brother's place and then spend family time in the dining room of the hotel.  The hotel said it was never used and that we were welcome to.  I thought that was a great idea.  The place was clean and the kids could be put to bed in their rooms or my dad could watch football in his room while we enjoyed family time together.

Unfortunately, my older brother had other plans.  He really wanted us all to hang out the entire time at his under renovation house.  There is no internet, no television, no beds for the kids, and the only furniture was the camping chairs I picked up at Walmart, some blankets from my car, and camping chairs and blankets from my sister's car.

I've mentioned my personality before.  Like me, my brothers and sister all have very strong, dominant personalities.  My dad does as well.  When you get us all in one place, it means that someone has to make decisions and the rest have to agree with the decision.  When one person doesn't agree with the decision, they surely make noise in my family.  Let's just say that this happens a lot.  On the occasion that only one person disagrees, that person feels like they have to convince the others that they are right and the rest are wrong.  If no one agrees, it makes it calmer since we have to talk through things.

More often than not, my older brother is the only person who disagrees with the rest of us.  I love him.  I do.  We just both seem to fight a lot.  He feels like I don't listen to him.  I feel like he doesn't listen to me.  We are both right.  Neither of us really wants to listen to the other one because neither of us wants to change our opinion.  We both just want to yell louder than the other until the other's opinion is switched to ours.

Every year when my family gets together, someone ends up having one of these yelling matches with him.  I thought we had escaped them this year.  The family just bent to his will whenever people disagreed.  This is ok for the most part.  After everyone had left, I went back over to his place to pick up something my mom had left for me.  He and I got into it.  I stormed out in a yelling storm and drove off leaving the stuff I went to get.  He called me screaming that it was going to get tossed in the front yard.  I kept driving.  My David convinced me that it would upset mom if I didn't go back and get the stuff.  In the mean time, my older brother had called and yelled about this to my mom and dad and they called me.  I was so mad, that even after getting the stuff, I wanted to hit something.  My brother is one of the only people in the world that gets me that mad.

I still had a great thanksgiving.  My family met David and it went well.  We had good food.  We enjoyed seeing each other.  I'm thankful for my family even if we don't always agree.  I know we all love each other, but don't always know how to show it when our egos get in the way.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The challenges of driving in Brooklyn.

Driving in Brooklyn, or Manhattan, or even driving close to them makes my blood pressure go up.  The people here are rude and impatient.  I fear, too, that I am becoming one of them.   If you see happen to be driving in Oneonta or in the north country near Madrid, NY and someone is riding your tail honking if you slow down for a yellow light or don't start moving before the red turns to green, it might be me after a year in Brooklyn.

Last night, as I was bringing my fiancé home I noticed how much more impatient I've become.  I also noticed some aggression.  Stopped at a traffic light on a two way street with one lane of traffic in each direction, I noticed a man who had been tailgating me and had funky lights on his BMW, pull up on my right hand side.  That is the lane for people turning right, for those of you who have not takes a driving test in a while.  He/She doesn't have a signal light on.  I decide that I'm not going to let him in.  As the light turns green, we both speed forward.  He wanted to pass me on the right.  He didn't get by, but ended up passing me on the left causing a chorus of honking from both sides.  AND, the guy ended up in front of me only one car for another six blocks before turning off.  He really needed to get ahead of me by one car, risking his life to do that.  Many of the people that do this (I assume men, but may be wrong) are driving cars that cost more than I'll probably ever spend on a car, so they end up risking not only injury to themselves, but also accidents on their fancy cars.

I also see people with normal cars that they have tricked out.  There was a dodge charger that he had painted as a transformer car.  I don't really understand it.  I guess I'd rather fly to Paris (feel free to buy me a ticket if you want to) than spend that kind of money on a car.  I just want a car that works consistently and has leg room.  I know the leg room thing may seem odd, but you try being 6'3" and driving a tiny car.

At a party on Friday night, I ran into that friend who had been living with me on my sofa.  He hugged me and said hi.  That was about it.  No update on his housing situation.  Fortunately, a friend at the party let me know that he is living in a safe place.  I didn't get information where, but at least he is in a safe place.

The rest of this weekend has consisted of thrift shopping, a better church, and some time with my betrothed and cooking some beef stew and pumpkin muffins.  

Lessons in thrift shopping in NYC:
1.) Avoid manhattan unless you want to pay close to full retail prices.
2.) Be patient, things are very disorganized.
3.) If you love a fabric on a pair of dress pants, it's probably mistakenly a women's pair mixed into the men's stuff.
4.) Try everything on because in this city, people are obsessed with tailoring things into their own size and written size means nothing.
5.) Freeze for three days or dry in a dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes in case there are bugs.
6.) Live a little.  The prices are cheap enough in Brooklyn that if you see something fun, buy it and wear it.
and, finally

7.)  If you live in a small apartment like mine, don't buy too much stuff.  You already have enough s*&t.  

As I wait for my pumpkin muffins to cool, I'm grateful today for finding a fun church, for warm food and a warm apartment, time with my love, and the fact that every day I keep finding money on the sidewalk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's been so long I forgot the combination

I got out of work at 5:00 yesterday.  The bus pulled up just as I got there.  I decided that I finally had enough energy to get back to the gym.  In spite of a few attempts, I seem to keep finding a reason not to go.

When my alarm goes off at six, I feel like I didn't get enough sleep.

When I get to the bus stop and there isn't enough money on my metrocard to buy a ride.

When I arrive at the gym only to realize that my sneakers are sitting on my office floor and I never changed back from my dress shoes to go home.

Those are just some of the excuses.  Mostly, I've just been too tired or unmotivated to go.

Last night, I finally did it.  I walked in, checked in, changed into my gym clothes, strolled over to my locker, and guess what....I can't remember the combination.  That's right.  I've been away from the gym long enough that I can't remember the combination to my gym locker.  I purchased the lock and put it on there.  I tried a few different numbers that came into my mind and none worked.  Realize, I spend at least an hour a day manipulating numbers in an excel spreadsheet.  There are lots of numbers floating around in my head.

I decided to use my bike lock on another day locker and went for a 2.5 mile run on a treadmill.  I listened to a fascinating podcast on the creation of carbon offset credits and one on the creation of the Fed (thanks, Planet Money).  Then I went back down to change out of my sweaty, gross clothes.  I realized that the one thing I really wanted from my locker was flip flops.  No one wants to walk around a locker room with bare feet.  It's kind of gross.  I tried again and couldn't get it.

I tip toed into the sauna so as to create as little surface contact with my feet and the floor as possible. If I sweat a lot, I look just a little bit skinnier in the mirror and weigh a pound less on the scale.  It makes me feel like I worked just a little harder.

As I sat in the sauna, I realized that the same three numbers kept going through my head.  I decided to try one more time.  This time, I felt like I was ice skating on my tip toes since the sweat made them slick.  I fell a few times and people looked at me funny as I slip-toed my way to the locker in nothing but a towel that slipped each time I fell.  Eureka...I had it and flip flops were found.  The same people looked at me even funnier as I did a happy dance and then squeak farted my way (sweaty flip-flops) back to the sauna.

I put the combo in my phone so this won't happen again.  BUT, I will get to the gym more often so hopefully I don't forget.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The joys of a potluck

Sunday night, David had a potluck he wanted us to go to.  He really wanted to make Joloff rice, but we didn't have time to pull that together.  I ended up grabbing a loaf of banana bread that I had in the freezer (it's really good even after being frozen) and whipping up some jumbalaya with a box mix and some chicken and sausage.  

After much hassle in trying to find the right gate to get into the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a Sunday night (directions were terrible and David never got the email letting him know it wasn't the normal gate), we got to the Kings County Distillery.  As we walked in the door, I noticed a flag, but knew there was something different about it.  I counted the stars on my way back down to the bathroom and discovered it was a 48 star flag.  

The potluck was for the people who had interned or volunteered at the Brooklyn Grange.  David spent his Wednesdays this summer helping grow food in the rooftop gardens there.  The food is used to provide fresh produce to shelters in the community, a CSA, selling to restaurants, and other things.  David loves growing things.  We must have light in our next apartment and space to grow plants.  The group was one of many very hippie granola people.  They all were very fun.  The spread was full of organic veggies roasted, salads, scalloped potatoes, chile, a roasted turkey, candied swiss chard, pies, cakes, and beer.  There was also free whiskey sampling which we took advantage of.  

This, like all potlucks in my adult life, was a great deal of fun.  I remember dreading potlucks growing up because I felt like the only thing I would eat was what my mom brought.  I also felt like most people brought rolls, potato chips, and salad.  I've been guilty of that myself a few times as a single man with not enough time to cook.  At my church in Rochester, Lake Avenue Baptist, potlucks were an international delight.  You never knew what you would get except to know that there would be plenty of rice and jungle juice.  

I really love potlucks.  I love trying lots of different foods from different people.  I like sharing a common table and hearing the stories.  People talk about cooking at these a lot which is also something I like to do.  I guess that's what made this fun. I tried a little bit of everything (except beets…I hate beets), and laughed a lot.  In spite of the challenges getting there and getting home, it was a very pleasant experience. 

Mega Church experience

This morning, we decided to try a new church.  There is a megachurch in Times Square called Hillsong.  David's roommate goes there, so I thought we'd check it out.  On the way to pick him up, I noticed this street art.  Little did I know that I would feel like it reflected most of my day (crazy).

We got to the church a few minutes late.  The church is in a basement theater in Times Square.  You take escalators into the basement and ushers guide you in.  As we were guided in and up to the very back row of the church, I struggled to see with the lighting so dark.  There was a contemporary christian worship (rock) band playing on the stage.  We were in the back row where there was a large bulkhead blocking my view of anything except the heads of the people in front of me.  I ended up sitting, and still couldn't see anything.  That pretty much ruined the entire experience for me.  If I am going to church, I want to sing.  If they are singing songs that are not hymns and I can't read the words on the screen, then I can't sing.  It was also blazing hot.  I almost stripped down to my undershirt.

Passing the peace was almost impossible and you ended up only shaking hands with the people in the rows in front of or behind you.

When the sermon started, we were watching a live telecast from another church.  The pastor kept referencing the fact that he could hear his other pastors saying "condense" to him, but he was going to give it all to us.  When you say "this speech is long but important" to someone over and over, all they hear is that this speech is long and you are emphasizing that.  If he had cut out the number of times he said that, the speech would've probably been four minutes shorter at least.  Also, if you think it is too long, it is.

Hell (yes, I said hell), if I was going to watch a preacher on a screen, why did I take a train for 75 minutes each direction.  I could've sat in my underwear and watched the entire thing from home, been able to see the words to the songs, and mailed my check for my tithe.

I will probably give it one more shot, but my gut says to stick with my traditional church and let David do this thing himself.  Maybe we will alternate Sundays or just go to our own churches and sometimes go together.  God only knows.

As we left the church, we had to make our way through the crazy crowds that are in Time's Square.  This video is just after I had pushed my way through a big chunk of people.

Gay men can be so rude

I had mentioned earlier on Saturday that I was going to go out to grab a drink.  David was tired, but I was stir crazy deciding to head out anyway.  I put on what I thought was a very fun out fit and tried to channel some 70's disco with a classic leather hat and a fun orange polyester shirt.

I hoofed it down to the C train at Kingston Throop.  The train was super noisy tonight.  I figured that it might be an interesting video to catch the approach.  As you watch, notice the guy in the gray hoodie opposite the doors.  You'll see his black shoes at the very end of the video opposite my comfy paint covered shoes.

As I sat down, I noticed that he had a large shard of glass in his hands (you'll see what looks like a piece of it on the floor next to his right foot).  Having watched Arrow, The Flash, and Robin Hood all day, I could only think that he was a villain who wanted to do something evil to my city.  Needless to say, I was on my toes for two stops until he got off.  

I also noticed that there were quite a few buskers out on a Saturday night at almost 10:00 p.m.  This duo caught my eye.  The piano player was eating some type of noodles and taking a break.  Across from him sits a lady who was on a chair oil painting the scene.  I don't know that I'd want to sit and paint down there, but I would probably buy a painting of it.

I got to the gay bar and ordered a drink.  This bar is called G-Lounge.  It's in the heart of Chelsea which is one of the gayborhoods in Manhattan.  I've been there quite a few times.  The bartenders are usually wearing nothing other than a tight pair of shorts and a smile. The walls are painted white and someone has just drawn a design on them with a black sharpie.  The lighting Saturday was all pink and black lights.

The vibe is usually pretty friendly and the people watching is great.  Unfortunately, it also brings out many people who think that they are the only ones in the universe who know anything about fashion and can be quite judgmental.  There was one couple of men who literally pointed at me and guffawed at my outfit in such a way that it could not be confused.  I really love who I am.  I love my style and how I dress.  When someone thinks that it is appropriate to treat any other person that way, I am incensed.  When it happens to me, I am torn between choosing to go up and confront them saying something rude, to walk out of the bar and go home sulking, or to just stand there and act as if I am proud of who I am and what I am wearing.  I chose to stand there proudly (for about 15 minutes).  Then I chose to go home.  I didn't need more negative energy in my life.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Lazy Saturday

Lazy days are possible even in the city.  I am well aware that there are millions of things to do in this city.  Some of them are not available anywhere else in the world.  Even so, there are days when you decide to not leave your apartment.

I was up early to bring my fiancé to work up in Harlem.  When I got back home at 8:30 or so, I found a warm blanket, my sofa, and Robin Hood the series on netflix.  It wasn't until noon that I really did much.  I walked down to the cute little shop that is new on my street called Bed Stuy Provisions.  I grabbed a hot cocoa and a sandwich and brought them back to my apartment.  When I got back, I chowed down.

I spent the afternoon wrapping presents for a family gift exchange at Thanksgiving that is fast approaching.  I also got through my mail, picked up my bedroom a little, and made some meatloaf and baked potatoes for dinner.

After a day of being alone, I am craving some social interactions.  David is just finishing work, so hopefully he will join me for a few drinks out at a local pub.

A week of binge watching this tv series (three seasons) and I've made it from beginning to end.  It was a fun series to view and wasn't so intricate that I couldn't get stuff done while watching.

Next on my list for some binge watching this week while I try to pair down my wardrobe is the Flash tv series.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

When punching works better than the police

I popped into my local bodega to get a breakfast sandwich this morning.  Ali was super talkative.  He is normally quite reserved.  He kept asking me how I was and what was going on.  Given his normal shyness, I wasn't responding very enthusiastically.  Finally I asked him what was going on.

Apparently, some guy ran into the store, all the way to the back and tried to run back out with two cans of roach spray.  This little bodega is quite narrow.  There is a tall counter on one side and coolers along the other.  In between is a narrow walkway with only about three feet of clearance.  The entire store isn't more than 18 feet deep.

Ali was all amped up because he lunged over the guy and popped him in the jaw with a right hook.

I asked Ali why he didn't just call the cops.  He said the cops are a hassle and always want copies of the tape and proof.  I guess I'd rather have the law take things.  Ali said that after he punched the thief, he just let him have the two cans of roach spray because he was a regular customer.  He figured that the guy would think twice about stealing again.

That's some odd psychology there.  I'm glad I don't work in a bodega today.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brooklyn Emergency Room

It was Veterans Day and I completely intended to write a blog about the veterans in my family.  Alas, it was not to be.  Instead, I bring you my adventures in a Brooklyn Emergency Room.

But first some updates:

My long term house guest has given me his keys and taken his stuff.  He was the person mentioned here, here, and here.  

Also, I mentioned my challenges with giving money to people.  Come to find out that the guy I ended up giving money to for "formula for his baby" uses the same story and each time says he lives in an apartment that you happen to be walking by.  I was walking in a completely different part of my neighborhood and he tried the same thing on me again not remembering he had done it before.  He got five dollars from me, bless him for that, but I won't be fooled again. 

The one thing that was pleasant about yesterday was that I heard some awesome duwop barbershop from four elderly black men on the subway.  I don't usually give money to buskers, but these guys were great.  They must have been in their 70's, and they really knew how to harmonize.  

After exploring in midtown a bit yesterday, finding a few pennies, having a real New York bagel for lunch, and spotting some people that I'm pretty sure were celebrities (you never know if you should ask or just assume they are), I came home to nap. 

I was waken up by a phone call from my fiance.  His visiting brother was in the emergency room.  

I grabbed my stuff and rushed over.  A few hours (we were there for 7) of a Brooklyn emergency room is sure to bring you some enlightenment.  I've been fortunate to not visit many emergency rooms.  The one in Oneonta was always super vast since it is rarely used.  In Rochester, I only visited them for personal reasons a few times and didn't wait long.  I was there for work more often escorting VIPs or running errands at hospitals where I worked.  As a kid, I only remember a few visits, and they seemed to go pretty quickly.  

My first impression of the ED at Kings County Hospital was that it is crowded.  There are beds lined up in the hallway.  Each hallway bed is labeled with a plaque above it.  We started in 2HW and ended up in 17HW.  HW stands for hallway, meaning you aren't actually put into an ED cubicle.  

Second, I noticed that there were lots of police officers around.  The security guards had guns, and NYPD seemed to be everywhere there.  In the bed across from us was a man in shackles and handcuffs sound asleep for most of our time there.  He was being guarded by an officer from the narcotics division.  This guy talked up a storm.  He spent some time talking about the NYPD.  I didn't realize that the NYPD has 35,000 officers.  He said it was the fifth largest armed force, but I didn't catch where.  

In another hallway bed was a man who I recognized.  He is a mentally challenged homeless man who is always asking for money on the corner by the hospital.  I work at a smaller hospital and medical school just across the street, so I see him a lot. If you refuse to give him money, he screams profanity at you.  He was in rare form.  When I arrived, he was eating a sandwich.  He kept aspirating (choking) on it and then spitting all over the place when he choked.  He finished it and asked for juice.  The nurse assistant scowled at him and turned to us explaining that he only comes here because he knows he can get food.  I replied, "God bless him," and got a scowl and huff in return from her.  The man kept saying he was hungry every time someone walked by.  He would say he had not eaten since morning.  The same nurse said he had had enough sandwiches, but another nurse gave him an additional one.  While I was there, I saw him consume four sandwiches.  The head nurse told him he needed to not keep eating because each time he does that (he is there a lot apparently), he eats so much that he vomits it all up.  He would ask each person who walked by where his clothes where too.  Whenever anyone said no to him about anything or they couldn't help him, he screamed profanity and spit on them.  He was just beyond spitting distance from where we were stationed.  It was uncomfortable to say the least.  He also apparently came in with two hats, one on his front and one on his back.  All I saw was him in part of a hospital gown.  He didn't sit still and with all his antics, it was hard to ignore him.  I saw way more of his naked body than I cared to.  

On top of that, there were people screaming, vomiting, moaning, and worrying.  No one likes to be in a hospital.  It took us hours to be seen because many cases were more pressing than ours.  One man who walked in and looked fine just flipped out on everyone and started screaming that he wanted an f'ing doctor now.  He really was yelling so loudly and violently that it was unnerving.  Security was called.  He was just upset and scared I guess because his heart was going crazy.  The doctor tried to explain that she had checked him and he was going to be ok until they could see him (stable).  She tried to go into detail about the fact that other people were dying at that moment and she had to see to them as a priority.  Still, this man was seen by doctors well before many other people that came in, including us, because he had caused such a scene.  It irked me a little.  We were patient, yet persistent, and ended up leaving about 2:00 a.m. with the situation as resolved as it could be.  

That made getting a blog post done difficult.  It also made my ability to focus at work impossible today.  Fortunately for me, I was able to get enough work done to leave the office and come up for a quick nap.  I feel revitalized.  I'll sleep earlier tonight and then hopefully be back at life full force tomorrow.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dental Anxiety

I am trying to find a new dentist down here to get my regular cleaning and to be prodded into flossing again.  Going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things in the world.  My teeth hurt just thinking about it.

I know that finding a dentist who you can trust and who is nice to you isn't easy.  I always get nervous going to them and my blood pressure goes up.  This may stem from the fact that my childhood dentist cracked my jaw trying to extract a tooth for my braces.  My mouth hurt for months and the pain was excruciating.

Today, I went to a new dentist.  This person was close to work and got good ratings online.  Also, it helps that she accepts my insurance.  When I got there, she was speaking at a very high volume in a condescending tone to the person behind the desk.  They were arguing about what my insurance would cover.  I filled out my forms and then was lead into a basement that just barely had 6'3" of clearance.  I know because I could feel my hair brushing the ceiling.  The office didn't feel clean and the dentist didn't seem very organized.

This may be a city thing since it happened to me in Chicago too, but the dentist was the person who was going to clean my teeth.  There was no hygienist.  I guess I've been spoiled by all previous dentists.  This dentist sits me in the chair, has me open my mouth for 20 seconds and immediately says she can't help me today, that I need more than a simple cleaning.  Now, I go to the dentist every six months.  I'm not great at brushing or flossing, but I do them.  There is nothing like making an appointment and having the dentist basically say she can't help you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Feeling lonely in the most populated places

It amazes me that in a city this large with so many people, that one can feel lonely. When I moved here in March, I knew a bunch of people who lived in the city.  What people who don't live here think is that this city is easy to navigate quickly.  What I hadn't realized was that my friends who live up in Harlem can be as far away as a 90 minute subway ride each direction.  People, from what I've observed so far here, have a tendency to focus on hanging out with the friends that they have in their neighborhood.

When I lived in Oneonta, I was lucky to have a great group of people in my office.  I considered them coworkers and friends.  I also seemed to have a pretty consistent flow of visitors from other places staying with me.  Advising a fraternity, establishing a glbt networking group, and being part of a really fantastic running group also helped me a lot.  I know I had lonely moments there, but it feels like I have many more here.

For the past 8 months, I've had a friend crashing with me.  He is now gone.  I'm glad for that.  His company was starting to really grate on me.  He left the day my friend Patrick came to visit.  Patrick's visit was a welcome one.  It made me realize how much I miss my friends from other places.  That feeling was particularly enhanced when he left on Sunday afternoon.

It's now been a week.  I have my fiancé, David, whom I love.  He works nights frequently though.  I find that I haven't quite done my due diligence in connecting with people here.  I also haven't been very good at meeting new friends in Brooklyn.

Some of this has to do with energy levels.  In the past few months, I haven't had a lot of energy aside from work.  I know that working out initially tires me out, then ends up giving me more energy during the day.  I just have to get to the gym and get through the tiring part to find the energy again.  I also need to be eating better for that.

On the other hand is an unusual fear of rejection for me lately.  I'm a man who runs head first into a crowd of people and will talk to anyone.  I love meeting people and getting to know them.  Something about my move here is different lately.  I don't know what has triggered this.  I do know I can get through it.  I noticed in my friend, Patrick, a lack of fear in meeting people and talking to them.  I know it's still in me.  I just think it is taking a break.

I read an article about the difficulties of meeting people as an adult a few years ago.  I think it has a lot of truth.  Not only is it age related, but the easiest way to meet people seems to be by spending money in a bar.  Neither drinking a lot or spending a lot seems very attractive to me here.  I've tried meet-up here, but unlike other places, every time I meet with a group it seems like a different group of people.  That has to do, some of it, with the sheer size of this city.

I have this crazy idea lately, too, that I want people to reach out to me instead of the other way around.  Sometimes I want someone else to do the work, checking in and making plans.  Does it always have to be me working hard to connect with people?

I'm truly blessed to have some amazing friends around the world.  We check in with each other all the time.  I also know from experience that it takes about 9 months to start to connect with people in a new place.  I've done it before.  I'll do it again.  This funk is just short term.  I write this not to freak out people I am close to, but rather to articulate something that I believe I am not alone in feeling.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Same old recipes, same great taste

I didn't have much planned today.  I knew that I had some very brown bananas that needed to be used. I also didn't feel like doing much.  I decided to pull together some banana muffins from my mom's recipe.  I feel like I make these every other month, but I still love them.  

I also put a quiche in the oven for this week.  Finally, I've put some beef tips in a mushroom broth in my crockpot for dinner.  

I mention that because all three things are recipes that I've been making for at least a few years.  The quiche making is only three years old, but I need to find some new recipes to try.  When I'm hungry though, I really appreciate eating something that I know is familiarly delicious.  

There is definitely a fine line between trying new things to see if I/you will like them and sticking with the tried and true.  I feel like that is the same for me lately with movies, places to visit, restaurants, food, and music.  

I know that the good things I have enjoyed in my life, though, have all come from being exposed to them in my travels and my experiments.  

Today, I stuck with the stuff that was familiar.  Tomorrow and the days ahead, ready to try new things.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Are you a pet lover?

I'm not a pet lover.  I'm going to put that out here upfront.  Today has been a day of organizing my chaos that is my apartment until they can fix the leak in my closet.  I've got bags of clothes everywhere. It makes it tough to wade through my bedroom and living room.  It makes me realize, and I think I've mentioned this before, that I may have too many clothes.

I took my coats today to the laundry.  I had they dry-cleaned before putting them away for the summer. My storage method (in bags under my bed) left them wrinkled.  I also wanted to wash my electric blanket.  I clearly wasn't thinking when I put the white fluffy blanket in the dryer with a black wool coat and a brown wool coat.  My mind said that the dampness would "steam" out the wrinkles in the coats.  The good news is that the coats didn't shrink and no longer smell like moth balls.  The bad news is that they are covered with little lint balls of white fur.  Yes…I made that mistake today.  I know it is fixable, but it sucks when these coats were so handsome.  Which of my friends owns stock in a lint brush company?

This beautiful boy, Tommy, was waiting outside the laundry when I left.  I said I wasn't a pet person, but that doesn't meant that I don't enjoy playing with dogs or cats.  I love petting animals, playing with them, having them lick me (not my face though) or purr on my lap.  Most of my life, my family had pets.  I just know how hard it is to travel a lot when you own a pet.  It's also hard to find an apartment.  Pets also cost extra money for vet bills, shots, food, grooming, etc.

As an adult, the only pet that I've ever had was a beta named fluffy.  My roommate at the time named him fluffy and thought it was funny.  The name stuck.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I want another beta for my apartment.  Fluffy died after four good years of living in a fluke at my office with the heating system.

I am also realizing that the man I love really wants a dog.  I'm good with it, except that it makes finding apartments harder.  It also makes getting out of town for the weekend harder.  You have to find a friend to dog sit or pay a kennel or find a place that will let you bring your dog.  We aren't living together yet, but I anticipate that we will probably have a dog when we do move in together.  I'll love the companionship of a dog as long as we can train it well.  Hopefully our dog will be so damn awesome that people will beg us to dog sit.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Feeling burned

I found out today that I have become a persona non-grata at an organization where I've donated most of my time and spare money for the past 16 years.  It hurt…it hurts…it sucks.  I won't go into many of the details, but instead will focus on the feelings.

Maybe you have had this happen to you.

When you spend all of your other than work energy trying to make positive change for people and "pay it forward," you frequently gain significant personal rewards.  I know that helping other people through donations and through my time and energy volunteering is personally fulfilling and rewarding.  I love connecting people with each other for possible jobs or personal benefit.  I find great joy in knowing that  my connections can help someone so much in their life.

It's funny how one person can change all of that.  One person, whether they come on staff at a non-profit, or join the board, can completely alter the successful execution of that charities' mission.

I know that something similar has happened to other people close to me recently.  In more than one nonprofit, the staff or board have changed.  For me (and the un-named people close to me), we've tried to keep giving our opinions and spending our time helping said nonprofits in spite of the now not so positive feeling we are getting from this volunteer work.

I like to feel good about volunteering.  I like to feel good about donating.  I don't just do it because a charity needs money.  If that were the case, I'd be supporting the poorest charities in the world, not those whose mission I identify with the most.  I do it because it makes me feel good about a charity.

Now it may be that the new direction and new personalities are somehow moving the charity forward in a positive direction, but one that is contrary to the direction I support.  I'm not admitting that I am always correct.  I'm not seeing or feeling that in this case.  Instead, I'm being selectively singled out to no longer volunteer because there are people who don't like my personality or my strong opinions.  I know this is only temporary until one person leaves.

To paint you a picture of who I am….I am a person who always speaks my mind.  I rarely let politics or social graces stand in the way of me voicing my opinion.  I'm also a person who "puts my money where my mouth is" in that I support financially things for which I am advocating.  If you want someone who will give you the truth without sugar coating, that is me.  If you want someone to give you an up front and honest opinion, that is me.  Sometimes what I say and what I do hurts.  I realize that.  I do what I believe is right.  Also, if you want someone who will work very hard and dedicate hours upon hours of his time to support your cause and get others to support it too, that is who I am.

What is right for me now, is to step away.  There are plenty of nonprofits that value someone who is plain spoken, upfront, and generous with their time, connections and energy.  I will find one of them to support with my heart, and my mind.

UPDATE:  I've had many people reach out to me because this blog post sounds like I'm devastated.  I'm not.  I'm just talking through the situation. I've still got plenty of passion to share with plenty of charities.  I still love this particular charity and many of the people there.  I'm just taking a break.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Finally gone...sort of

My house guest that has been on my sofa since March was given a deadline of October 28 to move out.  I had a friend coming to stay with me and it gave him an additional two weeks beyond my initial request for him to move out to find some place to stay.  For this article I'm going to call him Mr. U.

Mr. U left on Wednesday, but didn't take his stuff with him.  There were plans for him to stay with a friend on Wednesday and move into a new place on Thursday.  That's, at least, what he told me. I realized as I showered this morning that Mr. U's soap and shampoo were no longer in my shower.

I actually did a bit of a happy dance.

Here is how the most recent exchange went:

U: How was your weekend?  You guys have fun?

Me: We had an awesome weekend.

U: Cool, well I'm on my way back to yours

This was at 5:00 p.m.  I chose not to answer until 10:30 p.m.

Me: Coming to get your stuff to move to A's place?

U: I can't move to A's, he is in the hospital.

At this point, I'm not sure who or what to believe.  I feel like it has been on excuse after another for months on end.  I decide not to reply and to speak to Mr. U. in person if he decides to come to my place.

As my alarm rings in the morning, I wake up and hear no television going.  That was my first sign that Mr. U. didn't come back home.  I walked out to my living room and his stuff was still there, but it didn't look like he cam home.

I chose to send him one final message, since I doubted I would get a chance to tell him in person.

Me: I need you to get your stuff out of my place and find another place to stay.

For those of you reading this who know me, you know that I continue to be upset that I had to send this.  I want my friend to succeed.  I want him to have a safe place to stay.   I also, though, don't feel like I need to provide food, alcohol, internet, and living space to someone for nine months who is not my husband, child, or family member.  And even if it was one of those three, you can bet that I'd expect them to contribute on a regular basis.

As hard as that was, it has been liberating to not have Mr. U on my sofa and the television playing during this past week.  Hopefully he has been able to move into his friends place and he'll get his stuff out of my place soon.  I know that Mr. A is dog sitting today based on his facebook, so I'm guessing he is out of the hospital. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Struggling with hunger and poverty issues - when it slaps you in the face

My body has not quite adjusted to the time change.  Even though I have a meeting tonight for work at 6:30 p.m. and I know I could've gone in a bit late, I was on my way to work at 7:30.  It is pleasant to have daylight when walking to work, but also disconcerting to have it dark on my walk home.

I chose to go for a walk today at lunch and see if I could get my new iPhone fixed.  Since purchasing it a month ago, I've had numerous dropped calls and spotty conversations.  I'm hoping that the new SIM card that they put in fixes it like they said it should.  If not, I'll have to find an Apple store.  

After getting the phone back, I needed to find a men's room.  The store manager of the ATT store said there was one in the 711 next door.  I ran over and walked to the back of the store.  I couldn't see any signs for a restroom.  As I was looking around, a little kid about 7 years old came up to me and asked if I could help him out and buy a pizza pie for him and his sister.  As I instantly said I couldn't help him, my heart broke a little.  This child could very well be hungry and trying to feed his family.  I usually trust my gut, and this time was no different.  Another man in the store (the third he asked) did buy him a pizza and a three liter bottle of coca cola.  As I saw him make the purchase, there were two little figures boxing in my brain and mocking each other.

Voice 1:"Aw, good, someone helped the kid after all.  Now he and his sister can eat and not be hungry." 

Voice 2: "Sucker…that kid just played you.  He probably spent his lunch money on a video game and now you are paying for it."  

I walked up the street to get my own lunch.  As I walked back after eating my lunch, the kid was pacing back and forth holding a pizza and the soda in front of the 7-11.  

Juxtapose that against the man reeking of alcohol who stumbled onto the bus and kept asking people for "5 bucks to feed a poor homeless man."  If I were choosing, I'd probably feed the kid before him.  In reality, only God knows which one of them needed it more, if either really needed help at all.  

I'm worried that my heart is becoming harder as I live here longer.  It sucks to have people ask for money all the time.  I'd rather give to homeless shelters and food cupboards, though, than give money directly to people.  I guess it's easier for me to let other people, people who do this every day, judge who really needs help or not, or decide not to judge and help everyone.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Are lawyers the only well dressed people anymore?

I was fortunate to remember to vote this morning.  I was pleasantly surprised at all of the compliments on my outfit today.  It makes me wonder if people just don't dress up as much anymore.  My dry cleaner stopped and asked me if I was a lawyer.  I asked him why he thought that as I said I wasn't.  He said it was because I always dressed so well.  He thought I was either a lawyer or an FBI agent.

I take pride in wearing fun bright colors and nice suits.  I am not a man of great means, so I try to mix and match what I have to still look good.  That includes wearing suits that may be 10 years old and have bigger pants with pleats in them, but also wearing some skinny pants with a  funky hat and bow tie.  I'd like to think that in this city and this day and time, there are lots of well dressed people who aren't lawyers.  In fact most of the lawyers I know don't really have much fashion sense (sorry sister of mine).

The men I see on the street who are well dressed are usually in the stock market.  Women here all seem to have great style, but given my gender and sexual orientation, I usually notice the men first.  When I'm around wall street, the men are all in the newest fashion of suits, sweaters, tailored pants and the like.  I also notice plenty of the people who are working in the fashion industry and many of the social media companies dressed up, but they are more into fashion clothing than into expensive suits and ties.

Two weeks ago, I discovered a leak in the ceiling of my closet.  It has formed mold.  My super said I needed to empty the closet so he could take care of it.  I spent a lot of time doing that today and taking stock of my clothes.  Before I put them all back, I need to try them all on and cut my wardrobe in half.  Soon, I will have my fiancé living with me and he'll need some room for his clothes.  It's a shame he isn't the same size as me, but I still love every bit of him. He has great taste in clothes and always looks good.  

I will make it work though.  I already have at least one large bag of stuff to go to the local thrift store where hopefully someone else will take it and look good in it.  

I haven't forgotten the pennies, by the way.  I've found five to six pennies each day over the past few days.  I also found a dime or two.  My money found on the street jar is starting to look full.  Maybe I'll earn enough to buy something nice to wear.  

May you all get compliments on your outfits and enjoy looking good today and always.  

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Becoming what you hate…who is the asshole now.

Yesterday, Patrick, David, and I decided we were going to check out the annual Village Halloween Parade.  It's a pretty big deal.  Millions of people turn out to walk in the parade and to watch it.  I had ordered a costume for me from China that ended up being way to small.  It was a Flash costume.  Patrick had been planning on buying a costume when he got here, so he used that one.  I picked up a Captain America Costume for David.  I had been batman and spiderman in the past and still had both of those costumes.

David had been up since 6:00 a.m. for work.  We met at his place and he quickly put on the captain america costume.  Luckily, all costumes fit even with some long johns underneath.  It was cold.  We hopped on the A train and took it to Spring Street.  When we got there, we grabbed a quick sandwich for David at a local deli.  He hadn't eaten all day.  Then we waded through the crowds to the parade route.  We found a great spot to view the parade about four rows back from the barriers near the start of the parade.  As I was looking around, I noticed a spot that was only one row separated from the parade barriers.  I convinced Patrick and David to go there with me.  I should've known that there was a reason for this.  

I know that most of the people who read this are not regular visitors or people who live in NYC.  Millions, literally millions of people come out to watch parades.  No space is left open.  If there is an open space, it gets filled in quickly.  You know that if you are going to watch a parade, you better not drink too much and wear comfy shoes.  Once you leave your spot, it is gone.  Even when you are standing in a spot, the crowd is constantly jostling you back and forth and pushing you against everyone else who is watching.  As soon as we got to this "open" spot, a lady said, "excuse me, but we are standing here."  I looked at her and she and her daughter were standing back up on the curb.  There was space for three rows of people between the barrier and the curb.  I explained to her that there was no way that the space was going to be left open by anyone in this city and that she was welcome to stand in front of us.  She said that she and her daughter were short and we were tall.  She demanded that we move so that they could stay on the curb and watch he parade with all of that space in front of them.  This is where I decided to be a New York asshole.  I told her that she could stand in front of us or behind us, but that we were not going to leave.  She cursed at me in Italian and I asked my friends what they thought.  They are both not from the city and just said they would follow my lead.  It bothered me a little bit, but not so much that I didn't stay where I was.  

You see, by that point, people were climbing on top of bus stops and phone booths (the police came by every 10 minutes and forced them to get down).  We also had people jostling us from all sides.  I know that if we hadn't moved into that space, then someone else would.  The lady and her daughter stayed for about 30 minutes into the parade and left.  By that point, two much older Asian folks had literally pushed their way through the crowd to get to the barrier.  The older lady shoved me so hard I fell into someone else and had to apologize.  That was the feeling of being in this crowd.  You just dealt with it and tried to stay standing with all of the jostling and enjoy the parade.  

We did enjoy the parade.  We watched it for two hours before leaving to find a bathroom and some more food.  

This parade is famous for puppets.  People form them to either be inside them and move them or move them from above.  It really was spectacular.  This will be photo and video heavy from here on out.  

This parade also has many people celebrating loved ones a la Day of the Dead.

There were also Mexican whip snappers.  They kept cracking their whips and walking in circles.  I jumped every time.  

They had some dancers celebrating Day of the Dead.

There was also a huge group of people dancing all of the moves to Michael Jackson's Thriller.


In between, around, and throughout each float and band were thousands of people just marching in the parade in costume.  Anyone can choose to march in this parade as long as you show up an hour in advance to line up.  

Bubble Car

Dancing Alien Float

Roaring 20s bootleggers

After three hours of standing and two of the parade, we decided to find warmth and a bathroom.  We found a Chipotle a block away.  The line was long for the bathroom.  None of us could use the bathroom without help getting out of our costume.  There is something surreal about being in a restaurant that is normally full of people in business attire, but the place is packed with hundreds of people in costume.  After warming up a bit and using the bathroom, we headed further down the street to find a shorter food line.  

We then stopped into a dance club to dance and drink before heading home.  Since David had been up at 6:00 a.m. and Patrick had a train the next day at 7:00 a.m., we headed home from the city at 11:00.  This meant that we ran into many people headed out to their parties.  

The fireman near the subway were nice enough to give us directions and a photo.

We also had dozens of people snapping photos with us.  David wanted us to get this group.  

It was definitely a good time.  I even think I figured out my costume for this year's polar plunge..stay tuned.

On this All Souls/Saints Day (November First), I'd like to dedicate this post to all of the saints who I've lost in my life.  Two very important people left my world this year; my grandmother and my fiancé's brother.  May they be smiling from above.  

I hope that you all find time to remember fondly those saints that are watching over you from above whether they left this earth this year or many years ago.