Sunday, December 31, 2006

Feliz Años!

Well, another year done, another year to look forward to in the center of the universe!

Although I make a point of not making New Year's resolutions, I am making a more committed effort to going to the gym more frequently, starting last week when Summer took me to her school's wonderful gym and put me through a few painful runs on some weights. I came home on Tuesday night and attended a fitness class on Thursday like I used to do back in the past. I also hit the gym on Saturday (!!) and gasped at the lack of proper equipment for my body sculpting, but hopefully that won't hold me back too much. I guess some of the equipment is working because I'm having intense pain in a new area of my lats and in the front of the elbow joint :o/ ....

Friday night I finally caught up with an old co-worker friend of mine who has been in the city for his masters since August but has neglected my phone calls or has generally not been able to meet up with me because of his course requirements. So I met up with him and his girlfriend for a drink and catching up downtown. With my yet unscheduled impending relocation down to 10th Street, we headed down in that direction and ended up at my favorite bar, the 11th Street Bar. It happens to be where the Liverpool Support Club meets up whenever a game is played and I actually haven't been there at night to check it out, but I've now found my local joint of choice. This place was totally local, playing some jazzy music in the hazy, wooden back room and being a very neighborhood-y place in the center of the Village, which is typically overrun by NYU kids.

Sean had friends in town who stopped by as well and Sean was tossing the idea of taking some other visitors who were in town to SOB's for dinner, and that got my brain in motion for a night of Latin dancing on what was a three-day weekend (i.e. I could go out late on Saturday, sleep in Sunday, and still get back on schedule in time for work to resume on Tuesday). So I gathered the masses and we decided to meet up there at around 10:00-11:00 Saturday night. As usual, I got there way too early and arrived at almost exactly 10:00, when it was still pretty much dead with people finishing their dinner and listening to the salsa music over the dance floor. I pretty much hung out alone (in the corner) near some Latin ladies that had come in at the same time as me and admired their ability to dance with some form of rhythm. Eventually, I broke out of my shell and struck up a conversation with one and then the others, finding out that one of the three was fresh off the boat from the Dominican Republic and the other two were her friends from the same. By the time my friends had arrived, I was enjoying my new dance partners and suffice to say that it was the most awesome night dancing ever. I had three legitimate dance partners the whole night for the axe, samba, salsa, and electronic latin music. I think epic would be a good word to describe it!

About my new "friend" that people seem to want to know about, let's just leave it as that. Friends. I have nothing new to report on that front, but the idea of a lovely Dominican Spanish/English language partner who lives ten blocks away from me sounds interesting. We'll see what happens after this weekend!

J. Riley, I am so ready for the Peruvian discotheques!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Monster Mouth - WARNING

I got new pictures of my mouth:












J. Riley, the last one is a little out of focus, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Back to the Liquid Diet?

Yesterday, I got the annoying wire with the hooks taken out of my mouth, which makes eating and talking much more comfortable. Unfortunately, this feeling of freedom and comfort only lasted for a few minutes as I was told that I'd be getting rubber bands that I need to wear for the next five weeks :o|. Besides making my mouth immobile, by dinner time last night I realized that my mouth was in more pain than I was after my surgery! My teeth are killing me, I hope that they settle down in the next few days because eating is just not something I look forward to at the moment.

Last week was the annual holiday party at work, which I was looking forward to (free food and drinks? Sign me up!) . Since I've been in consulting the last few years, I typically don't attend holiday parties and I know that there are always lots of good "day-after" stories filled with juicy gossip and bloodshot eyes, so I was definitely going to attend this one. It was held at the Grand Hyatt in Grand Central station and there were probably about 1500-2000 people in attendance. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), none of my work buddies were going to be attending, so I figured I'd just show up, get the free dinner, and then take off. Then I found out that one of the guys I went out to Little Columbia with was going, which meant that the night could end up being pretty fun after all. And it was - and the next morning I had a quite a reputation as being the salsa dancer in my department ;o). I don't know if I would have gone that far, but I'll take what I can get!

This weekend some of Paul and Cathy's friends were in town and I was part of the entertainment package, so we took them out for Portuguese (one of them has family there) food
at Alfama on Friday and capped the night with the nearby Magnolia Bakery, savoring some of their amazing banana pudding and plethora of seasonal cupcakes. I couldn't stay out late because of an early Liverpool game on Saturday morning, not to mention the fact that I had my volunteer activity for the month all lined up - ice skating in Central Park. The game turned out to be good (since they won) and ice skating was awesome, one of the best events I've had with this group yet.

I was basically exhausted after expending so much energy on the ice in the early afternoon so I crashed at home, watched "Seven" on DVD, and took a nap before the evening began. I met up with Cathy and her friends and we headed downtown to The Back Room, a hidden speak-easy that isn't so hidden by the masses anymore, but is still worth a trip. After downing a couple there, we headed up the block to meet up with Alan and Andrea and friends who were out celebrating their friend Liz's engagement. We coerced them to meet up with us at China 1, which I had heard was one of the new East Village hot-spots for dancing and lounging. We even got Sean to meet up with us, since he lives across the street from the place. I can't wait to move down to the East Village....

J. Riley, my desired apartment on 10th Street became available while I was in CA for Christmas and was already snapped up :o(

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Taste of Finland

A couple of years back, while working in Germany, I visited a friend of mine who lives in Finland with some college friends of mine. There are many memories from this short trip north - spending the night in the most "dangerous" part of the Helsinki - which is not saying much since I think it was rated the most safe big city in the world or something like that - the train station, watching the sun set (which lasted +1 hour) at 11:00pm or midnight, and of course the sauna sessions, which lasted a few hours in a small, wood-fired sauna on the shore of a lake at my friend's "summer" cottage - as opposed to their winter cottage. Ahhh the good life of living in a small socialist country that has "quality of life" at the top of their list :o) . We spent a couple long nights in that sauna and ever since, I've been addicted to them and utilize the one at my gym whenever possible, especially during the cold winter months.

Well, this weekend it was freezing here (literally) and I'd heard of this place called the Russian and Turkish Bath, of course located in the eccentric East Village on 10th Street where all good things exist (such as the Liverpool Support Club bar). Being a metro of Scandinavian heritage, Sean was up for checking this place out as well to escape from the misery of the outdoors. It was a flat-rate entry fee and the place has a plethora of soaking options:
  • The Turkish bath is a hot, steamy room with heat rising from underneath the wooden benches that has a cold shower that cools you down when you need it.
  • The Swedish sauna is the traditional hot, dry room with wood paneling.
  • The Russian radiation room was like a furnace inside with traditional Russian sauna massages (for a small fee, I'm sure), stone walls, and pails of ice cold water to douse yourself with (it was so hot that I have a welt on my back from leaning against the wall for a split second).
  • A steam room, showers, and a pool of ice water to jump into to cool off (and close all of your open pores between sessions.
  • Russian beer and food (like borscht!) at an upstairs cafeteria.
J. Riley, If it wasn't for the 5000 NYU students inside the place (mostly male, unfortunately), it was like heaven for sauna connoisseurs! I can't wait to move to 10th Street...

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Great American Cop-Out

Today was an interesting day for me. If you read yesterday's booooring blog (despite a very un-boring week), you could probably tell that I was worn out or not in a very literary mood. This opinion will only be exacerbated once you learn that I fell asleep at around 7:30, woke up at around 8:30 with just enough time to brush my teeth, get into my PJs, and crash again.

So why the boring blog? I have a theory. My story begins tonight, a cold, dark winter evening at my chiropractor's office. He gave me some stretches to do on my exercise ball at work that were totally awesome and I felt very good going in there. He cracked me up and I thought back to last week's discussion about how when he doesn't go to the gym for a while, he starts going there for 15 minutes, then slowly increases his time to build up. Since I've been pretty set on starting to go to the gym for once, I decided tonight was the night - and picked my favorite gym cop-out: yoga. Yoga is great for my mind and I figured it would feel great after a nice spinal alignment. And I do tend to break a sweat when doing yoga, but let's be real. It's not REALLY working out. My upper body mass probably isn't going to change with yoga.

But, alas, I had my times all mixed up and I arrived 15 minutes after it actually started, and I'm NOT about to walk in while everyone else is doing their Ujai breathing, duh. Damn, I was stuck. My mind immediately thought of the cop-out number two: sauna. I was planning on a session after yoga since it was ass cold outside, so maybe I should just go chill in there for a few hours. I thought back to my sauna days at the West Virginia YMCA (pretty much your only option for wasting time in that desolate state) and talking to a young guy who had just signed up to go the Air Force (pretty much your only option for work in that desolate state) and had just started going to the gym to get ready for boot camp. His preferred method of working out? Going to the sauna.

So I stared at the dreaded exercise machinery in front of me and wondered if I actually had the courage to step onto a treadmill after a long, long hiatus. I cursed myself and then went to the locker room and stripped off the first layer of Adidas outerwear and headed upstairs to do something on the treadmill. I was wearing socks from work (hot!) since you take off shoes and socks in yoga, so the idea of running wasn't too appealing. Plus I didn't have headphones and I didn't want to DIE. So I started being that lame guy on the treadmill who isn't manly enough to sprint for an hour and just walked at a leisurely pace. Feeling pretty much worthless, I decided to give myself a workout and massively increased the incline and increased the speed, determined to carry on for a half hour work out. Baby steps.

My mind started running as I stared at the sweet LCD screen in front of me, reading the headlines from America's worthless mass media stations. As the treadmills around me became occupied, I found it entertaining that the girl next to me was running so hard and fast that she couldn't help but hold onto the front of the machine. Dude, if you can't keep up with the speed, you do know that these things do have adjustable speeds, right? Whatever, who was I to judge since I was walking up a hill while she was at least running.

So after my baby steps workout, which built up quite a sweat, I might add, I headed downstairs and hit the sauna. And my mind started racing down there. It suddenly brought back memories of pretty much every sauna session. I sit in there and pretty much all I can think about are things to blog about. So, I am now declaring that saunas are damn good for the mind and if I ever write boring again, it's probably because I haven't been to the gym for a while. Or maybe I'm just tired.

So, what did I think about? Well, for one, my family is drawing names for Christmas this year since nobody really needs or wants much. Or we're poor. Or cheap. Whatever. I found out later that Summer got stuck with me, so here's what I want from Summer. A subscription to Men's Health (to support my new gym rat lifestyle), a new iPod battery, and/or dryer sheets.

After asking me if I could read (he later apologized, saying he meant if I could physically read without my glasses, which we had earlier discussed), this old guy gave me his NY Times in the sauna and it was the Business section. I realized, as I have noticed lately, that I am more interested in business topics again after rebelling against "The Man" (aka my employers) pretty much since I graduated. This has strangely coincided with me beginning to invest in stocks again for the first time since, again, I graduated. It also coincides with a reduction in the interest of drinking copious amounts of liquor on weekends for the first time since I graduated. And it also coincides with the realization that people my age are starting to send me Christmas cards. Crap, I'm growing up!

Just for the hell of it, I stepped on the scale on the way into the sauna and it measured a tidy 147 pounds. Some of that was probably water weight that I lost while, ahem, "working out", but some of it also probably has to do with the liquid diet earlier last month. Maybe my sister knows if weights tend to lag behind changes in diets. Because I certainly don't know.

J. Riley, Summer, pencil me in for December 21st or 22nd at your gym. You need to teach. And I need to learn.

And the rest of you need to learn how to download Firefox Version 2.0! Susyash will be especially pleased with it because it spell checks while you blog. And we all know she needs help with that.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Be Careful What You Ask For...

Because you might just receive it. Last weekend the post-op hibernation in my apartment ended when Sean came back from Aruba and the fact that I had started eating solid food again. We didn't do much, but I was determined that by this weekend I was going to start doing things again. We had phenomenal weather for a few days, almost reaching 70 degrees two days in a row, followed by the precipitous drop in temperature and potential first snowfall of the year on Monday :o/.

Anyway, I planned on doing something this weekend but it turned out that my plate was pretty full during the week! Aside from the typical surgeon post-op appointment, chiropractor visits, and onsite technical support visits, I caught a concert that I'd been looking forward to, a birthday dinner, a night out at Brandy's, and another dinner out with friends.

Citizen Cope is a band that I credit my brother with introducing to me via an mp3 exchange and I totally dig their music. Everyone asks me how to describe their music and I'm not really sure how to answer that. I guess a southern-rock version of Jack Johnson plus a pinch of reggae/hip-hop would confuse most people, but that's as good as I can do! I saw some posters a few months back mentioning that he was playing a show at the Nokia Theater in Time Square, which is a small 2,000 capacity place that I hadn't been to so I bought two tickets in the hopes of coercing someone into going to a concert with me. An old work friend who moved to the city a few months back canceled on me at the last minute so I invited a new "friend" (not sure how to define her yet) to go and I had an amazing time. The concert was great, though not the type of music to jump up and down with. But good music to enjoy in the presence of someone with whom there appears to be a mutual attraction.

The following night I had an appointment at the surgeon's office, where he gave me the retroactive "cleared for solid food" synopsis and a farewell & good luck wish. I enjoyed my experience with Dr. Gary Ruth (any googlers??) but I am also looking forward to never having to see him or talk to him again ;o). After that, it was off to the chiropractor to get an adjustment, then a few blocks over to birthday-girl D's apartment to try to fix her under-performing computer (modem exchange pending). We then met up with a bunch of friends to go over to Dos Caminos for a high-class Mexican food dinner. It was quite exquisite, but to be honest I'm as happy with a $5 burrito as I am with a fancy helping of enchiladas.

Friday finally arrived and it was my day for relaxation at home after work with a movie before being coerced into visiting Cathy and D at her apartment to greet her out of town friend. And then heading over to Brandy's for some entertaining music performances and before I knew it, it was past my bedtime. Waaaay past it. And this with a Liverpool game the next morning! I recently found a great underground site that has illegal streaming broadcasts of soccer games from just about anywhere in the world. Of course I didn't use it ;o), but I did install the software written by Chinese that undoubtedly installed Trojan Horses on my Windows PC. Good thing I'm a Mac guy now :-D.

After sacrificing my mid-afternoon for Alan's benefit in making sure that his newest X-Box game worked in two-player mode, I met up with Cathy and her out of town guest to go ice skating on some extremely dull and painful skates at Lasker Rink in Central Park. I'll be going there in a few weeks with the volunteer group, so I was perfectly happy to test my skillz and demonstrate the same lack of grace that I display every time I go rollerblading :o).

Last night I went with Alan and Andrea to Park Avenue Cafe, which is a swanky, extremely ridiculous-priced UES place that has a great deal - pay your age! This is a place I'll go to while I'm young(ish) because the food definitely was average and I don't think I'd go if I was more than 35 or so!

J. Riley, now I'm going to enjoy a fine Trader Joe's meal!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Welcome to My Blog

Before I started orthodontics (what a mess), just over a year ago:













Just before my operation:


















Things to note: The center line of my upper jaw and lower jaw are almost a full tooth-width off; My upper and lower teeth still don't meet in the front; Those metal things are the daggers that I refer to (the rubber bands connected to those after the surgery).

J. Riley, I look forward to the post-surgery pictures!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tis The Season...

...for Atkins diet treason (what else rhymes with season?)! Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and let me tell you (although Susannah already did) that there was no shortage of carbs in my dinner this year - even turkey didn't make the cut because it doesn't have enough carbs (and I was feeding a vegetarian and and a mush-puppy). We're talking about creme fraiche mashed-potatoes, sweet potato soup, Stove Top stuffing (only the best for this tummy), homemade cranberry sauce with equal parts water and sugar, and gravy that resembled refried beans, which must have a lot of carbs (maybe the missing ingredient was part of the problem). But it was pretty darn good for a thrown together meal. And not to forget the half-pint of Ben & Jerry's oatmeal cookie dough ice cream for dessert (yea, I bought that later Susannah). I highly recommend inheriting high metabolism and having jaw surgery (I can't really milk that one anymore though ;o) !

I topped off the nice evening with a wine-induced comatose nap during a recorded Miami Ink - I'm loving that show. Tatoo in the near future? "Yes, I would like to get a dragon that morphs into a kettle-ball around this bicep to represent the transformation from being a skinny guy into this hulk of a man that I am now (in about a year I'll be able to say that). Every morning I can look down at my bicep and admire the muscle and remember the effort that it took for me to start doing 100 pushups and 50 lbs of kettle-ball lifts (??) a night." Then I woke up. And then I got something stuck in my eye that made my eyes water during Mad Hot Ballroom (Netflick it). Yes, I am that beastly man with the dragon tattoo.

Frugalitarian. This is the Bushism-adjective that I came up with tonight somehow to describe myself. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I've had $40 in my wallet for two weeks and still haven't spent it all. Or maybe because today's Black Friday and I'm wishing that I went down to Best Buy last night in the 35 degree, raining weather and stood in line so that I could get a $250 laptop that I have little or no use for. In any case, it is a big shopping week and I made the most of the sales by buying an assortment of cotton sweaters from Mexx (cotton doesn't keep you warm in the winter, but still) and a plethora of goods from the old standby, H&M - uniquely selected goods with little-or no-chance of shrinkage or stretchage...stretchege...stretching. Like $5 thinsulate-lined gloves for this winter, $12 multi-colored 50% wool scarves, and the elusive $5 white belt that I've been searching for for the past two+ years. At the same time, in the spirit of Christmas, I began trying to find websites to spend my money on Liverpool gear, like this one. The retro items and the new Adidas long-sleeve (Carra-style) jersey are certainly eye-catching. As are the damn-fine Pumas on Kitbag's website. Decisions, decisions...

Although I don't entirely agree with Susannah's anti-consumerism attitude during the holidays (stated while wearing the trendiest of trendy expensive jeans - five finger special or not ;o), I heretofore declare once again that I do not want ANYTHING for Christmas - except for Mom's coat-pole thing which I agreed to accept and see as a valuable investment. And a new pair of High Sierra pajamas (the current pair only have a hole in one the knees, but I'm willing to take the preemptive measure and get a new pair). And dryer sheets (I'm almost out). Other than that, I'm traveling light this year. Got it?

J. Riley, yum and yum.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Clean Bill of Health

I had my first official appointment with my orthodontist today and he gave me a big thumbs up - very minor adjustments are all that are left to be done. I got to see the pictures from when I first came in and the pictures right before my surgery. He'll take more pictures when I'm totally done and I'll post the progression of the past year and a half on the blog. Good news is that I don't have any rubber bands still because he wants me to heal up before he changes anything. The bad news is that the rubber-band holders (aka mouth daggers) are going to stay in until my next appointment - in January! Unfortunate, but oh well. I did pay off the remaining debt on my account though, which is exciting. I gotta rack up my miles so I can book my tickets for the Vas / Mohos wedding!

J. Riley, here's a pic of my crooked, swollen face from Saturday night

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hard Candy That I Can't Eat

"Justin! Glad you could make it! How are you feeling? Bite down for me..." . Was I at the orthodontist office, or was I at a midtown nightclub lit up in red with 80's tunes blasting through the speakers at 11:00pm? A mix of both, I guess - a fundraiser hosted by my orthodontist at Lollipop. But I was definitely moderately amused by the fact that my orthodontist, decked out in a chic sport coat that had red stripes and red characters of some sort under his left arm (red was the theme) wanted to see how my bite had changed post-surgery (I haven't been in for an appointment since before the surgery). I gave him a sneak preview of my new mouth before feeling a bit awkward about showing as much mouth as possible to him while he's peering in in front of the crowd of socialites, super models, etc. that were attending. I told him he could take as much time as he wanted to check it out on Monday, when I go in for my next appointment ;o).

Like his previous party, I didn't see any other people with braces on, so I guess I was the only patient who attended (other than his surgeon brother's trophy girlfriend, who is lucky enough to be getting Invisalign treatments). I love going to his parties because the people-watching is absolutely fabulous. I would say that a majority of the girls who attend are either models or are Eastern Europeans, or both. I spoke to one Russian girl and to an Estonian dentist, who couldn't stop talking about herself and how she's so popular and knows the owner of Tao and who sometimes goes to work after partying all night and not sleeping (good way to impress potential clients). Talking to the Russian, who had no accent, was like pulling teeth (no pun intended), so many of these people are just so un-interesting to me! So it's more fun to sit back and just watch these people...

Netflix annoyed me by sending me the wrong movie on Friday. Instead of Legends of the Fall, I got three episodes of The Sopranos. Now, everyone raves about this show, and I've seen it a few times when I've stayed at hotels and it's never done much for me, but I figured I'd give it a chance since I was stuck with it for the weekend. Wow, what a waste of three hours! What is it about this show that people like it so much? The wife is a terrible actor and other than it being a mob movie, can someone please shed some light and why this show is so popular??

J. Riley, some great shows on the Discovery Channel, though (like Everest and Koppel on Iran). Oh, And yesterday I ate a vegetarian Mediterranean platter for lunch/dinner and pizza (fork and knife) for a late night snack!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Tuesday Feels

Feeling pretty much the same these days. The stitches come out tomorrow so I should be getting an update from him on how I'm doing. I've eaten semi-solids a few times and things don't feel right in there yet so I haven't pushed it. Or maybe they do feel right, I guess I wouldn't know :) !! Ortho appointment is next week. I was thinking about it and I have a feeling he will be the one who gives me rubber bands on my teeth to move my jaws forward/back for the tweaking. I'm not really looking forward to that, but we'll see what happens. My chin and pallete are still numb but I'm starting to have dull pains in my chin at night so maybe that means the nerves are starting to reconnect in there. My lips have finally recovered for the most part, though they aren't very enthusiastic about stretching still.

J. Riley, I'm using the new Blogger Beta, which let's me add labels like those below to each post! You other bloggers should make the switch too.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

When Mom Comes To Town
































































J. Riley, I can't find the post of how my apartment used to look

The Week in Review

On Tuesday, I had a meeting with my surgeon to have my fresh flesh wounds checked out and to get my dreaded stint taken out from behind the teeth on the upper jaw. That thing pretty much prevented me from eating anything that wasn't through a straw. It also made my voice indecipherable, made it difficult to brush my teeth, left a foul taste in my mouth, and made my lower teeth sore.

Much to my surprise, he actually took the four rubberbands (one of them had fallen off) off and said that he'd take the stint out the following week. I had lost sleep over getting this stupid thing taken out and I wasn't about to let him get away with that. I begged him to take it out and after some careful instructions about what I could and couldn't do, he somewhat begrudginly took it out. Ahh....freedom. My mouth felt liberated (again) and now I just had to deal with the canker sores, lips that were still extremely chapped and bleed occasionally, and sores outside the corner of my mouth that were extensions of the original lip wounds. But I still can't believe that all the rubber bands and everything else are gone from my mouth after less than a week! What happened to the six weeks of misery???

We had lunch with Susannah later that afternoon and my taste buds were delighted with pecorino-cheese mashed potatoes and some assorted squash soup. It was very nice to be a part of conversations again and I was feeling very good, though tired after a while outdoors.

On the way home, we stopped at Pier 1 and my mom got me a little table that goes next to my futon. It's got four cushons on the inside that can be used for sitting on and a glass top. It's got kind of a North African look to it, which is pretty sweet. I resisted my mom's desires to get things for my apartment for a whole week, but she eventually won the battle - and then some! She re-arranged the paintings and pictures on my walls and then we even re-arranged the layout of my apartment just enough to make it feel more space-efficient and different. I have to admit that Susannah's very nice apartment layout had significant influence on the new layout. To add to the splendor, I took advantage of a fire-sale in my neighbor's apartment to buy a cedar-chest/table that needs to be shortened a little bit but I still feel was a great buy. Now, if I can just get the stank of cigars and god-knows what else from my sketchy neighbors off of it....

Feeling very good this week, I decided to go back to work two days early and save the two vacation days I'd planned on using. My mom was leaving in the morning, so it would work out well, or so I thought. Unfortunately, I am not sure why, but I could not sleep at night. I didn't go to sleep until about 2:00am and then woke up again at 4:00 and fell asleep sometime around 4:45 after email my manager and letting him know that I wasn't going to be coming in after all. I figure it's better not to push things, especially with my lips still on fire at night and the wounds around my mouth growing by the day.

J. Riley, let's hope that I can get some better sleep tonight!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Day of Suffering

Is it Lent yet? Because I'm suffering over here. My face feels fine and I've dropped the amount of Motrin I'm taking. But - the food. Oh, the humanity of it all. My mom's been making me some great soup and there's more in the pot right now, but all I really want is some spaghetti, some falafels, some cheese toast that my mom ate earlier. She's cooking clam spaghetti sauce with over-accentuated oregano and I'm feeling quite famished at the moment.

J. Riley, time for another Ensure and some Keifer yogurt stuff...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Quick Update

Well, like the Energizer Bunny, my recovery keeps going, and going, and going. I don't know that the swelling has gone down too much, but I expect it to in the next few days. However, after a massive offensive assault with petroleum jelly and bacitracin yesterday, my lips have improved immensely and there's only a few more cracks and raw spots left. But, to replace that, my cheeks are starting to get ravaged by the little daggers and brace brackets as a result of abrasion while I suck my meals through straws. I haven't been able to let up on the Motrin yet, my whole head still hurts after not taking it for a few hours.

In addition to a massive overhaul of my jaw's functional ability, my mom has undertaken what could be an even bigger project - my bathroom. She spent the first couple days cleaning it and making it look white again (quite a lot of work) and now she is taking all the HGTV shows she watches to heart and is accessorizing it. We found a pretty nice wall unit to go over my toilet in the basement the other day (I hope it wasn't someone moving in/out ;o) and now it's full of bins, tubs, all the stuff that covered my sink, and of course the fifteen bottles of whatever that my mom brought with her :o). She keeps trying to get me to re-arrange the rest of my apartment but I'm not drugged up enough to fold to that one! Then again, she has also completely pampered me with my food and cleaning up and I could sit on the couch all day and do nothing if I wanted to (well, I don't do much more than that) that maybe I should give in and let her reorganize. Unless I don't like it :o)!

J. Riley, I hope we do Christmas #2 before Christmas #1 this year so that I can see everyone and eat everything (hint hint!)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pictures

Here are some pictures from recent surgery:

Day 2 after returning home from the hospital:






























Day 3, Post bandages:




















J. Riley, damn my lips are chapped!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Playing the Cards Dealt

I consider myself a bit of a card player, so that's exactly what I did last weekend, the final weekend before my 11/1 main event jaw surgery. I got together with some of my local and visiting friends on Saturday night to eat some steak at an Argentine steak house, a nourishing meal considering the fact that as of 11/1 both my social outings and my solid meal outings would cease to exist until roughly Christmas time. The real kicker, and further evidence of my card-playing skills and eccentricity, was getting this group of Manhattanites together to actually leave the island and hit up Little Columbia over in Queens for a night of salsa/Latina dancing at a place I visited a few weeks back. The steak dinner was totally a kicker. It was the Saturday before Halloween, so naturally everyone was going to Halloween parties while we ate steak at an Argentine restaurant? Well, it was actually quite appropriate because the ambiance of the place was totally Adams-Family with long, wooden tables and multi-tiered melting candles and a farm-house feeling. Way cool.

The Columbian nightclub? Not cool at all. It was an older, mainly male crowd, so the only Latina for me to dance with was my friend Melissa. Not to mention that no one else that came that night knew how to Salsa! Naturally, the Columbians were circling our table trying to get dances with the plethora of single girls :). We did find it interesting that sometime around midnight, a guy who had clearly spent hours in the bathroom doing his hair, cleared the dance floor and began karaoke singing classic Spanish songs. It was the most hilarious thing I've ever seen. This, in fact, must be a Columbian thing because people were cheering him on and this had happened before, as well. It was a terrible event, in any case, but at least we've got some stories out of it.

Now, the jaw surgery. Basically, my understanding was that there was going to be three procedures done on my jaw: 1.) a cutting of my upper jaw to pull it back, 2.) a cutting of my lower jaw to pull it forward, 3.) An extension of my chin so that my lips would naturally close and cover my teeth. Last week, in my final meeting with the surgeon, he mentioned that his resident and him would meet later that night to discuss my procedure and there was a chance that, because of the nature of my jaws and the way the lower jaw works, there might not be any cuts necessary to the back of my lower jaw. Before the surgery, I found out that they weren't sure if it was going to work because of the in-exactness of the models they were working with, so they would make that decision during the procedure.

So I arrive at 7:00am on 11/1 to check in with my mom. I am quickly and efficiently taken through check-in and meeting with the nurse to take my blood, change my clothes, discover my medical history etc. At around 9:00am, when the four-hour procedure is scheduled to begin, I meet with the surgeon as I lay on a gurney outside the operating room and begin to feel the nerves. The way I mentally built myself up for the event, like most events, was by convincing myself that the worst case scenario was going to happen, that my social life would cease to exist, that I wouldn't be able to talk for the rest of the year, and that I would have a complex over the fact that medical insurance typically considers the chin-extension "cosmetic", essentially a chin-job. Add to that the fact that they were having trouble getting a massive IV into my arm before I went in, and we've got a full-house. So naturally, there were nerves.

After they whisk me into the room, I make a joke to the plethora of residents surrounding me about wanting to get to the main event. The oxygen mask goes on, and the next thing I know I'm being woken up in the recovery room. Through the haze, my mom appears but I'm in and out of memory at this point. All I know is that I'm whisked through the halls of the hospital and eventually end up in a room near the nurses station. There were apparently discussions going on about whether they would let my mom stay with me that night and also considering the fact that I there is a possibility of vomit as a result of the anesthesia and with rubber bands holding my jaws together, that wasn't a good thing.

[Parental Advisory: gross details below. Not for the wary]
But we ended up getting a private, solo room. All I knew at this point was that I could hardly breathe and I needed some pain killers. The pain wasn't excruciating, but I felt the dull pain throughout my head and needed something. Also, there was a large amount of phlegm in my throat, so thick and voluminous that I was having difficulty breathing. Thankfully, there was a suction pipe in my room and for the rest of the night my mom put that thing down my throat whenever I called her or starting coughing and it would suck out all of the phlegm - and blood (runoff from the tubes that went up my nose, I'm guessing). According to my mom, the first time the nurse sucked the stuff out of my throat, about 1/4 cup of disgusting junk came out. It was like this for most of the night until they started feeding me sudafed in addition to me sleeping on my side. I also was hooked up to morphine, antibiotics, and fluids that caused me to wake up every half-hour and pee a huge amount. If my Montezuma's Revenge / parasite wasn't dead before surgery, I don't see how it could have survived it after! I also laid with ice packs that were re-filled by the excellent nurse staff every half hour or so. To be honest, I didn't sleep a whole lot last night. Possibly because of the nurses who kept coming in to test my vitals, possibly because of the ice pack refilling or urinating, or possibly because I'd slept the whole day under anesthesia!

In the end, today arrived and I'm doing great. I can't talk because they put some sort of implant behind my front upper teeth where my lower teeth glide into. This is a result of the fact that they didn't have to cut my lower jaw. They found that by moving my upper jaw up (i.e. shaving or cutting bone out), my lower jaw would extend further up and back, lining up perfectly with my upper jaw. Now, my lower jaw teeth will spend the next week gliding into this device, more or less training my lower jaw to extend further than it did before. They also extended my chin "as far as it would go", which was about 8mm or 1/2 inch. It is in fact a very minor change, but we'll see how everything looks afterwards.

My surgeon, as always, impressed me with his positiveness when he visited me this morning and had only encouraging things to say. In all honesty, this surgery has been less (or, rather, the same) painful as the first one, despite the use of two metal plates, eight metal screws, and one "emergency screw" (yikes). My lips are quite beat-up, but otherwise the swelling is not too bad so far, I've been on simple ibuprofen since getting cut off of the morphine, and am in good spirits. The rubber bands are similar to rubber bands that many people with braces have - flexible and extendable, allowing me to open my mouth. It will be much better when the tooth-slide implant is removed and I can eat pureed foods. Currently, the buck stops at the implant and I can't get food past that without using a straw, which limits me to liquids only for the time being.

J. Riley, pictures of my face will be posted tomorrow. But here's one taken by my mobile phone of the view outside our hospital window. Central Park in the fall from the 8th floor ICU room:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Fast and The Furious

The doctor's appointments keep coming fast and furious. I am still fighting something in my stomach, though I still haven't gone to the doctor to find out what is going on down there. I guess part of it is lack of faith in my primary care physician after he mis-diagnosed (or so we think) Pablo a few weeks back ("kidney stone" turned out to be a ruptured appendix and a week in the hospital :-/ ). I'm seeing (literally) signs of progress now though, so I'm trusting and hoping that I'll be fit in time for next Wednesday's main event.

Besides my PCP, there are plenty of other doctors doing their thing on me. I've had dentists filling holes in my teeth, orthodontists putting stainless steel wire through the teeth brackets (and will shortly install the "hooks" for the rubber bands that will hold my jaws together post-surgery - sounds fun!), surgeons eyeballing my jaws, chin, and the amount of tooth showing like a lion looking at a big piece of steak and chiropractors twisting and moving my spine around to great effect.

You'd think with all this exciting activity, it would be easy for me to spend all that money that I'm putting into my tax-free Flexible Medical Spending Account. However, the one big unknown that remains is how much this whole thing is going to cost me and my savings account. It seems like the insurance company doesn't even have a clue, the first time I've ever had this issue with them :o/ . Either way, a ton of cash is gonna either be spent on allowing me to eat a slice of pizza like a human or is gonna get dropped on a bunch of designer eye-glass frames that will be sold on eBay ;o). It's a long story....

In other news, there were a bunch of out-of town visitors in town last weekend. The hot German stewardess was here Friday night, exhausted after working the flight as always. Mom and youngest-daughter Pitzen were in town with an entourage of friends and moms, so I got to see them for a few hours while touring around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Afterwards, I met up with Vince and, later, his wife for a little late-night fun. Vince and I toured around looking for an appropriate place to celebrate Oktoberfest (though we're a little late) and ended up at a few soccer pubs in the early evening, chatting it up with Arsenal fans at the Liverpool bar and meeting up with Jonalyn at Nevada Smith's, "were soccer is religion". We eventually went to go find some dinner and ended up eating tapas at Oliva down on the Village/LES border. Thereafter, we kind of wandered around town and ended up at an interesting lounge in the village with quite an array of clientèle, including goth chicks in all black and frat boys with baseball hats. Good for crowd watching!

Sunday, Vince and I met up at a bar near his hotel where he was watching the last Formula One race of the year (and career, for Michael Schumacher). Directly afterwards, we high-tailed it downtown to catch the epic football match of the year, Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona. And it was a hot one! We ended up going to a new soccer bar called "Mundial", which I plan on frequenting once I move there :)

Stumbling ever so slightly after the game, we walked back to the subway and I made the commute up to the Bronx to have dinner with Cathy and Melissa at her place. I hadn't seen them in about two weeks, so there was plenty of gossip and stories passed around like the bottle of wine. I proposed the idea of having a Last Social Event of the Year party this upcoming weekend, which looks like it's gonna happen. Hmm...is salsa dancing in the cards?

J. Riley, my stomach still concerns me. But in the opposite way...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From Layovers to Overlays

Thanks for the encouraging comments on the blog below, it's nice that everyone is so concerned with my health...and I'm not talking about my sunburn. :o|

Anyway, the trip to Mexico. I was going there for my good friends from college Sandy and Daniel's wedding. It was pretty much a blur as I flew down Friday morning at the crack of dawn (awoke at 4:00, flight at 7:00) through Chicago. So that day was pretty much a waste, except that I got there at around 2:30, which left plenty of day in Mexico time :o). As I taxied to the hotel in a cute little authentic neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta - I knew I could trust Daniel and Sandy to stay away from the mega-tourist areas, which I'm sure exist there - I happened to see Daniel joining the others for lunch. I tried to get his attention, but to no avail. The hotel was around the corner, so after getting dropped off and checking in and changing, I was on my way to the beach when I ran into another couple that was there for the wedding and found out they were all meeting for lunch, which is where I'd seen Daniel. We got there in time to get our first round of cervezas and food ordered with the rest of the group.

After lunch, evening plans got started. The night's event was going to be tequila tasting at a tequila bar, but apparently the place was shuttered, so they decided to do tequila tasting, homebrew style. We went to a grocery store and bought bottle after bottle of top-shelf tequila for the evening's festivities. After returning and lounging by the pool for a while, everyone went and changed and came down to the hotel bar for the ceremonies. Jason, a fellow SLO-grad, had gone deep sea fishing that day and the hotel had fillet'd his Mahi Mahi up with butter and garlic, which was a delicious appetizer. We started going through the bottles of tequila and the socializing became very open and enjoyable. The interesting thing about taking shots of good tequila is that no matter how much I seemed to drink (which wasn't thaaaat much, really), you wouldn't get out of control or crazy drunk. Just a nice, cruise control type, so that was interesting.

After we polished off the bottles, a group of us got cabs and headed downtown. Since I'd just arrived, I felt it was my duty to encourage everyone to go out yet again, even though they'd been going out every night for the past few nights. We ended up at a sleek, cool R&B club called Hilo that was on the main strip, overlooking the ocean and with a packed sound-system and crowd. I was digging on the place, but some of the older crowd weren't so keen on the number of people, so we headed down the street to Havana, a Cuban salsa club. Still weary of embarassing myself, I did the reggae shuffle (a self-invented combo of swing and salsa) a few times but wasn't too dramatic. I was more interested watching the Mexican pro's do their thing. Very impressive!

We only stayed up until about 1:30 that night before we returned for the evening. The next day was just mellow - I had breakfast with an aunt and uncle of the groom's at a restaurant ($8 a piece for a full breakfast, OJ, and bloody mary's) before returning to the hotel and getting into my sun-gear. I spent the rest of the day basically sitting on the beach, catching up with Daniel, Sandy, and some of the others that I knew, getting towed with five others on a giant banana in the ocean, and getting charred. I mean, it was like 85 degrees out and overcast, so I figured I didn't need any coverage, but that was a mistake. After about two hours, I decided to go buy some sunscreen (since I can't take it on the airplane) and luckily I was able to bum some quality BullFrog 36 SPF Gel off someone so I didn't have to throw down $1 for a new tube for myself. And I think that stuff saved my bacon from becoming crunchy....

At night, there was the main event. We had a sunset wedding on the beach, complete with a local ceremony performed by two native Mexican tribal members that included the blowing of a conch shell, lighting some sage herbs, and the beating of a drum. It was pretty neat and quick and the bride looked great in a simple, elegant dress.

Shortly after we ate dinner at the restaurant that overlooked the ocean that they had rented half of, the salsa band they'd hired started playing and the free salsa lessons started. Now, I'm no Don Juan or Desi Arnaz when it comes to the Latin dances, but I know a couple turns and moves in salsa and so I headed out to maybe learn something. I ended up dancing with someone instead and before I knew it, the lessons were over and I was having a ball on the dance floor with the ladies. I guess gringos who can salsa are few and far in between, so I got my pick of all the old ladies to dance with ;o) . I ended up ignoring my cadillac margarita for the rest of the night and salsa'd and cha-cha'd - the dance that I consider to be my "competitive advantage" (as you know, it's worked real well :o| ). I did this for a good four hours before I was completely exhausted and drenching wet! It was a blast, though, and no headache the next morning like the rest of the guys I was hanging out with earlier ;o).

The next day was pretty much composed of packing, eating, and trying to wake the guy up that I was taking a noon o'clock cab with to the airport. He had a rough night ;o). I got home sometime around midnight pretty well rested after sleeping a lot on the plane - which of course threw me totally off balance as far as my sleep schedule. What a crazy trip!

This week has been a week of doctors. First of all, I definitely got Montezuma's Revenge and haven't been able to shake it. It's come at a terrible time, I hope I can shake it in the next week before my surgery on 11/1. On Tuesday, I went to have two cavities filled (not happy about that) when I got a nice little surprise discussion with the receptionist prior to my treatment. She wanted to schedule my "insertion" while I was waiting. I laughed at her and told her don't worry, I haven't lost any teeth yet, figuring she got her patients mixed up. Then she tells me that I'm having an "Overlay" done on one of my teeth. Uhhhh...what the hell are you talking about. She explains that one of my teeth was so bad that they have to drill a big chunk out, take a mold, have a porcelain piece created, and insert it in the hole in ten days. At this point, I'm on the cusp of swearing because no one had ever mentioned this to me before. WTF? And, thanks to my great insurance, it was only going to cost me $400 to have done. At this point I'm freaking out. So I'll go into surgery recovering from this little procedure, that sounds fun. Ummm, yea, I think I should talk to the dentist about this.

Luckily, I had to sit and fume in the dentist chair for about ten minutes before she came in. By this point I had begun thinking and speaking rationally and just wanted to find out what was going on and understand why they never mentioned this when I was in for my regular vist. They insisted that they told me but "sometimes we use words that some patients don't understand". Dude, now we're talking major tooth operation and $500. Don't you think that maybe you should explain that? She obviously can see that I have never had such a thing, why would I know what an "overlay" is? She then explained that they filed this pre-claim with my insurance as a precaution in case it was bad enough to need this procedure since they woulnd't know until they started drilling me and if it wasn't bad they could just do a normal filing. This made more sense, but I still don't know why it took them so long to tell me this. Sometimes I wonder about this doctor...

In the end, it wasn't bad and I just got a double-dosage of novocain, two and a half episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in the awesome DVD goggles that I get to wear (the main reason why I go there in the first place), and a normal filling. But now I'm wondering if they just gave me the filling to make me stop bitching and someday my tooth is going to need a root canal or something. Sometimes I wonder if all of this dental/orth crap I'm doing is worth it if my teeth are all rotten in the end anyway....

J. Riley, oh yea and I had to go back yesterday for the other filling. Sigh. I have to go to the bathroom again...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Revenge

I should, and really want to, write about my awesome trip to Mexico, including the tequila tasting, the nightclubs, the sunburn, the banana boat, the reuniting with friends and acquantainces of old, the wedding ceremony, the salsa band, and the hours of latin dancing that I did this past weekend. Instead, I sit here suffering a day after I returned home and yearning for my bed. I don't know if it was Montezuma, but someone clearly took out their revenge on me today.

J. Riley, payback is a biotch, tomorrow could be rough....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aircraft Crashes into New York Building

It's not my building, but I can see the smoke from my office...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6042306.stm

J. Riley, I work in the only commercial high-rise on this side of the river :o/

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Columbus Day

One of the nice things about working for a monolithic retail bank is that we get the bank holidays off - such as Columbus Day. I'm not really sure why banks feel the need to close their doors in order to celebrate the raping and pillaging of my ancestors (I'm 1/16th Cherokee, as you all know) by an Italian, but I will forgive them because it meant that I had an excuse for sleeping in until 9:45 in the morning on a Monday. Of course, none of my friends had the day off, so it was going to be a mellow one for me, and we had perfect 80 degree fall weather to boot!

With such nice weather, I decided to utilize the rollerblades for my errand-running. Rollerblading on the crazy UES sidewalks always puts my life in peril, but I figured it wouldn't be too bad avoiding the milfs, trophy wives, and nannies that the narrow sidewalks are full of during a "normal" day. But, sure enough, I had two near-death experiences, one of which involved a shopping cart that was turned around and rolled right into my path. Of course I hit it but demonstrated my impeccable grace by not spilling myself all over the sidewalk and instead turned around and glared at the guy. I can't totally fault him since I was on my rollerblades on the sidewalk. The second event was on an empty sidewalk where a wealthy lady was standing next to the entrance of the car garage waiting for someone to pull her car out - as I found out just as it pulled out right in front of me. The dumb biotch had clearly seen me slowly coming up the street but didn't bother to ask her driver to wait a second or let me know that her car was coming out. Annoying.

Having already seen my life flash in front of my eyes twice already, I decided to push my luck by rollerblading around Central Park and heading down into the heart of all that is evil - Time Square. With speeding traffic, throngs of tourists, tour buses, and messed up roads, this isn't exactly optimal rollerblading territory. But I was so close to it when I hit the south end of the park that I had to take the chance in order to save $7 on Citizen Cope concert tickets that will come in handy during my recovery time next month....

J. Riley, speaking of which I've finally gotten insurance approval for Nov. 1's main event.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Public Service Announcement

"...at least once an hour, on average, the BBC honeypot was hit by an attack that could leave an unprotected machine unusable or turn it into a platform for attacking other PCs."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5414502.stm

J. riley, yea, just keep using Internet Explorer please.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the Ghetooooo....

On a cold and gray New York mornin,
Another little baby term is born
In the ghettoooooooo (in the ghettoooooo-that-is-91st-St)

Milk Committed
. We've all been there before. You have some soccer games from the afternoon Tivo'd and are preparing for a nice, quiet evening catching up on them. You've just returned from the grocery store with some new items and are going to sit down to a fine dining experience with your new Peanut Butter Bumpers cereal. The cereal is in the bowl, the milk is in hand. The milk is poured into the bowl, and then the phone rings. You've been invited to join your friends for an exotic dining excursion - or maybe just chinese food. But you can't join them. For you are milk committed.

J. Riley, there's committed and then there's milk committed. There's a clear distinction here...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Baby Got Linear, Vertical Back

Because I am not spending enough money or time at the doctor's office, I have decided to take advantage of my new medical insurance and start visiting the chiropractor on a regular basis. The last time I went, he took x-rays of my spine and pointed out a plethora of issues that are not going to fix themselves, sitting on an exercise ball all day at work or not. I am entitled to up to 20 visits a year with my insurance and since there are just three months left in the year, I think I'll be making a couple visits a week to get my alignment all up to date.

In other news, I've been spending a whole lot of time watching the baseball playoffs, where the A's are likely to figuratively (and literally) drop the ball for the next three games after taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. And I've been catching up on a great show called Weeds, which is on Showtime (though I've heard that it can be found on bit torrent sites as well ;o)

J. Riley, I'm thinking that I probably won't get too many adjustments in the month of November, however....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Releasing the (not so) Inner Geek

Today at work, I was bored with watching the A's game statistics appear on the webpage everytime I hit F5 and decided that I was ready for a change to help improve my efficiency of work, or read the Liverpool news with greater ease. I decided to tackle Windows 2000 and try to get both my laptop screen and an LCD monitor hooked up with Extended Display, so my screen would be split between the two peripherals. A challenge of geeky proportions! My boss, who sits across the aisle from me, came back and found me with parts and bits of my computer and monitors and docking stations all over the place and immediately chastised me, saying I must not have enough work to do. Well, except then he immediately gave me tips, saying that he tried to set it up and it turned into an hour long session of Googling webpages trying to get this damn thing to work. And then I struck gold after downloading some new drivers from Dell's website and - voila! - now my video card is outputting the images on my screen across two monitors, giving me vast more real estate for my spreadsheets and Liverpool news...

J. Riley, yes, I'm that guy with braces who is surrounded by computer screens cluged together while sitting on my exercise ball.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gaining Respect for Queens

I've had quite a September, I must say. It started off in LA, where I spent my Labor Day weekend. I know quite a few people down there and, for that reason, I've avoided it like the plague since I graduated from college. I know that there is no way I could go there for a weekend and see everyone that I want to because most of them are from different groups of friends. So rather than disrespect anyone, I just don't go there :o) . But Labor Day was great because 1.) Everyone was actually staying in town for the long weekend, 2.) There was a wedding to attend, and 3.) My little sister had just moved into her apartment and was starting her second year of college. So the stars were lined up and, despite my flight there and back being significanly delayed (for no apparent reason), it was a very entertaining weekend seeing (almost) everyone and getting to meet my friend's Peruvian girlfriend finally, seeing his parents again, and getting to know some people that I was acquantinces with from high school who also attended the wedding. I also managed to squeeze in a day with my sister, seeing her knew warzone apartment and hanging out at Huntington Beach with her for the day. We don't get to spend enough time together, so that was something special! I also narrowly missed meeting up with my parents, who were driving through the area on their way back from visiting my niece in San Diego after moving my little sister in.

The end of the month has been interesting as well. My good friend Paul was (mis-?)diagnosed with a kidney stone, which actually was appendicitis and ended up in the hospital for five or six days with his appendix ruptured. It was pretty hard to see him forced to sit still for six days, not being able to eat or drink anything. I tried to spend as much time down there as possible and he finally recovered enough to come home last week, shortly thereafter flying back to California to return to school, which started this week. I'm sure he's gotta be mentally exhausted, but that's better than being hooked up to IVs all week!

I think the culmination of this, plus turning a year older, some stress at work, Liverpool's stuttering start to the season, getting stood up by my stewardess friend, and my impending surgery, got me feeling pretty lethargic and anti-social lately, so I needed to shake things up to get back into a positive frame of mind and groove. Some remedies come in strange forms, like Columbian nightclubs in the middle of Queens. Some friends from work and I had a drink or two after work on Friday at a (the only) beer shack near my office. Feeling emboldened, I decided that we needed to keep it going somewhere, so I suggested to my Ecuadorian co-worker that he take us somewhere local and unique, since he knows Queens pretty well. One subway stop away at Roosevelt Avenue, we were in the middle of Little Columbia (if you've seen Maria Full of Grace, you might recognize that street name). Our Ecuadorian tour guide took us to a nightclub that was so local that the Columbian bartenders didn't speak a lick of English. Sweet! I was so enthralled in this place!

Personally, I use sites like Citysearch and my restaurant guides to find new places to check out, but since those mostly focus on Manhattan, it's really tough to find these little enclaves, kind of like Polish Greenpoint in Brooklyn. I know they exist, but it's really hard to find out about them without someone local!

In any case, one happy hour drink turned into a night of dancing to merengue, borchata (sp.), cha-cha, and salsa music and meeting some new Latin folks in a legitimately South American atmosphere. I've got that place bookmarked in my mind, possibly the next destination for one of my infamous Pisco Sour parties??

After waking up late on Saturday, I joined Sean for some greasy American food to help shake off the effects of the cervezas from the night before. Unfortunately, we had to help see Paul and his parents off to the airport to return to school, but fortunately the day didn't end there as my friends Andrea and Alan had their wedding celebration that evening waaay upstate. They got married alone in Fiji a few months back so they had their party Saturday night at a very unique location - in an old carousel building at a state park. The carousel was still operational and made for an amazing aura about the place. Cathy, originally supposed to be in California on vacation this week, decided at the last minute to attend, so we both hitched a ride with someone who was making the hour and a half drive with a rental car.

They had a lovely reception, including a nice slideshow of their trip and wedding in Fiji, complete with Fijian warriors escorting her down to the cliff overlooking the sunset. That fulfilled the emotional quota that all wedding celebrations need to have :o).

J. Riley, today's events include watching movies that came out before I was born that I really should have seen a long time ago, like West Side Story (aka New York's Romeo & Juliet in the neighborhood that was torn down to build the Lincoln Center) and Saturday Night Fever...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ding-Dong

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crap(s)

We never thought this day would come, but Vas is actually getting hitched. We got the warning email today that he has, appropriately, decided to get married on 7/7/07. This is appropriate because 7 is of course one of the numbers that you would like to see in a casino, notably at the Craps table. And if you know Roland and his Texas Hold'm addiction, you would instantly understand ;o) . The best part about Vas getting married is that I will get to experience my fourth international wedding, this one being in Slovakia (Mexico now counts because S&D are getting married by a Mayan shaman, or so they hope). As is typical, I began mentally planning my trip next summer about a minute after getting the email, and it's going to be a tough one. Crap, I have to use how many miles to fly for free?

Crap, I can't figure out my neighbors. They are stumping me. There is an older guy (who calls me Jason or "J", incidently) and a girl (who is also old, though she doesn't seem to think so judging by her choice of clothing) who live there. I frequently see fresh-from-the-ghetto guys leaving her apartment in the morning, I frequently see bikes parked in the hallway in front of the door, I frequently (exaggeration) hear her yelling at the guy from the hallway because he won't let her in. I just assumed she was a prostitute or a raging crack whore. Then I started seeing shady characters standing in the staircase hallway outside of her (and MY) door, calling her from their cellphones and making very defensive comments to me about how they're waiting for someone when I didn't even ask or look at them when walking down the stairs. And then her "friend" who doesn't have a key and who I see looking spaced out while she wanders around the hallway has apparently moved in. So maybe she's a drug dealer. Or, it dawned on me today, maybe she's just a crack head who's picking up from her dealers in my hallway. Or maybe she's completely normal.

J. Riley, only in New York City could/would I have a drug pushing, needle dipping prostitute living next door paying the insane prices we're charged for living 91 blocks from the nexus of the universe.

The Date is Set

November 1st will be the day that I will be re-shaped to allow me to eat a slice of pizza, a sandwich, corn on the cob, etc. Well, after I heal of course!

J. Riley, looking forward to that experience

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Cost of Budgeting

After doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations on my impending surgery, I knew that I'd need to do some serious cost-cutting on luxury items like eating out and gourmet yogurt at the natural food store. As I expected, this second surgery is gonna be like 20 times (slight exaggeration) more expensive and with my insurance up in the air right now (though it has more or less come in for a landing with the arrival of my insurance card), these are times for me being really, really frugal (cheap).

Well, except for going to watch Spamalot on Broadway last Tuesday. That was booked before said back-of-the-envelope calculations were computed. And we got a fantastic deal on the tickets! It's a great show that was precursed not with a $30 theater-district meal, but rather a $10 (combined) plate of pierogis and borscht with uber-frugal Melissa at my favorite Polish restaurant in Brooklyn, a few stops from where I work.

And then Wednesday arrived and I was caught between a rock and a hard place when Paul called me at work and tempted me with an opportunity for immense pleasure watching Jimmy Buffett at Madison Square Gardens the next night. Hello? No brainer! Of course I'm going to see that. But, yowser, that was an expensive treat. I had to hit myself to restart my pulse after he told me the price. I was doubting, doubting, doubting, sold. I spent many years of my life holding my wallet down and missed out on a lot because of it, so there's no reason to skimp on opportunities when they come knocking on the door when I still have positive cash flow. Plus I got to spend an evening with Paul and D before Paul goes back to school this week. As always, Jimmy put on a great 3-hour show with thousands of parrot-heads in the crowd. I really should go experience the Key West lifestyle while I'm out in this side of the country...

Saturday was a big milestone for me and my volunteer troupe. After two-consecutive trips that were total bombs due to one thing or another (and I'd like to think outside of my control), this was going to be a key month. School is back in session, so I was hoping that things would again be predictive and back to normal. I kept the number of volunteers limited this month to make sure that we'd get enough kids to sign up before people committed themselves, and sure enough we had 12 kids coming and only six volunteers early in the week. We were going to a rock-climbing gym, so maybe it was popular with the kids and the volunteers, because as soon as I opened up a few more slots for volunteers, they were snapped up quickly. Until someone cancelled on Friday evening and then someone called in sick Saturday morning. I was stressing out about having too many kids this time, but in the end everything was just fine and we had a great trip doing something that, while not cheap, was something that I hadn't done before. And apparently my body had never experienced such contorsions of my meager frame, either. I've been walking around wincing and with bruised ribs ever since! I picked an easy wall to try first and then, in front of the full crowd, chose a more difficult one that the little kids had little problem with. Apparently they're stronger and more athletic than me. Or should I say "strong" and "athletic", since I am none of the above. I huffed and I puffed and I cheated by pulling on the rope to hoist myself a few inches higher so I could get my foot on the next rock. But, hey, I made it and got down to the ground in a sweaty heap with my upper body twitching and shaking like it was 10 degrees outside and I was in my boxers.

Saturday night, was the massive Triple-E event: Eastern Euro Extravaganza! With many of my friends in grumbling compliance with my birthday wish to leave the island, we headed off on a trip to Astoria, Queens for one of the last Old-World beer gardens in New York. Unfortunately, D was a victum of a certain snarfing-incident and had caught the nasty bug that I'd had the previous week and Paul got the short end of stick when he came down with a stomach infection as a result of a baby pearl lodged in his kidney. There were many people hinting that going to the Polish nightclub (with "dress to impress" standards) at midnight in Brooklyn wasn't exactly on their agenda, but I was still up to the task. But, therein lied a question:

What does one wear to "impress" at a Polish nightclub in Brooklyn? Imagine a ven diagram with four circles (pretend like this isn't a web architecture ven diagram for a minute):

In my ven diagram, my four circles would be as follows:
  1. Brooklyn Style: Known as being uber-hip, where you can wear torn jeans, tight vintage shirts, big belt buckles, and any other kind of clothing one could find at a second-hand store.
  2. Greenpoint (1): An area of Brooklyn that is home to mostly Polish immigrants (and I mean fresh off the boat).
  3. Greenpoint (2): According to my Polish sources, Greenpoints style is approximately a decade behind modern-day Warsaw.
  4. Manhattan Club Style: In Manhattan, "dress to impress" for a club could mean a full on suit.
Add to this the fact that a beer garden in Astoria isn't exactly a place you dress up to go to, and we've got quite a small area of convergence on what is appropriate for Club Exit. I went back and forth on what to wear and decided that vintage yellow and red pumas probably wouldn't "impress", but tight Euro jeans might be acceptable. In the end, everyone at the club was wearing jeans, nice Adidas, and other standard Euro-fare clothing.

In any case, the beer garden was amazing. Next time anyone visits me and it's warm at night (think: September), I am going to take you there. It was totally legit and totally authentic, complete with old men playing cards and drinking imported Czech beer to little kids running around at ten o'clock at night while mom and dad sat with their friends at a bench table enjoying a cold one or four. I know you've heard me say that NYC is very European, but this was the first time I've experienced such an atmosphere without taking an eight-hour flight home.

Being that it was my birthday party, we all enjoyed quite a few pitchers of fresh, tasty Pilsners and Bavarian Dunkel-donker (I made that one up; How else do you describe dark Spaten? ;o). Foolishly, Alan brought up the subject of purchasing me a birthday shot and, clearly under the influence of the dunkel-donker, I asked everyone if they'd ever had a shot of Wild Turkey and lime. I guess I was the only one who had enjoyed such a disgusting sounding, but heavenly tasting, specimen and to my surprise, someone actually brought me a shot of Wild Turkey with a slice of lime. Uhhh...by "lime" I meant lime juice! And the next day, I realized that by "Wild Turkey", I actually meant "Southern Comfort". To this hour, I have no idea where I came up with Wile Turkey and Lime. No idea. I don't even like whiskey! SoCo and lime excluded....

With the masses coming up with lame excuses like "I have a baby shower to go to in the morning", "I have other, more important parties to attend", "I have a Liverpool vs. Chelsea soccer match to watch in the morning" (oh wait, that was me), or "my husband is at home with a kidney stone" (ok, that one is excusable), there was an exodus of friends when I announced that we had to depart for the club at once in order to get in at a discounted price. Melissa was a trooper, however, and was up for checking out Club Exit. We got there nice and early (and cheaply) at 11:45 and chilled out on the couches while the Polish rolled in. We discussed the dress-code quandry that I'd faced earlier that night and sat back and analyzed Polish fashion trends from days gone by. Once the dance floor was packed and the Euro-techno was pumping, we danced for a few hours before we got bored and headed back to the homeland in the city.

The next day, after shaking off a Wild Turkey headache and sitting in despair while reading recaps of Liverpool's loss (again) against Chelsea, I got some small things around the house accomplished before starting to plan for the next event of the week - Paul's Going Back to School party at a karaoke place downtown. Sunday nights are super cheap and we had a room for 15 rented out all for ourselves. It's been a while since I've sang out of tune in front of a crowd of people I know, but we had a blast. We were there for about four hours and sang what seemed like a few hundred crowd-favorite songs, plus a few songs that I wanted to sing but nobody wanted to listen to. You mean "Riders on the Storm", with lyrics like "If you give this man a ride sweet Caroline will die, killer on the run" isn't a popular sing-along? And, one thing I've gotta say: I now have tremendous respect for Ringo Starr. I always thought his songs were very monotone, but I actually found "Act Naturally" more difficult to sing than Sweet Child of Mine. We're gonna have to do that again sometime!

J. Riley, for some reason, sleeping sounds really good right now.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Impending Seefood Diet?

My life as an an insured, pensioned employee is slowly coming to fruition after about a month of dealing with my employer's sloth-like Human Resources department. (Un)fortunately, this happened to occur at the same time as I began to plan for the second of my beloved maxillofacial surgeries, which is causing all sorts of problems because I cannot get approval for the surgery without knowing who's insuring me. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be good to go and ready to get this thing, and the weeklong recovery, marked on my calendar. That's what I have to look forward to! I'm shooting for sometime right at the end of October/beginning of November, hopefully on a Friday so that I can maximize my recovery time and minimize the number of sick days that I have to use. Lord knows I want to avoid having to use vacation time!

Because of the timing of this, I am planning a lovely Thanksgiving dinner of something like puree'd pasta or Jamba Juice at my apartment because I will not be making the haul out to Cali for Turkey Day for the second year in a row. Because of the fact that I'll be on a liquid diet for probably two or three weeks at least, I briefly considered going on a seefood diet - meaning I eat anything I see - from now until the date of the surgery in a desperate attempt to add five (or more) pounds to my meager 155 pound frame. But after debating the positives and negatives of such a diet (and after watching Super Size Me), I've decided against it. I mean, I just bought new, slim-fit jeans and wool pants for work. I want to be able to wear them for the next two months! Nonetheless, we did walk by a Krispy Kreme donut joint that was giving away their daily leftover donuts and I went ahead and ate two of them. But I would've done that regardless!

Some friends of a bygone era were in town recently. I used to babysit for their family back when I was in high school and the kids were in middle/elementary school. We haven't been in great contact over the years, but I try to see them once a year when they are in town for the US Open and this year was no exception. The oldest daughter recently graduated from college and is going to work down in LA, which is amazing to me. She's a full-on adult! She spent some time in Senegal last year for school and wanted to see if we could find some Senegalese food in New York. Are you kidding? We have a Little Senegal up in Harlem! I had no idea, but sure enough there was a whole neighborhood of West African shops and restaurants that we checked out last week. I gotta say that the food is pretty rich tasting and, given the Anytown USA portions, I don't think I'd have too much of a problem gaining weight if I ate like that on a consistent basis. Then again, my Euro-sized stomach doesn't exactly fit much in it, hence the three-weeks of leftover Senegalese food that's in my fridge!

Speaking of Euro-size, this coming up weekend should be quite interesting. After a day of wall climbing with kids on Saturday, I'll be hosting my annual birthday extravaganza. Typically I like to go out somewhere new for dinner with some friends (yea, as opposed to any other weekend evening), but this year I'm really turning up the notch by requiring my friends to accompany me off the island on a trip through Eastern Europe - in Queens! That's right baby, we're going to Astoria for a legit Czech beer garden to consume some tasty imported beverages and then, against my friends' wills, I want to go down to northern Brooklyn to Greenpoint's Club Exit, which is in the middle of Little Poland and is as Euro of a club as it gets in New York, or so I hope. I can't imagine why my friends wouldn't want to go there, even if it is a triple-subway connection just to get there.

Then, on Sunday night, Paul is having his Back To School party at a karaoke joint somewhere downtown near the nexus of the universe. If I understand correctly, there will be appetizers and an open bar, just what I need on a worknight :- . Then again, it might take some of that liquid courage for me to get up and belt out some Beatles and/or Def Leopard songs!

J. Riley, my wish list hasn't changed much.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Airplane Pilots

Have you ever noticed how plane pilots (sans the Trojanowkis and Knappsteins) always have very WASP-y names? Like John Cameron or Mike Johnson? I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that those were the pilots on my 1.75 hour delayed flight (for no apparent reason) to LA this weekend.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Face Modelling

The face modelling thing was disappointing. They took a bunch of digital pictures. They took impression molds of my mouth again, deciding to let the first-year resident due them. It took them six times to get them right, even though my ortho took perfectly fine molds for the surgeon last week. They took three X-Rays, even though the surgeon took some last week. And they did some measurements. And this took them 2.5 hours to do, causing me to miss my dentist cleaning appointment. Of course 6:00pm appointments are hard to get at the dentist's, so now I have to wait until the end of September to get that done. I told them several times when I walked into the clinic that I had a 6:00pm dentist appointment and they assured me that we'd be done in time. Nice people, but I was basically livid when I walked out of there.

J. Riley, the things we do to be able to eat a sandwich

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day-to-Day Doldrums

You know how it is - you wake up to the same music (unless you have a Mac with PowerController Alarm Clock which allows you to play random songs from iTunes) every morning at the same time, you read the latest Liverpool news from three different sources, you read all the soccer trade rumors, you read the latest Oakland A's news from three different sources, you leave for the subway at exactly 8:00am, you get to work at 8:30am, yada yada yada, then you get home at 6:00 or 6:15pm and proceed to waste the entire evening doing whatever it is that takes 4 hours for me to do at night (I honestly have no idea what it is I do for four hours every night). Maybe it's just me, but doing this routine five days a week, week after week, you start to think about your life and where you want to be a year from now (or, in my case, next calendar year). Am I successful? Am I happy with my job? You know, the kind of questions you can spend four hours a night dwelling on when you live alone.

Yea, I am relatively pleased with my job and despite the incessant social pressure to get promoted and climb the corporate ladder, I am satisfied enough with where I am not to worry about that. The point is, you start to feel like a normal person with a normal job (even though I am not really sure how to define "normal" still) and you associate with other office goons like yourself that, while they don't do what you do, are proficient at their jobs and are "normal".

That is, until you spend two days of new-hire training with 19 year olds who recently graduated from high school who are taking the step to become bank tellers. You sit in class and listen to their questions and then think to yourself, "Wow, I actually know a lot business/job-wise compared to these other 'normal' people". Just when I was thinking that I was just a standard office worker, I could see that the knowledge and experience I have gained over the past five years working is actually valuable and not just anything that anyone knows. It feels pretty good walking out of training shortly after the instructors ask me if I have anything to add about Information Security for the class and knowing that if it wasn't for my ability to press the up, down, and "Enter" buttons on the DVD remote control, the whole class would have to miss a cheesy video about money laundring (sp.) or sexual harassment ;o)

Anyway, this weekend I am off to the West Coast for Vince's wedding in LA. I am also scheduled to make an appearance at a yet-to-be-determined salsa club shortly after my long-ass six hour flight to shake that ass for all the Latina ladies in the house. Hess is also having a small get-together for his birthday on Saturday and I have "TBD" on the schedule for Saturday night, Sunday morning/afternoon prior to the wedding, and all day Monday before my red-eye flight back Monday night. I look forward to wearing my new pair of super-tight , super-discounted Luckybrand Dungaree jeans or my new $20 shorts at some point.

If I cannot wear them next weekend, I may well wear them to see Spamalot on my hot date with Melissa.

J. Riley, just kidding, it's not a date. She's way out of my league, even though I bet she couldn't tell me about phishing attacks or how viruses work ;o)

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Taste of the World Cup

Without much going on this weekend, I decided to join Sean on Friday night for a little East-Village style independant film called "LOL", which is a semi-documentary story about how much technology is getting involved in our social and dating lives. It was actually quite entertaining and the great thing about these movies is that usually the directors/writers are there for you to answer questions from the hipster crowd. I realize now that the people that go to these events are not cubicle stiffs like me and Sean, they are on a completely different level. For example, the angry, butch lesbians sitting next to me (who, judging by their aroma, apparently think that wearing deodorant is something that is forced on woman by opressive MEN) took a quote from the movie and twisted it into a comment about how the movie didn't represent art, was clearly intended to showcase sexism and asked whether, and how, the director could be proud of making a movie like this, not to mention asking if the reason the movie was low-budget was because nobody wanted to invest in such a terrible, prejudice movie. Woh, easy there! I have no idea how she pulled that rabbit out of the hat, but it was fun to see the director hit right back in artistic terms without losing his cool. The questions I was thinking of were more like "uhhh, was this like a fictional or non-fictional story?". I kept my hand down during the Q&A.

When I got home, I got an email from Martina from Germany (our lovely Frankfurt tour guide) who said that she was put on a flight to Newark at the last minute (she's a token hot stewardess) and would be coming to town - well, Jersey - on Saturday afternoon. She's coming in September on a Wednesday night as well, but I wanted to show her the NYC nightlife weekend style, so I was pretty stoked she was gonna arrive when I had nothing going on. Like most girls, she's a big Sex and the City fan, so I booked a reservation for Duvet in anticipation of her arrival while Paul and I played tour guides for some friend or a friend's parents who were in town from England by taking them to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

When Martina finally sent me a $0.25 text message (damn the international fees) saying she was shopping at a Jersey mall at about 7:30, I realized that we probably weren't going to make the reservation so I dropped that idea and headed downtown to meet her and her friends at the bus station fresh from Jersey. Apparently she's as clueless about buses as me, so I ended having to find a way across the river to meet up with her and her friends. In Jersey. Not exactly where I wanted to be on a Saturday night :-/ . In any case, I met up with her and convinved her that, despite being on her feet for eight hours serving bickering customers on a flying metal tube, she really had enough energy to get the hell out of Jersey and head to the city for some chilling, even if the rest of the flight crew was having a great time at the Applebee's bar or wherever they were. Oh, the things I do to return a favor!

Anyway, we finally caught an expensive ($30) taxi for the five minute ride across the Hudson river back into my friendly turf. We headed to the Coffee Shop lounge, which is really chill and tends to heat up late at night and is actually quite fun. Sean and his brother met up with us a while later before she crashed and burned, her eyes turning red with drowsiness after a single cerveza. She did have a point for going home, considering she had to work in the business class lounge on the eight hour flight home the next afternoon, so I relented and took her back to Jersey.

Sunday, Paul and Cathy rented a car and were going to take a road-trip up to Woodbury Commons for the annual steep-discount shopping trip. I took Martina and her other stewardess friend to breakfast in Hells Kitchen before dropping them off at Abercrombie for some pre-flight shopping and then high-tailed it up to catch up with Paul and Cathy before they left.

And I bought stuff. Lot's of stuff. Lot's of stuff that I didn't need. Jeans, tie, three work shirts, two work pants, cheap shorts, etc. etc. But, considering the prices, I couldn't afford not to buy it.

J. Riley, I bought peanut butter and jelly, I'll be eating that until the end of the year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time Out

OK, this is getting entirely ridiculous. It's been almost two months and I still don't have the day of the Final entirely written. And, during this time, things have been amazing. So, I will keep that post on hold for now and write to it when I feel like it, so keep your eyes open for it if you actually read my vacation blogs, which most people probably don't.

Anyway, so what's up with me? The last two months have been great:

1.) Paul and Cathy are back now, so the resumption of consumption is now in full order. Mostly expensive-ish dinners (not really, just normal dinners that I haven't had in a while) that we are enjoying while Paul is here, since he's going back to Cal Poly in a few weeks. It's great to have them around again.

2.) I spent one WONDERFUL WONDERFUL week in Mammouth Mountain, California with my family. For me, there are two distinctly different kinds of vacations. There are the kind where you kind of rush around and have an agenda to accomplish, after which you return home needing a vacation. Although I didn't feel like we were rushing it too much at all in Deutschland, the reality is that we drove a LOT and travelled a LOT. So much that I was pretty exhausted by the end of the week (hence the fact that someone else drove to Munich and Berlin). I came home from that trip with the most wonderful experience, but somewhat depressed (seriously) because the World Cup was over and the experience was THAT special. The first few days, I really didn't know what the purpose of life was without the World Cup. Sad, really.

Fast-forward four weeks to California. This is the second kind of vacation. Though I had to fly seven hours (through Dallas, ugghhh) to get there, and then drive the whole next day to get to Mammouth (and then the reverse a week later), this was a VACATION. The kind that is relaxing, becoming one with nature, spending time with my baby niece, hiking, fishing, swimming in snow-melt lakes, mountain biking with my brother at 11,000 feet and getting exhausted, mountain biking down a ski mountain, going on long walks with my family all day to see some geological formations, spending evenings watching TV with everyone and then going to the hot tub to soothe the aching muscles, and tearing up my knee on pumice gravel after bailing on my mountainbike. Well, forget that last one. But the rest was legit and sober (except for Brie ;o). This is the kind of vacation that you need once a year (at LEAST) because you come home really refreshed and reinvigorated working for the man. It was a very special trip for me and I miss being in California again :o(
3.) The volunteer team that I lead is a mess, two months of problems with our "client". But I'll survive and we'll deal with them.

4.) My MOUTH! My teeth are straight and everything is lined up - for mega-surgery. I talked to the surgeon yesterday and of course since I just switched jobs last week from a company that is in chaos (I can't even find an HR person to resign to!) to a monolithic dinosaur of a company that took six months to hire me and will take a further three weeks just for me to get the benefit information. Hello? I have surgery to schedule, damn it. The surgeon is planning on a double-jaw snap: moving my top jaw back and my bottom jaw forward, moving my chin up ("Make it look like this", holding up a picture of David Beckham) so that I can close my lips naturally, and twisting my upper or lower jaw slightly so that my teeth "mid-line" lines up. Sounds like fun, right??? One week off of work and then rubber bands for about six weeks to keep my jaws from moving much while I recover. Sounds a lot better than three days in the hospital and a wired jaw, don't you think Sam ;o) ??

5.) Dating, while there is usually not much written about it (for a good reason!), is on hold indefinitely. I'm just tired of it. I hate dating, pretty much. Sorry ladies, I will not give you my number at this time.

6.) Since I'm on a bit of a health kick after Cali, I've been walking home from work lately a few times per week (it's about an hour's walk) and even ran home once. On Monday I walked home because I hurt my knee mountain biking and can't do low lunges in yoga class. It was casual, but I ended up getting on a bus because my feet were starting to get blisters from my work shoes. An hour later, I arrive home and, standing in front of my front door, I suddenly realized that I had left my keys at work. Let me tell you - there is nothing worse (well, except maybe two yogurts less than $.03 apart in price) than having to restart your long-ass commute that you dread every morning to work at 6:30 at night. Not a happy camper. Les Miserables.

7.) The English Premier League has started up again, so I can once again devote my social life to Liverpool!

J. Riley, I'm back in the saddle again.