Friday, May 30, 2008

Pictures With Commentary to Follow

What happened to all my free time? Anyway:

J. Riley, the lesser half

Monday, May 19, 2008

Too Much NOT to Write

Seriously, there's been so much going on lately, I haven't actually had the time to write about it all. But now, taking advantage of my newly-gained two hours of free time after work, I have decided to dedicate some of it to the old blog. I was actually reading this article about Jerry Seinfeld's productivity secrets and, while it may not be exactly appropriate for my blogging time, it did make me think about how I should be writing more regularly and the best way to schedule time for it.

So, with that wordy explanation out of the way, let's get into it. Erika spent a couple days dedicated to getting our apartment in order by building Ikea furniture and collaborating with me on where pictures should be hung so that this place could feel like home and it looks great now. By the time we had the place put together, Roland and Csilla arrived from Slovakia for his first homecoming trip since he left 11 years ago after living with me and my family in Los G.

The night prior to their arrival, we went out with Paul, Cathy, D, and Jeff, who was in town on business. I was just getting settled into a miserable cold and had worked from home that day so we didn't stay out too late but did stick around for the Australian/kangaroo dinner at Eight Mile Creek!

In true Roland fashion, he arrived the next evening around two hours late. He apparently neglected to write down my address thinking that he could boot up his laptop, connect to the free Wi-Fi that is available around the world and get my address from his Gmail. Well, Wi-Fi is free in many places, but New York is not one of them! But he did arrive on the correct day, so he's improving his travelling skills I suppose :o).

We went out in Astoria for a bite to eat before they started falling asleep on me, so we went home and I gave them the 20 minute introduction to New York and outlined my recommended itinerary for their first day in town - without me. The next day they headed out into the miserable rain alone because Erika was complaining about her back - she thought she hurt it putting the heavy futon together a few days back - and wanted to be in good shape for the marathon tours I would put on that weekend.

So the weekend arrived and we walked a LOT on Saturday, seeing the Villages, SoHo, NoLIta, Chinatown, the Municipal District, Brooklyn Bridge and ended up at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in DUMBO in Brooklyn before heading out for a traditional American dinner at - gasp - Taco Bell. Oh, the things you miss when you leave America!

For Mother's Day, we decided on a picnic in the Park - Central Park. So we packed up the lunches in backpacks and hit the city for a quick introduction to the park before hunger pangs hit us and we found a serene patch of grass to call our own for the afternoon. Paul, Cathy, and Paul's parents showed up shortly thereafter to join us for my first picnic in Central Park. After lunch, the girls were taught how to throw an American football and then a competitive game of whiffle ball started with me trying to get the ball out of the "infield" and everyone else trying to crack the ball past the outfielder. The weather was Spring-like and cool but we all had a good time relaxing all day.

Monday night we went to a jazz show at Blue Note to hear a local band that totally reminded me of Erykah Badu - minus the crack ;o). We all enjoyed the dinner and show quite a bit and headed home from the village at about 10:00.

Erika was complaining more about her back, but I continued to assume/hope that it was just something from the heavy furniture because I dreaded taking her to a doctor since she has no insurance yet. That all went out the window at 4:00am that night however, when she woke up shaking with the chills from a fever and saying she could hardly move because her body was hurting so bad. The flu? Or something more? She took some Motrin and eventually fell asleep and was still sleeping when I went to work the next day. I told her I would come home at lunch to check on her and was totally distracted all morning thinking about what to do. I came home at lunch with a thermometer and, still in bed, she registered in at 102 degrees so I went next door to the family clinic and asked if they took walk-in patients.

I brought Erika over, huddled up in a scarf, shivering, unstable and suffering without being able to walk because of her back. After about 15 minutes of waiting in the waiting room, the staff said they need to see us fast because they could tell something was wrong with her. Thankfully, the doctor at the clinic spoke Spanish, which made everything easier for her to diagnose Erika. After taking her vitals and finding the painful spots, she said that she was going to call an ambulance because she was pretty sure that she had a bad kidney infection. This was not what I needed to hear, but it was what I knew in my heart was true. I had neglected the problem hoping it would go away and in the end it was the wrong decision and we were heading to the Emergency Room at the local hospital because of it.

They got her to the hospital (which was, ironically, less than a mile away), hooked her up to fluids, antibiotics, and pain killers, and we waited. We were at the hospital for about seven hours before her blood pressure was at the required limit (it took three bags of liquid) and they sent us home with a prescription for some more heavy-duty antibiotics. The pain-killers wore off that night and Erika's fever and pain came back, but she fought through it and ended up sleeping most of the whole next day after the emotional and physical pains from the previous days wore on her.

But the antibiotics did their trick and everyday she felt better until she was pretty much back to normal by Friday. This being her second kidney infection in a year, this is something that were going to have to see a doctor for - when she gets insurance! Through a friend of our's, we should be able to get Medicaid and our tax dollars to cover much of the cost of the day, which will prevent me from filing for bankruptcy ;o) !

It's a good thing she was better by Friday, because this meant that Saturday's scheduled event could take place. Believe it or not, Erika still partook in her bachelorette party generously put on by some of our friends! Without needing to divulge much information, let's just say that Melissa has organized more than a few of these in Manhattan and the girls went to town and gave her the full send-off of bachelorettehood (is that a word?).

While she was out, Paul thought it would be inappropriate for them to have a party for her without having one for me, so we headed out with Melissa's boyfriend Jonathon to New York City's finest....paintball center for a night of bruising, pain, mask-donning , and all-out-war against strangers. I hadn't done this before, but it was damn fun - but painful. I have about a dozen bruises across my body which isn't bad considering we were there for about three hours and took part in two Ironman Contests, during which you shoot each other as many times as you want until you a.) run out of paintballs, b.) run out of compressed air, or c.) can't stand the pain anymore. Both sessions ended with me shaking my head with teeth clenched as my body fought the pain of getting nailed all over the place. Not fun, but a LOT of fun :o)! I would do it again, for sure!

J. Riley, and now we prepare for Friday night's main event, followed by Saturday's party during which I hope to introduce most of my readers to my wife! I don't think that's how it's usually done, but that's how I roll!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Apartment Pictures

J. Riley, random pictures taken with Roland's new camera that I'm testing out. Is that someone sleeping on the futon? Yes, it is ;o)
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Monday, May 05, 2008

Moving On Out

So this weekend I moved my load of crap into my new apartment. It's
amazing how much stuff I actually had in my diminutive room in the
Bronx - a whole full-size van's worth!

Saturday's circumstances were possibly the worst possible for moving
as we had gone to a nightclub the previous evening to watch a great
80's band called Tainted Love play. But their gig started at 11:00pm
and we had some pre-show refreshments to go along with Erika's first
Peruvian meal in New York at Pio Pio, which was awesome and cheap like
always. We got home after having a few more refreshments at about
3:00am and then had to wake up at 8:30 to pick up the Uhaul truck and
start moving. Not a good idea. I actually was woken up by my mobile
phone at 9:45 with the humorless voice of the Bronx Uhaul employee
asking me where I was. Obviously, I was on my way, of course ;o). So
picked up the Uhaul and then went to the apartment to start the
mobilization, with special thanks to David for his Hungarian
beastliness and help with moving.

After the move out and move in, I had to return the van to the Bronx
and then clean up my room in the Bronx and take a subway all the way
back to Astoria, all-in-all taking me about 2.5 hours. When I got
home, I found Erika passed out on our new bed, which happened to
arrive just as we pulled up earlier. We tried to do some organizing
and as starvation set in, we gave up and went out to dinner. We ate at
a family-owned spot called Sac's Place (Google it) down the street
from us that had seriously one of the best pizzas (coal-fired) I've
ever eaten. And the fresh spinach raviolis? For lack of a better
superlative, AMAZING! After poking into some stores and buying a few
groceries, we headed back to pass out after a long, gruesome day with
plenty more to do the next day.

Sunday, I discovered a great feature of my new apartment: free
high-speed wireless, courtesy of my negligent neighbors! This is
crucial and with it I was able to get my weekend fix of soccer with
the Milan derby and the Liverpool game while trying to somewhat
organize my apartment a little bit.

We had furniture shopping in mind for Sunday but we ended up doing
that while touring our new neighborhood. Some highlights:

1.) This area is full of Greeks, Slovaks, Czechs, Bosnians, and Arabs.
It quite a cultural mix and there a slew of Euro-trash clothing
stores, compared to the hip-hop clothing stores in the Bronx.
2.) We found a brand-new, high-quality gym with steam baths, saunas,
and a plethora of classes (including jiu jitsu AND capoeira classes
:-o :-o :-o !!!) right down the street from us that is only marginally
more than what I currently pay for my gym in the Bronx. Erika also met
a lady that works there that is Peruvian, as well. I plan on switching
in the near future.
3.) I found a random store that sold Rifle jeans, which I have been
looking for EVERYWHERE since I bought my first pair at Macy's a few
years back. They were only on sale for $40, as well. Erika let me buy
two pairs.
4.) I was able to negotiate a purchase of a very-nice end-table and
dresser for a full 25% off with free shipping included.
5.) Discovered the community feel of the place by purchasing a
succulent chicken and rice meal from the street vendor and when I
realized I was $2 short, he said "hey, money's not important, pay us
next time". Think that would ever happen in the Bronx or Manhattan?
6.) Found several produce stores and bakeries in a near vicinity to
our apartment.
7.) Bought a ton of houseware items for our apartment at these
cluttered, dirt-cheap family owned convenience-store type places that
haven't been pushed out by rising rents (yet :o/ ).

So, all in all, we're very excited about our new apartment and
neighborhood and look forward to having new visitors again, since I
had NONE while I was living in the Bronx.

J. Riley, today I'll buy the new furniture, pick up some things I left
in the Bronx, and try to make it to a spin class at the new gym.
Tomorrow Ikea arrives with much more furniture that we need to
assemble. Wednesday Jeff is in town. Thursday, Roland and Csilla
arrive from Slovakia. Busy? Yea, a little.

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