Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who Cares if a River Runs Through It!!

You know, the subway can get real boring at 10:00pm on a Saturday night. I took Erika to the airport tonight so she could head back down to Peru. No, I didn't make her take the AirTrain, but only because her bag weighed twice my body weight. But I sure as hell took the AirTrain home and spent the 30 minute subway ride calculating the most efficient way for me to get back home. The most convenient option would be to take the train to my office and then take the bus to my doorstep. But that bus only runs every 30 minutes, so my timing would have to be perfect. Another option would be to take the train to Jackson Heights, transfer to the 7, and then transfer to the N/W to Astoria at Queens Plaza. Or take it to my office, walk five minutes, transfer to the 7 to the N/W to Astoria. All good options.

Watching my watch tick every minute, I calculated that I would actually arrive at my office at exactly the time the bus would arrive! It would be a close call, so I got off the train and sprinted to the exit only to see the bus a block past, son-of-a-bitch! Hell, I was five minutes away from the 7-train in the greasy chop-shop neighborhood that I work in, so I figured I'd just walk to the N/W instead of walking to the 7 - even though it's below freezing.

Then the night got interesting. Eyeballing my watch when I got five minutes from the N/W train, I calculated that the next bus would actually be arriving in 20 minutes. Doing math in my head, it would take me 5 + 5 + 10 minutes (assuming that the train would come exactly when I got there, which it never does) to get home on the train. Intriguingly though, the bus stop had a fire hydrant next to it that was leaking, causing a massive ice buildup, flooding the street corner, and causing even more ice to build up. It was quite gnarly, and I was in an artistic mood to sit and watch the ice buildup, hoping that some gypsy cabs would nail that puddle, spraying the sidewalk that had three inches of ice built-up from other gypsy cabs nailing the puddle. So I decided to sit and wait for the bus to take me home.

Being a good citizen and realizing that the world is running out of clean, drinkable water (fact!), I called in the leaking hydrant to 3-1-1, the second or third time I've called them. The last time I called them was in Manhattan when a god-damn car alarm kept going off outside my window in the middle of the night. Nobody ever showed up that time, not surprising. But I was bored and the call was free. So I sat, and waited in good confidence knowing that I would be entertained by huge splashes of water/ice and that the buses were running on time because it's late at night and no one takes the bus at this hour, so there's no delay.

Fact: Not enough people rent cars in ghetto Long Island City. I waited like 15 minutes before a car made the turn and nailed the puddle, sending a plume of water onto the icy sidewalk. It was magnificent, though belated. I saw my bus going the other way and knew that it would show up in about five minutes because it does a loop.

Fact: I was losing the feeling in my toes and I was thinking about taking the bus to the hospital to have my nose tested for frostbite because the bus was running five minutes late. I had techno pumping in my headphones and decided that I should do some sprints up and down 21st street. I would totally be that weirdo in LIC, especially with my brightly colored chuyo on my head.

Fact: The bus was STILL not there after doing a sprint up the street and back, though my toes were moderately warmer (which isn't saying much).

Fact: I waited FIFTY EFFIN MINUTES with no bus in site before I hailed a cab and threw six dollars down the drain. I hate the bus. Let it be known that I will no longer honor the buses with my presence from now on in order to protest the utter irresponsibility of the buses. Unless I walk out my apartment and see it coming. There is NO excuse for them being late tonight.

Fact: I am beginning to get feeling back in my toes now.

This incident really drove home the point that my "winter" (fall/spring) jacket is not substantial and I should use my gynormous tax return to purchase a discounted jacket (thanks, recession). But this begs the question - do I go with the long, wool, UES-style jacket, or do I keep it ghetto and real and go with the poofy North Face waterproof, down jacket that has kept Erika warm all winter? I'm likely going to go for the poofy jacket. They're on sale now at Dr. Jays, the ghetto's finest.

J. Riley, two weeks until my wedding and the disappointing gringo turnout means I don't have enough men coming to be groomsmen (thanks, recession). I guess I can rent some Peruvians!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Countdown Begins

I've been doing stuff lately, I swear. Despite severe cutbacks in my family budget (that would be Erika and I), we've been trying to have some fun. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating and it has been ridiculously cold this winter. Last year, I bought a new "Fall" coat and I was amazed because I actually went through the whole winter using that coat, so I basically tossed my torn and shredded full-length Manhattan wool jacket and settled on this coat. Well, either last year the effects of global warming were in full effect (to be honest, Bush was still in office), or this year global warming has begun receding (to be honest, I did change a light-bulb in our apartment to one of those low-energy ones and have flown a lot less), because it's been damn cold. It's possible that that wool coat I threw out is buried in my Goodwill closet somewhere and might need to be dug up.

The budget is severely restricted for obvious reasons. Mostly because my company, once the largest bank in the world, is on the verge of bankruptcy. That's not a good thing for my job prospective, and thus my income. Plus, I am doing everything I can to make sure that developing nations remain financially solvent (hey, I do have an investment in ADRE) by spending money in preparation for my upcoming wedding in Lima. The only benefit to this economic situation in the U.S. right now is that sales are amazing at places like Macy's and Bloomingdales, so I have been able to construct my wedding wardrobe for pretty cheap. $500 suits? $160. Studly $90 tie? $38. $45 button-up, slim-fit white shirt? $17. $30 belt? $16. Not bad for a wedding outfit. I will also utilize the developing nation discount for further items in about two weeks. I plan on stocking up on $2 crew-neck undershirts at the infamous Gamarra market in Lima to replace my once-white, now off-white/yellow discount undershirts that I bought a few years back.

Erika has been doing her part as well, as she ticks off each box in preperation for the wedding every day, utilizing those event-planning skills, Skype, and her mother to great effect. The gringo turnout for the wedding remains to be determined, but we are confident that we will have at least critical mass and have some fun events in mind pre-and-post wedding- notably EATING some wonderful food.

Unfortunately, not everything has gone perfectly as I received my wedding band in the mail this week from my mom, only to find that it doesn't even fit me. I forcibly made it fit when I got it and then as I began to feel the pain in the finger after about 5 seconds, I had to run to the bathroom and use a lot of soap and water to get the damn thing off, the whole time watching the veins in my finger pulsate as the ring starved them and my whole finger of blood. So, it's getting shipped all the way back to California so that they can order me a new one a little bit bigger. When they measure my finger with the loops, why can't they be accurate? Makes me suspicious, for sure.

For Christmas, I got a book called Musicophilia that I've been reading lately. It's a non-fiction about a brain doctor who studies the effect of music on the brain and it is quite cerebral (see what I did there - pun slightly intended). I'm not too far in it as I typically do my reading at night before I got to bed and reading paragraphs that use words like (and I just picked a random paragraph) amusia, disorders of skill, synesthesia, and brain lesions is not exactly light reading. Most of what I have read so far has had to do with musical hallucenations in patients, but it has had one significant impact on me - the more and more he talks about music, the more and more fascinated I am becoming with classical music. I remember going to some classical shows at Carnegie Hall and hearing these older, Upper East Side types talking about how moving the music was and how excited they were by the music, while I'm sitting there thinking about what is going on in the viola players mind and where they ate last night for dinner. In short, I'm intrigued by the power of this classical music on the brain and have actually started listening to it at work since I've always been able to listen to it without becoming distracted by it - similarly to listening to house/trance music while writing code back in college. Plus, Euros love classical music, so I should be listening to it anyway.

In other news, Erika and I are throwing around the idea of moving to another part of Astoria, becoming disenchanted with the excessive rent of the apartment we are in. I moved into this building because it is newer and supposedly nicer than most other places in Astoria, and therefore pay at least $200 more a month in rent. In reality, although it is nice having the recycling outside of our door, we suffer through freezing nights and days and having to walk ten minutes to get to the subway. We love Astoria, and it is nice being close to the parks in the summer (free capoeira!), but I should really be paying less out here. And the kicker? They sent me a rental agreement for next year, raising my rent roughly $100 to $1800 per month. I checked their website and they are offering the same exact apartment on the 15th floor, facing Manhattan (awesome view from there) and are charging $1600 for it - $100 less than we are paying now. You bastards aren't going to get away with that! We're in a recession, for crying out loud! I could be in the unemployed line next week!

J. Riley, now back to listening to the classical/flamenco guitar hero playing on iTunes Radio...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Steals of Deals

This weekend, I had to get some purchases out of the way. I've been looking around town for good deals on suit purchases, since, according to the wife, I need a new one for my wedding. I was thinking of something dapper with green pinstripes and she was thinking straight black, so straight black it was! I was thinking about ordering a custom suit from indochino, which I've heard great things about, but some of the measurements on me were suspicious, so I decided to go the retail route, for better or worse. On Friday after work, I finally ended up at the monster Macy's in town.

Earlier in the week, I had, for some strange reason, tried on a Hugo Boss jacket that was soooooo awesome I almost bought it without looking at the price tag. But, alas, I made the mistake of thinking with the brain in my pocket (you know, my wallet ;o) and looked at the price tag and it was waaaaay out of my league. So, when I went to Macy's, knowing fully well that they were in recession mode with massive sales, I beelined for the Hugo stands to see if I could get a deal. Before I even tried anything the salesman gave me on, I told him if there were pleats on the pants, there would be no deal. I am amazed at how many places still have pants with pleats on them! Come on, work with me here! Pleats have been dead for years!

Anyway, the salesman was great and showed me a variety of very nice suits before I decided that my slim frame needed a three-button. The first three-button suit he brings me is a slim-fit Italian suit with wrinkle-free pants (open jaw, drag it on the floor). I had to try it on because it was 30% off, plus 15% off for opening a new Macy's card account. Oh daddy, was this thing sweet. The pants were so nice and slim, I would have bought it for them alone. It was juuuuust a bit out of my price range though. I told the salesman to pull that magic out of his back pocket and seal the deal for me. He checked the price for it on the computer and it was $100 lower. Plus he was going to give me the "I live in New Jersey" 11% off discount. But damn if he couldn't quite break the $400 limit that I was trying to keep kosher with.

So, I ended up going with another nice three button $500 Alfani suit for $160 that the salesman cooincidently was wearing and also recommended. It was just too good of a deal! After that, with my 15% Macy's discount in tow, I went down to find a white shirt to wear (since, believe it or not, I don't have one). I couldn't find anything slim fit so I was just going to buy a belt when Erika came across a slim fit designer (not that that matters) shirt for $42 that came out to be $16 after the sale and discount! I couldn't believe my luck.

And finally, yesterday we went t-shirt hunting because Erika's mom accuses me of wearing the same yellow shirt everytime I see her. I struck gold at Lucky with 50% off t-shirts and then at Urban Outfitters where I found a $10 Paul Frank t-shirt that are both neither yellow and should hold me over until I can go discount shopping in Peru's shopping district next month :o)

J. Riley, I know I skipped the holidays, I'll get to them later (I hope!)