Monday, September 27, 2010

P-Tree, RenFaire and Shopping

This is post #300 in this blog. Ah-ooh! Ah-ooh! Ah-ooh! :)

It's been a super-busy three-day weekend, since I took Friday off work to pick up Polina from school and take her back to Manhattan to see Porcupine Tree in concert. I had reserved a ZipCar, just a basic Nissan Sentra, but ZipCar called me the night before and said that the car required service, so they offered me a free upgrade to a Volvo S40 sedan in silver. It was a nice perk since it was brandy-new with less than 4,000 miles on it, and had a sunroof, leather power seats and a nice stereo with iPod connections. Plus, it was just too cool driving a car so similar to Edward Cullen's Volvo S60R from the Twilight series.

The concert was a terrific event, and undoubtedly the best of the three concerts I've seen from the band, although I was a little disappointed not to hear Halo and What Happens Now?, which are two of my favorite songs. But the visual effects were so much more impactful, with a huge projection screen put to excellent use on several songs, notably Time Flies (my favorite from their newest album, The Incident). Also, it was the first time for both of us in Radio City Music Hall, which is the largest venue they've ever played in New York - what a beautiful art-deco palace it is! Best of all, RCMH is only three blocks from my apartment, which was very convenient.

P-Tree at RCMH

Between the second and third sets we went down to the lobby to buy souveniers and meet up with the band's agent, Joshua, whom I met through my friend Jennifer at work. We met him and his boss and chatted about the band for a while before returning to our seats. After the concert, we picked up some banana pudding and steamed milk from Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center on the way home, where we took turns reading our C.S. Lewis book in the upgraded playpen before bed.

Here's the set list for the P-Tree show, in case there are any die-hard fans reading:

First Set (Semi-Acoustic)
Stranger By The Minute, Small Fish, Pure Narcotic, Black Dahlia, Futile

Second Set
Even Less: Full version, Open Car, Lazarus, Tinto Brass, The Sky Moves Sideways (Phase One), I Drive the Hearse, Bonnie the Cat

Third Set
Occam's Razor, The Blind House, Great Expectations, Kneel and Disconnect, Drawing the Line, Dislocated Day, Time Flies, Anesthetize: Part 2: "The Pills I'm Taking", Up the Downstair, Sleep Together

Arriving Somewhere But Not Here

P-Tree in concert

Saturday morning Polina woke up early to catch a train back to school and I took a bus up to Tuxedo, NY for the New York Renaissance Festival, my third time at this event as well. I got my hair braided, which makes me look so different from the front - I really didn't like what I look like with my hair all slicked down, but it was pretty from behind.

Unlike past RenFaires, I spent most of this one shopping for stuff, and my friends were a big help in choosing clothes. I got a full-length burgundy overskirt with lace-up sides, and a black satin underskirt with a subtle star pattern. I also got a cream silk wench top with princess sleeves and a subtle stripe pattern in the weave.

I found a nice pleated purple skirt for Polina to match with her corset, and most importantly, I found a new amulet for the new year, which I will charge on Samhaim next month.

Today I continued the clothes buying spree with a trip to Loehmann's, since September I get my birthday discount (even though I celebrate my birthday in July). I spent a few hours at the flagship store on Seventh Avenue at 16th Street, and a lot of time in the communal dressing room choosing things. In total, I bought seven skirts, a dress, four tops, a pair of pants and earrings - practically an entire wardrobe heavy on skirts, which I've decided I should wear more of, especially in the winter when I can wear tights.

Afterwards, I went to Chinatown to pick up some groceries and went home to wash all my new clothes and sort through my closets to make room for all the new stuff by taking out the old things that aren't getting worn for any number of reasons. Those have all gotten bagged up and shoved in a corner behind the couch.

Now off to bed, and another busy week coming up. Goodnight.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Living space

Back after a long hiatus, where my life has changed so much in nine months. Time for a fresh start here.

For those of you who haven't visited me and don't know firsthand, my living room is rather unorthodox. Coming from a larger apartment in New Jersey to my smaller apartment in Times Square back in March, and with bland, cookie-cutter furniture that I bought as a set in a furnished apartment after the fire of 2007, my stuff isn't what I'd call ideal for my present living space.

Specifically, my queen-sized bed pretty much takes up the entire bedroom floorspace without room for a nightstand, although I manage by using a windowsill to hold my alarm clock and a lamp. Plus, there's enough room for a slim bookcase and my DVD cabinet, which is getting full to the bursting. I might have to start shedding plastic cases soon. But there's not much that can be done about that because I'm not giving up my $3,000 bed, and I do have the occasional sleepover guest, which precludes a smaller bed anyway.

In the living room it's too tight to place my sofa and loveseat in the conventional "L" formation, so I've mashed them up against each other to form a bed-like cuddle space, with the padded arms and backs forming little walls around the perimeter, and an entryway at the far end where the sofa protrudes. This makes it nice to lay down to watch TV and movies, and if I want to sit up, I usually sit at my desk, although that's way over to the side.

The problem is that my sofa is wearing out and tends to suck you into the seam where the back meets the seat. It's also been damaged by various, um, physical activities performed on it over the past couple years, but it's still in one piece. But this playpen arrangement is not very comfortable because the front edges of the sofa and loveseat form an annoying ridge in the middle, which can be uncomfortable over time.

I played with the idea of throwing the sofa away and moving the loveseat (which is in better shape) to its position, then buying an overstuffed chair to face it. That would have created floor space for an ottoman or a coffee table, and made it possible to someday get a Nintendo Wii or PS3 Move and have space to play games. But I'd lose the cuddle space entirely, and the ability to lay down to watch movies, which I'd grown accustomed to. It would have also cost quite a bit of money and required me to get help to move the sofa out.

So instead I decided to improve the cuddle space with a cheap and easy fix. I bought a twin-sized memory foam mattress topper, four inches thick, for $88 at Wal-Mart. I cut out the box and tail shape to fit the playpen using a utility knife, and used the extra material in the seams around the outer sides, since those are getting lower. Then I put the couch cushions on top of the memory foam, and covered with the comforter as usual.

I also addressed the problem of drift (the two halves moving away from each other) by putting a non-skid carpet pad under the rug that the playpen sits on. The fact that there's a single piece of foam under the cushions should also alleviate this problem.

So here's what it looks like:

Playpen v2.0

I tried it out last night and oh, what a difference! The seam in the middle is now pretty much gone, and the whole area feels like a single space instead of two areas joined together, and like a soft mattress instead of a lumpy old couch. It's heavenly. I love being a DIY'er.

I can't wait to try it out with Polina tonight after the Porcupine Tree concert :)