Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day moving

So it was quite an eventful Memorial Day weekend – perhaps not as significant as ones I’ve had before but significant in its own way with a lot of firsts.

Friday night’s poker game was so much fun! Just like at Nearing’s Casino Night event a couple weeks ago after our charitable giving day, I hit a hot streak early (at the previous event I got dealt pocket aces twice in a row) and built a big stack early. I pushed all-in on an early hand with A-J and got called by my friend Stefan (who used to sit across from me at work) with A-10 and won with my jack kicker, doubling up to about $70 (buy-in was $40).

Around 11 pm I was thinking about leaving because I had an early rise on Saturday, but I didn’t want to go out with a big stack since it was my first game there and I thought it would be a little rude. Fortunately or unfortunately, on the last hand I lost about $40 on a hand where I had a straight, someone else had a full house kings up, and we both got beat by quad 7s. So I ended the night down $12, which was a very respectable outcome for my first “competitive” poker game in four years.

Saturday morning I drove out to House PNJ in Astoria, which is moving to Bushwick in Brooklyn and becoming House JAPaN (Jet, Alex, Piper and Ninja (Elisa)). Jet and her friend Daniel (visiting from Arizona) helped me load up Yoshi and I drove to Bushwick, where Piper, Alex and Kiwi were waiting to help unload and start carrying stuff up four flights of stairs while I drove back for another load. I made three trips altogether, and they also moved the big furniture with a moving truck, so there was a lot of stuff.

Their new place is new and modern, with a soaring two-story skylighted ceiling in the main room, with an open staircase leading up to Elisa’s two rooms in the loft and three more bedrooms downstairs. I’m sure there will be many great parties there in the future.

After we were done for the day, I went to visit Puck in Staten Island, where they were looking after their grandmother while the rest of the family had gone to a birthday celebration in PA. We had dinner together and watched an episode of Doctor Who before I left for home to get cleaned up and sleep for the next day of moving.

Sunday I drove back to Brooklyn to neighboring Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy for short) where Kacey and her roommates are also moving. In fact, their new place is only a few blocks away from House JAPaN in Bushwick. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the inside of Kacey’s home – I’ve only ever dropped her off late at night and never had the opportunity to make a proper visit. Her room is as tiny as I imagined it to be, about half the size of my small bedroom. But her bathroom was huge by New York standards; it was practically the same size as the bedroom. And since she has three roommates, there was plenty of common living area to enjoy.

Kacey, Becker and I finished packing and moving what was left of Kacey’s room, while Lourdes and Emily (my first and probably last time meeting her since she’s moving back to Buffalo – she has pale skin and soft blue hair) took care of their respective rooms. The new place is only a few blocks away and much smaller, but completely updated so it has beautiful finishes. Unfortunately, instead of two huge bathrooms (Lourdes’ old bathroom was just as large as Kacey’s, with a wall of built-in cabinetry) all four women (Kacey, Lourdes, Hanna and Megan) will have to share a closet bathroom that reminded me of an airplane lavatory. And while Kacey’s room is slightly smaller than her previous room, Lourdes is moving into a room about half the size of her previous room. Like a lot of New York apartments, there’s not really a dining area but the living room is gorgeous. We’ll see if they can make everything fit properly!

Since Kacey’s room was so small, her move was much easier and after we were done we still had enough energy (and were not so disgustingly sweaty) to go out for an early supper at a rustic Italian restaurant Kacey has fallen in love with, Saraghina. I had a grilled octopus salad that was really fantastic, and we shared our desserts of tiramisu, chocolate mousse and pancetta. I dropped Kacey and Becker off and went home to clean up and grab stuff to stay at Puck’s for Memorial Day.

It was a full house in Staten Island since both Puck’s sisters and their husbands were home to share some big news: Ella is pregnant with their first child, the first of the next generation for their family. It was also Puck’s dad’s birthday, so Monday we drove to Queens to visit a Korean-style bathhouse called Spa Castle. Ella couldn’t go since she’s pregnant, so she and her husband left for home in Vermont, and Puck’s mom stayed home with grandmother. Puck’s dad, sister Sophia and husband Robert and their Uncle Alec formed our party.

The experience was actually quite fascinating. We wore waterproof badges on our wrists that opened lockers and kept track of purchases. Once Puck, Sophia and I put our clothes away, we went into the bath area, which is “no-clothes-allowed” to shower and get ready for our full body scrubs. We were set down, completely nude, on padded massage tables and scrubbed head to toe (including a facial scrub and hair washing) by three Asian women, and rinsed with buckets of warm water.

We spent some time in the pools, which each had a digital temperature readout (63, 75, 100 and 109 degrees) and various features, like touch-activated water jets, waterfalls, underwater seating areas and overhead waterspouts coming out of the ceiling. There was also a cold deluge shower outside the wet and dry sauna rooms and a seating area for self-scrubbing.

After a while we went back to the lockers to don our bathing suits and uniforms to go upstairs and meet the men. The middle level is a large seating and dining area with numerous other services and traditional hot and cold saunas. We had some sushi and food from the buffet bar (wonderful Korean-style spareribs), some milk bubble tea and then got manicures and pedicures while we waited for the men to finish their scrubs.

We tried each sauna one by one, and explored the sleeping area, the resting room (where each lounger had its own TV monitor) and the outdoor pools on the upper floor (which were too crowded to use since it was a holiday, no doubt). There’s also a Korean restaurant on the top floor, but Puck and I missed going to that.

Since it was so crowded in the pools upstairs, Puck and I went back down to the women’s bathhouse for some more soaking and ended the day in the heated resting room. This room was a comfortable and dry 100 degrees and scented with a large sachet bag on the wall. One wall had two panels of backlit rippled glass windows decorated with ivy leaves. It was a peaceful and pleasant way to conclude our visit.

We went back home to Staten Island for dinner and some family time before I left to go home and get ready for work in the morning. Puck actually came over the following night after their date with Alex (of House JAPaN) but after I was already asleep. They took a bus to Massachusetts today to visit some friends and get their MacBook fixed.

Today at Nearing we formed a movie club, since we all love talking about movies in the Communications pod. Each month one of us will choose three movies based on a common theme and we’ll vote for one to watch on our projector in the Board Room. Everyone seems really psyched about it, so we’ll see how it goes. So one more viewing night to add to my ongoing marathons with Kacey (Sherlock), Piper (Hitchcock movies) and Puck (Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel and Doctor Who).