Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games

Busy and lazy weekend with Puck, full of good stuff. I'm really going to miss these kinds of weekends when they are back in school in the fall.

Friday night was the premiere of The Hunger Games. I got out a bit late from work (it's been happening a lot lately) so we walked over to the Chipotle to eat some burritos before heading down to the theater to sit in line for a couple hours before the 10:15 show. And it was definitely a good thing we did because the line was about 40 people deep when we got there, and eventually snaked through the entire lobby by showtime.


The movie was okay, but maybe expectations were too high with such good source materials (Puck and I both love the books). And funnily enough, the audience booing during the Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 trailer was the topic of our post-movie discussion as much as THG itself. I don't know why we never learn, but every time we talk about Twilight it gets testy. We should just put that on the permanent "do-not-discuss" list.

Saturday we took a two-hour bartending class at the American Bartending School, learning how the basics of working behind a bar, mixing drinks, including the perfect martini.



Here's a short video Puck took of me, but you have to tilt your head to the left to watch it. Is your head tilted? Blink and you'll miss it.

After the class, we stopped by to pick up some concert tickets for Sunday afternoon from a friend who wasn't going to use them. Then I went to get my hair colored (purple again) while Puck stayed home to work. We met up at Molyvos, my favorite Greek restaurant in NYC, where we had a fine meal of grilled octopus, grilled lamb chops and braised lamb shank with orzo. In the evening we watched The Painted Veil and some of our Buffy episodes before bed.

Sunday we watched yet another Buffy, plus the commentary track from The Great Game episode of Sherlock before heading down to Town Hall for the People's Symphony Concert featuring the St. Lawrence String Quartet. The program included Haydn, Schubert and Dvorak, and I'd lay good money that Puck was the youngest person in attendance, and I was probably one of the 10 youngest persons. It was a really nice venue and a treat to hear classical music live for the first time in almost a year. Plus, we had really terrific seats at the front row of the mezzanine level.


After the concert we went for food at Yum Yum Thai Kitchen before heading to Fifth Avenue for Puck to catch a bus home to Staten Island. I took the opportunity to visit Best Buy and Barnes & Noble and buy some new movies: Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, Anastasia, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I also got Blu Ray versions of the concert film The Cure: Trilogy and Hugo (so I can make up for the awful presentation at the Best Picture Showcase this year).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Flash! aaahhh!

After a month of nearly non-stop activity (Best Picture Showcase, Houston, Wicked Faire, Wicked Lake House party, and road trip) this is the first weekend in a while that I haven't had any plans.

The 5th anniversary Poly Cocktails party on Monday was a blast - it was just about as crowded as the holiday party back in December. Of course, after driving for almost 11 hours back from Columbus that day, I was a little zonked. Puck and I had dinner at my favorite Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall place on the Lower East Side. I got up with Diana and O Man to give a little speech about how Poly Cocktails has become the "front door" for many people to enter the polyamory community in NYC, and most of that is due to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere we've worked to create.

Tuesday Puck had a doctor appointment in the afternoon while I went shopping around Union Square, exchanging a pair of shoes at Nordstroms Rack and getting some tea at Whole Foods. Then we drove back to Staten Island to drop them at home and I returned to meet up with Kacey for some overdue catching up.

I parked Yoshi in midtown and met her at her workplace. We took a walk to the Radio Shack to buy a connector for my new Playstation 2 and then walked down Park Avenue until she could break her fast. By way of celebration of my raise and bonus, I took her to La Mangeoire, a French restaurant I've been to once before with Ken, back when we were dating. We waited a few minutes and snagged one of the two outdoor tables along Second Avenue so we could dine under the glittering skyline in the cool of the evening.


Wednesday I wore my new Nike AirMax shoes to work and boy, did I get a lot of comments about them! They are really flashy purple and bright orange and super comfy. A couple co-workers said they liked them, and my friend Yusha said "I wish I could get away with wearing what you wear to work, but I love it." On the train home, I sat in the "quiet car" and a man actually got up from his seat to tell me how much he loved my shoes before sitting back down. That are that eye-catching!


You know, I really enjoy it when people notice these things about me: my hair, my makeup, my clothes. I like being flashy, even though my personality and demeanor are anything but. If my hair was its natural color all the time, no one would ever say anything or notice it at all. I'd rather get compliments and run the risk of being inappropriately loud than to just be boring and conformist. After all, I'm in a creative profession so I'm entitled to a little leeway with my appearance.

Friday night was the MMMM and it was a nice surprise that Puck decided to come after their visit with Ryan instead of going straight home. They went straight from Penn Station and I met them at the diner, where we chatted with our friends Kiwi, Beth, D (who came down from MA), Anastaysia and Bella. We also got more acquainted with a couple new people named Katie, Emma and Stella (the latter two whom we met at Monday's Poly Cocktails).

I was so sleepy by 2 am that I opted to pay $10 for us to take a cab back home, even though it's only about a 15 minute walk. And one thing I love about living in Times Square is that no matter how late I get home, I always feel safe walking home because there's always people about and it's so brightly lit at all hours of the night.

The next morning we woke up late, around 11 am, and we had planned to have breakfast at the next-door Irish bar, Langan's, in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. There were two problems with this. First, we woke up so late that they were not serving Irish breakfasts anymore. Second, the bar was already packed with rowdy revelers. So we went across the street to our backup plan, the Evergreen Diner, for a more normal breakfast at the counter before Puck left for home.

The rest of the day I've been snoozing, doing laundry, watching the Rockets lose to the Clippers, packaging up recycling and blogging, of course. Since everyone's out partying, I have the laundry room to myself, which is quite a rare treat. Tomorrow is another quiet day, with yoga in the evening at Papacookie. This is definitely a weekend much needed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Road Trip 2012

Puck and I took our first multi-state trip together this past weekend, driving from New York to Hershey, PA, to Springfield and Cincinnati, OH, to Indianapolis, IN, back to Columbus, OH and home. Puck created the #roadtrip hashtag, so I’m interspersing their tweets in my narrative.

Adventure weekend is officially begun! #roadtrip


Listening through @PhilippaJane's Chasing the Bard on our trip west! #roadtrip #podcasts

Our first stop in Hershey, PA was to visit my dear friend Alex (formerly known in this blog as Sean and Chris). He met up with us at our hotel and it was such a joy to see what a fine person he has turned out to be. I met him online when he was only 15 and we went through some difficult times together when I was transitioning back in 2005. Now 23, finishing up school and with a new job, he seems like he’s really gotten his life on a good track.

Yay for making new friends! #roadtrip

Alex and Puck hit it off famously right away, bonding over their mutual fandom of the BBC series, Sherlock. We went to an Indian restaurant for dinner, followed by a trip to Midtown Scholar, a wonderful bookstore in Harrisburg.


And this is why I'm not allowed in bookstores. *weeps* #roadtrip
Medieval scholars are hilarious. #roadtrip

We came back to the hotel and Puck read aloud their Tolkien short story they picked up. I bought a book on Stanley Kubrick to prepare for my next film series with Piper. We also watched the first episode of Doctor Who since Alex hasn’t started on that one yet, and then it was time to say goodbye. But we are planning to meet up again in May for the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, NJ.


Chapter 9 of @PhilippaJane's Chasing the Bard! #roadtrip
#roadtrip music is Ego Likeness.

The next day we drove from Hershey to Springfield, OH, just west of Columbus, to meet my friend Joanna. I met Jo back in 2006 and we’ve kept tabs on each other since then, but she’s been busy raising two kids and I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing. She’s going through a rough time with a divorce, but still took time out to take us to the nearby Cracker Barrel.


My music education continues. Listening to The Cure #roadtrip
#roadtrip music now is This Way To The Egress (aka creepyfantastic macabre carnival)
Just passed a Schoedinger + Norris hearse. So that's what cat people do after their runs in fiction... #roadtrip

After dinner we went to the Ninja Headquarters store in the local mall, where I bought a German-made, ceramic folding knife and Puck picked up some book recommendations. Apparently, there’s a lot of ninjas in Springfield.

Springfield, OH has been charming. Love making new friends. #roadtrip
Got book suggestions and weaponry at the Ninja Headquarters (no I'm not joking) #roadtrip


We dropped Jo off and proceeded to Cincinnati, home of Puck’s friend Kat. She and her mom had just sold their house and were getting ready to move, so we are the last friends to visit her there. She’s moving to Indianapolis to live with friends and pursue a career in theater. She’s also starting a custom steampunk tailoring business and showed us her sketchbook. She may be short in stature, but Kat is a dynamo of energy and good vibes, and I was very pleased to meet her.

Visiting old friends = best thing ever. #roadtrip #cincinatti
Chatting with @xkaptain in her home. <3 #roadtrip #oldfriends


The next morning we drove to Indianapolis, spotting a few interesting sights along the way. There was a barbecue place in the shape of a mechanic’s garage, with the words “meat” and “lube” side-by-side, hence the tweet:

"That's what we need: steak-flavoured lube." -@Waterlily888 #roadtrip
Dog in a pick-up on the I-74. #roadtrip


Metamora next right... Town of metamors? xD #roadtrip

Next up was meeting Dez and Seifer and their little girl Amara, whom we took out to the Steak ‘N’ Shake. Neither Puck nor I had met them before – they are friends with Puck on a Skypechat group, so it was just a convenient coincidence that they live near Puck’s first girlfriend, Billie. We hung out with the family afterwards at their house and I played balloon volleyball with Amara – she’s such a precocious and polite little girl. I give Dez and Seifer major props for not only raising a future geek, but a well-mannered one at that.


Just met up with Dez and Seifer! #roadtrip #skypechat


We drove a short distance to meet Billie at the apartment she shares with her boyfriend Nate and two other roommates. She took us to see the sights in downtown Indianapolis and we lusted over teapots at the Teavana store.


We walked around the plaza for a bit, then we met up with everyone at a sushi restaurant called Ichiban for dinner.


Having sushi at Ichiban with @iridomaniac and Co. #roadtrip

After sushi, everyone went home to smoke some hookah and play games for a short time before we had to leave. We decided instead of staying overnight in Indy, we had to start back in order to make it back in time for the 5th Anniversary Poly Cocktails party on Monday night.

Hookah and Pokemon at House @iridomaniac before starting to head back east. #roadtrip
Farewell to Indiana and @iridomaniac! This #roadtrip is coming to an end.

We drove a few hours before stopping at a hotel east of Columbus for the night. In the morning, I found a delightful automatic pancake machine, the first I’ve ever seen, in the breakfast area. I get excited about the silliest things!


‎"They come in 24-packs? I'm getting one!" "You've had a whole 12-pack already!" -@waterlily888 and I about diet Mountain Dew #LotR

On the road again. The plan is to alternate napping and working all the way back to NYC. #roadtrip

To sum up, it was a wonderful trip. Yoshi logged miles like a champ, and everything worked out according to our hastily conceived plans. It was fantastic meeting all these cool people, and of course, the highlight for me was meeting Alex for the first time.

But the common theme I took away was that everyone we met is going, or has gone through some very tough times in life, at least as tough as my travails. Despite all this, I was struck by how positive all our friends are, how hopeful they are for their futures, and the futures of their children. It inspired me to see that, and made me grateful that we have friends with that quality of positivity and resilience. Hopefully we’ve also made some lasting connections that will lead to longer meetings in the future.

Passing through NJ on the way home. #roadtrip

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wicked Lake House party

After coming back from Houston I barely had time to unpack before we were off again on Saturday for Westhampton, MA for the Wicked Lake House party.

Puck came over in the early afternoon and we had some Chinese food delivered (including an excellent Peking duck) and went over our agreements for the party. This led to a little mini relationship check-in that was very positive. I also made peanut noodles to bring to the party while we talked.

We packed our bags and walked over the Shake Shack to meet Piper and get some food and drinks for the drive. I got vanilla frozen custard with chocolate truffle cookie dough mixed in, which was deliriously good. We walked over to a nearby park and Jet picked us up in the Dykemobile, a Ford Explorer like the one I used to drive in my previous life.

We had a little difficulty finding the house in the dark and snow, but we finally made it there and found the party in full swing. I met a girl named Katie right off the bat, and was surprised to discover that I’d already met one of the party hosts, Curtis, at my first public play party almost a year ago ("Slumber party" - May 17, 2011). He's a little too shy to have his picture here, but it's easy to describe him. Just think Edward Norton in
American History X and you're about 90 percent there.

Katie is a grad student at Yale and she made these cute earrings that displayed symbols for quarks. One had a “T” for top and the other had a “B” for bottom (she identifies as a switch and her primary interest is in rope play). Of course when I pointed out Katie’s earrings to Puck, the award-winning astronomy student loved them.

Katie had brought a flogger she made herself to the party. It was unusual because its tails were made of deep red satin, stitched into segmented tubes and filled with rice, so it was quite heavy. I tried it out on D (previously referred to as Dee), but I was kind of afraid to let loose and have the pillows burst, which would have made a mess of rice everywhere. So she got off easy >: )

The same couldn’t be said about another girl who did a scene in the living room while I watched from the couch. She was topped by a very large, muscular guy using a variety of floggers, paddles and even bundles of rope. I’ve seen Piper take a lot of punishment, but this girl probably surpassed her in this instance (not that it’s a competition or anything, of course).

Other than flogging D, I didn't participate in anything other than conversation. Many people were playing with D's collection of stun guns, violet wands and other electric shock toys, but that is definitely a hard limit for me - I hate electric shock! I even have this tiny static discharge toy that I got from the Japanese bookstore that I use when I take my coat off at home. It lights up with a smiley face to discharge electricity when you touch it to metal.

In the wee hours while Puck was having sexy times with Kiernan downstairs, I scoped out the sleeping arrangements upstairs. There was one bedroom with two single beds and a smaller cot. Piper and Jet were sharing one of the beds and Katie was in the other one, so I asked her to move to the cot so that Puck and I could share the single bed. It was tight to be sure, but we somehow managed a fairly restful sleep from 4:30 am to about 11 am.

The next morning we had a communal breakfast preparation with some people making bacon and sausage and I heated up my leftover noodles in a skillet. Just like the last party, I had a dream; this time about Puck, Piper and me being in a gang and finding an abandoned Lamborghini. We were constantly trying to keep one step ahead of a rival gang of vicious thugs who were trying to steal the car from us. I also enjoyed the view of the frozen lake from the screened-in porch for as long as I could stand the cold being outside.



At the dining table, I noticed the girl who had bottomed in the living room the night before sitting by herself. I thought she had really pretty eyes, so I slid over to introduce myself. Amazingly, we had so much in common that we talked non-stop until it was time to leave. She's from Houston and went to Bellaire High School for a time, just down the street from my old house. Her house was very close to Ben's house inside the Loop. She's been through a house fire too. She misses the food we grew up with, but unlike me, she misses the weather too. Her name is Stella and she's attending school at Amherst College, studying wildlife biology. It was really cool making such a random connection with someone like that. I invited her to come to the Steampunk World's Fair coming up in May, but whatever happens, I hope we'll get to see her again soon.

Jet and Piper took us to the bus station in Springfield, where we boarded separate buses: me back to New York, and Puck to visit other friends and her sister in Massachusetts. They came back Monday night and stayed over a couple of nights. Last night we went out to a French restaurant called Marseilles and had a nice dinner to celebrate my raise and annual bonus, which I received on Tuesday. The bonus wasn't as large as last year's but still quite sizable by most people's standards.




Puck had a French onion soup and duck confit, while I had bouillabaisse and rack of lamb. The lamb was the best dish, and we had a delicious French Malbec red wine to go with everything. We also had a walnut cake with baked pears and a maple pecan ice cream. We toasted to happiness and love, and our love of New York where two people like us can be openly affectionate in the middle of a crowded restaurant without anyone batting an eyelash.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Lady Antebellum

This week I’ve been in Houston for most of the week at Nearing’s first off-site Communications planning meeting. Although Nearing is headquartered in New Jersey, our biggest office is in my hometown of Houston, and we have more employees there than at headquarters, including a group of communications people who report to a regional vice president who reports to one of my bosses.

On Thursday we visited the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the second largest rodeo in the world. On the way to our seats, I heard someone calling my name, and I was shocked to see my old colleague Norm, with whom I worked for seven years in Houston. He and his wife were there and I was overjoyed to see them, especially by chance and because we’ve missed each other the last couple times I’ve been to Houston despite our efforts to meet up. Sometimes life throws you small miracles that you can only wonder at and be thankful for.


In our suite we enjoyed a scrumptious barbecue dinner and watched the rodeo, which included bull riding, bronco busting, calf roping and wrestling, mutton busting (little kids riding on sheep), a calf scramble (older kids chasing after and subduing the animals for prizes) and chuck wagon racing. This race was a particularly close and exciting finish!

Here’s what bull riding looks like:

Plus there was an indoor fireworks show that preceded a concert by Lady Antebellum, one of the few country acts I’m familiar with. We left right after they sang their hit song, “Need You Now” so we could beat the rush and get to bed before our early flights home in the morning.


Here's the band singing the first verse of their new single, "Dancin' Away With My Heart":

All in all, it was a very fun, very busy, and very exciting day – and a very memorable trip.