Monday, October 27, 2014

Houston trip

It’s been quite a while since my last update, but not all that much has been going on. Work has actually been pretty light, especially considering that it was last October when things shifted into a higher gear and have pretty much stayed there for the past year.

The social highlight was two Fridays ago at the Rocky Whore-r Show at the PIT, where Josh performed as Riff Raff. I met up with Liz and Andrea for Josh’s one-man stand-up comedy show Maniac directly before, and then Katie M came for Rocky Horror. Liz bought us a bag of props to use during the show – newspapers to cover our heads during the rain scene, toasted bread to throw during the dinner toast, a party favor, playing cards and toilet paper. This is Liz and my second year going to the show together, and it’s such a fun show. It’s like my little “Perks of Being a Wallflower” moment (although there’s no chance I’d be press-ganged into performing like Charlie!)

Since I didn’t get home until 3 am and I still hadn’t packed for my flight to Houston the next day, I ended up missing my 1 pm flight and having to rebook for a couple hours later, which wasn’t at all inconvenient actually. It just meant I got into Houston at 8:30 pm instead of 5:45, so I had a little less time to visit Norm and Meador, my only two old-life friends who live in Houston. Norm and I worked side-by-side together for seven years at TxDOT, my first full-time communications job. They are grandparents now, and expecting two more grandchildren next year. We talked about old times and Norm gave me all the scoop on our little family of TxDOT retirees.

Sunday I had planned to meet up with my third Texas friend Linda, but she was too ill to come down from Nacogdoches, so I had the day to myself. I started with a breakfast at El Rey Tex Mex, built in what used to be a movie theater and later a Hollywood Video store I used to frequent. The restaurant has been featured on some food shows so I’ve always wanted to try it out, and the food is pretty decent but not extraordinary.

Next I went to the Half Price Bookstore in the Rice Village to buy some music, since my rental car didn't have an iPod hookup. I bought a bunch of CDs from the clearance rack for a buck or two apiece, and also picked up a book called “Hollow City,” the follow-up to Ransom Riggs’ bestseller, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” which I had finished during my extended trip down from New Jersey the day before. This is a series that Lytle recommended and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

From there I went to Texas Art Supply and found some handmade paper for my annual Free Love Letters project, plus they were clearing out their remaining supply of Parker pen refills so I bought a bunch of those, plus ink refills for my Pelikan and Monteverde pens as well. Many of my friends have NRG-branded Parker pens, so I figured they would all need refills soon too. I also visited the Rothko Chapel, as I always try to do when I come to Houston, and Cactus Music and Tuesday Morning, but didn't buy anything else since I didn't think I could bring much more in my luggage. But that didn't stop me from checking out the Nordstrom's Rack and Marshalls and picking up a couple skirts and tops, plus even a couple pairs of shoes. I find good shoes in my size so rarely that I can’t afford to pass them up, plane flight or no. I got takeout dinner at Feng Ling, one of my favorite comfort food Chinese restaurants where the food hasn't changed at all in the more than 30 years I've been going there.

I also got it in my mind that I might find a plush bunny in my hometown, since I haven’t been able to find one in New York. I looked at several department and toy stores, and finally found one in the children’s section of Neiman Marcus, a floppy-eared Jellycat rabbit that I named Dusty.

The actual reason for going to Houston was for an all-hands Communication team meeting, which was held at the visitor’s center at Bayou Bend Gardens - actually a pretty lovely spot for a meeting. We all went to Brenner’s Steakhouse next door for dinner Monday night, which was also a nice experience. I’d been to this location back when it was the Rainbow Lodge and full of stuffed animal heads, and not the ones like Dusty. I stayed on an extra day, working in Houston on Wednesday (did some more shopping) and came back late Wednesday night.

On Saturday I finished up a couple of love letters before going to see Joan’s play, “Sweet Sweet Spirit” at the 14th Street Y, which is an unexpectedly nice theater venue. The play was good, but since I don’t have a connection to my birth family, it didn’t really move me, even though it takes place in Texas. Still, it had an authenticity to it that I could appreciate.

I left directly after to meet up with Illona and Tom at the BAM Rose Theater to see “Birdman.” That was a fun movie, especially because a good portion of it was shot on my street in Times Square, at a bar that I pass by frequently. We got ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery in the Atlantic Terminal and sat on one of the benches to talk until security chased us out when the mall closed.

Yesterday I visited Kelly at Salon SCK and got the red in my hair replaced with bands of bright blue and fuschia, which is actually more subtle than the red. I also made a pulled pork shoulder stew in my slow cooker, and Natalia came over in the evening to watch “Winter’s Tale” and to retrieve her plant that has been sitting on my altar. I wanted to get ready for Samhain this Friday, when I will do my annual ritual to charge a new pendant for the year, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on this week.