Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shut Up and Write update

I joined this Meetup group called Shut Up and Write, and it's been a good impetus to get started on the project for The Conversation, Storm's artistic endeavor. And with this new Bluetooth keyboard combined with my Kindle Fire, I can even do a little blogging with my extra time.

Picking up on the last entry, the trip to Philly was quick but fun. Puck did a much more thorough recap on their blog if you want all the details - no point in writing again about it. The following Saturday I went to my friend Loli's 50th birthday party at her penthouse apartment in Jersey City. It was a splendid affair, and I met many of Loli's friends outside the women's group, and her family, plus her husband (of whom I've heard so much about). The only big downside is that it was so foggy that day that the view of Manhattan across the Hudson River, which would have otherwise been panoramic, was completely obscured.

After the birthday cake was served, Loli loaned me some Laurie Anderson CDs and I took my leave so I could get a little rest before meeting up with Katie B for the Diana Krall concert at the Beacon Theater. I was there with Lori late last year for Tori Amos but it was Katie's first time there. I bought a vinyl copy of her latest release, Wallflower, and we went up to take our seats.

The concert itself was wonderful, very jazzy and upbeat compared to most of her recording catalog. At one point she paused in a show of indecision on what to play next and a lady sitting one row behind us sang out, "I've got you under my skin!" which brought a laugh from the audience. Diana responded from the stage, "How does the rest of that go ...?" to which the lady called, "You know better than I do, girl!" It was a very funny impromptu moment in a concert that was otherwise very reserved and polite. After the concert Katie and I went for a bite at the same Szechuan restaurant behind the Beacon that Lori and I went to before Tori Amos, and then said goodnight.

Sunday night I headed down to Staten Island because Yoshi was developing engine trouble and I wanted to get it taken care of before my trip to Harrisburg with Katie M. I dropped him off Monday morning at the Honda dealer on SI and rented a car to run errands. I went to Costco and renewed my membership there so I could get an eye exam and look for glasses. Plus I knew that Yoshi would need new tires, so I checked those out too. I went to a couple other stores and then home to wait for a call, but it never came. Finally after trying to reach the dealership, I finally got a call saying they haven't diagnosed the problem yet, but they would call me as soon as they got in in the morning.

Morning came and still no word, even after repeated attempts and messages. Finally around midday I got them on the line and they STILL had not fully diagnosed the problem. I lost my temper and told them I was coming to pick him up and unless they had an answer by the time I arrived, I would be taking him elsewhere. When I got there, they said the problem was the coils and spark plugs, which all needed to be replaced at a cost of nearly $1,000. I said forget it, and they had the grace not to charge me the typical diagnostic fee of $160.

I parked Yoshi near my apartment and woke up at 6:30 am the next morning to drive him carefully out to Princeton to visit the Honda dealer out there. I met with Jennifer, my usual advisor, and she set me up with a free loaner vehicle (contrast with SI, where I had to pay for a rental), so I went to Costco and found my new glasses (the optical advisor was very nice, and she used to work at the Wayne store, so it's possible she's seen me before). I also visited the Princeton Record Exchange, of course, and strolled around Palmer Square a bit, enjoying the sunshine. So it was a very pleasant change from dealing with the service people in SI. I drove into Manhattan to meet up with Puck and Katie B at the writing meetup, where we were the only three to attend. I also gave Katie a mix CD of some of Diana Krall's songs we heard at the concert. After that was done, Puck and I drove back to SI for the night.

Yoshi's engine problem turned out to be less serious than the SI Honda dealer said it was, requiring one coil to be replaced for about $200, but they also found that the bushings on his front suspension were cracked, so those had to be replaced for more than $600, so it turned out to be close to $1,000 anyway. Add another $500 for four new tires from Costco, and it was quite a lot of money to drop on a 15-year-old minivan. But like the situation with my apartment, I'm not ready to give up Yoshi yet until I find out where I will be working next.

Last Saturday Katie M met me at the ferry terminal to head down to SI to get Yoshi - we crossed paths briefly with Puck and their parents, who were on their way to Baltimore. We stopped at a White Castle for lunch - Katie's first time there - and then continued to Chris and Bruce's home in Harrisburg. We took a rest and then headed to 2nd & Charles, that great secondhand media store that has the most organized collection of used vinyl I've ever seen.

For dinner, Chris made grilled sea scallops, asparagus and parsley linguine alfredo, and I brought a very dry Proseco and a bottle of Pavan, a sweet French liqueur (beautiful website, btw) made from muscat grapes and orange blossoms, which we mixed with the sparkling wine. After dinner we had our Mario Kart challenge on the downstairs projector, and predictably, I was last in every race. Chris and Bruce traded first and second places, and Katie acquitted herself well, at least finishing ahead of me.

The next morning Chris made bacon and eggs for breakfast, and then we went to meet Eva at the bridal shop, leaving Bruce to work on his school project. Katie graciously modeled the dresses for us, since she was the closest in size to the dresses they had on the rack, and we found one that we thought was at least as nice as the one from Cocoa Couture. So that will be the one we go with, as we are running out of time until the September wedding date. We puttered around the Park City Mall for a bit looking at shoes and cosmetics before saying goodbye to Eva and going home to pack for the trip back to New York.