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Archive for December, 2010

If New York City was a person, I would imagine them to be calm, cool, sophisticated, a little bit snotty.  Obviously very highly opinionated and vain, self-absorbed, definitely unflappable, and above all, tough.  Until, that is, a little frozen condensation gets in the picture.

Unless you’ve been under a rock (or perhaps on a glorious vacation in a far off land sans internet connection?), you know that NYC was hit with a pretty bad (for NYC standards) snowstorm over the weekend.  And despite its permanent placement in the Northeast, despite it’s tough-guy attitude, despite it’s bragging that NYC is the “best city on the planet,”  this place is absolutely freaking out.

Now, it’s not like we have 8 feet of snow.  We have two feet, maybe. And it’s not even the biggest snow-storm to hit the Big Apple. It’s like, the sixth biggest.  So in the large scheme of things, it’s not really a big deal.

But you’d never know that from the way everyone is acting.

Luckily H and I managed to get back into the city via the always delightful (sarcasm) Metro-North Railroad on Sunday evening, before everything really went to hell.  But upon waking up on Monday morning we discovered that not only was our subway line completely suspended (not too surprising as they are elevated tracks out in the wilds of Astoria, Queens) but the Metro-North, the LIRR, every airport in the area, the New Jersey Transit, and pretty much every other subway line and bus route was also, amazingly, not functioning.  Cabs and cars?  Don’t even ask.  You would have had better luck cross-country skiing down 5th Ave.  Which, actually, I think people did.

I’m not sure you non city-dwellers will comprehend just how ridiculous this is, but try to imagine it.  An entire city of millions of people, most of whom depend entirely (like myself) on getting around via public transit, placed into a state of suspended animation. It was, excuse my french, a complete and utter shit show.  It was like with the first few flakes people’s brains turned from regular, logical function into OHMYGODFROZENWATERFALLINGFROMTHESKYWHATDOWEDOPANIC!

Don’t believe me?  Exhibit A:

Creepy, isn't it? (image from Gizmodo.com)

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! I mean people just abandoned their cars, their MTA buses, whatever, because holy moly it’s SNOW.

Still, you might be saying, whatevs, a morning of transit delays and stuck cars, no big deal.  But you honestly have no idea.

People were trapped on subways.  Trapped! Which is terrifying in and of itself, but combined with blizzard conditions?  Woof.  Not even for a couple of hours, but for 7 hours, or 8 hours, or hey, even 15 hours. 311 (sort of like 911 for complaining here in NYC) and real 911 were shut down, paramedics and other emergency people couldn’t get to anyone who needed help, and there were power-outages galore.

And where were the MTA workers and Sanitation workers and all those other people who get paid to clean up after storms like this?

Well frankly, I have no idea.  But I do know where they weren’t: cleaning off the tracks of subways (as of today, Thursday, there are still subway lines that aren’t functioning), spreading ice on train platforms so we don’t all slip and plunge to our death, or plowing 90% of streets in the outer boroughs.

In the aftermath of this storm, people aren’t exactly calming down.  Everyone is all ragey because Mayor Bloomberg pooh-poohed the storm and suggested people “go to a Broadway show” or something like that, instead of mobilizing resources to help citizens dig out.  It also did not help ole Mikey’s cause when pictures surfaced of his block plowed down to the black top bright and early Monday morning, while the rest of us (AKA Queens and Brooklyn) languished under the drifts.

Like I said: freaking. out.

So what did I do during Snowpocalypse 2010?  Duh, what any good NYC office drone did: “worked from home” and watched 18 episodes of “My Fair Wedding with David Tutera” on TV.

The snow sure did look pretty from my balcony, though.

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Readers, I’m sorry I haven’t been as prompt at posting as I have been in the past. The thing is, everyone talks about how busy they are at the holidays, and for awhile I kinda went, pshhh, busy?! Not me. And then, magically, I’m an adult and I am, actually, busy as heck. So, apologies.

Much of my time has been taken up by traveling and planning on traveling and visiting everyone in the general vicinity whilst traveling, that kind of thing. Which is where today’s story begins. H’s family Christmas party in Massachusetts was last weekend, and we proved ourselves once again to be Mega Bus’s greatest customers by trekking up there.

As I was enjoying the food, festivities, and company at said party, something occurred to me. Something big. A milestone, if you will.

H and I, with really trying, have quite suddenly become “Wine People”

Let me rewind. This epiphany happened after a few important incidents. 1. I recently realized that I was a bit unusual in the wine-drinking department after my sister (who is no stranger to the fermented grape herself) thought I was insane for asking for a wine decanter as a housewarming gift. I like my wine decanted. Sue me! 2. H’s mom recruited us to go to the liquor store to buy wine because “we knew that kind of stuff” and 2. we were gifted not one, but TWO bottles of el vino. Granted, H’s mom is not a wine drinker, and bottles of wine are great gifts that I welcome with open arms. But nevertheless, there it was. Evidence that we are Wine People.

I would say I’m not sure how this happened, but I actually am pretty sure how it happened. It all started with an innocent trip to San Francisco last year. Never having been to the west coast, H and I decided that SF would be the best locale for an inaugural visit. And with vacation stretching before us, I suggested we spend one day on a wine tour in Napa Valley, a quick mini-bus jaunt from our hotel in the city.

We frolicked from vineyard to vineyard, tasting and swirling and sniffing. I discovered that H fancied himself as the owner of an (and I quote) “extremely refined palate” (and I concur that that might be the only refined thing about him. LOVINGLY.). After that day, it was official: wine was good. Two thumbs up. Actually, between the two of us, four thumbs.

Before that, my experience with wine was limited to a certain boxed variety favored by poor college students. That, and a week-long trip to Spain during my study-abroad semester where local red wine was the cheapest thing we could get drunk on. The theme of my early wine-drinking was apparent: wine was great! When there was nothing else cheaper.

But now that I am a ma-toor lady, things are different. The wine tour in Napa was the first of a few. I attempted to hone my palate (whose limit was “I taste…wine”) while H lorded his over everyone else (“I taste strawberries–no, raspberries. Deffinetly raspberries. Late summer harvest if I’m not mistaken”) and we found ourselves not just buying bottles when we felt like drinking them, but buying them to keep around, just in case.

Now I realize I tread a fine line, because Wine People can sometimes come off as, well, A-holes. Not all wine people, mind you, but you know the ones I’m talking about. The connoisseurs, the ones who wouldn’t touch a bottle of Yellowtail with a 7 foot pole. Exhibit A:

Warning: strong language. This man does not fool around with his wine.

So let me clarify, H and I are not Wine People of the pretentious, A-hole variety. I think because we just kind of fell into it rather than making a pointed effort of becoming Oenophiles. My motto, and I think H’s too is: if it tastes good, drink it. I mean, it’s not like we are subscribing to Wine Drinkers Monthly or spending an entire paycheck on a singular bottle or building our own temperature controlled wine-cellar under our apartment building. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We are Wine-o’s of the slightest, most amateur degree. But I guess that’s all you really need to be.

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You guys!  It’s DECEMBER.  How did that happen?  Wasn’t yesterday like, August?  Labor Day?  Where did Autumn go?

It is suddenly the Christmas season, and I’m not exactly prepared for it.  Maybe it’s because it snuck up on me so fast, maybe because we don’t have a Christmas tree yet, or maybe I’m just being a total Scrooge, but I am having a very hard time getting into the holiday spirit.

This is a problem.  Because  I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I love sparkling lights and snow storms and family togetherness and eating until you are too full and buying  presents for people you love and listening to Bing Crosby crooning carols on repeat.  The list could go on and on.  There isn’t anything about Christmas that I don’t like.

Except, in the past few years, since I started working, basically, Christmas has lost a little bit of its magic.  In my first year at my job, I was positively aghast that we didn’t automatically get Christmas Eve off.  I was even more disappointed that I didn’t have enough days to just take it off.  I was stuck going to work on Christmas Eve–a travesty if I ever heard one.  I had to take the stupid Metro-North home on Christmas Eve, and it pretty much made me want to cry.

When I was a kid, obviously, Christmas was chock full of spirit and cheer.  My parents were awesome about keeping the Santa pretense alive, supplying the best presents, and creating lasting traditions.  Even in college, the fact that I was home loafing around for 4 weeks meant that I could lay underneath the tree to stare at the blinking lights and inhale Christmas-Tree Smell to my heart’s content.  Now, though, I am an adult.  And adults, apparently, have to work extra hard to get in the holiday spirit.  Or at least, this one does.

It’s not only the job factor, though.  I automatically associate Christmas with my family being together, alternately irritating one another and making each other laugh, watching favorite Christmas movies (what up, Muppet Christmas Carol), and just hanging out. But in recent years, as it is wont to happen, my family is slowing growing up and apart.  Siblings are scattered to what seems like the 4 corners of the earth (really, just Boston, North Carolina, and Alabama), and the lead-in to Christmas, which I think is pretty key in enforcing the Christmas Spirit, has been drastically shortened.  To like, 1 day.

So now, we don’t decorate the Christmas tree together.  We don’t watch Dad throw a hissy fit when he A. can’t find the outdoor lights, B. can’t find the ladder to hang the outdoor lights, and C. can’t make the G-D outdoor lights stay up on the G-D roof.  We exchange names for Secret Santa via email and text message instead of picking them out of a hat, and the days of searching for Reindeer tracks on the roof on Christmas morning are long gone.

I’m not saying that we get together for two days and then abruptly peace out, but it’s different from how it used to be.  And if there is one thing that I am not the hugest fan of, it’s change.  Especially when it comes to my favorite time of year.

This is not to say that I mope listlessly around until the moment I am able to escape to my childhood home and start celebrating.  I do make all efforts to bring the Christmas to my current home.  This very evening, actually, I am forcing H to buy me a Christmas tree and drag it home (while I watch) in the sub-zero temperatures we are experiencing here in NYC.  And then I’ll put on my own Bing Crosby Carol mix and decorate the tree myself.  Sure, it won’t be weighed down with ornaments lovingly and painstakingly collected over the last 25 years, but still.  It’s something, at least.

And it does help, somewhat, to be in New York City during Christmas.  Because even if this  place is dirty and stinky and gross every other time of the year, something special happens to it during Christmas.  You might have to look beyond the glaring HOLIDAY SALE signs and the tourists clogging the sidewalks (just elbow them out of the way), and it sounds pretty cliché, but New York at Christmas really is just the best. Even if our snow turns gray 5 minutes after it’s fallen.  It’s just so sparkly here.

So with festive New York City, and my very own tree, and maybe an emergency viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, I think I might start slowly inching away from Scrooge-dom.  Even though we aren’t chasing the dog around the house with a Santa hat, even though there aren’t 8 million boxes of ornaments to hang on my tree, even though I probably won’t get to sit on Santa’s lap this year, I think I will somehow, some way, make it.  I am starting to realize that like too many other things in life, being cheerful at Christmas isn’t automatic: you have to make an effort for it. So as soon as I stop waiting for Christmas to come over me, as soon as I go out there and insist upon it, my problems will be solved. 

To kick-start things for myself (and hopefully, for you guys too) I give you two clips that I dare you to try to watch without feeling at least the teeniest bit Christmasy.  Double-doggie-dare you, actually.

PS: Try to tell me that the Ghost of Christmas Present doesn’t remind you of a certain oafy character in my life (aka, H).  IMPOSSIBLE, CAUSE HE’S BASICALLY H IN MUPPET FORM.

PPS: I am teary-eyed at work.  Wood. Family. Classic.

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