wine by the color

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just an update: the salad was a terrible mistake.

Let's go with a less-is-more approach with that and just carry on...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dear Future Occupant of Seat #7B on Continental #108 from EWR to EDI:

Let me just apologize now. For at some point during our transatlantic flight tonight, I am going to jump up from my seat and make a mad dash for the restroom. I will do my best not to wake you during what will no doubt be a frenzied few moments.

How do I know this scenario is on the horizon?

Well, first you need to take a look at this face...

Less than 24 hours after this angelic face performed at his nursery school's year-end musical pageant, he was struck by a severe stomach bug, which culminated in him throwing up four times in a two-minute span while sleeping on the boat with his brother and aunt. You want to talk about a flurry of activity - you should have seen me calling the house for assistance, trying to keep him out of the mess, removing the soiled sheets from his immediate area while also keeping his brother, dead asleep, from rolling into it.

Not surprisingly, a day and a half later the gastrointestinal malady made its way to me. The past 36 hours have been a real party filled with nausea, exhaustion, body aches, an inability to keep down food and a triple-digit fever. Also sickened were my other nephew and my brother's in-laws (so far). As my brother said earlier, it's amazing that a 37-pound body could sicken so many people. But he has done it. Not that I would ever tell him that. He's the sweetest boy you'll ever find.

Fortunately for you, I am a seasoned veteran of the mid-flight hurling so I'll do my best to make it an uneventful experience for both of us. But the fact that we're delayed three hours and 42 minutes (and counting) [UPDATE: make that four hours and thirty minutes, dirty rat Continental bastards] [UPDATE #2: make that five hours, double dirty rat Continental bastards] isn't helping matters any. I'm also questioning whether a salad was the way to go in terms of reintroducing food to my system for the first time since yesterday morning. But given the other airport choices of pizza, Chinese and McDonald's, I thought I chose wisely. Time will tell.

Hugs, kisses and (let's hope) a dormant gastrointestinal tract,
Jersey Girl

PS - I also apologize for the upcoming tears. Perhaps you'll get lucky and I'll be too tired to watch P.S. I Love You. If not, I'm sorry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yesterday, I ran a mile to "prepare" for today's annual five-miler.

Despite this complete lack of training, I somehow managed to shave six minutes off last year's time. I know my 2008 plans called for a reduction of 10 minutes. Given my lackluster training regimen, I believe the six minutes should be celebrated for the miracle they are.

Another 365 days until I run again...

Friday, May 23, 2008

And people think I go a bit overboard where His Holiness is concerned...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Continental Airlines
P.O. Box 4607
Houston, Texas 77210-4607

Dear Sir or Madam:

I hope you're sitting down. I am actually not writing to complain. Well, not about you, anyway.

Oh sure, I considered sharing some thoughts after recently sitting in the 14th row of one of your aircraft. You and I both know damn well that was actually the 13th row. Are people so unreasonably superstitious that you can't have a 13th row for fear no one will sit there? As though something will happen only to the inhabitants of row 13? Call me crazy, but if something happens on an airplane, I'm pretty sure everyone is screwed, not just the folks in the unlucky 13th row. You don't usually see one row of an airline get blasted out of the air while the rest of the plane continues merrily on its way.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes...

I have come to realize how good I have it with you folks after having the great misfortune of recently taking a Northwest flight. What a clown show that airline is. I didn't realize an aisle could be that narrow, or seats could be so close. Had the man in front of me chosen to recline his seat, he would have jammed my knee into my hip socket. To amuse myself, and because I could as his head was four inches from my eyes, I counted his gray hairs during the flight.

An old, dilapidated plane. No food. No entertainment. Truly, a bad airline. BAD.

Then, this news from your counterparts at American Airlines today announcing a $15 charge for the first checked bag. Are they fucking kidding? This immediately skyrocktes to the Bad Idea Hall of Fame. Why on earth didn't they just add $15 to the price of a ticket, which no one would have really noticed? What public relations genius decided this was a better approach?

People are already hesitant to check bags, thus causing all sorts of problems during the boarding process as they carry on half of their possessions, including oversized baggage that won't fit in the overheads. For the life of me, I cannot imagine what people will henceforth try to carry on board in the name of saving 15 bucks.

I am telling you, DO NOT DO THIS. I will drive to California, take a boat to Scotland, ride my bike to Minnesota, stop traveling altogether, before I will pay a ransom like this to travel with my luggage.

So, to my friends at Continental, I say keep up the good work. Oh sure, maybe you could work on the food. I took a quick straw poll during my last flight and it doesn't appear pastrami is very popular. But at least you're still serving food, strange choices though they may be.

But other than that, well done.

Hugs & kisses,
Jersey Girl

Friday, May 16, 2008

Damn the Colonel for getting me hooked on Lost.

I need some help from my UK-based readers (ok, all one of you I'm aware of) ... I am traveling to Scotland in 10 days, which means I'll be there for the two-hour season finale of Lost. Is this program aired in Scotland? Please throw me a bone and tell me I will not have to wait until I return to the States, five days after it airs, to watch what I'm certain will be a glorious two hours of television.

Jesus Christ is not a weapon.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

I am a frequent visitor to my younger crazy nephew's nursery school. It's just around the corner from Casa Magnolia and on numerous occasions I have either dropped him off or picked him up at the school. I've also attended a variety of pageants there over the years.

But I had never been to the older CN's educational institution and I felt guilty about that. He's in the first grade and I told him I wanted to check it out. They have parents' day and even grandparents' day but no aunt's day, so I asked my sister-in-law if I could visit. Indeed I could! So today I made a guest reading appearance in his class.

I assure you, I will not spend a more entertaining, enjoyable 20 minutes this year.

When I arrived, the class was taking a spelling quiz. They quickly wrapped that up and we moved to the carpeted area of the room, where I sat in a rocking chair in front of the 20 children. I started by saying that I was A.J.'s aunt and that I was honored to be in their classroom, and how happy I was to see their class and meet everyone because A.J. always talked about how much he liked school and his friends there. I opened the book and prepared to start reading A.J.'s selection, "Amelia Bedelia's Family Album."

Before I read the first word, the fun started.

There were several girls sitting on the floor at my feet. One of them pointed to my basic brown sandals and said, "Ooh, I like your shoes," which was echoed by two other little girls. Then, another young lady upped the ante with "I really like your necklace." When I told her that had been a present from A.J., there was a lot of oohing and aahing. Finally, another young lady offered, "I just like your whole outfit." You would have thought I was dressed like a princess instead of wearing Bermuda shorts and a nice t-shirt. How I kept a straight face is beyond me. I thanked them for their gracious compliments, and finally the reading began.

The book was amusing and I interjected some ad-libs and questions to keep them involved. Upon conclusion, I opened it to questions. And hands flew into the air at an almost alarming rate.

At first, the questions were about the book. Then they were asking questions about me ("Do you have a big family?" and "Do you know everybody in your family?"). Then, they started offering personal information. One young man told me he has 80 cousins (my response: "Wow, you are really lucky to have such a big family"). A little girl informed me that although "there are five people living in my house, one of them is about to move out." I didn't press her for more details.

All the while, A.J. remained quiet, but sat beaming as his classmates peppered me with questions and stories. Then, a young man in the back of the room raised his hand and asked bluntly, "Do you know me?" Thankfully, I did, and responded, "I sure do. You play baseball with A.J." He grinned at that, and when I followed up with "and your name is Cameron," he smiled from ear to ear. And A.J. was just glowing.

Upon my departure, I got a standing ovation and looks of adoration, which made me feel like an absolute rock star. Truly, had Bruce Springsteen visited that first-grade class today, I don't think he would have received the reception I did.

Monday, May 12, 2008

For reasons I can't fully explain, I still subscribe to the local newspaper. But the paper is actually delivered to my brother's house, given that I am on the road constantly and I don't want the papers piling up on the doorstep. So it's not unusual for me to read a week's worth of news at a time to catch up after I return home.

Then, add to that the heap of magazines (current subscriptions: two weekly and seven monthly publications) that accumulate while I am traveling and it's a wonder I actually ever sit down and read anything. (Please make note of that as it will be the reason I use in late December to explain the inevitable failure of #3.)

This is all a long-winded way of explaining why I didn't read this in the New York Times until today. I have had the occasion to interact with Friedman through my job on occasion and really enjoy his work.

And while I am still quite fortunate to have both my parents, in the past months I have had several friends lose a parent, which made this all the more poignant.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Do you know what this is the face of?

This is the look of sheer glee on the face of a crazy nephew who had five minutes earlier been told the Mets don't always hit home runs during a game and thus the apple doesn't always come out of the hat, only to have Delgado and Schneider go yard back-to-back in the bottom of the seventh.

Honestly, it's hard to accurately capture his excitement. He lost his mind for a few minutes - dancing, screaming, clapping. A wild man.

I was so proud.

Lovely day at the ballpark today for me, my dad and the crazy nephews. Got to see Santana in action and enjoyed a big offensive show from the Metropolitans. And, in typical Jersey fashion, the guy sitting next to us is the lacrosse coach at my old high school.

Sweetie Pie Princess didn't make this trip but she wasn't at all bitter. In fact, immediately upon our arrival home, she was sharing her cheese curds (Hi Megs)...

A very good day,

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So I'm in my hotel room, settling in for a short night of slumber after a hearty meal at one of my favorite Texas eateries. All of a sudden, what sounds like a gunfight breaks out in the streets and rouses me from the comfy bed in a slight bit of a panic.

If anyone can tell me why they are setting off fireworks in downtown Fort Worth at 11:17 p.m. on a Thursday, I'd be most appreciative.

Crazy Texans...
For every 20 or so trips I take, I can count on at least one being really shitty.

Yesterday was that really shitty day of travel.

Two delayed flights. A long mad dash across the Most Hateful Place on Earth. A delay of more than 90 minutes once I arrived on the other side of the Most Hateful Place on Earth. A man sitting behind me who believed my seat was there to serve as a railing every time (at least seven) he got up during the flight. A lengthy wait for the rental car shuttle. No rental car waiting upon arrival.

And then there was this...

"Let our Celebrity Chefs wine and dine you with the award-winning service that you deserve."

These are the words Continental uses to describe its in-flight dining experience.

During a 2.5-hour flight from Milwaukee to Houston that included the dinner hour, my "meal" consisted of: a mini Kit Kat, a bag of trail mix, two butter crackers, a small package of parmesan peppercorn spreadable cheese and seven slices of beef salami.

Is that what I deserved? What did I do to them?

Not surprisingly, there was also no entertainment during the flight. But I checked the movie options for May in the in-flight magazine anyway as I have a flight to Scotland later in the month. For all flights from Newark to the UK in May? Oh you know what's coming...

P.S. I Love You.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I'd really like to give my loyal readers a witty recap of what was by far the best Bike NY experience I've ever had. But I'm working on less than three hours of sleep thanks to ongoing insomnia and nonetheless rode my bike 46.1 miles today. I am exhausted and simply incapable of shtick-filled blogging.

But I can tell you that despite a downpour around 12:45 a.m. last night that I was sure would continue throughout the morning, we did not have one single raindrop all day. The ride started chilly and cloudy but was sunny and warm by the time we finished. I can assure you that a wake-up call at 4:10 a.m. sucks, no matter what the reason. And why is there so much traffic on the Turnpike at 5:13 on a Sunday morning? Where is everyone going? But it apparently pays to arrive early, as we got onto a ferry in record time and encountered fewer bottlenecks than usual as we traversed the five boroughs.

Please allow me to tell the rest of the story in photos. Because I really, really need some sleep.

As we waited (for much less time than in past years) on Sixth Ave. to enter Central Park, a calypso band entertained the crowd...

Thank god I don't live in NYC. Honking in the city is expensive. I'd go broke...

I'm sure people looked at me strangely as I excitedly noticed this NYC landmark as we climbed the Queensboro Bridge...

Another view from the Queensboro Bridge...

Another NYC landmark, home of the Sopranos...

Many of our fellow riders adorn their helmets with all sorts of nonsense - flowers, animals, what-have-you. This man, however, was clearly a genius...

Wish I could tell you which bridge this is. So tired I can barely spell my first name right now...

Cyclists ride up the Belt Parkway as traffic sits at a standstill on the other side of the highway...

Oh, I DO know. I don't need a billboard to remind me...

Not to be outdone by my recent cycling disaster, Freakgirl enjoyed a headfirst-over-the-handlebars adventure...

A trio of ladies rest and smile prior to tackling the beast, the Verrazano...

Jersey Girl and her uncle enjoy their final rest before hitting the Bike NYer's Everest...

I promise I wasn't riding my bike and taking pictures at the same time. I think they frown upon that...

All right, bitch, hit me with your best shot...

A view of lower Manhattan from the middle of the Verrazano...

The bridge behind us. Forty-six miles in less than six hours. Time to return to Jersey...

Sleepy time...if my knees will carry me from the couch to the bed. Wish me luck.