Friday, September 22, 2006

Sad Songs

One of my favorite bloggers is getting divorced. I don't know why this had such a profound effect on me -- I don't know this person, I've never met her or talked to her -- but I found myself being extremely sad about it on the way home from work last night and crying. Maybe because I've been there, and maybe because there was something so eerily familiar about her post -- it felt like I wrote it, like someone was sitting inside my head. This just pierced me
I wanted my life neatly contained and packaged again because that was what brought me comfort - the notion of the neat and pretty and tidy seemed to heal me.

The very, very sad songs on both The Last Kiss and Grey's Anatomy soundtracks didn't exactly lift my spirits, and I found myself holding back more tears on my usual walk up to Harvard, down to the water, and back down Mass Ave. Things never turn out quite the way you expect. YOU never turn out to be quite who you thought you were. sometimes that's a bad thing, and other times it's a good thing that I'm not half as horrible as my messed up head tells me I am.

I am okay. Everyone's okay. We're all getting better, and I have much to be thankful for. When I reread my recaps of vacation and look at all my pics, I'm so greatful. I've been emailing with an old friend from college, and he wrote something about his wife that also struck me as a wonderful, excellent description of how I feel about YG --- or the "mysterious YG" since some of you are curious about his real identity.

"She is so patient and understanding, puts up with my crap and still thinks I'm the greastest thing ever. As long as she never figures out that she is a better person than I am we should be together for a long time.... ha ha ha! No seriously, it's not a low self esteem thing, she just appreicates me even when I'm not at
my best."

I'm still trying to figure out what my best is. I kind of lost who I was in the marriage, and I'm carrying around the baggage and battle scars to prove it. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I probably judge myself way harsher than anyone else does -- that YG and my friends and my family don't have some checklist that they're holding up and grading me against. There was a burglary in my building this week, and I've been ever more OCD about triple checking locks and windows before I go out -- when I do that, I imagine that YG is silently checking off my boxes on my cons/crazy list, and that the next "bad" thing I do will be the thing that sways JM from "pro" to "con." SERIOUSLY, FOLKS, DO YOU GET HOW INSANE THIS SOUNDS?

It was a rough evening. I continued to listen to sad music, and then watched Grey's Anatomy and cried (lost love, choices) and then ER (sick babies, dead husbands) and then went to bed where I had a dream that I was at a wake and everyone in my family died because I left them and moved away. WTF?

Today's a better day. Today is always a better day. And even if it isn't, it's just today.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vacation Recap: San Fran Weekend, Part 3

On Saturday we decided to get out of the city and recreate the “perfect day” YG had when he visited Msquared back in the spring. We rented a car for the weekend that we picked up a few blocks from the hotel. There was some back-and-forth about adding a second person to the rental reservation so I just hung back and read and looked at all of the different maps. Two older ladies riding motorized scooters came in to pick up their car rental, and I had a bit of a giggle imagining them rolling up and down the San Francisco hills in their matching sweat suits with shopping bags.

After the car situation was resolved, we picked up K at her new apartment in Telegraph Hill. She only moved in a few weeks prior, but it was still cozy and cute, with the most gorgeous views of the water. As I’ve blogged before, I’m still having conflicting feelings about my new apartment. I pared down a lot to move from a big condo to an apartment, but I still feel like I have so much STUFF. Seeing K’s great, yet small, apartment – with everything she needed in two small rooms – helped me realize that I can scale down even more. We had a good laugh over the fact that we were wearing essentially the same outfit – black t-shirts and jeans and blue hoodies being so cutting edge and all – and were on our way.

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, a thrill in itself for me, and stopped at The Marin Headlands to take in some of the spectacular views and enjoy some of the trail mix that Msquared had packed. He also brought an entire backpack filled with fruit that sadly, none of us ate.

After the stop, we drove over to Stinson Beach. I was in the backseat and getting nauseous and car sick because of the windy roads, but still couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I feel like I’m using a lot of “beautiful” and “breathtaking” and “amazing” to describe the scenery, and that’s lame [and I know I need to have a long conversation with myself about why I’m doing this kind of writing as opposed to “real” writing] – but I really don’t know what else to say. It takes a lot to get me to shut up, slow down, and appreciate – but San Francisco and the surroundings were able to do that. It was a very foggy day, and we kept ducking in and out of the clouds, watching this spectacular, rocky beach come into view in the distance.

We took a walk down the beach, chatted and looked at the houses. It must have been warm because there were people in the water, and by the time the walk was over, the four of us had stripped some of our outer layers and were down to jeans, t-shirts and bare feet. We then had a delicious lunch and win at The Sand Dollar which is supposedly Stinson Beach’s longest running restaurant and bar. They had a heated patio and this great little live band, and I enjoyed my fish tacos and club sandwich (with lots and lots of bacon) very much.

YG said that they sat at the same exact table when he was there in the spring, and I was happy to be there this time, and in a much better headspace. When YG was in SF earlier, we had hit a really rough patch. I was still stuck in my horrible job that was a huge mistake and really depressed – wondering whether or not I should be on meds. It was a really bad time for me, and I made it extremely difficult for him. When he went out there, it was like he took a break from all the crazy people in his life demanding things of him – his depressed girlfriend (a.k.a. me), his crazy ex-wife (the EC), and the insane stresses that go along with being “an important person” at work and being a single parent. He came back much more relaxed, healthy and happy. And I got through my shit and dealt with it. Five months later, we were able to take this great trip together. He got to recreate his perfect day – except it was a little more perfect.

After lunch, we drove over to Sausalito, this cute little community on the hillside between the Bay and the Marin Headlands. I knew nothing about Sausalito other than remembering its name from some terrible tween book I read in middle school. I’ve been googling like a fiend, but I still can’t remember what the name of this book was. It was like a ghetto rip off of Sweet Valley High. Basically, the premise was that there were two very pretty, blonde cousins – one who lived in San Francisco, and one who lived in no-name town in the Midwest. Midwest Blonde comes to spend a school year with SF Blonde and is completely overwhelmed by the big city. She meets some guy at an art show in the gym of their school (where if I remember correctly, she was stacking a deck of cards?) and sees her art (i.e. the card stack) and thinks she’s some sort of artiste. Because she’s from the Midwest and completely overwhelmed by the big city, she lies to the guy and pretends like she’s all city fabulous. Complexity ensues. All comes to a head when she’s supposed to go out for a date on his parents’ houseboat in SAUSALITO, and she ends up scratching her eye with her fake Lee press-on nail while getting dressed in her city, artist clothes. She has to come clean, and sends SF cousin to SAUSALITO to explain to rich guy why she can’t join him for dinner. The rest of this mind-numbing plot is a blur to me. I just remember thinking that rich people live on boats in Sausalito.

So, yeah, anyway. ..It was really pretty, with lovely views. And very sunny and warm – quite different than San Francisco. If you looked over at the city, the fog was settling in, and it appeared almost like a picture where somebody just erased the top part. We sat on the water’s edge, drinking hot chocolate and coffee and had a completely ‘not stoned’ conversation about what our “favorite” animals are. MSquared gave me shit about choosing cats because they’re easy and domesticated, and apparently one should not choose domesticated animals as one’s “favorite animal” in these types of conversations. Monkeys, my second choice, also got a big meh. We finally settled on panthers as my favorite animal. For the record, MSquared’s favorite animal is a polar bear. Average age of the four completely sober participants in this conversation: 35.

While in Sausalito, we unfortunately witnessed a sailboat sinking. It was terrible – sitting on the sidelines and watching this guy struggle to try and save his boat. He had help from the Coast Guard, but I’m not sure if he was able to salvage his boat. He was out there for a while, and we watched him being towed in. It was sad imagining how embarrassing it must be to be dragged in before all these spectators like us.

By late afternoon, everyone was exhausted so we headed back to the city and found an excellent parking spot. I drive in cities enough to recognize the value of a truly great (and free) parking spot. I was cranky and whiny and lame (capital L) so I went back to the hotel and took a nap, while YG sat down in the lobby reading and journaling. I joined him about an hour later, and we chatted up this nice couple from Atlanta before changing and heading over to MSquared’s for wine and Jenga.
[Note; I still haven’t bought Jenga, but I’ve made a list for this weekend – it’s on it.]

We had 9:30 dinner reservations at 1550 Hyde
so we headed up there, as I sulked and pouted over my Jenga loss in the cab. That lasted for a few seconds but was immediately lifted once we got into the restaurant. Our table wasn’t ready so we grabbed seats at the bar, and munched on some olives. K and I also tried some Kir Royals (a drink I haven’t had since I visited my brother in Lyon during his semester abroad) and the boys had wine. YG pouted a bit about the table not being ready. I pouted a bit about YG pouting, and Msquared and K were just laid back and happy as they usually are.

All was made well when we sat down for our meal. OMIGOD! I had eggplant bisque for an appetizer that was divine, and a vegetable pasta dish that was cooked to perfection. I also tried a Gewurztraminer that was very tasty, but totally not the right wine for that meal. I’m trying to learn more about wine and what goes with what, but it’s slow learning. I know what I like – sweet wines, and usually stick with that. I’m hoping to branch out a bit more. K had a white burgundy that was delicious. We also had some yummy desserts [that I paid for, my penalty for losing the Jenga game.:-)] and left around midnight and walked back to the hotel, discussing whether or not Msquared should get a scooter. Scoot or die, dude. Scoot or die.

It was a long exhausting day, and I had gotten kind of prickish by the end of the day, but as we were walking back, and I got a look at my lovely boy, I realized how very, very lucky I am.

Sadly, Sunday was our last day in San Francisco and we had a 10:30 p.m. red eye to catch back to Boston. After days of stalking Mamas from the window and wondering if the food was good enough to warrant waiting on line outside for, we sucked it up and went over. The line was substantial, but the wait wasn’t too bad. We were wedged between a couple that was gushily making out and a gaggle of hozzles, fresh off a bachelorette party, including the bride-to-be – wearing a frickin’ veil. Gag. You may think I’m bitter because I’m getting divorced and all walking the boulevard of broken dreams, but the bachelorette party phenomenon has always made me throw up in my mouth just a little. One look at these hozzes and I knew they had spent the last night doing shots and squealing that girl squeak, and thinking it was just hilarious to carry around their dick-shaped lollipops and “suck for a buck” t-shirts. Ew. Plus, there were about 90 of them and I knew that, in due time, someone wearing Juicy “couture” terry cloth sweat pants and oversized sunglasses was going to show up….and I’d just go postal.

Again, though, I was rescued by the food. The story of my life, folks. It was so good. I really didn’t even know where to start – I wanted everything. You wait on line outside, and then they let you in, where you wait on line inside, place your order and then wait for a table. I decided on a mimosa and lemon raspberry French Toast made with freshly baked bread, covered in syrup and fresh fruit. YG had either the cinnamon-swirl or something with apples in it – I forget. And to add to our carb-fest, we split a piece of coffee cake. It was unreal. So good, so filling. Well worth the wait.

After breakfast, we checked out of our room (So, so sad – bye bye stalking window) and left our bags in the lobby before heading up the The Haight. The cab ride was insane, and we kept flying up and down hills and whipping through streets. I’m not sure what I was expecting from The Haight, but I was sort of surprised. It’s been over 30 years since the Summer of Love, but I was still expecting to see hippies hanging out everywhere and lots of incense and tie dye and “peace, man”. There was plenty of that stuff, but also some shops that sold True Religion jeans and John Fluevogs – not really “hippie” in my mind. We found a cute kids shop and bought the MG a bag, a patterned change purse and a purple flower ring – stuff you know she’d get a kick out of.

Then we headed over to Golden Gate Park. The next time I visit, I hope to spend more time here. It’s really pretty, and from the map, enormous. There was an opera starting so we sat down for a few minutes, but after realizing we’d have to wait a while for it to start, we headed back to the Haight again.

And there I had my second San Francisco religious experience – Amoeba Music -- the largest indie record store in the country. I could have spent all day in there – I was in total “kid in candy shop” mode. I didn’t even make it into the new music section, spending all my time rifling through tons of used CDS. Everything was so cheap so I picked up a number of things I wanted a while back, but never got around to getting: an old Sleater Kinney,’s compilation CD, a Waifs CD, and the Jose Gonzalez album I didn’t have. So, so awesome.

We headed back to North Beach to pick up our bags and use the bathroom, and I chatted with the very pregnant hostess at the hotel. We then rescued the car from its very good spot and drove back to The Golden Gate Bridge. We parked the car, and decided to walk over on foot. It was absolutely freezing, but so worth it. The color of the bridge is just as interesting up close as it is in photos, and it doesn’t even feel like you’re on a bridge – more like a giant highway in the sky [how ridiculous is THAT description?]. The fog is so strange, though – when we started on the SF side and made our way through the throng of tourists, we couldn’t even see the top of the tower on the other side. Making our way across, I took a bunch of pictures and we spotted a couple of interesting things including a sea lion or dolphin hanging out in the bay and a European tourist who stopped about every five feet to take a picture of himself against the backdrop of the bridge. It was bizarre! On the other side, it was much sunnier and on our way back, we saw one of those giant cargo container ships going by and a lot of Blazing Saddles riders. I REALLY want to do the bike path next time I’m in San Francisco – bike over the bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon, and then take the ferry back. It looks amazing. YG and I commented, though, on how it seems like a pretty long ride and most of the riders we saw didn’t seem to be experienced riders. 17 miles in jeans and flip flops seems like it would suck, but that said, I promise the residents of Northern California that I will not subject you to the spectacle that is JM in bike pants should I ever visit again, and get to do some biking.

After getting back to the car, we started negotiating what we should do with the rest of our day before heading to the airport. We decided on Alamo Park because I was interested in seeing the Seven Sisters and getting a glimpse of that famous view of the city and its pretty Victorian houses.

We found a parking spot right away, and it really is a lovely neighborhood. Sadly, I did not meet DJ or Stephanie Tanner in the park, and Uncle Jesse was nowhere to be found, but it was worth the trip. We only spent a few minutes before getting back in the car, with YG driving and me navigating with the map.

We headed back toward the waterfront and decided to get a drink at YG’s favorite bar in San Francisco. Of course, the name of said bar and restaurant is eluding both of us right now, but it’s down near Fisherman’s Wharf and has beautiful second floor views of Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge and is loaded with black and white photos of movie stars, tons of them. I think it has an Italian name, and I keep Googling all of those search phrases, but can’t find it. I had glasses of a yummy Sauvignon Blanc, and then we ordered some prosciutto, mozzarella, and olives and chatted and enjoyed the view until it was time to leave.

We drove back to North Beach and picked up Msquared who was driving us back to the airport and returning the car. We got through security, walked around the airport some more, and I bought new blotting papers at Body Shop and read the newest craptastic magazines and saw the pictures (finally) of the mysterious Suri. We had another drink at an airport bar, I got nervous and clingy and blubbery (because it wouldn’t be a JM vacation without one nervous breakdown), and then got off the plane, sleeping most of the way.

Arrived back in one piece around 7:30 a.m. ET, cabbed back to Cambridge, napped for a few hours and then enjoyed one last fun lunch together before returning to the real world. Sigh. I miss it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vacation Recap Part 2: San Francisco

YG and I arrived at the airport for an 8:30 flight with enough time for coffee and reading. The flight was rather uneventful, so I listened to some music and started Empire Falls (an awesome read, highly recommended). We also watched Poseidon – a movie so horribly bad that it was hilarious. You know your movie sucks when people laugh when the lead characters die.


When the flight landed, I flipped on my cell phone to discover that I had 4 missed calls and 3 messages. Huh? Readers, I am not a phone person. I hate talking on the phone and only call people when I need to ask them something or I really, really miss them. Even as a teenager, I was not so into the phone. So…I don’t get a lot of calls except for work-related stuff, and the occasional check-in with family and friends. Four calls on my mobile in 6 hours was just off. They were all related to the impending home sale. The buyers wanted to move the closing up a week, and my lawyer didn’t know I was on vacation and needed me to sign and notarize a bunch of documents. HUGE pain in the ass. I immediately got in a foul mood, and moved quickly into “I hate myself for being in a foul mood on vacation” mode. YG reminded me that I didn’t have to agree to moving the sale up, so I didn’t – crisis averted.

MSquared picked us up at the airport, and we drove back to his neighborhood, North Beach, and dropped our bags off at the hotel. He took us out for some great pizza, and then YG and I explored the neighborhood. City Lights Bookstore was the high point – I’ve been wanting to visit for ages. Yeah, it’s a bookstore, but if you love to read and if you thought The Dharma Bums and all that other Beat writing was the shit, you want to visit “just a bookstore.” We had some coffee at Café Trieste and then walked up to The Coit Tower -- it was a perfect day and the views were amazing. I’ve never been in a city more beautiful than San Fran. Paris is gorgeous because of the amazing architecture, but the natural landscape in California is breathtaking.

We went back to the hotel and had some champagne and did some people stalking. If you look at The Washington Square Inn website, there’s a fabulous picture of a room with bay windows and a great view of the park. THAT was our room! Amazing. I spent more time than I can recount, staring out the window, people watching and scribbling away in my journal. I thought I’d post some of that stuff here, but it’s a lot of “so happy” and “so great” and ideas for short stories and just details. We then had evening hors d'oeuvres and wine in the lobby, before meeting Msquared and his girlfriend K for dinner.

I was a tad nervous about meeting K because I had heard so much about her, and YG had such a crush on her, it’s hard not to get into “step off, bitch. That’s my man” mode. She also supposedly was very cheery and laid back, and allegedly knew all kinds of stuff about man things like cars and guns (i.e. things YG knows about, but JM does not) – and is a Red Sox fan from New England. Because I’m immature and apparently still in high school and could keep any number of therapists in business for years, I was feeling: K being cheery and fun and great = JM being fat, dumpy troll who is boring, negative AND high maintenance. So I approached dinner with a bit of trepidation.

And that was so dumb! K was awesome – really nice and engaging, and she’s involved in a lot of interesting projects at work that were cool to hear about. I *love* meeting people who are good at conversation and just relaxing to be around. And I like hearing how people find ways to mix their corporate and philanthropic lives.

We had the yummiest dinner at The Slanted Door. While the whole meal was pretty much the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, the ribs were a religious experience. I was reluctant to eat ribs while I was all gussied up in my pretty dress, but I ended up inhaling them and slurping the rib sauce off my fingers. It was that good. If you’re in San Francisco, go to this restaurant! It’s a must.

After dinner, the four of us walked back to North Beach. I’d like to personally thank Kenneth Cole for designing high heels that are easy to walk in. Four-inch heels are never easy. Four-inch heels while buzzed and walking up one of San Francisco’s famous hills is daunting. My boy, Kenneth, doesn’t fail, though.

Thursday morning began with more people stalking at “our” window, and enjoying the hotel’s yummy breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. We then walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf and checked out a bunch of the silly, touristy places and bought postcards. We also saw the massive USS Pampanito, and the ridiculous sea lions flopping around on the water docks. They’re so fat and funny and there’s so many of them.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz and did the audio tour. The views are amazing, and the history is impressive. It’s this massive building, and you hear the wind howling through it, but then you look out the window and see gorgeous San Francisco – it must have been psychological torture for the inmates. I listened to all of their stories, but the one that broke me was an inmate describing New Year’s Eve on Alcatraz. It was cold and they could hear the singing and festivities going on at the Yacht Club. Heartbreaking stuff.

Post-lunch, we picked up salads at the Ferry Building and ate outside and then had some wine at a nearby wine bar. The tasting flights were great – I tried a lot of stuff I normally wouldn’t be interested in. Then back to Café Trieste for more coffee and a long, relaxing lounge in Washington Square. It’s a strange little park – every morning, we’d see all the locals doing their tai-chi. It’s very disorienting to wake up in the morning, look out the window and see hundreds of people holding their hands over the ears. There were lots of folks lounging in the sun with their dogs, and you get to see the beautiful St.Peter and Paul Church. There’s that famous picture of Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe taken outside of it. They couldn’t get married inside because she was divorced, and Catholics don’t go for that sort of thing (once my divorce is final, I think I get to officially be a whore. Woo hoo!) MSquared joined us so I had time to journal while he and YG chatted and discussed work and their various business ideas.

For dinner we met my friend, M, in The Mission. I met M in New York a couple of years ago through a website when we were both planning our weddings. She’s lots of fun, really smart and great to talk to. We had some yummy tapas and then went to see her husband’s band play. I hope they don’t mind, but I’m going to publicize these guys and tell you to GO SEE THEM! The music was great, the band was really tight, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Friday was a YG/JM special. Again, people stalking and reading and oatmeal in the morning. Then we walked downtown to Banana Republic's flagship store, recommended by K, where we bought some stuff that you can't find in the BRs in the mall. Tooled around a bit, and then did our touristy fun thing of the day -- taking a cable car. Recommended way to get around the city? No. Cheesey, fun thing to do and experience? Yes.

We got off at Lombard Street and walked down and took pictures. It really is crooked. And it really is a trip. We then walked over to the Marina District and I got my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, not covered in fog. Beautiful. Some lunch and window browsing on Chestnut Street and then we walked back to the hotel -- I think we walked about 4 miles day, my second pair of Kenneth Coles serving me well.

That night, we went to a baseball game at AT&T Park. We knew it was going to be freezing, so I stopped in this little hat shop next to the hotel and bought a winter hat. We met this girl in there who was from Massachusetts and familiar with the way-out suburbs where YG lives. We chatted her up for a bit, and when we left she gave us an honest-to-god "peace" and held her fingers up in the peace sign. Welcome to San Fran. :-)

The game itself was great. We took a cab there because of all the walking and had great seats. I got to see Barry Bonds hit (no homers) and make fun of that little bitch, Mike Piazza, who now plays for the Padres. YG also got booed for wearing a Red Sox cap, and when he said "my life is tough. This [said while pointing to my Yankee sweathsirt] is my girlfriend." The guys responded with "the Yankees are the greatest sports team in history." Hee. Nuff said.

It was cold, and since SF was winning, we left early and took a cab back to North Beach where we had pizza and wine at one of the little Italian places on the strip of streets home. Then we went to Enrico's , had a couple of drinks and chatted up some drunk folks who happily accepted the Giants bobblehead doll that was a free giveawy that I didn't feel like dragging around anymore. AFter that, we checked out another bar that a little too "investment bankers and the women who date them" for me, and then turned in for the night.

An awesome day and night with my awesome boyfriend.

Next installment: why San Francisco is beautiful, but San Francisco beyond is even more so

Vacation and then Some: Recap Part 1

A couple of my loyal readers (all five of you) asked how the vacation went, and I do not want to disappoint the adoring public. Also, remember that promise I made to try and keep writing more? Yeah.

Labor Day Weekend
I made plans to go to Long Island for Labor Day weekend to spend my birthday with my family. I’ve done this every year, with the exception of the college years, so no surprises. I worked at home on Friday because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get to the airport. The subway was a bit of an adventure, given that everybody else in the greater Boston area was also trying to leave the city for the weekend. I could write a whole post about my idea of proper subway etiquette, but that’s boring. I will say, though, that it sucks when you’re stuffed between “I don’t care if talking on my cell phone really loudly is obnoxious” guy and “oh, is the fact that I keep banging into you with my Coach bag filled with 500lb bowling balls annoying?” lady. Add in “hey, ladies” fratty and “Jesus lives. Everybody hates gay people” crazy, and well, you get the picture. The highlight, though, was these two really crazy and funny Jamaican guys telling really bad jokes right out of “The Truly Tasteless Jokes” catalog. They had most of people on the bus we had to get on post-train giggling and laughing, with the exception of that lady you find on every form of public transportation wearing an ill-fitting sweater and sensible shoes. She did a lot of clucking and eye rolling. When the Jamaican guys got off at their terminal, one shouted out “Thank you to all the beautiful ladies on the bus who have been very nice to look at!” Awesome.

My flight was at 6:50, so I got to the airport at 4:30 because of all the security shit going on at the time. I left my very dangerous deodorant and saline solutions in my checked bag, and brought my wallet, journal, iPod and one book through security – which took all of 15 minutes. Then I found out my flight was delayed an hour because of Hurricane Ernesto. Ughh…I caught up on my important reading (US Weekly, Star, InTouch, Life&Style, and Marie Claire) and bought a copy of The Economist to give the appearance of not being a trashy, celebrity whore (it’s still unread). I also enjoyed the best pizza and beer Logan Airport has to offer.

The flight itself was quite the adventure. I HATE flying and usually try to Xanax myself out, but Boston to New York is only 50 minutes. No point in wasting good drugs – although this was a point I might have wanted to reconsider, considering we were flying directly into a “tropical storm.” The captain warned us that the take off and landing would be “bumpy,” but expected that “the middle” (what, 15 minutes?) would be okay. The middle was not okay. After a hairy take off, he got back on the PA and told us that it was going to be “crappy” the whole trip. To punctuate that point, we bumped and bucked so badly that all my water and books ended up on the floor. Thank God for JetBlue’s Mapquest screens – because it was a short flight, I was able to track how fast we were moving and was able to determine that if I was going to die, it would at least be within 20 minutes or so. I also said every single prayer I could remember from studying for Confirmation class – thankfully, God has a sense of humor and isn’t all “Step off, bitch. I ain’t listening to you now.” I would have been okay, except for Insane Bitch in Row Crazy. She screamed and sobbed at the top of her lungs the whole time we were bouncing around. Classics like “we’re all going to die” and “God help me” and “Somebody get me off of this plane. GET ME OFF THIS FUCKING PLANE!” It was horrible, and I came about as close to puking on a plane as I ever have. Bitch also had the nerve to ream out the JetBlue people for “not helping” and “not responding” when she needed it.

But I survived in one piece. Long Island was Long Island. It’s weird to see so many changes to the house – which NEVER changed when I was a kid. There’s new furniture, and a big new fancy window, and an outdoor fireplace. Some classics still exist, though, like having to open the bathroom door and shout out “can I flush?” as loud as you can. Someone doing dishes + someone flushing toilet = poop on the rug.

Given the hurricane, it was a pretty crappy “beach” weekend. It was still really wet on Saturday morning, but not pouring. My brother went out running, so I decided to do the same. It was so windy that I had to hold on to my glasses and the bridge railing when I ran over to the beach. The beach was ferocious – the waves were insane and the water was running up to the boardwalk. I was there for about 3 minutes before it started pouring – making the run/walk back pretty sucky. Thank jebus for my iPod and James Brown chanting “Get Up Offa That Thing.”

Family barbeque on Saturday afternoon at the cousins’ and lots of t.v. watching, including the first couple episodes of Six Feet Under and Anchorman for about the 60th time. I don’t care how immature it is – “San Diego: it’s German for a whale’s vagina” is ALWAYS funny to me. Sunday was another crappy day so we went outlet shopping. Loaded up on JCrew cashmere t-shirts because I’m all upscale now, and was upset that BCBG didn’t have any more of those wrap sweater/swingy things that all the kids are wearing. I had my family birthday party on Sunday night and scored some good loot: a B&N gift card from my brother, a wrap from my sister, and new luggage from my aunt and uncle. My parents gave me something I’ve been asking for for ages – they reupholstered this great old chair I have. It looks fabulous! We also had my favorite – Carvel ice cream cake, preceded by about 60lbs of ravioli and meatballs, and “sides” of mozzarella and tomato and dried sausage.

It was sunny on Monday so I finally got my beach day! I continued to read crappy magazines and eat French fries – perfect. I had a 6 p.m. flight from JFK, but told my parents that it was 5 since their idea of “on time” is quite different from mine. To me, “on time” means I get to the airport, I get through security, I have a drink, I read a magazine and then I get on the plane. Their idea of “on time” means getting to the airport at precisely the time they are screeching out “final boarding call” over the PA. My dad dropped me off at 4:25 for my 5 p.m. flight, so I’m glad I lied.

Back to Massachusetts

Flight back was uneventful, but on my cab ride, I got to listen to some conservative talk show hosts that made me so mad, I actually asked the cab driver to turn it off. The person in question (I WISH I could remember his name so I could flame him publicly) was discussing some recent study that said that a large number of heterosexual men are not using condoms. Instead of wondering why the fuck that is, this guy praised those men and said that he, and none of his friends either, used condoms because – this isn’t a direct quote, but you get the point – “We haven’t fall prey to the liberal media myth that we’ll get AIDS without using condoms. AIDS is still a homosexual disease, and I praise those young men that aren’t bowing down to the homosexual agenda.” Seriously, folks. On the radio. I was floored. Especially when he pointed out that none of his friends were monogamous either. This idiocy just makes me want to scream.

At home, I discovered the first of my presents from YG and the MG. YG, a proud member of Red Sox Nation, bought me a nice new Yankees sweatshirt AND he cleaned my car from top to bottom. If any of you have ever taken a ride in my car, you know that keeping it clean is not something I do well. In my world, backseat = garbage can. I had amassed so much junk – everything from old magazines to a graveyard of Diet Coke cans to a program from my brother’s college graduation years ago. And the trunk was worse. The two of them cleaned the whole thing out, vacuumed, scrubbed, purged and then arranged all the stuff that was salvageable in a neat, storage box for the trunk. They even bought me this crazy thing I had never even thought of: a garbage can.

Tuesday was my actual birthday. I woke up feeling no different at 30 than I did the day before. I consider this a good thing. I worked from home and ran errands and treated myself to a Bruegger’s Bagel Leonardo Da Veggie sandwich. It sounds so lame that this was my big birthday treat, but I’ve been craving one of those things since I worked at BB 8 years ago.

YG came over and FINALLY told me where we were going: SAN FRANCISCO, with four nights at this fabulous place! Not only did he plan this whole thing and manage to keep it a secret for months, but he also wrote up a detailed [and bulleted] itinerary. Excuse me a minute while I gush – is he not the best boyfriend in the entire universe? The trip itself – incredible. The fact that the boy knows me so well that he knew I’d get all hot and bothered over a bulleted checklist – priceless.

We dropped off my keys at SKB’s because she was gracious enough to feed my cats while I was away, and went to dinner at Christopher’s. SKB was gracious enough to feed my cats while I was away, AND helped YG get some of the info he needed to plan one of the items on the itinerary. She also told YG he was the BBFE (Best Boyfriend Ever!) so she’s top notch in our book!

The next installment: San Francisco. Who knew that my ho-hum life could take so long to regurgitate?