wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.


Sep. 18th, 2013 02:51 pm
wwcitizen: (Rollercoaster Red)
There are many different times in my day or week when all that comes to mind is the strong desire to escape. Somewhere else or some other time draws me into daydreams and longings for being and experiencing something other than the present.

It’s critical to be present and live in the moment as much as possible. It’s those present moments that create the future daydreams and nostalgia, longings and memories of other times, happier or more interesting places, and people.

This escape is nothing specific to me right now or necessarily a reaction to anything going on right now, except that I’d MUCH rather be anything else than sitting at a desk.  I’d rather be out hiking, watching nature do its thing, walking around a lake in upstate NY or down a street in Boston, or sitting in a train in Europe heading someplace I’ve not visited before.  Perhaps it's the ensuing change of seasons that makes me dream.

But, my sitting at my desk right now is a moment that needs to take place in order for those other, better moments to happen and more interesting places or times to be. My present work day will allow me, for instance, to visit another place that Monet painted or where a Vivaldi violin concerto was first enjoyed. Putting in my time now will result in time off and freedom from corporate bounds for a little while.

Would that I were a business traveler again. I used to LOVE to travel for work. It was exciting to visit and discover new places or get to know a particular place far away from home. I loved having special places in other towns that I discovered and would visit when I was “in town” for a business trip.
Most if not all the places I used to frequent for dinner, lunch, drinks, or over-nighting in Brno, Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Ljubljana, and even Vienna, Linz, or Salzburg – work trips – are most likely gone and part of history. The same is probably true in Leipzig, Berlin, Chicago, Houston, and Winston-Salem.
Having visited Ephesus and many ruins in Greece, Germany, and Italy, I often wonder how many cities I've visited in my lifetime will be relics and ruins of my time five or ten centuries from now. How will the earth’s surface or climate change that defines the future earth?

For those people who painted pictures in their kitchen in 300 BC, what did they daydream about? Did they ever want to escape and see or do something different than they were doing?  I wonder how many kids or artists with whimsy wrote their names on the inside of tiles before placing the tiles in a mosaic in their houses, like I used to do when I helped my dad build rooms or fix a wall. 

All over the place from Singapore to Kaua’I, Hawaii, I've planted my initials somewhere, all the while thinking, “Who will find this? What will they think? Will they look up my name and try to find out anything about me? What else will I leave behind that they will be able to find?”

It seems part of human nature to want to leave some kind of stamp on the world for future humanity. Is that all humans or a select few? It’s a select few whose existence echoes through the centuries – like Homer. Of course, not the “Homer” of Springfield, but will Matt Groening’s work survive the centuries?  Will school kids in AD2357 watch those shows in awe of “the way things were”?  Or will Space Balls inordinately be the societal ruler by which our generation’s Weltanschauung will be measured?

See?  All I wanna do is escape and be elsewhere doing something else, but simultaneously leave my mark somehow, somewhere, someway.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Aside from the tummy issues, we did have a great time in Ptown for Bear Week. I mentioned the events I hosted in a previous post (that took me a while to write up for some reason...).

We met TONS of new people and got to see people we hadn't seen in a long while, such as [livejournal.com profile] texwriterbear, [livejournal.com profile] slothel, and [livejournal.com profile] delmarmar Also in attendance were [livejournal.com profile] profundis (apparently - didn't get a chance to meet up), [livejournal.com profile] thetarnishedowl, [livejournal.com profile] mat_t (I think), [livejournal.com profile] faghatesgods & [livejournal.com profile] mondragon (Matthew saw them  both on separate days from afar),
We got to meet [livejournal.com profile] dewittar and [livejournal.com profile] fishfin for the first time in person!!  Very happy we were able to meet up and connect.  When I first encountered Rodney and Allen, they both looked so different in 3D than in 2D. Plus, I hadn't expected such pleasanly homey southern accents to come out of them like they have!  Very enchanting couple.

The day we were together at Vorelli's for bloody Marys, the power kept failing throughout the Cape from allowed brownouts. One of the cooling towers at the nearest nuclear plant wasn't cooling as quickly, so they diverted all the power for cooling to one cooling tower and shut the second off, which took some time and created brownouts.

Even still, we got to see some shows, including Miss Richfield 1981, one of our favorites! Those tickets were for Matthew's birthday gift. And we were both well enough to have a nice dinner at the Crown & Anchor and then head to the show! She never disappoints and always brings in some fresh, unexpected stuff. Very fun!
So, yes, we got to experience a lot of what makes Bear Week great: friends, shows, dinners, Tea Dance, and evening dances. But, we just took it all a lot slower than in years past. PLUS, the ultimate greatest thing was that I had no back pain like in 2012.

On the second and last Saturday of Bear Week, we decided to stay till around dinner time. The previous times we had been to Ptown in the off season, we discovered that leaving later in the day allowed everyone else to get off the highway. Our drive went from 7-9 hours (with everyone else leaving the Cape) down to a normal 4.5-5 hour drive home.  We spent the day shopping around, which we didn't do during the week, and spending time with a couple of friends of ours from NYC.
Fun times were had by all! Yay for vacation, Bear Week, and GREAT FRIENDS!!  We're already looking forward toward next year's Bear Week in 2014!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Bear Week 2013 is over. Well, at least the in-person experience.

The Beginning of OUR Bear Week
Our vacation started off with the "exciting", long, soul-sucking drive through Connecticut, as usual, no matter what time we leave on Friday. There are always road blocks, construction sites, traffic, delays without explanation, and then SUDDENLY everything clears up around exits 72 or 86 right around a nearby prison (there are 93 exits in CT on I-95 and WE start before exit 1...).
In the car ride, we munched on baked sesame sticks (YUM!!), grapes, pork sandwiches that Matthew had made the night before (EXTRA YUM!), rice chips (blech), Chinese crackers, and peanuts. We brought only filtered and seltzer waters with us to drink all the way up, but didn't drink a lot of it. Matthew was happy that we didn't feel the need to stop to go to the bathroom, since we weren't drinking that much.  We checked into the Gifford House for the Friday night by about 8:30 - a 7-hour drive for what should normally take about 5 hours.  Thanks, Connecticut!  We were mellowing over a martini at the Porch Side Bar at the Gifford House by 9:15PM and stayed there till about midnight. We were tired, so went to bed; Matthew had a small tummy ache when we got to the room.

Matthew's Birthday
At 5 AM, Matthew woke me up to tell me to call for an ambulance. He hadn't slept much the previous 2 hours because of major abdominal pain that had woken him up. He felt that he had an abdominal obstruction. The EMT who heard Matthew's description said, "It's probably his gall bladder," which seemed really off - Matthew's never had gall bladder issues and our regular diet is perfect for a healthy gall bladder.
By 5:30 AM, distraught and bleary-eyed, I stood watching the love of my life get into the vehicle, knowing he'd be on the road for no less than an hour to the nearest hospital down the Cape. I had to stay behind to move our stuff from the Gifford House to the condo across the street and get things settled for the week, which I did. We wouldn't hear his prognosis till about 9 or 10. It took them 2+ hrs to admit him and then he went for an ultra-sound. They found gall stones, but nothing to report in his abdomen; there was no infection and he had no fever - just pain. The doctors from hell didn't prescribe any pain medication for him or anti-biotics. Nothing. They wanted to remove his gall bladder - FOR NO REASON! So, he promptly grabbed the CD from his ultra-sound and made a mad dash back to Provincetown in a cab.

Three Cheers For Equality!!
I will say this: I was greatly encouraged by the Massachusetts health care system and the level of equality/acceptance I experience in MA - on a regular basis.  At about 10:30 am, I called the hospital to check up on Matthew, because the last text at that point from him was, "I'm running out of blood, TTYL!" I called and said, "My partner was admitted there at 6:30 this morning and I would like to speak with his nurse about his status and why his blood is running out." They put me right through to Matthew's nurse, Frank, who gave me an update.

Once I hung up, Frank went to Matthew and introduced himself and relayed my information; Matthew had not met his nurse until I called asking for information - WHICH I GOT WITHOUT QUESTION!! But, because I, his partner, called to check up on Matthew, his nurse got more on the ball - Matthew wasn't alone. I can pretty much guarantee that that experience would not happen in any of the states that currently do not recognize same-sex couples as equal in the eyes of the law - no matter what the hospital employee-patient manuals say.

My Matthew was safely and soundly back in my arms by 3 PM. I had gone shopping for all our food, including vodka and rum. I had everything set up for him for his birthday - all the decorations throughout the house - and set up his suitcase, hanging shirts, and our Internet for the week, so that we'd be WiFi-enabled.  He didn't have to lift a finger. Instead, we both took a nice, long nap and went to Tea Dance by 5:30.  Then we had dinner at the Red Inn and enjoyed a slice of cake that I had delivered from Relish Bakery down the street.
BEAR WEEK 201322-smaller
Steve's Events
For this Bear Week, my Facebook group suggested some get-togethers and I picked two to host: One on Sunday for the Facebook group at large, and one on Monday for the "Bear Week Virgins" to meet some veterans.  The Sunday morning coffee house get-together went over GREAT. Matthew and I wore t-shirts that we had made with the logo of the group that Matthew constructed. I had also gotten a huge banner made up for the events and hung that up, too.  Over the course of about 2.5 hours, about 50+ people made their way by us for the get-together out of about 200+ people who'd responded as "Going!". A 25% turnout is pretty successful.
IMG_4907 1373812870920 20130717_171909
Monday's turnout at the Aqua Bar was about the same and I was very happy to introduce people to a bar that seems to get lost in the shuffle between all the other bars in town. The Aqua Bar has great views of the bay and the wharves, as well as other bars' decks.  For this event, we wore the t-shirts, I hung the banner, and I passed out Pride beads; I had bought 4 bags of 6 dozen beaded necklaces; I gave out 1.5 bags at the Monday event, which was about 85-100 necklaces.  That means about 33-50% of the people who responded came!!  Even more successful - and some people from the Sunday event came to the Monday one, which was even better.  The bartenders (Brecken and Morgan - loving their names) made up a summery, fruity cocktail special for the event.  But, I didn't drink any alcohol on Monday, which I'll explain next.

Steve's Tummy
Sunday evening after Tea, we went out to dinner with some friends. I was playing it "safe" by ordering mussels, a salad, and a Provincetown staple: fish soup. That dinner at 7:30 pm was practically all I had eaten all day except some store-bought hummus late in the afternoon.  Sunday night I could tell something wasn't right and it seemed that I had eaten something bad.  By Monday around noon, just before my "Like A Bear Week Virgin" event, I started feeling odder and a little queasy. By the time the event was over, I really needed to be back at the apartment because I was getting delirious and dizzy.  So, we went back and we took a 2-hour nap, skipping Tea.

We had dinner reservations for 7 pm at one of our favorite restaurants, Ross' Grill.  Every hot appetizer or entree I saw on the menu made me feel nauseous.  So, we ordered the raw bar (which for some reason didn't disgust me) and I got a salad as an entree.  Matthew got the mussels and chicken (he felt fine) and I ended up not finishing my half of the BEAUTIFUL and delicious raw bar or my salad. The waitress brought me ginger ale after ginger ale and then THAT made me ill.

When we got home, my tummy was really bad, but nothing was moving. I got a fever in the restaurant and it got up to around 101.8 at one point in the evening. I dozed off and on for 3 hours and went to bed around midnight. The fever broke around 2:30 and I ended up sleeping till around 9 AM Tuesday and napped from 11:30-1:00.  I didn't feel like eating anything at all and by no means was I drinking alcohol.  I ended up not having any alcohol for three days!

Matthew's Tummy
Matthew started getting my symptoms from Sunday by Tuesday evening after dinner of Greek salad with chicken. That night we had another salad and chicken gyros because we were both kind of hungry. His tummy ache and fever kicked in later Wednesday afternoon. We both made sure that his tummy aches were definitely not the same as the ones from Saturday. We were quadruple-booked for Wednesday evening events and parties. I went to Tea on his insistence, and came back with a light dinner for us both at home by 6pm.  Matthew insisted that I go out and have fun with some folks, so I went out for about 2 hours, checking on his temp from time to time, which held steady at around 100 degrees (thankfully, less than mine). I brought him back some Tylenol and by midnight, his temp was down to almost normal.

A Godsend - All Tummy Issues Aside
In the end, Matthew and I spent a lot of time together this last vacation, making sure the other was on the mend and back on his feet. Since I got my new job in May, we've both been feeling lots of separation anxiety and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) of each other's presence.  We haven't spent this much time apart for almost the last 5 years!! So, having time together on a vacation, where we usually are out and about all day in town spending time with friends, we would have felt like we spent no time together. In a way, it was a godsend that we got food poisoning.

It might be strange to say, but there's no one I'd rather be sick with than Matthew and he feels the same way. We take care of each other and know each other's needs. The main thing I never want to experience again is watching him leave in an ambulance by himself.  That was probably the worst and most helpless I've felt in a long, long time.  No matter how much he insisted that we had to do it that way and no matter how it all turned out, it was awful. Seeing my love, in pain, leaving without me to an unknown place with unfamiliar people was awful.

All in all, we relish in the fact that we did, actually, have a great time!!
wwcitizen: (Bavarian Bear)
I choose to reject the concept of rain or clouds for the upcoming first 5 days of Bear Week in Provincetown. Reject it, I say!!  The winds are going to come from out of nowhere, baffle meteorologists all over Massachussetts, and sweep away all the bad stuff. The temps will remain tame between 80 & 85 degrees every day with evening lows between 72 & 75.  I think that'll make for a beautiful WONDERFUL vacation. That's the story and I'm sticking to it!
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Well, we're off tomorrow for a second round of Ptown in the off season. The trip should be fun and still pretty low-key in town. Last weekend was the event, Out of Hibernation, which is a bear run during the St. Patrick's Day weekend. I heard it was pretty fun and they had some great fundraisers around town.  We're done packing and getting ready for everything, including our hair cuts, which we'll get tomorrow morning.

Matthew's hair has to be at about the same length as a month ago.  He's doing a scene this time that precedes (in the story's time line) that he shot a month ago.  Between walking from the street into a bar, his hair can't all of a sudden appear shorter than it was outside. That would be really funny! Never know, though; I might be called in last minute to be background! That'd be cool.

Here's the weather forecast for the next few days.  I'm hoping that it's not as wet as is predicted; last time was snowy and wet enough!!  I'm also hoping that maybe we could get into a different town, say on Sunday, like Wellfleet. They have GREAT oysters from there this year. They're HUGE and delicious.
Fullscreen capture 3202013 80634 PM.bmp
One of the best things about this trip is that we're leaving on Thursday this time, so will have Friday in town and then the weekend. Traffic (knock on wood) will be better than on a Friday through Connecticut going up and returning in the evening should be a breeze; at least it was last time.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
For those who know and love Provincetown or others who are intrigued, here's a collection of photos I took last weekend whilst up there with Matthew, who was shooting an episode of Off Season (which is a TV show about Ptown without tourists).  It was a FANTASTIC time to be there!!  Relaxing, interesting, light, and very fun!  We really enjoyed the 6 days we were there. Funny enough, it didn't feel like we had been there for 6 days. For Bear Week, we're there for about 8 days... and even then it doesn't feel like 8 days. But, being this was Off Season, you'd think it would have been ultra boring and hard to get through. But, on the contrary, it was really interesting. Totally different view of the town, area, and people for sure.  Enjoy!!

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Tonight on the way up the Cape to Provincetown, we both saw  a very bright falling star off in the distance.  It was really romantical and stuff.  We both sent out our separate wishes, but I'm fairly certain they weren't too different.  :-)
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
A couple of weeks ago, a headhunter called me into the city for an interview.  The interview is another story because, well, it was truly a story unto itself; a lot can happen in an hour.

The most expedient way into and out of the city without too much stress at all is via ferry. The ferry is about a 15-minute drive from our house and it's a pleasant way to get into the city and back. Plus, it takes about 30-45 minutes total from our garage to midtown, as long as the time line is honored to a "T". I hadn't really paid that close attention to the cost of getting into the city until about, well, this trip for the interview.

When I got to the ferry terminal and parked the car, the automated gate wasn't working. They had a guy out there hand-writing parking stubs (these always get paid for and validated when the ferry tickets are purchased).  I thought, "Oh, yeah, they're building the new parking garage and are probably bringing the whole system up online together." I parked the car about a mile from the terminal and had a leisurely walk to the terminal.

I walked happily into the terminal and up to the window for tickets to midtown and parking validation. The parking validation now was a separate line and the two were no longer combined onto the same charge. INCONVENIENT!  I scoffed.

I said, "One round trip, midtown, please."

The attendant said, "Eighteen dollars."

In my head, I screamed, "Eighteen dollars??!!"  I scoffed and gave the attendant my credit card.

Then I stepped over about 3 feet to the other line for parking validation.  The attendant took my hand-written parking stub and said, "That's twelve dollars."

I spoke at the attendant loudly and said, "TWELVE dollars??!!"  She nodded.  I scoffed and gave the attendant my credit card; it had been $9 about 6 months ago.

I walked away thinking, "OK. Inconvenience. Higher cost. More time consumption. Not a good means of travel into the city on a whim."

New time assessment for the ferry into Manhattan:
  • 15 mins = driving to the ferry terminal.
  • 5 mins = parking
  • 15 mins = paying for ferry tickets & parking - separately
  • 10 mins = trip across the river once you get on the boat takes
  • TOTAL = 45 minutes (not during rush hour)
New cost assessment for the ferry into Manhattan:
  • $18 round trip to midtown
  • $12 parking
  • TOTAL = $30 for one person - add $18 per person added to your trip... consider a family of 2 parents and two teenagers - that's $84!!
For Matthew and me to take the ferry into Manhattan now, it would cost us $48 on parking and ferry. If we buy one Diet Pepsi for us at the ferry terminal, that's $2; i.e. we would spend FIFTY DOLLARS before we get to Manhattan. AND, the ferries stop running at 1AM, which would mean we would not be able to get a relaxing nightcap, if we wanted.  So, we will most likely not be taking the ferry across to Manhattan ever again, unless time-wise, there is no other efficient way there; then and only then we'll just have to suck it up.

Our most frequent means of getting into the city is by tunnel or bridge. We have E-ZPass (stuck on our windshields), which makes it easy (yes, it's E-Z); plus, where we live, we get into the Lincoln Tunnel or onto the George Washington Bridge right at the front. We don't have to battle the other NJ traffic. Still that costs $13 now. in 2007, it still cost about $5-6. With E-ZPass, there's a discount because of the convenience and expediency of it, so it costs us $9.50 to cross - $0.50 cheaper than a one-way ferry ticket!!  When we park on the street in Manhattan, there's sometimes a $1-5 dollar charge depending on how long we'll be there; otherwise, we can find free parking or park in a garage for upwards of $25. STILL cheaper for two people to drive into the city with E-ZPass and park in a garage than take the ferry across!!
George Washington Bridge Crossing
I checked into the MTA for subway rates within the city and they're now $2.25 per trip (in 2007 one-way was about $1.25).  If we cross the street from our place to a NJ Transit bus and take the bus to Port Authority on 42nd and 8th, one-way per person costs $4.25 (2007 = $3.25), but can take about an hour and fifteen minutes. So, taking public transport round trip into the city for the almost 90-minute trek costs $8.50 - $15 (if we take the subway or PATH anywhere). There's also a convenient light rail that goes by the ferry station and crosses our road about 2-3 miles from here. We could take combos of bus, train, and PATH into the city for a little more money and possibly a little less time, but it would be totally less hassle to stay on the bus.

The cost of living in this area is certainly going up - not only in food at grocery stores, but also in public transportation. And where is the extra money going for the bridges, the ferries, and the ferry parking, I wonder?!  There don't seem to be any visible improvements anywhere, but I know that the Holland Tunnel is being renovated, but I'm not sure if rates have gone up solely because of that. Whatever the case, I do remember Bloomberg mentioning that he was hoping to lessen traffic into Manhattan by raising the Hudson River crossing fares, which can't happen. It only angers people because it's still not fully cost-prohibitive.  It's also sad for people who don't make that much and how much these added costs cut into what they're bringing home; their salaries certainly aren't getting better!

Some things HAVE to change.
wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)

Almost two weeks ago, we had a quite literally "shitty" flight down to Florida.  We had also been denied nut-containing products from their snack selections because someone in our rows 3-6 apparently very sensitive nut allergies.

This week, our flight was delayed by about 45 mins. Why? Because the plane had flown in from Bogata and needed to "clear customs"... aka "get fumigated and cleaned out of drugs", I'm sure.

When we did board the plane and got to our extra leg room seats in row 5 (I was on the window and Matthew in the middle), our aisle-seated neighbor was a full-grown young woman who happened to be about 2.5 feet tall. Yes, a midget. Yes, a midget, who paid extra for more leg room. Why would a midget need extra leg room?  She treated the space like it was her apartment. She hopped down to organize her stuff in the pouch in front of her, reached into her grocery bag, pulled out some snacks, and hopped back into her seat.  As we were deplaning and walking carefully over her, she was in the middle of folding a tiny pizza whilst laying on the seat with her ankles in the air.

Then Matt went to turn on his TV on his display. The first channel that displayed a show was presenting the Wizard of Oz!!  And which scene exactly??!  Yes. The Munchkin scene where Glenda is saying, "Come out, come out! Wherever you are!" Matthew nudged me to look at the screen, we both looked at each other startled and he changed the channel quickly.

Of course, Matthew and I during the flight couldn't discuss these things because that would have been rude and inappropriate. But we were confused. She seemed like a nice enough woman, but didn't have much to say. The only time she needed assistance was from the flight attendant with her tray table and from Matthew to hit the flight attendant button; standing on the seat, she still wouldn't have been able to press that button. :-(

Before we landed, one of the flight attendants ran up to the front and said, "Is there a doctor on board? We need a doctor in row 5 immediately!"  THAT WAS OUR ROW!  Of course, Matthew and I side-glanced toward our neighbor who was as happy as a clam laying on her ENORMOUS seat, as if it were a chaise lounge, playing with her iPad. Then about 10 people behind us said, "NINE! ROW NINE!"

As we were descending, something happened to one of the passengers and had to be evacuated once we landed in a sit-up stretcher. We overheard an EMT or police officer say, "Yeah, we have a possible code 16."  We found out later that code number meant that there was something to do with alcohol abuse, medication overdose, and/or mixing of the two combined with the cabin pressurizing and depressurizing.  So, even though the pilot did get us landed safely 15 minutes late instead of 45 minutes late, we all waited about 15 minutes while the sickly passenger and his wife got off the plane. 

While we waited for everything to settle, I called our driver just to confirm that we'd just landed and they hadn't updated our new flight from when I'd called the week before. So, they thought we were supposed to arrive at 2AM on Monday!  Needless to say, I said, "Well, we probably have about 20-30 minutes before we have our baggage and are ready to get in the car, which should be enough time to get to La Guardia from NJ."

The driver made it (somehow!) to the airport in 15 minutes from across the George Washington Bridge.  We were amazed as was his dispatcher, and we made it home in one piece by 10PM, just in time to place the last order from our local Chinese place.  It was a long, adventurous day to say the least.

wwcitizen: (For realz?)

OMG!! POOP!!!  It happened while I was asleep on the tarmac leaving NYC on the way to Florida.  Somebody simply had to use the bathroom and she couldn't hold it any longer. There was a small, round spot on the floor next to me and I thought I was helping folks by warning them about the spot.




Alas, later in the flight I stood up and looked toward the back of the plane. Someone really lost their shit.




The flight attendants poured coffee grinds all over the center aisle, which really helped with the smell and covered it all up. 




I really like JetBlue, but Matt swears the airline is going to shit.  Now, literally more today than ever.  He'll call it JetPoop from now on.  :-)


wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

We came across this little ice cream shop called "Ü" (the pic might not upload from LJ Mobile - ugh).  We decided the drive-thrÜ dialog must go like this :
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: How can I help Ü?
CÜstomer: I would like some ice cream.
Ü Speaker: Ü pay tÜ dollars at the window.
CÜstomer pays...
Ü Cashier: Thank Ü! Hope Ü come back!
CÜstomer: ¿Que?

wwcitizen: (S&M - Hawaii)

For the last 8-9 months we had been planning a trip with some friends ... somewhere.  First, France, then NC, then, DE, and then we finally decided on Puerto Rico. I'd been wanting to bring Matthew here for the last 8 years and this was a perfect opportunity.
The flight down couldn't have been better. Smooth the whole way and we were essentially in Business Class on JetBlue. Perfect. Check.
Getting to the hotel and checking in were a breeze. Check... check.
It had started to rain a bit, but we figured we'd take a nap first.  We got into the room, turned on the A/C... only pseudo-cooler air. Uh oh.  The front desk suggested we wait a bit because the room had been empty for a couple of days. Fair enough.
Under the ceiling fans,  we took a 3-hr, sweaty nap. Then we started the process of switching to another room with a broken A/C unit, checking other rooms, calling Hotels.com to see what other options we had.
Within an hour, we had a new unit, a MUCH better room, a 35% discount at the restaurant, and a free round of drinks at the bar. It turned out good.
We had a good dinner, walked around a bit, and got caught in a couple of showers. We ended the night meeting the hotel drunk from FL, who calls herself, "Monkey!" because she likes to mount her boyfriend (of 28 years) and jump around on it.  As she so graciously demonstrated for us, "Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!!" while gyrating around on her stool.  Classy.
Looking forward to more Caribbean adventures today!  First off, I'm jumping in the jacuzzi!

wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
Here's hoping we can get to this house (1619 Pine St):
Hasn't changed much since 1982, has it?  Just need to pick up the right suspenders.

Neither of us has ever been to Denver, although I've flown through. I have a friend from college out there, who's getting married there, a friend from grade school, and my pseudo sister-in-law (my b-i-l's sister) - what do you call those folks - the in-laws?

Anyway, looking forward to going out there. Also, hoping that we can run into [livejournal.com profile] zedsled whilst in town for at least a beer or martini!

Should be an interesting weekend.  I haven't seen the friend who's getting married except in FB photos since he moved out to Denver from DC.  His mother was my manager back in college at a store and I really liked her. Can't wait to see his sister and dad, either - they're a very nice family.  His mother really challenged me to think about things - even whilst at work - about where I was going, what my future would look like, and where I'd end up.  She totally knew that neither my friend nor I would have gotten married before we were 40.  Who knew my reason would be that marriage for me wouldn't be legal??! 

I'm really looking forward to a little Rocky Mountain High... in Colorado...

wwcitizen: (Photo Avatar)
Here are pictures of Matt and my experience in Burbank, CA, in July for a quick trip to appear on the Red Carpet for Bear City 2. It was such a fantastic experience that generated a LOT of memories (and photos) very quickly.  Check them out and enjoy!  I only ask that if you re-use or re-post any of the photos, please give me credit for the photos.  Thank so much!  
wwcitizen: (Bear Flag)

My sciatica is still ever-present, but I'm making the best of the week. I'm still on a therapeutic cocktail of meds to get through the week not completely bed-ridden or handicapped,  for which I'm very thankful.


On the way home from a dance party, though, (alas, I can't dance this week) a friend of mine from Montreal saw Matt and me walking down the street. Normally, during Bear Week, I'm really playful and very active.  This year, I'm not.  :-(


My friend from Montreal didn't know about my sciatica.  He started to charge me. Matt moved to the side not thinking about the outcome until I started screaming, "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!" The guy's impact wasn't that great, but I'd tensed up at the same time that Matt was trying to pull the guy away.


The guy felt so bad, when he realized that I was serious.  Wasn't his fault; he was being friendly as normal. No harm to existing problems was done but my left side was in slight pain from tensing up quickly.  :-(


All in the name of fun and frolic, but I really hope I wake up without new pain.  Could have been worse had Matt not been there.  :-)

wwcitizen: (Disney - S&M - Castle)
Matt reminded me of his most favoritest and most magicalest day ever at Disney this past May.

Matt, his sister's family, his aunt, and I had a character breakfast one morning at the Crystal Palace. Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger come out to visit everyone during breakfast, take pictures, and sign autographs for the kids. It's a lot of fun for everyone, though.

At the end of breakfast, Matt's sister started getting the kids ready to go run around the park. Matt and I got ready to leave and he had to go to the bathroom.  I waited for him outside in the vestibule of the dining hall.

Matt's prim-and-proper, 82-yr-old aunt, who looks like she could be Betty White's mother, made her way to the bathroom about 3 minutes later.  About 5 minutes later, Matt comes out of the bathroom motioning for me to get up and go.  I said, "Don't we need to wait for your aunt?"

He said, "Nope! She's fine! And I'll tell you why she's fine. Just go outside."

He told me that he was sitting in one of the stalls when he heard his aunt's voice saying, "Oh. There's a man in here. Oh, there's urinals. Oh, where's the nice couch?  Where am I?"

Matt sat there on the toilet silently with his hands covering his face.  The other man at the urinal finished his business and told his aunt patiently that she was in the men's room.  "The ladies' room is the next door over," he explained as he began washing his hands.

"Let me see what it says on this door here," she said, as Matt heard her open the door thinking to himself, "Does it really matter what it says on the door? There's a row of standing urinals against the wall."

He heard his aunt then shuffle out the door muttering to herself and the hallway, "They need better signs around here," in her best NJ Italian accent.

Bless her heart.

When he heard her muttering voice fade into the distance, he quickly lifted his face from his hands, pulled up his pants, and rushed out to tell me about the scene.  Of course, I quickly texted his sister about the scene, who said, "Nice!"
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
Since the passing of NC's Amendment One, I've been doing a LOT of research into states that allow certain rights to same-sex couples.  The HRC and Lamda Legal provide a TON of information that's, while helpful, remains outdated in light of recent attacks on gay rights across the nation. 

At least Illinois recognizes the importance to reflecting the evolving American social mores: Same-sex marriage supporters take their fight to Illinois courts

I wish more states and people would accept facts, educate themselves, learn from the past, and exert more compassion in their every day. It's disheartening for me daily to have to search, read, research, and get a picture of how unequal in our relationship's current status Matthew and I are throughout this country. It's ultra sad to know that prior to any vacations or trips to other states, we now more than ever have to find out which hospitals would allow visitation rights to each other at the very least.  This sort of information isn't listed on their websites, either - you have to call to see whether you'd be treated with respect and compassion or if even your legal documentation would be recognized at the hospital to make medical and/or financial decisions for each other.  Some people find this kind of info finding stuff to be demoralizing. 

I'm starting to find this type of "confrontation" on one level empowering. Empowering because it helps me make informed decisions about where we're going to spend our money and take our vacations. If a place doesn't recognize us or allow visitation in a hospital, then we won't recognize the place; we don't have to visit it.

On another level, it's just sad to have to hunt and peck around to find places that legally affirm us and our relationship.  "Oh, can we go there? No. How about here? Maybe... just don't get into legal trouble.  How about there? Nope - no visitation rights at the hospital without a PLETHORA of legal docs, which might still not be recognized or allowed as proof of our legal bond. Oh, we can go here!! They do recognize same-sex partnerships and allow hospital visitations, but the state doesn't currently have any laws against hate crimes; that means no PDA, including holding hands.  :-("

Family has little or nothing to do with our qualms or our burgeoning apprehensions to traveling to particular locations in the US (like NC, VA, or SC where my family might want to go on vacation).  One of my sisters, in fact, asked about our trip to Disney; Orlando, FL, as a city has specific provisions for same-sex partners, but the state doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships. An issue with a lesbian couple in Miami was the impetus for federal mandates of hospitals to allow same-sex partners to visit each other in the hospital.  In any of these places where my family would want to vacation, Matt couldn't go with me; I wouldn't be able to make any health-related decisions for him and that would break my heart. In NJ, we're afforded the "luxury" of greater civil rights.

I hate feeling that we are being forced into a NJ civil union when our ultimate desire is to be legally married.  It's unfair that we have to be put in that position. Elsewhere throughout the nation (not in NC now, since Amendment One, btw), if an opposite-sex couple had cohabitated as long as we have (8.5 years thus far!!), we'd enjoy a common law marriage.

Even still, throughout the US Southeast, Midwest, and parts of the Northwest, when we get our NJ civil union, it most likely will not be recognized in most of those states, including NC, SC, and VA. It doesn't have to be like this, but it's what we as a couple have to deal with. Same-sex couples don't have to go throughout this level of crap and take soooo many things for granted.


Apr. 24th, 2012 11:38 pm
wwcitizen: (Cruise Ship)
Here are pictures from time we spent on board the Brilliance of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (no destinations are covered here - this is simply a brochure for the trip, if you will).  The ship is pretty old, but it still has a lot of charm.  Enjoy!   
wwcitizen: (Default)
I've made a mission to get through constructing the updates to and posting the 1st Greece trip to Athens and Sounio (I know - the Map calls it Sounion, but all the signs say, "Sounio"...).  Anyway, it was an amazing day in Athens and would definitely want to return to Greece - in particular the Greek Isles, but that's another post for another day.


wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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