Monday, January 29, 2007

Jesse visits L.I.

As a Christmas present, I bought my brother a plane ticket from Tampa to Long Island. He was here last weekend, and we had a great time both in Port Jeff and NYC. My brother has never been to New York, except for a quick stay on the stateside half of Niagara Falls years ago. His first observation: the accent, more specifically, mine. Supposedly, I'm starting to adopt some of the pronunciations heard in the area. Yet, I still talk very much like a Michigander according to my NY friends and coworkers. This leaves me with a sort of hybrid accent, which while at a local bar on Thursday night with Jesse and a couple friends, was cause for teasing from both sides. "Call," "tired," "salad," you name it, I don't say it correctly in anyone's book. Luckily, we came across enough true Long Islanders to mostly deflect my brother's attention away from my own dialect.
Jesse got a taste of Port Jeff on Thursday and Friday -- pizza, small-town bars, and even the local puppy store. On Saturday, it was time for the big stuff. We got on the earliest train we could manage and headed into the city. I thought I walked a lot when my mom came to visit, but I'm pretty sure this recent sight-seeing loop blew that tour out of the water. We started in the financial district, stopping at Wall Street, Battery Park, and the World Trade Center site. Then, since Jesse could "see" the Empire State Building, he insisted on walking up to Midtown. I don't think he realized that you can pretty much see that building from anywhere in the metro area. Despite some really sore feet and legs, we were both glad we opted for the above-ground route over the subway because we got to walk through some great parts of the city. We were stereotypical tourists in Times Square, running to the median to get the best photos and then darting off to Rockefeller Center to take pictures of the ice skaters. We met Abbey and Adam for dinner at Carmine's. As usual, there was an hour and a half wait, but also as usual, the food was great. We all went to Blondies afterward to drink and watch the MSU basketball game.
When my parents found out brother was getting a ticket out here for Christmas, they bought us a related joint-gift -- a room in a hotel overlooking Central Park. It was so nice to just take the short subway ride back to our room on Saturday instead of the hour-ride back out east. Plus, it gave us more time to sight see on Sunday. We grabbed bagels for breakfast and took a long, winding walk around Central Park and then down Fifth Avenue. Neither of us had extra money to spend after a long weekend of eating out and drinking, but we still had fun looking in some of the theme-park-like stores. I dropped Jess off at the airport last night after our train ride back, and now I think we're both physically and financially exhausted.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2006 book list

At the beginning of last year I decided to start a book journal to keep track of what I read during the year. At the time, I set a goal to read 50 titles by 2007. It seemed possible at first, but that was when I lived in Geneva, with few English-language TV stations and a room full of Jehovah Witnesses to avoid at least once a week. I hit 26. Here's the list. If you want my opinion on a specific book, or want to recommend one for this year, let me know.

  • Lolita ~ Vladimir Nabokov
  • Tears of the Moon ~ Nora Roberts
  • Angels and Demons ~ Dan Brown
  • Wicked ~ Gregory Maguire
  • A Million Little Pieces ~ James Frey
  • My Sister's Keeper ~ Jodi Picoult
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason ~ Helen Fielding
  • Invisible Monsters ~ Chuck Palahniuk
  • River, Cross my Heart ~ Breena Clarke
  • The Last Time They Met ~ Anita Shreve
  • The Time Traveler's Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger
  • Anne of Ingleside ~ L.M. Montgomery
  • A House Somewhere ~ Various authors
  • Night ~ Elie Wiesel
  • Memoirs of a Geisha ~ Arthur Golden
  • Lullaby ~ Chuck Palahniuk
  • Atonement ~ Ian McEwan
  • Basket Case ~ Carl Hiaassen
  • Survivor ~ Chuck Palahniuk
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Glass Castle ~ Jeannette Walls
  • I am Not Myself These Days ~ Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  • Choke ~ Chuck Palahniuk
  • Dispatches from the Edge ~ Anderson Cooper
  • Running with Scissors ~ Augusten Burroughs
  • Dry ~ Augusten Burroughs
  • Sunday, January 07, 2007


    Today, Abbey and I discovered one of the best-kept secrets in Long Island. Well, it's not really a secret, it's advertised on the side of the road with big letters on a bright orange sign: "Come feed our livestock!" We drove past it as we were checking out some of the north fork's vineyards, and curiosity caused us to turn around. At an empty farmer's stand that's probably jam-packed in the summer months, a sign asks for you to insert $2 in exact change in a plastic tube and then help yourself to a bag of corn kernels. Seconds after we stepped from the stand, bag of food in hand, we were spotted. Spotted by about 30 farm animals -- goats, sheep, horses, ducks -- who ran, or rather stampeded in our direction, every one of them hightailing it from the other side of the farm for the promise of snacks. If there hadn't been a fence in front of us, I would have been running just as fast back toward my car. We were like kids in a petting zoo. And goat spit and scary horse teeth aside, from now on a trip out east won't feel complete without stopping to feed our new friends.

    Here they come!

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    What month is it?

    What a beautiful day -- sunny and in the upper 60s -- a far shot from a typical January day in New York. It felt like one of the first days of spring, when people roll down their windows, shed the layers of extra clothing, and just breathe. It's so nice, yet it also seems wrong, and a little scary. I don't really know what's causing this mild weather here and around the country. Although forecasts say it won't last too much longer, and this day will soon be forgotten.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Best Christmas Gift Ever

    Who wants to cuddle up with Mike and Vanessa? Any takers?