After some long, tiring, and understaffed days at work I was delighted to have some time off.  Luckily, my boyfriend was free, too, so we’ve been spending some time hanging out together and getting lots of walking done. Last night after work and most of today we spent time exploring the Hamilton Heights neighborhood.  We ate out at a couple of great places (Harlem Public for dinner yesterday and Unione for brunch today) and we walked around staring up at the fancy architecture and visiting Trinity Cemetery, the museums at Audubon Terrace, and the High Bridge.

At home we’ve been catching up on good TV (Wayward Pines, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Soup, @ Midnight) and awful movies (Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Zombie Shark, Swamp Shark, etc.)  You might be seeing a theme here, which is that I’ve been watching a lot of the SyFy channel lately.  Should I even mention the fact that tonight will be the debut of a little movie called Lavalantua?  Combining, you know, lava and tarantulas?  Should I even mention that it stars Steve Gutenberg and several of his Police Academy colleagues? Probably not.

But I WILL mention that I learned of Lavalantula’s existence from a New York Times article about Sharknado 3.  Here’s what inspired me to tune in tonight:

The standout among these secondary offerings, though, is “Lavalantula,” if only because it represents one of the weirdest cast reunions in history. It stars Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook and Michael Winslow, all of the 1984 comedy “Police Academy.” It also features special effects worthy of a video game from the same year.

In any case, volcanic activity rattles Los Angeles and spews giant, fire-breathing tarantulas all over the place. For some reason only Mr. Guttenberg’s character, a washed-up action-movie star, has any success battling the creatures. There’s never a tarantula-eating shark around when you need one.

Oh, yes.  That definitely sounds like a good time to me!

It’s been alternating between slow and busy this week.

I was trying to cram lots of YA books into my head before our last book committee meeting on Friday, and then after talking about those books I picked up even more books for next month.  I’m not sure when I’m going to have time to get through all my piles if I just keep rebuilding them, but that’s part of the challenge, I suppose.

Our branch manager has been on vacation, so I’ve been dealing with “person in charge” stuff more than usual.  Which sucks, but it’s one of the perils of the job.  At least I’ve been dealing with staff issues rather than “this angry patron wants to yell at the person in charge” issues, which tend to suck even more.

I did a lot of walking on days when the weather was good, and very little when it was lousy — like getting stuck in a rainstorm yesterday and staying out of the high temps today.  Today has definitely been a good day to stay indoors in the air conditioning and RELAX:

Luna Relaxing

We started the day with a lovely breakfast that my boyfriend made for us incorporating the Taylor Pork Roll we got this week (because I always remember Artie Lange talking about how getting a “Taylor Ham and Egg” sandwich was a big New Jersey thing):

Taylor Pork Roll Colorful Breakfast

Then we went to visit my brother’s apartment, where he had the windows open but NO fans and NO air conditioning were turned on.  My brother isn’t sensitive to the heat the same way we are; in comparison, my boyfriend and I were about ready to keel over.  My mother was the same way — she would turn on the AC if she knew that I was coming over, and would make a point of telling me that SHE didn’t need it.  Anyway, I’d like to point out that I THOUGHT about telling my brother that if it got too hot he would start sweating, and then he would need more Axe Body Spray … but I DIDN’T say that because I am a civilized person and I have self-control.  You know, mostly.

We left his apartment and took a trip to Whole Foods, where we planned to buy some cold cuts for dinner and something small for lunch that wouldn’t require heating anything up.  And yet we somehow ended up spending $169 on stuff that we didn’t realize we needed.

Now we’re back home enjoying our air conditioning and watching some On Demand movies, and we started with a documentary called The Wolfpack.  We’d heard about this movie a while back and we’ve been curious to see it ever since.  It’s a true story about a family in NYC where the kids spent most of their lives trapped in their apartment, and they learned about the world outside by watching movies.  It was fascinating, compelling, poignant, and uplifting.  It also made me want to find out more about what happened with these kids, and there is a LOT of information out there!  Coming up next, we’ll be watching Red Army, which tells the “Miracle on Ice” story from the perspective of the Soviet team.  [ETA: We just finished this film, and it was also awesome.  My boyfriend loved it for the hockey, and I loved it for the Soviet Union / propaganda angle.]

Next on the agenda … My boyfriend booked our vacation hotel a while back — The Mills House in Charleston — and I’m going to be planning some day trips while we’re there.  I also need to read some books, watch some TV (True Detective, I am compelled to watch you but you are stepping on my last nerve!) and work on some website stuff.

The reception was held at the Villa Barone Hilltop Manor, which looks fairly ordinary from the outside but once you get inside you’ll find some fancy amenities.  I was especially impressed by the big basket of complimentary “emergency supplies” in the ladies’ room:

Bathroom Basket

I mean, deodorant, powder, hair products, pantyhose …?  VERY civilized!

Then the cocktail hour was held outdoors in a gigantic terrace area:

Cocktail Hour Panorama

The food was lovely, and there was WAY too much of it.  We could have had a full meal in the cocktail hour alone!  Then we went indoors to the ballroom where there was more food and dancing, with lots of loud music and a very gung-ho DJ.  Okay, I would have preferred that he dialed his energy level back a few notches.  His all-too-frequent demands for us to make some noise were increasingly irritating, and if I heard him yell, “Let me hear you SCREAM!” one more time I was going to attack him with my sorbet spoon.

Luckily I was at a table with my boyfriend and a lot of people his age or older, so we were not behaving like a bunch of 20-year-olds at a rave.  We were one of the quieter tables, and that was fine with me.  We were close to the door so I could escape to the restroom when the music got too loud (or when the DJ tried to get EVERYONE on the dance floor).  And in between the musical interludes we got to talk about the kinds of things that older people (and I) enjoy talking about, like great old movies, terrible old movies, and Perry Mason.  Plus, since this was a wedding of the Italian-American persuasion with plenty of people with colorful nicknames, my boyfriend and I got to have several entertaining conversations along these lines:

Boyfriend: Okay, that guy at the end of the table is Bobby Roach.

Me: And you call him Bobby Roach because he’s an exterminator, right?

Boyfriend: Right.  And the guy I was just talking to is Mikey Bugs.

Me:  Uh … are Bobby Roach and Mikey Bugs related?

Boyfriend: (laughs) No, but that’s a good question.

Me: So, why is Mikey Bugs called Mikey Bugs?

Boyfriend: Well, his dad was JOHNNY Bugs.

Me: (sighs) Okay, so why was Johnny Bugs called Johnny Bugs?

Boyfriend: I have no idea.

Any time there’s a get-together with my boyfriend’s friends from “the neighborhood,” there are plenty of stories like this to go around.  This guy got his nickname because he always ordered veal cutlets.  This guy got his nickname because he looked like one of the Bowery Boys.  Etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, the reception ran much later than we expected.  Like, the wedding cake was being served at 11:30 pm and THEN all of the tables of desserts came out!  Complete with freshly-blowtorched creme brulees:

Blowtorching Creme Brulees

And fountains … and glowing ice sculptures …

Viennese Hour

And Jeez, I was ready to curl up and go to sleep by that point.  I mean, I got up to take some pictures, but it was physically impossible for me to eat anything else.  Now, if they’d had “to go” boxes next to those desserts, it would have been a different story!

Anyway, by the time we got out of there it was around midnight.  Then we had to drive several guests home, then we had to get home ourselves and find parking, so by the time we went to sleep it was about 2 am.  So it was a fun but very exhausting night.

Last night when I came back from my YA Book Club meeting where we’d been discussing Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda over food and drinks, I discovered that our bathroom looked a little different than I remembered:

First View of the Ceiling

So THAT was odd.

I called my boyfriend in to look at it, and he deduced that there was a water leak that was bringing down part of our ceiling.  He went to find the super, who told him that a pipe had burst two floors above us.  Between last night and this morning about half of our bathroom ceiling fell in and we had a MAJOR flood.

Ceiling 1

Ceiling 2

Seriously.  It looked like something out of a horror movie.  You know, the one where there’s an evil spirit trapped in the house, and you can see its shape bulging through the paint?  Kinda like that.  Oh, except this evil spirit was very wet, and it also smelled weird.

Anyway, we had an adventurous few hours today, during which we got wet every time we had to use the toilet, and getting in and out of the shower was much more challenging than usual.  I went out on several shopping expeditions for things like paper towels (we ran through our backup supply) and a new mop (the old one broke).  They finally fixed the problems upstairs and our super has now removed the damaged paint and plaster from our bathroom.  Now it just has to dry out for a while before the repairs can begin.

Scraped Ceiling Starting to Dry

All of this is to build up to the OTHER part of the story, which is that we both took today off so that we could go to a wedding!  But … um … the wedding itself is taking place RIGHT NOW, and we’re still home because we’ve been dealing with the chaos.  However, we will be attending the reception several hours from now, which will be taking place at a catering hall upstate.

Highlights of the day so far have included going to Target because they had many of the things I needed, including a mop to deal with our flood and a strapless bra to wear under my fancy dress.  Then putting on the fancy dress and realizing that it leaves little to the imagination as well as no room for a pedometer.  Oh, well.  I’ll just have to cram it into my itty-bitty purse instead and see how that works.

So now I’m assuming that the worst part of our day is over, and we can only go onward and upward from here!

Work has been lousy and busy and EXHAUSTING lately.  I’m still not 100% healthy yet — I’m ALMOST there but my sore throat is still lingering and it periodically leads to some embarrassing coughing fits.  So that hasn’t helped my frame of mind when trying to figure out how to cover all of our desks and our programs with the few staff members who aren’t out sick or on vacation.

Let’s just say that I’m using this 3-day weekend both to recuperate from being super-busy over the last week … and to brace myself for Monday, when I’m going to be covering public service desks for six frigging hours.  That day is REEEEEEEALLY going to suck.

Today my boyfriend and I went downtown to see Jurassic World, because it’s one of the few movies in theaters that we both wanted to see and because I thought it would be worth checking out on the big screen.  It was a lot of fun and a good popcorn movie, and it had more humor than I expected.  I mean, you know … amid all the carnage and destruction.  Oh, and it really made me appreciate the appeal of Chris Pratt for the first time (yes, he was attractive in Guardians of the Galaxy, but cute guys who are good with animals are ALWAYS more appealing).


Chris Pratt and a Raptor


Anyway, after that adventure we walked around in midtown for a while.  We stopped in at Victoria’s Secret because I was all out of perfume, and because I was stocking up with several bottles I got a free bag of fancy sample stuff to go with it.  Then we went to Southern Hospitality where we had a delightful lunch that was too big to eat.  We got our leftovers to go, but then left the bag containing those leftovers on the table because I’m an absent-minded idiot.  Or we are absent-minded idiots, take your pick.  In any case, no leftovers for us :(

Before heading home we stopped at Whole Foods because my chiropractor had recommended some homeopathic treatments for my sore throat.  Okay, I know that sounds strange, but she had other medical training before she became a chiropractor — she was a registered nurse, and she’s big into homeopathic treatments.  Since she’s the only doctor I see on a regular basis, if I happen to be having some other medical problem while I’m in her office (like, say, one of those coughing fits while lying face-down on her table), I’ll ask her for some advice.  She said I should try gargling with silver for my sore throat and taking chlorophyll for my immune system, both of which sounded very bizarre.  Okay, that’s at least in part because for a second there I thought she was saying “chloroform.”  Anyway, I’ve been looking for both of those things at stores near me with no luck.  But whaddaya know, Whole Foods had them both, plus some more fancy-schmancy lozenges for me to enjoy.  So let’s see if these supplements help me get over the last of my illness, or if they mutate me into … the Silver Surfer?  Or maybe a triffid?  Either one is possible, I suppose.

The rest of the weekend, we’ll probably keep busy with visiting family, getting in some more walking, and catching up with more reading.  As long as I get SOME relaxing in by Monday I should be okay …

I only ended up taking one sick day after my vacation week ended, and since then I’ve been back at work dealing with periodic coughing fits while my body knits itself back together.  The only good thing (and I mean the ONLY good thing) about being sick is that it gave me the opportunity to catch up with movies and TV while I was lying around the house, too listless and tired to move or to read.  Over the last few weeks I’ve watched:

Misery Loves Comedy – This is a great documentary by Kevin Pollak about comedians and the darker side of comedy.  Lots of awesome interviews with famous and funny people.

Mike Tyson Mysteries – I’ve always been a big fan of Norm McDonald, and his tour de force performance as Pigeon did not disappoint.

Wayward Pines X Files meets Twin Peaks meets Eerie Indiana meets Persons Unknown meets any number of weird and “out there” shows that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

The Comedians – This series with Billy Crystal and Josh Gad took a little while to grow on me, but I enjoyed it more with each episode.  Oh, and they also snagged some impressive and hilarious celebrity cameos!

Jupiter Ascending – Okay, I love bad movies, but MAN, was this dumb!  And just to be clear, this wasn’t “good” bad.  This was more like “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?” bad.  The only reasons I could possibly see for recommending this film are if you love Mila Kunis, if you love Channing Tatum, or if you love explosions.  If you don’t fit into any of those categories … well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I am officially down for the count.

I started getting a sore throat and a cough around the middle of the week. At first I thought it was connected to seasonal allergies (I HAVE been doing a lot of walking around in the great outdoors lately).  But by Friday morning I started coughing up green stuff out of my lungs, so now I know I’m fighting an upper respiratory infection.  My weak lungs and I have a history of those, and they always suck.

I had a meeting on Friday morning (I sat in the back of the room and did my best not to share anyone else’s air) and then I went to Whole Foods on my way back home to shop for stuff that would help me repair myself.  Many thanks to Betsy for the Throat Coat herbal tea suggestion; it’s soothing AND tingly, which is a very odd combination.

One of the positive aspects of living in a larger apartment is that now I’m better able to quarantine myself.  The cat has been hanging out in the bedroom, my boyfriend has been hanging out in the living room, and I’ve turned the library into my sick room.  I’ve got an open window on one side and a fan on the other side.  I’m sitting upright on the reclining part of the couch because, much like the Elephant Man, I’m not breathing so well when I lie all the way down.  And I’m spending my day ingesting a series of liquids — mostly herbal tea and soup, with the occasional cup of coffee in between.  I’m also trying to bring down the swelling in my eyes, which are all puffy and bloodshot.  I look like an absolute mess.

I’ll be spending 99% of my day indoors.  The only time I’m going to venture outside today is to help my boyfriend when he brings over our new air conditioner.  I will help him bring it upstairs, help him put it in the window, and then I’ll collapse for the rest of the day.

I was supposed to visit my brother on Sunday, but I’m going to cancel that.  And I’m supposed to go back to work on Monday, but I’ll have to make sure that I’ve progressed out of the “Typhoid Mary” stage first to make sure I don’t spread this plague to the rest of my coworkers.



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