Monday, January 21, 2008

i'm a nooyawkuh.

i spent last week in the vicinity of philadelphia for work. i was teaching a class at the corporate mothership and it was nice to get to walk around and shake hands with people i only know via e-mail. there used to be a lot of confusion about me and another woman with my name who worked in that office. she would occasionally get my travel itineraries or expense checks, i would get help requests that were directed to her, sometimes my flight schedules would return me "home" to the philly airport. she recently left the company, so the confusion is much reduced, but i still took the opportunity to introduce myself in person to the folks who keep my work rolling along.

then, rose came up to spend the weekend with me. she has a dear friend who lives near philly, the one we visited at halloween. i had been staying with him all week instead of in a hotel near the office, so she came up and joined me.

friday night we spent painting the kitchen. rose has an amazing and fantastic skill (which is for rent, if you make appropriate arrangements with me...) at home renovation: she can "cut-in" paint freehand. that's right... NO BLUE TAPE required. she just stands on top of a ladder with her tongue sticking out one corner of her mouth, paintbrush in one hand, paint cup in the other, and makes PERFECTLY straight lines along the wall/ceiling boundary. i'm pretty good at stringing up painter's tape and working the edge, but by the time i can get a room taped, rose can already be done cutting in so it's ready for paint rollers. i'm seriously in awe. so the homeowner rolled paint on the walls, rose cut the walls in ahead of him, and i? i did the perfect job for a very patient, slightly anal retentive engineer in a kitchen renovation being run by artist-types: i removed all the nasty old pink contact paper from the cabinets. it was foul. and you'd think after all these years the glue would've lost some of its hold, right? not so. apparently, those 50's contact paper manufacturers had not yet glommed onto the disposable world mentality. that stuff was stuck on so tightly, i started theorizing that it'd formed a symbiotic life form with the wood paneling of the cabinets. i fantasized that i was peeling up entire civilizations of some very sticky higher life form, cutting them into strips with a razor and harvesting them so they could go to the landfill, convert more of our household garbage, and someday take over the world! muahahahahahahaha!!! or maybe it was just really late at night and something in the sushi was getting to me.

the next day, we got up and drove to new york city to see Avenue Q on broadway. and by "we got up and drove," i really mean that we all piled into my rent car and i had to do urban battle from behind the wheel of a rented saturn. i survived without too many country-mouse-in-the-big-city moments, and even earned the hoots and applause of all my passengers when i flipped off and honked at some ignorant redneck in a land rover with alabama plates when he cut me off. i got us where we were going, used lola's navigational skills to find us good parking, and did all of that in time to pre-order us some wine for the intermission. w00t!

after the show, we walked down to the empire state building, where we were turned into mice, lured with stale limburger through a maze of passages, elevators, snaked lines, gift shops, hawkers, vampires, and cranky tourists, and finally got out onto the observation deck. it was pretty up there, the view was beautiful, and a bit overwhelming. you know, at one level, in your head that there really are that many people in the city. but until you stand up there and look out at all the twinkling lights, it doesn't really hit you JUST HOW MANY people are in the city. rose showed me all her favorite haunts from her college days, as far as you can see them from the top of the empire state building at night anyway, and then we headed back down for dinner.

we taxi'd to little italy, found a likely-looking spot, and settled in for a truly delicious meal. i had lobster fra diavolo, the red version, and it was served in a bowl approximately the size of a tire. from a semi. f'real. we had to move EVERYTHING on the table just so they could wedge this bowl in before me. the funny thing about shellfish, though, is that it's like 80's hair: lots of hard shell, little actual content. by the time i'd shelled the lobster, the clams, and the mussels i had a manageable-sized meal and didn't feel overstuffed. but i did feel richly and extravagantly treated. so it worked. yum! the fra diavolo red sauce was spicy and tangy and just what i wanted.

i made it home in time to play my geeky game where we wiped out three times attempting an assault on karazhan - a big, difficult dungeon - with a pick-up group of people who weren't really prepared. only a few of us knew what we were doing. it was good learning, but i look forward to trying it again sometime in a group that survives the whole experience. :)

oh, and i got my first official philly cheesesteak. and, yeah, it really is that much better than what you get out here in the hinterlands. i'll have to go back!

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