Monday, June 30, 2008


It turned out that for the sail thing, I was supposed to have brought or worn a bathing suit. This is because the guy had to anchor the sailboat a few yards from the shore and then you wade or swim in.

I do not own a bathing suit, and haven't in years. Jim didn't like the beach or pools, and I started sleeping in on weekends. Then throughout the stress of the past few years, I put on a lot of weight and the bathing suits I had didn't fit anymore. I saw no need to replace them.

So I'd put on a tank top and shorts, which was more flesh than I'd exposed to the direct sun in years. The water where the sailboat was moored was supposed to have been a foot or so deep. But the tide was coming in and it was at shoulder-level.

What could I do? I had no choice. I jumped into the Great South Bay fully clothed. I did remember to take off my watch.

Fortunately, the weather was hot as hell and I dried off quickly. And as embarrassing as it was, it would have been more embarrassing to have jumped into the water fully unclothed. Also, I was with other people, so when we went into the snack bar for lunch, nobody thought I was some insane homeless person.

Note how the "insane homeless person" is becoming a motif for me.

There should be a few bathing suits left in the stores, which are having their Fourth of July sales this week. Meanwhile, I have to pat myself on my (sunburned) back for trying something new: Going out on a sailboat for the first time. I even steered for a while, keeping the Ocean Beach water tower as my point of reference. At least, I'd thought it was the Ocean Beach water tower, but it often turned out to be:
Like I said, I've gotta give myself credit for trying.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

IKEA Ahoy!

With all of my favorite design blogs talking about the new IKEA in Brooklyn, you can bet I was going to check it out. Not because it has anything that's different from the IKEA in Elizabeth, or the IKEA in Paramus, or the IKEA on Mars.

It's how you get to this IKEA that sets it apart. In addition to being accessible by car and bus, there's a free water ferry that takes you from Wall Street to the dock right in front of the store. The restaurant has a beautiful view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

I don't know how popular this is going to be once the weather gets cold and the novelty wears off, But on a day so hot that you can walk down the street and look as if you've taken a shower with all of your clothes on, it was a welcome relief and good cheap fun.

PS--All IKEAs also smell exactly alike: Freshly varnished fiberboard. Except for the restaurant part, which smells like Swedish meatballs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Is How My Week Goes

Some weeks, I don't blog a lot. It doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong. Sometimes it's just an average week with not much to talk about.

This is my average week: Work, work, work, work, work, medical test, fun thing.

This week, the medical test was a blood draw at my internist. She didn't like what she saw and told me I should have a Complicated Medical Procedure. I told her I wasn't going to do that, and she called a specialist, and the specialist said that there was no need to do that right now, and they should just wait another month and give me another blood draw. So I have that week's medical test planned.

The fun thing is I'm going to go sailing on a sailboat on Sunday. There are supposed to be thunderstorms on Sunday. The people I'm going on the sailboat with are outdoorsy people and they're going anyway. I want to get out of the neighborhood on Sunday because the Gay Pride Parade is going to make it impossible to navigate out of my building by mid-morning.

So I was going to say that while people on my block would be cruising, I'd be sailing, but there will be no room to do that on my block, thereby invalidating a hack joke.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Jim, Wake Up! Carlin Died"

That's what I felt like saying this morning.

We saw him live in 1992, making a special appearance at the Original Improv just before that club closed its doors.

This is as close to a bio of Carlin as you're going to see. And it also puts his story in context with the rest of what was going on in the '70s with stand-up, as album-oriented comedy morphed into arena comedy.

Listen to Class Clown and FM & AM. I listened to them before I'd heard a Lenny Bruce album, then wondered what the big deal was about Bruce. This was because Carlin and Pryor had taken what Bruce had started and made it more accessible and more personal.

Friday, June 20, 2008

White House, Black Jackie

Stopped off at White House, Black Market. Here is the dress Michelle Obama wore on "The View."

While this style is flattering on Mrs. O, I found this to be a little more forgiving on me:

The description on the web site says "flirty fullness." I love that.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Well, They Did It Again

The landlords won the right to give you an 8.5% increase when you renew your lease for 2 years, plus new merriment: A surcharge of up to $85 if you've been in your apartment for longer than 6 years.

Looks like if I want to read the new Nixon book, I'll have to take it out of the library. I could get to like that place. I hear they have stuff you can borrow for free and everything.

Update, Friday Afternoon:

I went to the Donnell Library on 53rd Street and it's closing at the end of the summer! Somebody bought the building and is tearing down the library and building luxury condos.

When it's rebuilt, the library will have the first two floors, but meanwhile they have to find new homes for all the books.

I never stop raving about how great this library is. Well, lately, I just never stop raving, period.

The librarian said they have the Nixon book on order, and will reserve it for me when it comes in (to Destination Unknown).

I swear to God, this city. Soon you will hear people say in hushed tones: "That's the woman who lives on under a million dollars a year."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yep, Still There

So, I made good on my virtuous fantasy of getting up bright and early on a Saturday morning and biking over to Trader Joe's and the Union Square Green Market.

It was mobbed with people feeling virtuous.

I found out that 14th Street is bad for riding bikes; too full of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, as evidenced by rousing rounds of "Watch it, bitch!" Next time I'll chain it on 13th or 15th and walk.

Also, I've found that there are many more small hills than I'd thought between my home and Union Square, and that there are many stupid people who open their car door on the passenger side without watching to see if there's a bike coming.

Also many, many people with faster bikes than the one I have go whizzing by me, and they have the singular characteristic of not being middle-aged women with bad knees. So I have to remember not to be so competitive all the time and that I'm doing this for my health. It's having an effect on my muscles already: The one in my rear end is killing me from going over so many potholes.

I did have room in the basket for a decent-sized bag of groceries that would have been pretty heavy to have carried the same distance, so I'm happy about that. I brought the bike back home and chained it in the backyard and gave it a pat on the head. Then I went for my haircut. I had my hair cut short and my eyebrows waxed. I should be more aerodynamic now.

On the way home the skies opened and it thundered like God. I felt bad for my bike out there in the rain, but it has the neighbors' bikes for company and they're singing old bike folk songs now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Iron Horse

I'm thoroughly convinced that the minute I decide I want something, it totally disappears from the face of the earth.

Case in point: For the past couple of years, the fashion in the city is to get a used clunker of a bike and then buy a lock that costs more than the bike. This has only become more popular given recent gas prices.

I've had bikes in the city twice before. Once was 22 years ago, and the bike was so heavy that I couldn't carry it up and down the stairs. The next one was a lightweight Univega, 20 years ago. I got a lot of use out of that one for about a year, moderate use for the next three, and finally sold it in 1992 when Jim started moving his stuff in and there was just no room. I was working 10 to 12 hours a day by then and had no time to ride.

But this spring I've been concentrating on getting back into shape, so I made a deal with myself like a 10-year-old kid. Please, please, I'll ride it five times a week and it'll save me money on a fitness trainer.

One of my neighbors had bought one from a guy at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. I went to check it out three weeks ago, but the guy wasn't there. I'd heard there was a used bike guy at a flea market on Avenue A, only to find out that the Avenue A Flea Market stopped operation last fall. It was in a vacant lot that, like many in the city, is being converted to multi-million dollar condos.

There was another rumor of a used bike guy who worked in front of a thrift store in the East Village. This turned out to be equally unsubstantiated.

I turned to craigslist. The first half-dozen leads yielded me either no response or "sorry it's been sold." This afternoon I was going uptown to buy one from a woman who was "moving, must sell." Just before I left my office, she called to say that her sister had decided to take it.

I was still feeling the glow of Bikemania and determined not to let it fade. So I bit the bullet and went to a new Vintage Bike Store, which boasted Schwinns and Columbias from the 60's and 70's, for about four times as much as my neighbors had paid for their old clunkers.

"Don't you have anything more moderate? I was going to keep it chained in the backyard. At these prices I'd feel like I was chaining a pet out there!"

The knowledgeable bike geeks led me to some one-speed cruisers with pedal brakes that were more in the craigslist range. "They're good bikes, but a lot of people can't get used to not having hand brakes." I was drawn to a Schwinn Breeze from 1972 and took it for a test ride around the block. I didn't mind it having only one speed; my Univega had been a 21-speed and I only used two: Fast and slow. Slow would give my leg muscles a good workout.

I needed a lock. In the years since my old bike, it was discovered that Kryptonite locks from the 80's had been able to be picked with a Bic. Also in the interim, U-locks were passe and a chain weighing more than me was in. Another customer told me the best place to put the chain so that I wouldn't lose my balance and ride into traffic was to wrap it around the seat post.

I also wanted a basket, since one of my bike fantasies has been to ride it early on a weekend morning over to Trader Joe's and to the Union Square Greenmarket, so that I would be bursting with health and goodness from my biking and my natural food products. I got the deepest plain wire basket the bike could fit, since there's never any such thing as leaving Trader Joe's with a small bag. They attached it for an extra $5. All in all, it came out to about the same as if I'd bought one from someone on craigslist and then had gone to a bike store to get it checked out and tuned up.

"Wait! The seat. Is the seat too low?"

Bike geek guy studied me for a second. "Are you an experienced rider?"

"Yeah, twenty years ago."

Bike geek guy's look indicated that he'd suspected as much. "Get used to riding around in the city for a while, and then if you want the seat a little higher, you can bring it back here and I'll adjust it."

I set out for home with my bag in the basket and the chain locking the bag. There was traffic. I internalized every honk.


"All right!"

"Beep! Beep!"

"All riiiiight!"

Then it turned out they weren't beeping at me. I must have been riding better than I'd thought. After all, my first bike when I was a kid had been a one-speed with pedal brakes, and I'd ridden it all over Queens. It was my iron horse, and I'd used it like a grown-up uses a car.

The hardest part about getting the bike home was getting it through the double doors of the downstairs hallway. Then I found a place in the backyard that my neighbors hadn't claimed first--probably because it was too close to the ventilating fan from the restaurant next door. It's also too close to the side of the building for me to see from my window, so I'm hoping it's still there tomorrow morning.

Also, I've made up a new deal: Okay, Pilates classes twice a week and the bike for three, plus an afternoon to be named later. And subject to change when I end up putting the bike on craigslist.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Ikea Opening

They're giving prizes:

Our birthday/your birthday—Visitors with proof that their
birthday is the same as the Brooklyn store's, June 18th, will
receive a $10 IKEA gift card.
You hear that, Paul McCartney? Better get in line now!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Am I Live, Or Am I Memorex

I've been wearing the same glasses for four years, and it's time for my eye exam. I'm ripe for a change of face even if my prescription stays the same.

So today I called a Very Expensive Eyeglass Boutique in my neighborhood.

"Hi! Do you take United Health Care?"

"Oh, please," said the woman at the other end, and hung up on me.

I sat there hurt and stunned. Was this an insinuation that this store was so snobby that if you had to have insurance to help pay for their Very Expensive Eyeglasses, they didn't want your kind?

I called her back.

"First of all, the way you hung up on me was very rude. You could have just said, 'No, Ma'am, we don't take United Health Care'..."

She cracked up.

"Oh, I'm so sorry! I thought you were a recording! Or a telemarketer. You have no idea how those people keep calling. Oh, I'm so sorry."

I cracked up, too. "Well, I was an actress; maybe I have a telemarketer voice."

As it turned out, they don't take insurance, although I could submit it on my own and try to get reimbursed. But I'm glad I called back, because otherwise, every time I would have passed that block, I would have felt like "There's the place that thinks I'm some homeless bag lady."

Actually, the truth is, I wouldn't be able to pay for their Very Expensive Eyeglasses without insurance.

I could splurge, and walk down the street saying "Don't come near my face...Don't come near my face..." Thereby sounding like some homeless bag lady.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Brunobaby A to Z

Brunobaby's iPod A to Z comes to an end today with "Zor and Zam" by the Monkees.

We here at brunobaby would like to thank the ipod playlist for bringing enjoyment to a difficult year.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Closed MRI Has Got to Be One of the Loudest Damn Things on the Face of the Earth

They will offer you ear plugs before they slide you in. Take them.

I took one that had a "two-hour delay" last night. That means they slide you in for one set of scans, then inject you with some dyes, then slide you back in for a few more scans, then they slide you out, you get dressed again and you come back in two hours.

"How come I have to come back in two hours?"

"Because some things...enhance."

Translation: Whatever it is that could kill you could turn different colors after two hours.

"Can I eat?"


I was going to take a walk around the Museum Mile Festival, but as it was, I barely had enough time to go to a nearby seafood restaurant for a light supper. By the time I left Sinai, it was 10:00. The radiology department had run out of outpatients for the night and the only people there were inpatients and emergency room patients, being wheeled in on stretchers, in gowns. Been there, been that, and the words "Hill-Rom" on wheeled beds being pushed by orderlies are branded into my memory.

So again I'm waiting for a phone call. I figure it took them a while to come in and read my scans, since it wasn't an emergency. It's to prove that I have something that isn't deadly, since the protocol for confirming something in your digestive tract they think is deadly is to give you a CT scan. Apparently, the non-deadly things enhance better on an MRI.

And so I wait.

Update, Friday Morning: Benign nodules on liver and lungs.

The radiologist suggested I get a CT scan for the lung nodules. Been there, done that. My name is going to be Nuke Me Till I Glow.

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