Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Tailoring Nazi/Russian Man

On nearly every New York corner there is a laundromat that advertises alterations.  So one would think that prices are fairly competitive in the tailoring business.  

I have some pants that needed hemming.  Due to the fact I have short legs I always need my pants hemming, and seeing as my mum lives a province (and right now an entire country) away from me, I am fairly adept at getting my pants hemmed.

So today I decided to run errands AND walk the dogs - which is always a bad thing to do.  Especially when it is 31 degrees Celsius with an unrelenting sun pelting down on your head.

I walked the three blocks (the long kind) to Court Street in order to drop the massive box I have for UPS off, as well as carry three pairs of pants in a bag and pull my slumping dogs who are not doing so great in the heat.  Needless to say by the time I got to Court Street I was a sweating mess.

UPS box?  Done.
Mr. Mop poop?  Done.
Brooklyn chase a pigeon and get his leash caught up in my legs so that I trip over?  Done.

Now for the pants.  

I chose a nice looking place (mistake 1), tied the dogs outside (mistake 2) and trundled in to the fitting room before asking for rates (mistake 3).

The tailor was a super sweet man with an incredibly thick accent that I assumed to be Russian.  But who knows, it would be any Eastern European accent, they all end up sounding the same when they yell at you.  Wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

So on went the three pants, and with each pant I got even more hot, more unable to whip in and out of the trousers because my skin was sticking to them.  The dogs were starting to cry woefully outside and the Russian/indiscernible man was telling jokes I could not understand.

Finally, all three on and off, time to drop off when he tells me it will be $64.  $64!!!!! WHAT?  WHAT?  In all my hemming life I have NEVER paid more than $12 for any one item, including a very complicated dress.  Suddenly I missed my little lady on 4th and McDonald.

I couldn't hide my shock, and the tailor, with his assistant, offered to do all the pants for $58.  Firstly, all those pants were bought on a sale last summer and aren't worth more that $20 each, so to pay $20 each to hem them seemed retarded.  Secondly, $64??  GAH!  The old me would have shrugged and slumped out of the shop, feeling horrible spending remorse but would rather that than saying 'no' and taking back pants.

But the new me would not do that.  The new me lied and said I would have to go home and check my Canadian bank account, wash them and then bring them back because I wouldn't want to hem them and then wash them only to find they would shrink.

Then all hell broke loose.  The tailor and his assistant started to freak out, saying I would not find better or cheaper (of which I said I think at least $12 per pair was what I pay for at home).  Then he started ripping out the pins so they flew in all directions (I had to duck out of the way) and screaming at me for wasting his time and not to bother coming back.  If I were to walk down to the other guy I would not find a better deal.  I was a stupid, silly cheapskate (or I think that is what he said).  And all this time, my dogs are FREAKING out outside because it is really hot and they can hear me.

The assistant crams my pants back into my bag, throws it at me and the tailor sweeps me away with his hand.  I race outside trying to flee the scene as fast as possible only to find Mr. Mop going ballistic, even as I scurry to untie him.  He is crying at the top of his screechy voice, Brooklyn starts his high-pitch barking, my sweat is dripping in my eyes, and the tailor is cursing me inside.

All in all, an unpleasant experience.  

On the way home, closer to the projects and unfinished townhouses that is my street, I darted into a tiny Chinese laundromat that does alterations.  I have learned to (a) ask how much first and (b) bring my dogs in.  Here?  $8 each!  That is a $40 difference!  

So I left two of them.  The only bad thing is, the woman barely spoke English so I hope my pants don't come back cut in half.  

I feel proud that I didn't spend $64 on tailoring but sad the Russian man swore at me in whatever language he spoke.  I also feel sort of sad that my pants are being hemmed by some Chinese and/or African-American lady who lives in the project and is only getting paid $5 an hour.  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New York Nights

The best thing about New York is that there are things to do around every corner that are something out of the ordinary.  Or maybe they are ordinary but being in New York makes them feel special?

Well whatever holds true, my Friday night was quite fun and here is a 'how-to' guide so you can have your own New York night.

When warm weather rolls around, it's time for drinking those icy cold drinks that we have shelved for the winter.  White/Rose wine, mojitos, Pimms, and my personal favorite:  sangria.

 Our first stop was for this particular beverage at the 'Olive Tree Cafe' in which the tables are chalkboards so you can play tic-tac-toe and the sangria comes cold and boozy.  Perfect.  We polished off a few pitchers, okay I polished off a few pitchers with some help.  I couldn't help it!  
The sangria here is delicious and is filled with cherries - a nice twist.  Plus it has substance, no watering down here.  The Olive Tree serves Mediterranean fare as well as melted cheese and a few nachos (I always run out of cheese before nachos, but not this plate, this plate was all cheese).  The Olive Tree is also home to a great comedy club - so you can have your sangria and laugh the night away. Nice combo right?  http://www.comedycellar.com/

Then it was off for Peking duck.  As we were with two German girls who don't have everyday access to this particular dish, we cabbed over to Chinatown and found ourselves under fluorescent lighting in a hospital green restaurant called:  Nice Green Bo Restaurant.  The fare was cheap, the duck crispy, and the noodles contained unknown meat products that I started to suspect might be old chicken or Mr. Mop's cousin.  But, avoiding that, the rest was delicious.  

Check it out at Mott and Bayard. 

Don't go too late though, when it's time to close the staff sees no problem in putting the chairs on the tables surrounding you, grabbing plates out of hands from people eating their noodles (this happened at the table next to us), and sitting next to you and staring at you with exasperated expressions. Take a hint already and LEAVE.

Finally, we capped the night off at the coolest lounge in the LES:  The Back Room.  Which is literally, down the stairs and in a back room.  It was once a hopping speakeasy that did a roaring trade during the Prohibition era.  To live up to their history, TBR serves cocktails in tea cups, beer covered in paper bags, and one exit is through a bookshelf!  Great atmosphere and DELICIOUS cocktails - mine was called 'Bees Knees' and it was made with honey vodka!  YUM-O!!!  

It's located at 102 Norfolk but is not really visible from the sidewalk.  It is nestled between two small bars and behind a white gate with a bouncer who will let you in, if you ask nicely.

This is why I love New York:  you can start your evening off in an establishment that started the careers of Dave Chapelle and Darrell Hammond and end up at a piece of history that used to house flapper dancers and the mob.  

Friday, April 24, 2009

Go Pogo!

If you read my blog, you are aware that I will try almost anything in the name of fitness.  Even jogging (which I bailed on after one session, because let's face it:  jogging sucks).  

I have tried African dance (which didn't go so well), aqua size (a paddle pool full of old biddies), pole dancing, boxing, cycling, yoga, and hot pilates just to name a few.  I have tried everything.  And then yesterday, I tried the mother of all kooky workouts set out to make the worker-outer have fun and not notice they are sweating like a pig:  POGO. 

That's right, pogo.  As in the stick we all bounced on as kids.  You should be getting warning signs in your head right about now.  If you know me at all, you know that attempting pogo was the last thing I should have done.

I am a klutz. I don't fall snowboarding, no, I fall when I am standing still in the chairlift line. Just the other day, I took a nasty fall while walking the Engineer and dogs, tripping on . . . NOTHING.  I mean this is the girl who looked like a hyena with Tourettes at African dance.  I should have listened to my own warning bells.

Except the most amazing thing happened.  I rocked.

It was so unexpected.  I mean I had dropped my pogo stick as I was digging it out of the supply room.  I banged my knee when we were doing 'toe taps' on it.  So it was a complete shock that I could actually pogo. When I got both feet on, something miraculous happened.  Something deep within the nature of my being nudged that kid in me that used to hop around the neighborhood, and I could bounce.

I must say, it is the funnest workout EVER.  You just jump around the gym on a pogo stick.  The teacher was impressed by my pogo dexterity, citing the fact it took her 45 minutes to get the hang of it.  None of the other girls could bounce for more than one jump.  I ruled class.

Our teacher set up an 'obstacle course' involving running back and forth to get boxes, push ups, sit ups and pogo bouncing.  She said the first person to tap the wall was the winner.  And that other inner kid in me, the one who loved competition, made its ugly appearance.  I raced with every fibre of my being to be the winner.  To do those push ups faster than the other women in the class.  To bounce in a straight line.  To tap the wall and be declared a winner.  Because I AM A WINNER.  

The sweet victory was mine and I bounced around in circles to celebrate. I blew everyone else out of the water and it felt good.  Just like those races at those gym things in school, I beat everyone with my sheer focus and will.  I AM A WINNER.

There were three of us in class.  But still, I beat the other two so I am still the overall champion.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Have Dogs, Will Travel

I've once again made the bi-coastal hop to spend time with the Engineer for an undetermined amount of time.  And seeing as I can no longer leave my dogs with anyone (let's face it, who would want them?) I packed them up and brought them to New York with me.

You want to travel with pets?

Here is my step-by-step guide:

1.  Purchase kennel and then bribe your dogs into it with various treats and toys.  Get them used to the comfort of it at least a week prior to your departure.  The key is baiting tiny biscuits in the blanket so it seems like a scavenger hunt.

2.  When one dog is happily sleeping in their 'house', shove the other one in and close the door.  Continue to give them treats through the holes until they stop growling.

3.  Take the dogs for a long walk before flight.

4.  Give your dogs gravol in cheese so they are drowsy.

5.  Clean up dog vomit that contains whole gravol pills from kitchen floor making yourself late for the airport.

6.  Race to airport.

7.  Put sweaters on dogs, then wrap the little one in the brown blanket so he blends in with background, and place warmed up heat packs in kennel so dogs don't get cold.  Shove a quivering Mr. Mop in on top of blanket and Brooklyn.

8.  Tilt kennel away from Air Canada lady so she only sees one dog, as the little one has uncovered himself from the blanket (skip step if you are on West Jet).

9. Pay $110 for ONE dog flying to New York

10.  Sweat from lying

11.  Go through customs, drop your bag as you look for doggie passports and slide cheese through holes of crate so dogs stop crying.

12.  Pass through customs without the guy even asking for doggie passports that you get especially.  He will confiscate your apple however.

13.  Remove dogs from crate as security runs a drug swab thing through empty crate.

14.  Hold on to dogs for dear life as they feel the urge to run down conveyor belt carrying luggage.

15.  Still try to pretend there is only one dog when Air Canada man comes to take them away

16.  Shove dogs back into crate (now they are putting up fight as not drowsy because they vomited gravol).

17.  Cry a bit as dogs are wheeled away.

18.  Yell after them, "They won't die of a heart attack right?  Or freeze?" as the Air Canada man sends you a 'you are a freak' look

19.  Listen to the dogs yelps of fear die away as rest of the security line looks at you and shakes their heads.

20.  Glue yourself to window in order to watch grounds crew put kennel in appropriate plane.

21.  Get on plane.  Ask flight attendants if dogs will be okay.  Blush when flight attendant tells you to take a seat.

22.  Drink vodka.

23.  Get off plane, shoving the old man walking slowly in front of you out of way.  Say a quick 'hi' to the Engineer and then feverishly wait at the special baggage department.  

24.  Race to lady pushing cart with crate.  

25.  Let dogs out and give them kisses and treats.

26.  Clean up pee from Engineer's shoe that Mop has let go in his excitement.  

27.  Never fly with pets again.

Oh, I forgot the step that tells the lady in line to shut up when she looks into kennel and exclaims there are two dogs in a loud voice.  Again, skip if you are flying West Jet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back to Two

I have always known that I was a bit of an idiot when I got two dogs.  I got them both at the same time, which is totally overwhelming and trust me, I got lots of criticism.  

I'm sort of used to it now, and I admit, it's lots of work.  One is a breeze compared to two. People will tell you that two is the same as one, but that's just not true.  There are pros and cons - and one of the biggest pros, I believe, is that my two dogs always have each other.

This past Easter weekend, Brooklyn got really sick.  I kept waiting for it to go away, but it didn't and we inevitably went to see the vet. I was so lucky I had a friend with me, because when the vet informed me that Brooklyn would need to stay in the 'hospital' for three days, I promptly burst into tears.

I went home with just his leash and settled into a routine with just one dog.  Mop handled the absence of Brooklyn really well.  In fact, I suspect that he was quite pleased that I came home without the runt that Mop likes to use as a chew toy.  

It surprised me how much I not only worried about my little man, but also how the house seemed emptier.  Quieter.  Well, that's obvious I guess.

For the past few days, Mop has been good as gold.  Quiet, well-behaved, I could even take him into stores!  Clearly, this dog who I always say is 'part-asshole' is maybe only a little jerk because of his little brother, not because of his breed.  

After the first night, Brooklyn's absence was horrible.  I think that even Mop was upset because he moped from room to room with his tail down.  Or maybe it was because he was feeling a bit of what Brooklyn has.  I had a lovely surprise on my kitchen floor.

Because I believed the former, I thought Mop would be pleased as punch to see my little guy.  Nope.  Mop took one look at the conehead Brooklyn and immediately hid under the bed in a temper.  Poor sweet Brooklyn was so happy to see Mop, and tried to play with him.  But all he got was a growl and a baring of teeth.  

Mop actually seemed afraid of Brooklyn.  I mean he usually doesn't hide under the bed for anything short of a thunder storm.  It must be the cone.  Or the fact that Brooklyn smells weird.

Anyways, the moral of the story is that I no longer feel like an idiot for getting two dogs.  They make my house a home now, and without eight little pitter patter paws near me, it just doesn't feel right.  We are a furry little family.  Even Mop came around to the arrival of Brooklyn.  He just finished giving him his nightly gay-lover bath.

The other moral?  Get pet insurance.

PS.  Conehead Brooklyn is all sorts of amusement.  He's already got himself stuck on the carpet, once into a corner and is currently bumping into objects in my office which in turn make him jump, and bump into something else.  FYI - my office has three pieces of furniture in it

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bridesmaid Update

Remember Big A and the fiasco of not getting asked to be a bridesmaid?

Well, the bride came to her senses, called Big A balling, and asked her to be a bridesmaid.  The wedding would not be right without her oldest friend.

This story has a happy ending. If you call having to wear a bridesmaid dress and bad hair a happy ending.

Also, a note that those who know Big A.  She chose that name herself.  She is not Big by any stretch of the imagination.

Life of an Actor

Sometimes as an actress, I must take jobs that aren't exactly challenging in the mental arena.

For example, I just worked at the Vancouver Auto Show as a booth bitch. Don't worry folks, those days of wearing a bikini on a Ford are long gone. I got to be the Mercedes girl.  And with Mercedes comes a black power suit.

I agreed to this show because (a) it pays really well and (b) last year I just sat there rolling posters and talking to the other Mercedes girls.

But this year was not so fun.  This year we had a 'supervisor' in the form of Belinda.  

The reason we had her this year was due to stupid budget cuts that made her job with Mazda obsolete.  Lucky us.

I arrived for my first shift breathless and two minutes late.  Due to the fact that I called an ambulance five minutes earlier because a random homeless man appeared to be dead at the fire hydrant across the street.  Turns out he was just drunk.

Anyways, Belinda, with an annoyingly large fake smile, kindly informed me not to mention the 'incident' again and if was ever late, a full hour's pay would be docked.  I just sort of looked at her, and the empty floor of cars with my eyebrows raised.  Sheesh. I said I was sorry lady.

When she introduced herself, she drew out her name so I always called her Baaa-Lyyyn-daaaa.  Her name was only the first annoying thing about this woman.

Nearing the age of thirty, and not doing what I want to do at the moment, can make me slightly bitter.  I certainly don't need some lady in a suit talking to me as if I were an idiot teenager.  I mean come on, the gist of the job is to smile at people and give them a brochure.  I have a University degree, a certificate from one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world, and business training from the technical institute.  I think I can handle smiling and brochure holding.

But Baaa-lyyn-daaaaa insisted on treating me like an idiot when it came to her 'wows'.  She actually called them 'Baaa-lyyyn-daaa's Wows'.  Somehow I wouldn't exactly call a power window a 'wow' but whatever.

For the first hour of my first shift, Baaa-Lyyyn-daaa walked me around 'training' me with her large fake grin that reminded me of the Cheshire cat and slow, melodic voice that she also must use when speaking to people who are from foreign countries. Or are deaf.

The worst thing about getting trained like that, is it reminds you that you are doing a lame-ass jill job.  Especially when Baaa-lyyyn-daaa took out a folder, smiled and said 'now for the do's and don'ts'.  She took at least three minutes to tell me about this list, her, and I quote, 'do's and don'ts - the laymens terms, okay?'.  Ummm, is there a technical term for do's and don'ts?  Do's and Do not?

They included things like not chewing gum.  Duh.  

Baaa-lyyyn-daaa also told me in her grimace about her 'survival kit'.  It contains everything you will ever need to survive the auto show.  Like a gun?  Just kidding.  But somehow I felt like calling something that contains an exacto knife and scotch tape a survival kit is going too far.  Call it like it is, it's a bag of supplies.  Maybe that is the laymen's term?

Anyways, my life continued for six days.  Standing next to shiny cars and talking to people about the magnificent wonders of the B-Class.  Which I grudgingly admit do have some fun 'wow's.  Like a 12V in the trunk for plugging in your cooler.

I also grudgingly admit that Baaa-lyyyn-daaa grew on me after a while.  Albeit she still had OCD and no sense of humour or fun, but the grin I discovered was real, not fake.  

And at least after six days I was done.  I don't have to travel Canada or actually work for a dealership all the time, talking about my 'wows' of cars and getting people excited about trunk space.  I have a much more fun job.  It's called unemployed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hop Hop Hop!

Every year when Easter rolls around I tend to go on and on about my love for mini-eggs.  But something horrible has happened, I appear to have lost my love-on for the tiny candy shells of chocolaty goodness.  Not that I still don't love them, I do, it's just . . . .  well, I sort of am sick of them.  


And cream eggs?  Yup, still good.  But I only needed one this Easter season.  Well, if I was in New York for Easter (which I go back to next week so maybe the Engineer will get the hint) I would be all over the new cream eggs they have there - they are filled with orange fondant!  YUM-O!  It's like Terry's Chocolate Orange meets Easter.  They are awesome.

Something is wrong here.  Usually at this time of the year, I am stuffing my snout with mini-eggs, buying pastel coloured clothes and going nuts for Easter egg hunts.  

Not this year.  Nope.  

Is it because I am far away from my family?  Or the Engineer?  Or is it simply because I am getting a bit older and the appeal of painting eggs has left me?

Maybe because it is a religious holiday and I am not religious? Wait, I am.  Sort of.  I am a Buddhist, but we aren't really the 'worshipping deity' sort of crowd.  We have no holidays.  At least I don't think so.  Certainly none that involve chocolate, presents, carols, bunnies, or eating turkey.  I must say that the Buddhists got shafted when God was handing out fun holidays.

I went through a 'am I a Christian?' phase a few years ago.  I must admit that I still like going to church on occasion.  Only because I like the ornate ceremony and the music.  And sometimes if you get a good sermon-person, what they are saying can apply to life.  Not just Jesus.

In my phase, I attended a Good Friday mass.  Something I am sure I haven't done since my Grandma took me to her country church in small town Alberta.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Good Friday service resembles a funeral.  More shocked than surprised actually.  I mean I suppose that is exactly what Good Friday is.

People were sombre (more so than usual) and wore black.  In fact, one lady in my pew was sobbing and wiping her eyes with tissue.  I so badly wanted to lean over and whisper, 'don't worry, he'll be rise again in three days' but somehow I felt that was inappropriate.

The singing was beautiful and the day was sunny and warm. Maybe that's what it is.  Today Easter resembles a terrible storm of rain coming down in sheets so much so that Brooklyn refused to walk (or maybe it was the fact I put a raincoat on him?).  Maybe I would feel much more Easter-ish if it was sunny and warm, and I could wear flip flops.  

Because that is what Easter is all about.  Wearing flip-flops.  And shades of pink.  Or going to K's parents house and drinking pink champagne . . . . which is precisely what I am going to do.

ps.  a friend pointed out today that Jesus is the original zombie.  Weird holiday indeed . . . 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brooklyn the Brave

Brooklyn is such a sweet, sweet idiot.

This is what he is afraid of:
plastic bags
bouncy balls
garbage cans

This is what he is not afraid of:
passed out homeless people in the park
drunk people
big dogs

And tonight I learned a new, non fear of his:  horses.  That's right.  My eight pound idiot dog, is not afraid of horses.  How do I know this?  Well, tonight after the hockey game let out I ran into an interesting crowd at the park.  There were some up-to-no-gooders under the cherry trees and then two policemen on horses watching them.  Although Brooklyn backed away from the garbage can we passed, when he caught sight of the horses (that were at least sixteen feet tall) he went crazy.  He broke away from his leash and approached them, dancing on his hind legs - the way he does when he wants to play with Mop.  Of course, I scooped him up and dragged him away.

He cried and shoved his bum down, trying to get back to his new friends.

The Engineer thinks it's amazing that Brooklyn (or any dog) can recognize another animal.  He wonders how they know.  He thinks that's amazing?  I personally think it's amazing that my dog can be afraid of a rustling bag or an umbrella, but give him a seven-foot tall Clydesdale with a hoof triple the size of his own body, and he thinks he has a friend.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lay

If you have a dog, you know that they are an animal with no respect or regard for personal space.  For some reason, they love to do everything on you.  Not three feet away from you, not in the next room, not even near your feet, but actually, physically on you.  

For example, nothing beats waking up in the early morning to Mr. Mop's ass on my face as he bites Brooklyn's head in the first wrestling match of the day.  Why?  Why do they insist on playing ON TOP OF ME, especially at seven in the morning?

Or I can be reading my book, and Brooklyn ever-so-not-gently will walk across my stomach and plant his body across my book.  The best is when I am working and, like a cat, he decides to walk across my keyboard and sit down.  

I suppose it's sweet that they want to be so close to their humans, but really?  Really?  Do they really need to turn in circles for fifteen minutes and then decide the best angle for sleeping is wedging their bum between your chin and shoulder?  Mop seems to think so.

Neither of my dogs are supposed to be allowed on the furniture or on the bed.  But obviously if Mop is nestling his furry bottom near my face, he is clearly on the bed.  I can't help it!  With the Engineer away at school it is so comforting to have my furry little companions keeping my feet (or chin) warm.

The strange thing is:  two dogs weighing a total of 22lbs HOG the bed!!!  When I sleep with the Engineer I not only hog the bed, but the covers.  I yank them away and roll over them, creating a cocoon of warmth while he is left at the edge of the bed with a pillowcase.  When we first started dating, he would wake me in the middle of the night to ask me to move over.  My reply?  'I can see the edge of the bed!'  Well, I could.  And if I could see the edge of the bed, then I clearly did not have any room to move over.

I didn't believe I was bed hogger until one night when he took a photo.  And there I was, sprawled over the entire queen, with my head to the side and mouth gaping open.  Beautiful.  

I suppose now he just sort of deals with it, I still roll over the blankets, and I still can see the edge of the bed.  He's tried to move me, and I believe I smacked him.

So how is it, when I share a bed with an eight pound yorkie and a fourteen pound asshole, I wake up in the morning at the very edge of the bed, with my body contorted in a weird angle so that Brooklyn can nestle beneath my knees and Mr. Mop is sprawled spread eagle over the left side of the bed?  

I am pretty sure that is wrong.