Sunday, January 29, 2012

Size Matters

Jersey City C-Town doesn't do Bustelo halfway.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Appropriate Screening

I headed up to Journal Square on Friday night to see "Cinema Paradiso" at the 1929 movie palace with Roberta and Ray. This was my first trip to the cool old movie theater since I've been back.

Ray loves to take photos and not surprisingly, he took a great shot of the cinema lobby using his iPhone and a stitching app.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ongoing Conflict

My adopted hometown got a facelift while I was gone.

Downtown Jersey City has been going gourmet and poofy for some time—certainly before I left, restaurants that serve upscale food had started to survive rather than tank within a year. Some still faltered, perhaps because they were too ahead of the curve and the potential audience wasn't quite here yet. I only managed a few Vietnamese sandwiches and some half-assed knitting lessons (it's a fact, I suck at knitting) before the banh mi store tanked and before the knitting cafe called it quits.

Late last week, I was running errands, getting printouts and faxing from PostNet, when I stumbled over can I put this...ridiculous. A cupcake cafe. Here. Where once we were excited when a Subway sandwich shop opened up across from a grimy Chinese place that later became a mainstay Cuban restaurant, two blocks from a bodega and refrigerator shop which eventually became a popular restaurant and a coffee shop, respectively. This block once housed Whitegirl dress outlet and Cornucopia foods, two fantastic places so far ahead of their time, barely anyone even knows they once existed.

And here's what's funnier about the cupcake shop.

We have two. Why? Well, what are you going to do if one of them is closed? Doesn't every emerging neighborhood need two cupcake shops? And another attempt at a gourmet pet supply store? Sure, why not.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Squirrel Day

It's snowing here, which has me cowering in the chill of my apartment, but it's also Squirrel Appreciation Day, which reminds me of the time a squirrel leapt from the top of my old apartment building and landed three stories down in the yard. He looked kind of stunned, then walked away. I can't imagine he survived, though he hadn't appeared to break anything.

He probably thought the berry net would be covering the yard--it went up in mulberry season and came down the rest of the year. The squirrel had probably been using it as his own personal shortcut down to the yard.

Here are a few squirrels that Steve and Yancey drew for me when I was working on a top-secret squirrel project that never got off the ground.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Field Trip to Bayonne

I remember when J.C. had a humorous public exchange on whether or not we wanted this sculpture.

The response was nearly unanimous.

We did not.

It's in Bayonne now, in the perfect spot on a spit of land by the cruise terminal, not in anyone's backyard, all alone at the end of a road through an industrial area. I kinda like it there, where we can go and see it on a weekend, but no one has to look at it and snicker all week long.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sickly Ford

Poor Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus has seen better days.

The longest I've ever left him alone before was seven months, and he started right up when I got home. But ten months seems to have been a little too long. The battery is completely dead.

Ray and the Arrow tried giving Henry a jump. His dashboard lights came on after a while, and I could hear a little click, but after about 15 minutes, we still didn't have enough power to turn over. I thought about continuing to charge up, but I'm worried about build-up on the brakes, so I'm going to call AAA for a tow this week and head up to see my trusty mechanic—Mike at Alpha-Omega—near Journal Square.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Marquesan Festival of the Arts

Tony, who was the ship's videographer on the Aranui ship, has finished a few videos of the festival we attended last month.

They're great--check them out here and here on the Aranui YouTube channel.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Opening Mail

I'd sent about a dozen (or more?) packages to Michael Kraiger at our office over the ten months I was traveling.

And now, I've been steadily opening the boxes up and bringing my souvenirs home.

On Monday, my Polynesian paddle showed up. Our receptionist laughed at me, but she's used to us getting strange things in the mail.

Yesterday, I got a "material removal pass" and took my odd-shaped package out of the office building. I kept it wrapped so no transit police would get cranky at me on the way home.

And I opened it...and it was intact. I'd been afraid something would break. I'd gone to a lot of trouble to pack this properly on December 23rd in Tahiti, picking up cardboard boxes on the curb, bubble wrap from Tourist Information, and brown paper from a stationery store across from the post office. Fish and Wildlife had opened my package up when it hit the US, but they'd wrapped it back up without breaking anything.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Up the Hill in J.C.

It's good to be home.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Cleaning House

I've been home exactly a week now and haven't moved too quickly. Okay, that's not entirely true. But I mean as far as my stuff—my apartment, my garage, my car—goes, I've been dragging my feet.

The 31 wire hangers my tenants left me are still banded together and waiting by the front door (with the broken lock) to go back to the cleaners. I partially dismantled the bed they broke (mattress is now on the floor but that's okay, I think the mice are gone now), but I have to break down the frame and carry it down to the curb. I cleaned the refrigerator, but haven't bought anything to go in it. I cleaned the mouse turds out of some cabinets but I keep finding dishes and utensils stashed in strange places (I assume that when my tenants got married, they received gifts, and rather than, oh, put my stuff in a box, it was easier to put a few forks on a top shelf, a knife and a plate up with the Bundt pan, rabbit sculptures made of dust behind doors and under tables, and to cleverly place a container of blueberries in the microwave—genius!).

Ray, who stayed in my place from November 15 to January 2, did what he could. He managed to kill the mice, left me a can of Cafe Bustelo, slept carefully on the broken bed, and built me a monster of a desktop computer system—but he couldn't bring himself to touch the freezer.

"Because," he said, "I wanted to see your reaction to it."

Friday, January 06, 2012


I'm done with until 2021.

Home, and looking at a messy apartment, garage, and a whole lot of freelance work that needs to be done. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Waning Days of

After a few days of late-Christmas at my mother's house in Virginia, I headed up to DC to meet my college friends Anne and Leah, as well as Vern from last week on the Aranui.

We had a grand time getting manicures and pedicures (well, not Vern—who met us later—but Anne and Leah's daughters went to the spa along with us), grabbing dinner, and then on Monday morning, I headed back north on one of the $25 DC-NYC buses.

I texted Michael Kraiger as the bus passed Snake Hill in Secaucus, and then again as soon as the bus pulled into Manhattan, out of the Lincoln Tunnel.

"Be there in three minutes." I watched the familiar-but-alien landmarks whiz by the window. And the crowds! So many people in Manhattan—they were all traveling at the end of the holiday.

Michael Kraiger was at his office—once mine, as recently as February—which is a block from all the discount buses. I'd mailed him my keys, garage door opener, and watch back in March, remember? He brought me my keys and garage door opener.

The watch can wait, along with the dozens of boxes I'd sent him from around the world. I'll have to come in with my car one day and pick them up.

The day was warm as I waited, hugged against the wall of a shoe store with my backpack behind me.