Daytripping With Tesla

My brother and I are both teachers, so we have summers “off.” Those quotation marks mean we are not working in the normal sense; however, if writing syllabi and reading for the Fall are not working, then syllabi-writing is somehow a hobby that I can’t stop doing, not for the fun of it but for the mandatory necessity of it. (Full disclosure: the Virgo in me loves writing syllabi because I get to plan things. Planning!)

The “off” also refers to the ability to gallivant across the tri-state area to see things we live near yet have never seen before. On the list for the first jaunt (bum leg and all) were a memorial, a bull, and a tiny village of shops and artsy things within Stonybrook. Some of these things were demapped. My brother must have said this word maybe 52 times. Also, we found Tesla. Like, the guy, not the car. But also, the car.

First stop: an apparently demapped Vietnam memorial in Bald Hill. Or, if not demapped, then not easy to find on a map. The GPS took us to in and around the area of the memorial. We could see it rise above the trees along the road. However, we were on the opposite side of the road near the Pennysaver Amphitheatre, which was closed but had an open gate. We rolled in and rolled out. Then I suggested parking in the tiny park next to it and walking back over.

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My brother taking pictures of the top of the memorial from all the way across the road and the trees.

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And this is how much of it we could see.

As we walked uphill towards the open gate that said they were closed, a tiny car with a large cigar-smoking, 7-11 coffee-drinking man rolled up behind us and shout-asked: You lookin for somebody?

We were like, no, something–the memorial.

After starting to say it was way deep into beyond the gates, it dawned on him what we were talking about and he was like, Oh you guys gotta go back to how you came in and then take the next exit off ’cause this whole area is Bald Hill.

I was like, Yeah, the map said we should go here.

He was like, Yeah, it’s a good thing I found you because you woulda got lost back there and you have no water. He chuckled. We thanked him.

We made our way back to find the next exit and my brother was like, That guy needs a name. At the same time we automatically said, Vinnie. He was totally a Vinnie.

Thanks to Vinnie, we found the memorial. It was a weird exit because the memorial is located in a park in the middle of a highway. It’s quite breath-taking, literally and figuratively. It’s on a hill [hence, Bald Hill], and it’s simply stark in its simplicity and tribute.

 

Side note: several times, my brother asked me if I could keep walking and if I’d be able to get up the hill. Boys sometimes notice things. I made it up the hill all right and back down, much more slowly than usual, of course.

Second stop: The bull statue in Smithtown is in the middle of a very busy road. At first, we couldn’t find it, so my brother kept asking, When do we give up? I was like, Never. So on we drove until he was like, There it is! It’s hard to miss. First we turned before it and realized we couldn’t pull over. Then we backtracked and I told him to turn into the bike path that also indicated parking. He was like, No because we can’t get out then. I was like, but the big gardening truck is there and it has to get out somehow, pointing at the gardening truck that we would be parking behind. We drove under the overpass and I was like, Pull into the urgent care. He was like, it’s private parking. I was like, there are enough spaces in there so other people can park so we won’t be blocking any urgency. He parked.

We walked over to the bull. It’s pretty large and anatomically correct.

 

The Bull (1)

He was like, I’m not sure I got its head in. Thanks, bro. Then again, I did accidentally photobomb his picture (see above).

Third stop: Stonybrook to see a bunch of things that are all in one spot. The neat thing about his wanting to see things is that they crossed over with a bunch of lists I have about the best tea and coffee and oddities across the land. We found a very fancy post office, Hercules, an old boat, pretty water, and the Grist Mill which was closed. I walked around it to see if we could get better photos of the water wheel but my brother was like, this is a private road, and I was like, It’s not like I have a car. Then we couldn’t get around the mill anyway so we headed back.

 

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In honor of Hercules, we look Herculean here.

Two girls arrived behind us and were taking pictures so I offered to take one of them together. They declined just as me and one of them at the same time noticed that we both had Gatsby bags. They’d dropped off books at the little library near the tea shop and I was like, I wished I had books with me to leave. Apparently, it was their second time there, so they knew to bring the books. I know for next time, but I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon because it’s quite a drive and I’ve got other places to see. (Also, we didn’t ask them to take our picture and they didn’t offer, so the only one I have is the one I took by leaning my phone against a tiny tree stump).

Starved, we ate at Crazy Beans. They have a Crazy Ruben and a Crazy Cuban. We debated about which would win in a fight. The ambience and the deliciousness of the food make me forget the outcome.

 

The biggest part of our outing, however, was a very unplanned excursion into the world of one Nikolai Tesla, inventor of many electric things and patenter of very few. Also, fun fact, lover of pigeons. That fact didn’t actually appear in this exhibit, but it’s something I know because I once wrote a poem called “Tesla And Marconi Throw Down For Patent Rights, Royalties, And, Most Importantly, Fame” that was published in Spilt Milk, a now defunct British online poetry mag. It’s one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written because not only does it discuss science, patents, and what a douche Marconi was, but it also refers to the band Tesla, a very underrated band concerning nostalgia and the 90s (but who also played Jones Beach last year and seemed to be very happy and very much still underrated).

we found the educational and Cultural Center at the back of the large parking lot where all the other shops stand. There was a Tesla exhibit that cost $5 to see (marked down from $7 because of change issue–score!). The first thing I noticed was that everything was written in both English and Russian. Then I noticed it was not Russian. Tesla was not Russian. It was a different language. Now if you think I’m going to remember or look it up at this point, you don’t know me at all, do you. At least I know about his pigeon-love.

Anyway, the exhibit had trivia and lots of things to read and some things that we weren’t allowed to touch because they obviously generated electricity. There was a neon Tesla. There was also the Tesla car that Tesla did not make. We waited around for the presentation that we were told would happen in 15 minutes. It didn’t happen in 15 minutes even after we took a bathroom break, so we decided to bow out of the demonstration, knowing that there would be some sort of electricity happening. We did partake in the Look At How White The Paper Is Under The Tesla-Inspired Light Bulb, however, which was good enough for us.

 

The misfortune of Tesla stems from his failure to patent his most precious inventions. He did patent some inventions, but not enough. Maybe he trusted people too much or maybe he thought gifting it all to the world was the way to go. However, he died poor. There’s a movie you can watch about it on Amazon, and the exhibit featured a suit and fancy hat worn in the movie.

Since then, Tesla has been following me. Popping up on the television, a documentary about Tesla. Driving down the city street, a street named after Tesla. Tesla cars everywhere I go. Pigeons. Lots of pigeons flying around. Tesla may be trying to tell me something.

Then we saw an old house. Demapped, we first found the address given near the house. Then we drove back and forth through the backroads of Stonybrook and Stonybrook-adjacent, trying to find another old house. Back and forth until, oh, there it is, next to the historical society. The houses were really old. My brother is a history teacher. It made sense to see old things up close. These houses look the same in these photos. They are different.

Tesla-ed out and in a food coma, we found our daytripping coming to a close. I arrived home with a half a sandwich and a bit of a limp, worth every moment.

 

 

 

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We’re Spies! Or Are We? If We Are, This Title Makes Us Terrible Spies!

Spyscape!

Being a spy takes risk, critical assessment, composure, agility, and martinis. This is what I learned.

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ONE
I do not like martinis. I kind of knew this already, but I tried again. S wanted a dirty martini, so I got one, too. I took one sip and was like, oh look you now have two dirty martinis. She declined because she wanted to get through the spy thing without careening about. They served good food, too. Butternut squash skewers are my jam, man.

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TWO
I love room-sized elevators. Getting to the exhibit proved invigorating as we watched our mission on the walls of the elevator. I didn’t jump with glee, but I definitely bounced with glee. S pointed out that the glee is not exactly spy-like. True, but still. It’s fun to have a mission!

THREE
I’m riskier than I thought but it’s still not a whole lot. Throughout the exhibit there are games to play and one is risk assessment at blowing up a balloon. Quite honestly, I didn’t even understand what I was doing the first time around. Apparently, when you don’t know that there’s risk involved, you have no problems with risk. Later on when I understood it, I was more careful, and so it averaged out. S’s risk? Same as mine.

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FOUR
I am a good liar. I know when people lie. I can lie to people. However, I could not find my way into the booths to take the lying test. S was like, where are you going? I was like, I’m following the velvet rope. She was like, You’re following the rope backwards–the doors are right here. Oh. Okay. Good liar. Bad at directional logic. As someone who has no qualms in telling people I don’t know my right from my left, this is not shocking.

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FIVE
S and I see movies that we don’t remember. And although S has an incredible memory that’s always been better than mine, I remembered a movie that she didn’t. Ryan Phillippe is in it. Let me back up for a minute. Spyscape is also a spy museum, so there were exhibits and some were about movies that were also about real spies. So there was a thing about Ryan Phillippe that at first sounded interesting to me, and then I realized that I’d seen it, and then I remembered that we’d seen it together. I was like, Yeah, we had to sit in the first row and his head was really large and you made yourself fall asleep because you weren’t enjoying it. S’s response? Oh, yeah, now I remember.

SIX
I’m loud. Even with headphones on, S heard me shouting out answers when we were in a 360 degree spy headquarters, searching for screens that fit the description the lady on the headphones was listing. I had to be loud. The one time I didn’t shout my answer was the one time she told me I was wrong when I was clearly right. While most spying is quiet, sometimes you need to shout. Or maybe get better spy equipment.

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SEVEN
Agility! How agile are we? Only lasers can tell us! My hair kept hitting the laser beams, so my time took a few hits. Both of us were really good at hopping over and crawling under beams. Also, night vision! Actually, according to my spy profile, agility is not one of my top three strong traits, but it sure was fun.

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S taking on the laser beams

EIGHT
Let’s not talk about the logic puzzles. I will say I was able to do the word codes and decoding pretty easily because, you know, letters. As soon as shapes and sequences popped up, I was like, I don’t even know what I’m looking at.

In the end, I found I am an Agent Handler, a manager of agents who provides secret intelligence or operational support. This means I recruit, cultivate, and manage agents with extreme care. Enter Mission: Impossible music here.

All this leads up to how we began the evening: Neither S nor I could get our locker to work. We chose a locker, put our stuff in, and then closed it. However, it wouldn’t close. We couldn’t reset the lock. We also had a hard time opening other lockers. Was this a challenge? Was this the test? Nope, we simply could not use the lockers.

Or could we?

Spies!

Retreating In Silence

A silent meditation retreat naturally appeals to me. I’ve always been quiet. The hardships of being in public include having to talk to people when I don’t feel like it. At a silent retreat, I’d be out in public but not forced to chit chat. I’d be able to do a deep dive into my own brain with the guidance of a guru. I found Kadampa Meditation Center. They offer Silence Is Golden retreats that last from five to six hours. That’s about the speed to ease into this thing.

My morning pre-retreat found me excited, looking forward to all the not talking I’d be doing. The excitement turned to anxiety as my GPS decided to test all that is calm and focused within me by taking me to not-the-mediation center. It kept telling me I was there when I was not there. I wasn’t really anywhere. It kept exclaiming You have arrived! when there was nothing to arrive to except for the backs of buildings. I figured it might be on a corner. Nope. I drove in a few circles. Then by the grace of all that is not GPS, I spotted it on a wider swath of circuity.

After checking in, a lovely woman brought me over to where the coats and shoes were, and showed me where the meditation room was. Thankful, I peeled off my jacket and my boots. I headed into a room filled with meditative souls, sitting on bolsters on the floors and on chairs. I took a chair. I took in the Buddha inspired vibrant paintings. Then everyone stood up. So I stood up. Oh, here was the leader. This is some heavy meditation respect.

The leader is a lovely woman who began with basics of why we meditate and why in silence. She spoke of people finding a challenge in keeping quiet. Ha. Nope, not me. This was heaven. I can only imagine how tiring this day was for her because her energy radiated in every moment.

We meditated through her guidance and readings. We took a break. They served mini Mrs. Fields cookies. No one talked. There was tea. This is what life should be.

We meditated again for a longer while. This took us to lunch, which they provided. All vegetarian. Soup. Quinoa. Vegetables. Fruit. More tea. No one talked. I went for a walk around the block. Then I circled again. These circles were a lot calmer than the GPS anxiety ones.

We meditated again. And then it was done. Five and a half hours of silent contemplation, cookies, soup, and tea.

I can’t explain how I felt afterwards. Driving home, an exhaustion overtook me. I couldn’t wait to pull into my driveway. Then when I got to my street, I drove past my house in a burst of energy and did some errands. Then I got home and felt somewhere between those two. Ah, I’d found equilibrium, which is exactly what we’d been meditating on. This stuff ? Works.

 

 

Warhol Ukrainian Style

In keeping with the theory that there’s never enough Warhol, I stayed at work late one night to hear a lecture by the author of The Factory. There were slides and a good amount of Warhol history. Then there were YouTube videos of interviews. I kept texting my brother with excitement: Now he’s talking about this! Now he’s talking about that!

Then on a sunny yet rather chilly Saturday, I made my way from Penn to Cooper Square, wandered around looking at the map on my phone and street signs in a rather circular path, and then found 6th Street mostly by accident. There stood The Ukrainian Museum. Inside was Warhol, awaiting our presence.

Once my brother arrived, we headed straight to the second floor where the rather small but really neat exhibit stood. There were some ink and paper drawings, one of which is a collaboration between Warhol and his mom who did calligraphy. There were pieces that copy his soup cans. There was his mom’s prayer book that had a cover make out of a Chivas bottle’s box. The main show were several prints of endangered species that looked pretty psychedelic.

Side Note: We didn’t find this on our own. S’s mom tipped us off. How she knew about this tiny exhibit in this tiny museum is a mystery. I mean, I could ask, but what fun would that be?

We couldn’t take pictures, so I took some pictures, and all the while my brother was like, The guard is right there…the guard is right there….the guard is right there. I’m not a jerk. I’m not sharing the photos. I did take a picture of his signature on the wall which was before the sign that said no pictures, so I’m assuming that’s not copyrighted.

On the first floor was an exhibit of Ukrainian garb. Lots of intricately woven shirts stood in several displays. Interspersed throughout were also skirts and table cloths, and we realized that telling the difference between them was difficult unless we read the labels on the displays. Both kinds of textiles have very pretty intricate patterns.

When we were about to leave the museum, the guy at the front desk told us to take the elevator to the basement because there was one more exhibit. Enter Christina Saj’s Re:Create–the best exhibit around. Each painting uses a steel canvas so that you can add your own magnetic pieces. My brother became a bit focused on finding birds to add to each piece. I added some abstracts to several pieces. Then we found these magnetic sticks and collaborated on a piece together. We could have added letters to make words, but then a group of children came in, which cued our departure.

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Portrait: Bird

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I added the flowery things.

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Another bird! The light hits this one perfectly.

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We added the straight lines. 

Now that we were artists, we stopped by one final small gallery on the first floor and headed out. I was fortunate enough to get an impromptu tour of former music venues that my brother pointed out as we looked for a place to eat. (You, too, can soak in this NYC knowledge by booking a tour with my brother who can’t help but give tours whenever we’re walking around NYC. Greenwich Village, East Village, Brooklyn Bridge, he’s got the skillz: http://newyorkbroadwaytours.com/private-nyc-walking-tours/).

We found a BBQ place that I tried to reserve on OpenTable to get points, but this location didn’t offer points. (BTW: If you’re on OpenTable, make sure you toggle on. There was an app update that made earning points a choice–why else use the app other than to get points? Whatever. Toggle on, people.)

When we went inside, we saw it was an order-at-the-counter place, which is why I couldn’t reserve. What I lost in points, I was made whole by the decadence of sweet potato casserole. We feasted. Thank you, Mighty Quinn’s, you do good BBQ.

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After following my brother to get to a subway (he’s a tour guide! he knows how to get to the subway!), we took a train back to Penn where I left him to get home. I found a train waiting for me–this keeps happening, perfect timing!, no jinxing–so I settled in. Then I saw this little guy hanging out on the ride home.

Train Fun

Never Enough Warhol

You know how far the Whitney is, right? In case you don’t remember, here ya go. This time, I walked in what I thought would be chilly weather. Whenever I walk in Manhattan Chilly Weather, I wind up overheating. Not to be proven wrong, I met my brother outside the museum and when we got inside, it was a balmy 1437 degrees.

Being so close to another Warhol exhibit, I let myself die a little from the heat as we made our way upstairs, like all the way up, to start our adventure. I found a cow hallway to step to the side and peel off every layer except my t-shirt. That’s how we layer. Lots of layers ending in a t-shirt. If I could have taken off my boots, I would have.

This is not the first time we’ve Warhol’ed together. We saw an exhibit a few years back at the Morgan Library. This was one we could not take pictures of, so I kept sneaking pictures, and he kept walking away from me in case I got caught. It’s a fun game.

There was another time even years before that. I kept reminding him: Don’t you remember we saw that Basquiat/Warhol exhibit? And he was like, No. I was like, I was at the Met or something. And he was like, No. And I was like, Yeah your reaction to one of the paintings was something like, There’s a duck another duck and a chicken. And he was like, No definitely not.

So after I came home, I looked it up and found that we’d been to the Brooklyn Museum and I texted him to inform him he’d said: there’s an envelope, the envelope again, and a glass of milk.

He was like, How did you remember that? And I was like, It’s years of blogging paying off. (a now defunct blog in the archives of Blogger that I can get into only when I remember my old password).

Anyway, so this exhibit at the Whitney explored more facets of Warhol from A to B and Back Again. Because that’s what the exhibit is called. There were screen tests and a time capsule. The aforementioned cow wallpaper. One of the floors offered a film of his mother sleeping. The Brillo boxes and Campbell’s Soup cans. The collaborations. The bottom gallery was all portraits so we tried to guess who the portraits were and we knew maybe three. That’s a testament to how much work Warhol actually put out. It was privately commissioned. The guy worked worked worked. He silkscreened like no one’s business. It’s so impressive. Here, my brother is mooooved by the cow wallpaper (I hate myself for that). I am doing my best Mona Lisa impression (one of my artist friends tells me I look like her). And then there’s Elvis, a nod to dad, of course.

Because we were already there and the Whitney is so far, I was like, let’s look at the other exhibits. We took in Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies. The idea was art that makes itself based on programs and technology. There was a room with light bulbs that he was like, That looks cool .But then we went inside and he was like, This was better from the outside. So he left while I sat under some flickering light bulbs for a while. I very much enjoyed the geekery, while he walked through perplexed.

After that, we stopped by the permanent exhibits. Couldn’t help ourselves when we saw this. (This makes no sense unless you’ve seen Weekend At Bernie’s).

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Good God! It’s a Lichtenstein! 

We talked about The Factory and documentaries that we each saw that the other might like as we made our way down the stairs one last time and out into the not cold night and into the diner down the street. PS: there are not a lot of casual eateries near there because it’s so far from everything, so this diner was everything two casual diners would want.

The payoff of being so far are the views from the rooftops. This is free art.

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“Lanterns”

When I hear lanterns, I think of nighttime in the Old West and a barn fire from a horse kicking over a kerosene lantern and then an old man in a nightgown grabbing his own lantern and running onto the porch and his eyes going wide at the blaze and then cowboys and lanterns and fire.

Also, I think of Chinese lanterns. Those are pretty!

Winter Lantern Festival sounds like the pretty kind. Over in Snug Harbor on Staten Island, lanterns were ablaze! Except that they weren’t kerosene fueled and weren’t really lanterns. S and I headed out on a not-too-cold winter night to see the lanterns which turned out to be lights, and the lights were pretty, so it all worked out.

Snug Harbor is pretty small compared to the number of people who were swarming to see the pretty lanterns. That meant a lot of driving in circles. When I was about to make a fifth loop, the security guy beckoned my car over and asked why we were there. S was like, To see the lights. He was like, Okay there’s no parking inside but you can park right in front of my car. He indicated a very tight spot for which I would need to parallel park. And it took me under five minutes, which is highly impressive. I also sweat out maybe a pint of parking sweats, which is expected. (If y’all thought there would be no sweating, y’all have forgotten key elements of my soul).

Not pretty was the soft mud beneath our feet as we walked through. We wore boots. We were smart. I’m including this link here– https://gothamtogo.com/winter-lantern-festival-2018-on-staten-island/ — to show how the photo envisions the ground as magic unmuddy tiles, which is the opposite of what we were walking on. There were paths made of some sort of outdoor pathway building materials, but to get closer to some of the displays, there was lots of mud in the dark. But it was lit by these pretty non-lantern lights, so, in turn, it was kind of pretty, too!

The lights were LED sculptures and Eastern themed. There were large flowers, a panda, and a dragon at the beginning. The Chinese zodiac lit up another pathway. There was a shimmery peacock, which I suppose is not necessarily Chinese, but more worldly. Other worldly things were the Christmas tree and some butterflies. And we walked through a shark. It’s hard to explain, but it was also pretty.

A small section of candy appeared, and we saw it from across the way. I was like, That was made for you. S was like, for sure. When we got to it, she kept turning towards me as I was taking pictures of her from behind, and finally I was like, Hey you’re ruining it! And she was like, Ohhh, yes, good idea.

A few years back, we went to a Will Cotton exhibit and I snapped a quick photo of her from behind looking at the painting, and it was pretty amazing. Since then, whenever we come across a candy-themed exhibit, I usually recreate the magic of S In Awe Of Sweets. Here in the dark backlit by candy, it does the trick.

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#SouthpawSweets

Then there was another panda. Like a person in a costume panda. I stopped short and then told S we had to walk quickly. When she saw what I was avoiding, she cackled and then tried to get me to go back twice to take a picture. No, no thank you. I am not going near adults in costumes that don’t speak. It’s weird and awkward and I stand by my choice.

She also found some lanterns for me! Lantern success!

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Look At All Of These LANTERNS!!!

After we were lanterned out, we headed to the car. Only we couldn’t find the car because once we were out of the exit, I was like, We’ve never been on this street before. S asked a security guy about exits, and he was like, Did you park on Blah De Blah? And I was like, I have no idea. So he was like, That means you did. He gave us directions back into the park and then out again. I had to parallel out of the space halfway because by the time I’d maneuvered back and forth a bunch of times, the other security guy pulled his car away. More success! Very little sweating!

And all by the light of the pretty lanterns.

Official Voice Over-er

Remember back in June when I joked around about that Groupon I got for that voice acting workshop and I was all like This could be my side hustle ha ha ha? Yeah, so fast forward to the next few months when I find myself deep in commercial and narrative scripts and on three separate phone calls devoted to learning about the industry and my own voice. Yeah, that’s right. I signed up for the course.

Fast forward to October. Instead of a phone call, I was up for a face-to-face session of recording several of those scripts using the voice I’d been working on for those few months. Voice Coaches set up some studio time for me on a Friday  as per my request to make it “before the snow comes.”

Now,  you may remember the last time I drove upstate for a reading at Bright Hill Press and Literary Center. That’s located in  Treadwell, NY. Do you know where that is? If you’re answer is “no,” then you’re not alone because the GPS didn’t know where the heck it was, either. There was a lot of drive-crying when I missed a turn and wound around some mountain roads and double-backed a few times until taking myself to Oneonta via the road to Delhi because the road to Oneonta from Treadwell was closed. I mean, the reading was totally worth it. And I also ended up drive-crying on the way home when I didn’t even get lost; yes, there was drive-crying because I was so proud that I didn’t get lost on the way home.

That little refresher is to inform you that there was no drive-crying on this trip! There was a case of Wow, I forgot to bring extra deodorant so let me find a CVS to buy some because the Great Natural Deodorant Experiment of 2018 sometimes doesn’t pan out so well. But there was no drive-crying and there was no CVS-crying or Where’s The Deodorant At-Crying. Overall, no crying. The studio was in Albany, so the GPS knew where that was and it also found the CVS without a hitch.

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Instead, there was a whole lot of being completely psyched to be recording my demo. When I got to the studio, I was even more psyched because they had awesome mints and fun fish.

Then we recorded. Oh, btw, “we” is me and the producer-tech-voice-over-er-instructor Josh. That guy is the definition of pumped up. Like, every phone call started with Christina, are you ready??!!??!! The same thing with the demo. Christina, are you totally ready??!?!?!!!When I got into the booth after a tour of the absolutely gorgeous studio and found the mic magically at my height, I asked him how short the person before me in the booth had been. He probably wasn’t expecting this question, but I notice when things are actually my height because that rarely happens. Turns out he lowered it a whole lot after briefly meeting me in the waiting area. Ha! Stealth. Also we found the smallest headphones because short gal’s got a small head, too, yo.

We plowed through script after script. Every take was exhilarating. It went by so fast. Seriously fast. I can read! Out loud! All those years of being an English Professor, paying off in a little booth in Albany.

After we finished recording, we started talking about when my demo would be ready, how to land jobs as voice talent (that’s me! I’m the talent!), and networking. The conversation derailed into hockey and tiny towns where there’s nothing to do. We got back around to the voice stuff and then it was done. And done!

I knew I’d get the downloads for the demo in a few weeks. I knew I would get demo CDs in the mail around the same time. When the email arrived with the link (it’s here!), I was excited. When the CDs arrived, I was thrilled.

But then? Then! I got a certificate! It’s got my name on it and everything! Okay, okay, so I have diplomas and certificates for stuff I’ve completed. Usually, I’m like, oh that’s nice, here’s a frame. This one, though, was totally unexpected. I didn’t know I’d get a certificate, so I squealed like a five year old and danced around my kitchen when I saw what it was.

VoiceCoachCertificate

And that’s the story of how I’m now an official voice over-er. Thank you, Voice Coaches, for the motivation, the fun, and the voice adventure.

Sob Story

[This may be more for me than for you. Or maybe I just want pity.]

I’m down to my last pair of contacts. I’ve been wearing my glasses. I need a new eye doctor. My old one retired and the one who took over basically told me I’m old and listed a bunch of things that were about to go wrong with my eyes. I already have terrible vision so this information was not doing any good. Also, they offered a test that insurance didn’t cover but they said would replace a dilation. I did it and paid for it. Then they told me I needed to come in for a dilation. I explained how I did the other test. They said it wasn’t the same. This is not a way to be a medical professional.

The check engine light came on in my car. I brought it to the mechanic who says it’s a faulty sensor. He suggested I take it to the dealership because I might get them to fix it for free because of a recall several years back.

I call the dealership. They tell me my car has a current recall. I say I got it completed. They say, no, there’s a second part to the current recall. I say, okay I work from home on Fridays so I can bring it in then. They say, we don’t do recalls on Fridays. Then they go to check to see if they can make an exception. Then they say they don’t have the part for the recall and they will call me.

Then I drive around with the check engine light still on. I feel like Penny.

Then I can’t get into my house. The door is locked. I have the key. The key won’t open the lock. I can open the screen door with the key. The inside door won’t open. All the other screen doors lock from the inside only. I call the locksmith. I sit on my side step and cry. The locksmith says he’ll be there in 25 minutes. An hour passes. I call the locksmith. He says his GPS says he’ll be there in 15 minutes.

In a half hour, the locksmith arrives. I show him the door and the key. He tries the key. It doesn’t work. He asks to see the other doors. I show him the doors. He says that he will try the front door. It will cost $600 in the end if he needs to drill through the lock and then replace it. I say, what about breaking into the side screen door? He looks at me puzzled. I say, this key will open the inside door if I can get by the screen door. He says he will try.

He uses a rudimentary system of inflatable balloons and tubes. It looks like a blood pressure checker for doors. The door pops open. If it hadn’t, I was ready to slash open some screens and unscrew some hinges. Screen doors be gone.

The key works on the inside door. He tells me I can check the front door and asks if he can come in. I tell him to come in as I grab the door knob of the front door that’s jammed. It simply opens. I look at him. He looks at me. I’m like, You know it was jammed. He’s like, yes it was.

Because otherwise, why are we here?

Then we play around with the lock. We try to replicate the problem. We can’t. I say that I’m getting new screen doors that can unlock from the outside in case this happens again.

Then I pay him much less than $600. While we wait for my credit card to go through, he becomes mesmerized by the poster in my kitchen. It’s a play, I say. He asks, Shakespeare? I say, yes it’s a full play on a poster. He says it’s cool. Then he leaves. In the mailbox is a postcard from the car dealership about the current recall. Again.

A red light on the dashboard in my car pops on along with the words CHECK MANUAL and a loud dinging sound. The red of this light compliments the orange glow of the check engine light that’s still on. The manual tells me that the engine is too cold. That can’t be right. Then it says not to drive too quickly or carry a heavy load. I realize that I need an oil change, so I hope that’s what it is. The rain is teeming and I go back to the mechanic and ask for an oil change and tell him about the new light. He doesn’t seem concerned about the light and doesn’t ask follow up questions about possible noises, and that makes me feel better about it. I remind him that the engine light is still on and he says he’ll ignore it.

The rain is still teeming when he calls me and says that the car is ready to go. I go get the car. My plan to get into my jammies early and watch movies has been spoiled but now only one light glows on my dashboard again.

In a few mornings when it’s no longer raining, I decide I really want to walk outside even if it’s cold. I bundle up. I walk outside. It’s sunny and cold but by the end I’m a little sweaty. Things are feeling good. After my walk, I come inside. My glasses fall on the floor and snap in half. I sob. Literally sob. I cannot see without them and I have just the one pair of contacts left and I can’t wear contacts every waking moment. I call in sick to work. I cry some more.

I go to the eye doctor. Everyone there is so very nice. The doctor talks about how he loved an English class he took one summer and how he hosts a sci-fi radio show. This is refreshing since most people who first learn I teach writing tell me about that one essay-writing course they had that they hated. Instead, as we check out my eyes, we talk about Stan Lee and new kinds of contact lenses. He says my eye sight has gotten a little better. He doesn’t tell me what might go wrong with my eyes and doesn’t insinuate that I am old and falling apart.

I find new frames that are almost an exact match to my now broken frames. I shell out a pretty penny for the exam and the contacts, but the contacts have a huge rebate and insurance is paying for my new glasses. I give the doc my card with the astronaut to tell him about my sci-fi poetry, and he gives me a CD of his show plus a website where I can listen to the archives. I’m going back later this week to check out how the new contacts fit my eyeballs.

Then in my night table, I find an old pair of glasses. They seem to be my current prescription. They can tide me over. I can see.

Happy ending.

Dim All The Lights

Summer. No, not the season. The Donna. Donna Summer! S and I saw her in concert at Jones Beach together once. Last night, we saw her music and life on the Broadway stage.

Before getting to the theatre, let me back up for a side story about how I am a giant. I stopped in Penn to grab a snack. A few people stood on line in front of me. At first, I thought the person with the large backpack right in front of me was the daughter of the women in front of her because the person in the backpack was tiny.

Like I felt at least a foot taller than her. I was wearing heels, sure, but I towered . When I saw her face, I was amazed that this was not a child. She was a petite adult.

Waiting and waiting, I pondered the snack options. Waiting and waiting, I chose and then changed my mind and then chose and changed my mind back to the original. With all the waiting and decision making, I jumped into action upon being called next.

Only I wasn’t next. I’m so not used to having to look down to see anyone because no one is ever shorter than me that I totally did not see Petite Backpack still standing in front of me. We’re all probably lucky I didn’t bowl her over. The guy at that counter was like, I think she was before you, and I turned and saw her standing there, not angry, but with a look that said, This happens to me a lot.

This does not happen to me a lot. I said a quick, Oh my mistake! and walked back behind her as she passed by me, a smile on her face. I hadn’t ruined her evening. However, I now have an experience that I will probably never have again–being the tall one.

After feeling ten feet tall, I headed out to the theatre. On my way, I found myself walking behind a man who was at least seven feet tall. I thought in that moment, If he changes direction at any moment, I’m crushed. And now I’m back to shorty short short.

More importantly, Donna Summer. S found me on line even though I was wearing my orange coat and pumpkins from a restaurant’s outdoor decor surrounded me. She said something about the show being an hour and forty five minutes. I said the email I got said it was an hour and forty minutes. Then I overheard a bartender tell a customer the show was an hour and a half. We decided to quickly get to our seats before the show was simply over.

Our seats were high up but we had a perfect view. Then that perfect view was destroyed by four people who did not know how to sit still and be quiet for an hour and forty five/forty/thirty minutes. The two people not directly in front of us kept kissing every few minutes. The woman in front of me kept talking to the man in front of S, which meant we had to keep leaning in the opposite direction. Basically, S and I watched Summer slanted way too the left.

Other than that, the show lived up to the disco and beyond spectacle it promised to be. I learned a whole lot about Donna Summer’s backstory that I never knew. I got a little confused with time shifts and which actress was playing which version of Donna Summer at times. That doesn’t matter, though, because the music and dancing and shimmery costumes and lights of dazzlement kept us entertained for that entire hour and however many minutes, and now all I want to do is listen to Donna Summer over and again.

Why Donna Summer? Years of belting out her lyrics in our bedrooms, on carrides, everywhere we could. Years of dancing at all those parties ending in “Last Dance.” Years of big hair and simple glee. Let this legacy live on.

Frankenstein Is Alive! At The Morgan

Since going to see the Frankenstein exhibit was a literary-infused outing, I wound up writing about it for Book Riot instead of blogging about it here. There are probably other things I could be blogging about, but I’m finding myself in a whirlwind or vacuum or some other kind of place where moving air is a consuming factor. So for a taste of a jaunt into NYC, head over to Book Riot to read all about how I did not get kicked out of the Frankenstein exhibit. It’s right here: Frankenstein Is Alive! At The Morgan.

A World Of Color, or Everything Worth Doing Ends With A Ball Pit

Another day in NYC, another pop-up museum. But not just any other. Color Factory NYC stands as my favorite pop-up museum, temporary exhibit, and all around way to spend an evening. Immersive in color from room to room. Adding sweet treats along the way. Some poetry. Some movement. Some drawing. Some drumming. Some spinning. Some labyrinth walking. Something for every sense and then something more. Throw in some banter with a factory worker about guessing how old I am (we agreed on anywhere between 28 and 52) and that same worker letting S and me grab an extra marshmallow before heading to the next room, and throw in a free coat check that would hold my great big orange bag (courtesy of S — 45% of our friendship is giving bags to each other that we have to then hold for the rest of the time we hang out), and throw in a map of NYC that shows where to find colors specific to NYC, and there you have it. My fave by far. Also, a ball pit. I didn’t get stuck, but when I got neck deep, I also go claustrophobic and had to get out of the ball pit quick. Ever try to get out of a ball pit quick? It’s kinda slow. But still, my fave.

Color Factory Balloon Room 1

These balloons flew around.

Color Factory Dance Floor 1

Dancing!

Color Factory Secret Color Booth 1

There’s a long explanation of this photo but I’m going to let the psycho scare speak for itself.

Color Factory Drawing (1)

Listening

Color Factory Drawing (2)

Drawing

Color Factory Labyrinth (3)

Choosing A Path

Color Factory End (1)

Color Factory End (3)

And for the record, pre-claustrophobia:

Color Factory Ball Pit (18)