Last year, I spent my birthday surrounded by color with S. A ball pit was involved. No surprise there.
Perhaps the surprise is that this year’s birthday did not involve a ball pit. Though it is ball pit adjacent, time-wise, considering that questionable zodiac excursion.
Almost-Birthday Birthday Gift From Me To Me
On Friday night, I took myself to a reiki circle. I felt like I was floating at one point. Ooh.
Museum Sans Ball Pit
My mom and I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and got lost pretty much all day. The guiding factor in every set of directions we received was to go right or left at the large column.
Never Enough Moon
I thought the moon exhibit was going to be that one tiny gallery the photography exhibits are always in. It was there for sure, but it was also sprawling across four other galleries! As if watching the moon landing 18 times at the Cradle of Aviation weren’t enough, we watched again. We also saw early drawings that mapped the moon and daguerreotypes that mirrored the moon. One gallery was devoted to an exhibit I had seen part of at the Whitney when I was sabbaticalling, and its inspiration led to some poems in Liberating The Astronauts. That was the room in which the Guardian of the Glass Case scolded me for touching the exhibit. I didn’t touch it. I tapped it. When he turned around, I touched it a lot. Like a lot a lot. So much so that my mom grabbed my hand and led me away, and in good timing because after that, the guy stared at me until we asked him where to get to the next gallery and got out of there. This outer space stuff is quite compelling.
Never Enough Rooftops
My mom has been a New Yorker her entire life and my birthday this year marked the first time she’d ever been to the roof of The Met. When we got up there, she kept asking me which way the park was and where 5th Ave was, and I was like, You’re asking the wrong child. My brother would know right away. I had no clue. I pointed to a building and was like, Well, that’s the Woolworth Building, right? And then I saw another building and was all, Or maybe that’s the Woolworth Building. Really, one of the many buildings had to be the Woolworth Building. Unless it’s no longer there. In which case, what the hell happened to the Woolworth Building?!?!
Aside from the cityscape views, the artwork fell in line with an outer space vibe. I tried to figure out which orb was Earth and then what planets the other orbs were. Then I read the description of the exhibit and found that it didn’t necessarily replicate our solar system. So then I simply chose one as Earth.
Cramped and Loud and Awesome
Guitars. Drum sets. Pianos. Flashy sequined outfits. Psychedelic concert posters. Film footage of loud music in action. Cram it all into tiny galleries and you’ve got yourself a musical masterpiece. We didn’t get to see everything because every room was overrun by music fans. Still, we saw enough and got to listen to some dang good tunes.
Once we found our way out of the museum, mom hopped in a cab, and I walked down to Pig N Whistle to meet up with S and R for a fun dinner. Along the way, I took in some public art and some sunny rays.
Bags and Dessert #1
And dinner was fun! S gave me back the bag I gave her for her birthday because, as you may recall, 82% of our friendship is giving each other bags neither of us wants to carry. To top off our dinner, the two of them sang Happy Birthday while the server set down a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a candle in front of me. No one really wanted to eat the ice cream, but S and I split some of it as R made the wise choice of not eating it at all.
Then to show how much they really care, they walked with me to Penn. Through Times Square. At night. On a Saturday. I mean, That! Is! Love!
A Healthy Interlude
I taught my regular Power Hour yoga class on Sunday morning. I was feeling a little icky from the ice cream, but a morning workout followed by the yoga turned that around. I thanked the women for showing up, explaining it was my birthday weekend, and they were all like, Awww, yeay! Because that’s how people react when you tell them it’s your birthday.
(Semi-Free) Lunch and Dessert #2
On Sunday, my brother and I went to my mom’s to have some Panera. They deliver! Not really. They use Door Dash to deliver, and they dashed out without any of the sides for our entrees. After five minutes on the phone with a manager who was “logging the incident,” I wound up with a free pick two in my future that I could pick up when I went to pick up my sides at a later date. Somehow it was impossible for them to simply have Door Dash bring the sides. Sides are complicated.
Then my aunt and uncle came over, and they sang Happy Birthday as I sat beneath the traditional Haphy Birthday sign (yes, that’s spelled wrong; a story for another time). Then we ate pie! Apple pie! And it was delicious!
Dinner = Dessert #3
I didn’t eat a whole lot after that because I knew what was on the horizon. DB can make fire, so we made s’mores. They were the healthy kind because we used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and Trader Joe’s marshmallows.
Fact: Trader Joe’s marshmallows do not roast in the same way other marshmallows do.
Fact: Chunks of dark chocolate do not melt in the same way thin milk chocolate does.
Fact: My s’mores are better than your s’mores.
A Healthy Recovery
Sugar hangovers can last for a really super long time when your body isn’t used to sweets. My body was super angry, and the hangover is just about over itself now that it’s been almost a week. Yep, that’s what sugar does to you. To make the recovery sweet in that non-sugar way, at work on Monday, S handed over a basket of veggies she’d harvested from her garden! You know what helps a sugar shocked body settle down? A slow-cooker kale and celery frittata!
I’m still celebrating, you know, but not simply for my birthday. Every day is a celebration. Every day is a good day. These have been good, good days, and I’m so thankful for every moment.
My cousins tackled the Ironman in Ohio, and I was there to watch. My part in this challenge was simple: do whatever they wanted me to do.
So my brother and I drove by corn fields upon cornfields to stand in the blazing sun for hours to catch a glimpse of them for 30 seconds. SO WORTH IT.
My brother and I drove back and prepared a barbecue, complete with decorations of congratulations. SO WORTH IT, especially since my brother has fire-phobia and the grill caught on fire when he was grilling so there was a lot of spatula waving and running away.
I cleaned the kitchen, and my brother threw out the garbage. I sat on the deck, and everyone went swimming in nature’s water where there were ducks and plants and other live creatures below the surface. We all laughed a lot. We all caught up a lot. My brother, my uncle, and I froze in the tundra of the lower level of the house.
My cousins asked me to sign my books they’d bought and brought. My cousin read a poem from the book, and then so did my brother.
There was some drinking, and I had half a sip of a kamikaze and remembered why they were so dangerous. Also dangerous is the incredible loyalty my family has towards me after this past year and a half.
There was a boat debacle in which my cousin needed to pull a boat with some water in it out of the water before it rained so there would not be more water in it. My brother was then enlisted to help, which entailed a lot of supervising. My other cousin then went down and practically lifted the boat all on her own. Then there was the need to flip it over. The rest of us stood above on the balcony, acting like Statler and Waldorf. The scene offered some great comedy for the family sitting on their deck across the lake from us.
There was a birthday celebration. More decorating. Some cake. There were early morning conversations over tea. There were loads of dishwashing in a dishwasher that fell out of the wall when opened.
There was also sightseeing. My brother and I hit up Columbus where we found:
A scrap metal horse and other large things. Ohio State campus is a city unto itself.
The Arnold Schwarzenegger statue. After driving in circles and not finding it anywhere, I pulled the car over and yelled at the map. That’s when my brother looked up and said, Hey, is that it? And it was! Hooray!
The World’s Largest Gavel. Under construction so I couldn’t get up on it, but I got up as near it as possible, and it was gavelicious.
Scioto Mile. This was like my brother’s Becket Shrine of Canterbury. We walked along the mile and found public art, which is, as we all know, one of my top ten favorite things in the entire world.
A deer on a bridge. Not much more to say about that.
The German Village. For us little Raus, this was heaven. We found The Book Loft, which has 32 rooms of reading pleasure. We also found Schmidt’s Haus Restaurant and Schmidt’s Fudge Haus, and it was like home.
Back at the house, more swimming, more lounging, more laughs. I taught a quick yoga class. There was always something cooking or baking in the kitchen. We all had matching shirts.
Family. Is. Everything.
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).
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.
I was feeling kind of down, so S and my brother decided to pick me up. Enter The Wrecking Club (literally). First we grabbed dinner at Southern Hospitality during which we looked up the history of Justin Timberlake’s involvement and differentiated between Justin Timberlake who’s from Tennessee and Justin Bieber who’s from Canada. Also, I had an Elvis spotting.
We walked over to The Wrecking Club. We saw this and I realized I was pretty much home.
We signed waivers. We got a safety spiel. We geared up. We ordered from the menu:
- a Walrus Bucket (vases, bowls, bigger breaking stuff–we don’t know why it’s named after a walrus)
- a bucket of plates
Then my brother added, And an office phone!
I was like, what?
He was like, Yeah a phone.
I was like, Really? What do you have against phones?
He was like, I just want to see what it’s like to break one.
Fair enough. We were in the right place for that.
And so, for the next half hour, we threw stuff against a wall. We threw stuff on the floor. We beat stuff up with crowbars and bats. This sounds very violent, but really, it was hysterically funny.
Afterwards, we took in some public art. Which means it’s FREE! And it’s for everyone! Check out the Loop!
A great way to turn a frown upside down!
Liberating The Astronauts came out in March. Because of launch technical issues (i.e. every place I contacted about setting up a launch fell through), it officially launched at Sip This in December. Since it was a Poets In Nassau event, and I don’t like featuring for the group I founded, I set it up as a community writing event complete with trivia, prizes, writing prompts, an open mic, and then my own featured reading. It was a fun night.
Eddie’s sister and our nieces visited for a whirlwind tour of NYC. They’d never been to the city before, so it was fun seeing their faces as we walked through crowds and crowds. The worst crowd was the fifteen minute one-block walk across from Saks. Otherwise, it was pretty and quite warm. Not only did we see the Rock Center tree, but we saw the tree at Bryant Park and one in St. Patrick’s. We saw the Macy’s store windows and the Saks windows and light show. Next time, maybe we’ll see the Rockettes.
Then I won something. As usual, it was from an odd place. This time, a Capn Crunch box. When they said I’d won a cornhole game, I figured it was a cute little table game. Fast forward to a 60 pound box outside the front door. It is now stored under our bed because we have no place else to put it.
The rest of December was all holiday cheer. I bought these mini cookies from Southpaw Sweets that got devoured on Christmas Eve.
Additionally, these two mugs I got as presents sum up everything about who I am.