Mega Return To The Movies

Three movies in four weeks. That’s starting to go in the right direction. I used to go to the movies a whole lot. Then came along higher ticket prices, reserved seating, and big chairs that I don’t fit into comfortably because they’re made for people with longer torsos. Gripes aside, I really like going to the movies. I like going during the day. I like going to 9 AM showings on Sundays.

Somehow, I’m on a list for GoFoBo or something like that. I get emails every once in a while offering free tickets to previews. When I say “every once in a while,” I’m talking years apart. Out of nowhere, I got an email to go see Book Club showing right by work. I’d never even heard of it, but since it was free, I was in. SD came along. She’d  heard of it. She was like, Isn’t that the one with… and I was like, That’s already more information than I know.

Usually, I don’t see comedies in the movies. I also don’t usually see movies about older ladies reading books. I need to change my watching ways! This was so much fun! The theatre was filled with people laughing out loud the whole time. The movie really was funny. There were some definite plot holes. Huge gaping holes (like why can’t one of the women still be in the book club if she moves away when she already flew back to participate once before…it made no sense). To make up for the holes, there was Don Johnson. I haven’t thought about Don Johnson in I don’t even know how many years, but this made me happy.

During the last week of the semester, the officemates and I treated ourselves to Avengers: Infinity Wars. In addition to free tickets, I had an offer for a free large popcorn and a free soda. I got very excited at the soda machine, seeing they had flavored ginger ale. I got a bit discouraged when I couldn’t figure out how to work the soda machine–I really don’t drink soda apparently–or go out in public apparently. But I got it to work and then tried the lime ginger ale that came out basically like lime soda so I dumped it and had some regular ginger ale that tasted more like sugar ale. I didn’t finish it because it was a large and a large is about the side of a two litre bottle of soda. The popcorn was the size of a small suit case so we shared in small cups. The movie required concentration because the cast was the population of a small country, which we knew going in. Coming out, we were a bit depressed with all the fading away of half that population. However, we rallied ourselves with real life facts–the fact that not all these characters can simply fade away for good because then the movie franchises would take a serious hit, and no one is throwing away that kind of money.

My gift to my mom for Mother’s Day came in the form of the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey on original 70mm to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Into the city we went, lots of trains, lots of walking, and then lots of stairs to climb down and up and up and down. Worth every step to be in one of those old-timey theatres that has enough updates to not be gross but still keep the feel of a retro theatre where I fit in the seat and I don’t have the anxiety of choosing my seat beforehand.

We both remembered the movie a little, or so we thought. I knew there’d be some monkeys. I didn’t remember the monkey scenes being that long. I knew there’d be a monolith. I didn’t remember it would show up in several places. I knew there’d be the line, “it’s full of stars,” but I actually didn’t hear it so either I missed it or misremembered it. I knew there’d be a scene with an astronaut taking out cartridges to decommission HAL. That scene happened but not the way I remembered it. My mom had the same reactions–remembering things and then seeing things she never remembered.

The movie had an intermission. I’m guessing because of changing reels. This is the extent of my 70mm movie knowledge. The movie ended with someone in the audience asking, That’s it?

But that’s not it! There’s a sequel! I proposed to my mom that maybe we remembered more about the sequel because it appeared more recently, in the 80s. She didn’t remember there was a sequel, so I tried to explain it. Have you ever tried to explain the plot of a movie you barely remember and never understood? Yeah, that’s exactly what I did, so we decided we’d have to watch it some day. Maybe when they bring it back into theatres for its own anniversary. And that will be full of stars. Maybe.

PS I took myself to see Deadpool 2 today. Stayed for all the credits like a good gal should.

Architecture Is My Bag

Architecture is so my bag that I wasn’t even sure if I was spelling architecture right. I’m as much of an architect as George Costanza. I admire anyone who can figure out how to build anything, so if someone can build a building and have it not fall down, I admire that someone. All this means that I have no idea how I won two tickets to the Architecture Design Show. Tickets run about $30, and I got two for free. Free. That’s one of my favorite words.

So SD and I met up at Pier 94, an indoor sprawl of showroom. We walked. We admired. We opened and closed things. I signed up for free stuff. We found fireplaces. We found wine fridges. We witnessed a couch turn into a bed and a coffee table turn into a regular table. As opposed to an irregular table. I’m not only an architect, but I’m clearly an interior designer, too.

There were fixtures that wouldn’t even fit into my house. There was artwork that had fossils that cost more than my car. SD asked me, Who comes to things like this? And my answer was simple, Designers and rich people. AND people who win free stuff. We can all figure out in which category I fall.

After roaming through a vast amount of square footage, we took an Uber (my first!) to a thai place and ate good thai food, something I don’t eat often so it was a delight!

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And then because I was in NYC, I found some gems that made me smile, and these days, every smile means so much.

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SD asked, Do you think they meant poet? I answered, Maybe but probably not.

 

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I’m happy I got in this picture.

Free Stuff, By Popular Demand

A few people recently asked me how I get all my free stuff. Here’s how. Enjoy.

First, enter every contest you see, no matter what it is. I once entered a contest I saw after a rerun of How I Met Your Mother for a vacation in a tropical place that I don’t remember. Clearly, I didn’t win the vacation. A few months later, I got a call from my mom saying, “Your bike is here.” And I answered, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So she repeated, “Your. Bike. Is. Here.” And I was like, “Yeah, Ma, I heard you, but I still don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sure enough, there was a Nerve bike in a box outside with my name on it. I fretted at first, thinking somehow someone had stolen my identity, but then realized if that were the case, that someone would have gotten the bike; they wouldn’t have sent it to me. Then I saw in itty-bitty font on the shipping label How I Met Your Mother. I looked up the contest online and saw that the runner up prize was a bike.

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I entered a contest online for Hershey’s something or other. See? I don’t even know what it was for. I won a barbecue utensil set. I have no idea what that has to do with Hershey’s but it’s all mine.

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I found a code for a sweepstakes for Capn Crunch cereal. I won a cornhole game. Okay, fun. A few weeks later, a 70 pound box arrives at my door. It’s a massive cornhole game.

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Also, I won my backyard patio set through a random sweepstakes.

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There used to be a thing called Viggle, and it used to listen to television and I’d get points and redeem them. That’s how I got albums for free by Ed Sheeran, Andy Grammer, and Hozier. I also got a free toaster and a free crockpot. Alas, Viggle is no longer a thing.

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However, there are three sites I use constantly for free stuff–mostly gift cards for Amazon, Starbucks, AMC theatres, and Dunkin Donuts. Strong suggestion: create an email account separate from your main account and use it specifically for this stuff. That way you can avoid the inundation of emails from these sites in your normal account.

Swagbucks: Sign up using this link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Zine454545

Buy stuff through SB. Just log on, find a store online (like Macys or Amazon or Harry & David or Sears or Staples or even Dominos–really lots of stores), and then shop. As long as you go to the website through SB, you’ll earn points on the amount you spend.

You can also earn points by watching videos, taking surveys, and answering a daily poll. Sometimes earning points is slow, but they add up eventually, and you can redeem points for gift cards. Thanks to S I found this.

MyPoints: Sign up using this link: https://www.mypoints.com?rb=23859038

Same thing–buy stuff, watch videos, vote, and take surveys. You can also print coupons, or even just browse coupons, and earn points. Redeem points for stuff.

Bing: Sign up using this link: https://www.bing.com/

The easiest thing you can do is search. You get 5 points a search for a max of 150 points a day. If you use MS Edge, you can get up to 170 points. You can also search on your phone daily for another 100 points.  There are also quick quizzes or searches of the day that you click on and get 5 to 50 points. If you buy stuff from the affiliate store, you can get points, but I don’t do that because I don’t buy video games or other tech-like things, but if you do, go for it.

Another website that does only surveys is E-Rewards. (e-rewards.com). It takes a really, really long time to accrue points, at least it does for me. I guess if you want free magazines, then those are easier to attain. For the bigger stuff–iTunes and Starbucks and hotel points–it takes seemingly forever. I also sometimes have problems with different browsers. If you have some downtime, hop on and take a few surveys. Eventually, you might earn something.

Now for credit cards!

Chase Amazon earns you points for everyday shopping, more points for groceries and gas, and even more points for shopping on Amazon. If you use Amazon, it’s a good card to have.

Amex, and Bank of America both have points and cashback options, and usually their gift card options for points is pretty good– CVS, The Gap, AMC, and lots of other places. Discover has cash back. They used to have an amazing points system where you could buy actual stuff with points, which is how I am the proud owner of a paper shredder.

I also get points from Fios. I usually redeem them for Dunkin Donuts cards.

Since I have TMobile, I downloaded their TMobile Tuesdays app. Again, lots of Dunkin Donuts cards from them.

I have the Dunkin app and the Starbucks app, and every time I get a gift card, I add them to the apps. That way, I earn points for buying things. I can get free stuff every time I get to a certain number of points (or stars for Starbucks). I don’t remember ever really having to pay for anything at either of these places.

I also have loyalty membership thingies for basically anywhere I’ve ever shopped. Dicks Sporting Goods, 16 Handles, CVS (I know their markup is insane, but when you get a sale, points, and coupons, you can get away with paying up to 80% off, which I’ve done), any grocery store, AMC, Regal, a bunch of hotels, and a bunch of airlines. Points add up, especially if they don’t expire.

There is a whole lot of free stuff out there in the world waiting to be owned. Go get some for yourself.

Sugar Iron Anniversary

Eddie gave me a box of those snap things that you throw on the ground that pop and party poppers, the plastic things you pull to make noise, for our anniversary. In turn, I gave him a candy-filled plastic tube with a monkey on top that plays the cymbals if you press down on a banana. Sugar and iron aren’t the best gift ideas for six years.

A great idea, however, is to take advantage of a Hilton Grand Vacations offer to stay in Manhattan for the weekend half price if we agree to sit through their tour about buying a vacation for life. No biggie. I can sit there and say no a lot. Done and done.

As soon as we got into the city, I saw Tesla, who also appeared on tv later that evening. He’s everywhere.

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We arrived and stood on the Hilton Honors check in line which is supposed to be a perk but always winds up taking longer than the regular line. Plus, on a Friday afternoon, there were three people behind the counter in total. On a Friday. When people arrive for vacation. And then I realized I wasn’t going to get a cookie because it wasn’t a Double Tree. Dammit. Still, the wait wasn’t too bad and the guy kindly directed us to the counter across the lobby to ask about where to go to see the tour.

Across the lobby, the Hilton Grand guy told me that it’s a presentation. Every email I have and every person I spoke to called it a tour, and now it’s a presentation. Fine. Then he said that the email should have told me where it is. I received five emails, none of which told me. I told him I was asking because the email didn’t say. He said, it’s on the 45th floor, no worries. Okay, no worries then. Clearly, it’s easy to find the top floor for the not-tour presentation.

Because we did the package thing, we were given a room instead of my choosing a room. The room was nice, of course, but there was no fridge and no coffee maker. This seems like a very nitpicky thing, but I’m a snack person and a tea person and I like to keep cold water and fruit in the fridge and make tea in the coffee maker and then sometimes make coffee too.

We headed out to eat at a place called Burger Heaven. It was an oddly shaped diner. The food was fine. We found some sugar and some iron. Then we headed out to see the world.

Public art is free! We found a large concrete living room complete with pigeon pets. We found LOVE. We found HOPE. We found 6 1/2 Ave, which is not public art but is kitschy, which is for me.

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Best Photobomb

Then we went to Madison Square Park to see an art installation that included dancing. We didn’t realize it included dancing until we saw slow-moving people in the middle of the park. It was slow motion movement but also dance and it was kind of fascinating. (The performers are in the solid colored shirts beyond the red arch.)

We saw basically everything I’d planned to see in the first few hours of our weekend. Because I’m a maniac. Eddie started pointing out all the free art we could see from simply walking down the street.

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We’re not sure if this man was copying the statue on purpose.

Because we’d walked pretty far downtown from the hotel, and because I found that the Morgan Library had exhibits we could see for free that would be of some interest, we decided to hang around outside of the library until we were let in. In the lobby, they corralled us until it was exactly the second free entry opened up. We walked to the special exhibit hall first, taking a look at portraits of Henry James and notebooks of Thoreau. Eddie preferred Thoreau. I did, too. You see one portrait of James, you pretty much have seen them all.

Then on the way back, we met friends.

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I know it’s summer. However, I couldn’t warm up once we were back in our room, so this happened.

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Eddie asked me more than several times if I was sick, if I was okay, and what was wrong with me. This is love.

The next day, as soon as Eddie opened his eyes, I dragged him to the window. I’d somehow missed seeing our grand view when I’d first looked out the window.

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We could see the LOVE statue! Fridge and coffee maker be damned. This was the best room ever!

Soon after, we went to breakfast at Astro Diner down the street. They have a whole menu devoted to Greek Yogurt. I got eggs instead, but the yogurt creations were quite tempting. Then it was onto experience Summer Streets, when the city closes down Park Ave so that riders, runners, skaters, scooterers, and walkers can do those things in the street without being hit by a car, and vendors can vend things. But first, we found Lever House, which is a building I’ve wanted to see for a really long time. It’s an office building, but the first floor always has an art exhibit. This exhibit wasn’t one I’d particularly wanted to see, but I was happy I’d finally found the building itself. The guard was like, You can sit on those if you want. We were like, thanks, but then moved further away. They seemed germy.

Now, onto Summer Streets! Being that we had walked a lot the day before, I was moving much more slowly, which isn’t the best situation to be in when you want to cross Park Ave amid hundreds of cyclists. We stuck with one side first, opting to go to the tents where they were giving away free stuff. My first free thing was an I Love NY sticker. We waited on line to spin a wheel and win something from a booth about the Greenbelt, but there were two kids there hogging the thing so we gave up. (Kids. Seriously. As if they’re the only ones allowed to have the fun). We made our way to the I Love NY booth where we got more stickers and a bag and a map and even more stickers. I was in free stuff heaven. I also got a bike map and glow in the dark don’t run me over tag for my brother for riding.

We crossed the street and found a Botanical Gardens booth where they gave me a rosemary plant seedling. (It lasted a week in my care. This is a triumph, a sad sad triumph). Then we found drummers. They danced and drummed non-stop. Just when we thought it would be over, it kept going. We were mesmerized. A woman was grabbing people to dance. I wanted to dance but was not walking right at that point so dancing seemed to be not the thing to do. Instead, we found some steps to sit on next to a fountain. Fact: children love fountains. Fact: parents are dumb because they let their children run towards the fountain by themselves and let them stay there by themselves as if the water in the fountain cannot cause drowning and children can’t be injured by falling into the concrete basin because it’s a damn pretty fountain and children are so darn cute. Moved by this rush of fountain-love, we took photos of ourselves as well.

Then it was time for the not-tour-presentation somewhere in the large hotel. We asked again at the Hilton Grand counter. The person behind the counter had to pause what she was doing with the people in front of us because it seemed very confusing to give us directions for how to get to the 45th floor, which by the way was not a simple task. When we found the mini elevator to take us there (after several housekeepers directed us without our having to ask) the people who had been at the counter piled into the elevator with us. The elevator was maybe the size of a dumb waiter, so we were crammed and uncomfortable. Thankfully, it was only one floor and then we could see the entire city through the huge windows. There was free food, too. I got cheese and grapes and tea. Eddie got a Coke.

After maybe ten minutes and us thinking we could skip out, one of the sales guys came over to us and so it began. We’d seen other sales people being really aggressive, and I told Eddie that if anyone started talking in my face like one guy was doing to another couple, I was going to walk away without saying anything. Thankfully, this guy was a self-proclaimed non-aggressive type. He was a pretty good salesperson but kept saying that if the product wasn’t for us, he’d tell us. Turns out, the product was for us.

What’s the product? It’s hard to describe. You’re buying a deed to property, but not an actual place, though it is in a building. You’re buying points for a lifetime. You’re also buying a maintenance fee for a lifetime. You’re buying a vacation forever. It’s like buying a house without seeing it first and on a whim.

Because we travel once a year, this was for us. Because we are already Hilton Honors members, this was for us. Because we have no children and don’t see any reason to stop taking one trip a year in the future, this was for us.

The cost never came up until we were deep in the not-tour-presentation on the secret 45th floor after seeing slideshows and talking about Long Island and the stock market and mortgages and some more Long Island (the sales guy was from Long Island and we chatted more about not the product than the actual product and it was like hanging out with some guy we’d met once before and happened to run into again–it was bizarre). We also talked about sports, yoga, his back problems, my hip problems, Eddie’s job, and a lot of very not relevant things all the way up to the time of the price sheet. The guy who I guess was in charge came over and gave us a number and then more numbers and then deals and more deals. We would be buying like so many points they could last a lifetime plus the life time points we were getting for buying anyway. It got so convoluted and I got so deep into it and it was like teetering on the edge of buying into the not-tour-presentation until they both walked away and I was like, Hold. The F. Up.

They kept saying how our vacations were practically paid for by buying into the program. You know what we were buying? Abstract property. So that would be a place to stay, but what about getting there and back? What about eating? What about fun things to do? I’m sure there were some perks, but this was not a full vacation they were selling. Plus, there’s a monthly fee for the rest of your life. I get that we would be saving some money in the long run on hotels, but that’s the perk? A 5 star hotel that I would be sleeping in during my vacation when I’m mostly out? Okay, okay, if we stayed at a resort, we’d be in, not out, but still. This was crazytown. Plus, when you have to keep asking each other, What exactly are we buying, it’s totally not a good deal.

Three hours later.

Yes, three hours later, we were able to leave with the guy in charge being very disappointed in us. Seriously, he dead in the eye told me, You’re making the wrong decision. I dead in the eye told him, Back off, bucko, and nudged him in the shoulder.

Well, that’s what I did in my mind. Out loud, I ignored the comment and said, Thank you soooo much for your time!

Wiped out, we decided to take the $100 restaurant voucher we’d gotten for sitting through the not-tour-presentation to sit down to a nice meal at the NYY Steakhouse. Score! (oh, jeez, that pun was not on purpose). We got enough food to equal up to the voucher, including a brownie dessert that came with long spoons that we didn’t understand until the dessert came out not on a plate but in a long glass. They also gave me a giant spoon for my coffee, the server actually saying as he put it down, Apologies for this incredibly large spoon but apparently all the smaller ones are being cleaned. Ha! He was a great server.

We walked over to the AMC to see Spider-Man afterwards. As we were buying our tickets, it was sold out. Literally, the seats disappeared as we were choosing seats on the screen. We grabbed a cab to take back to the hotel to avoid any impending storm.

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New York bagels for breakfast was the plan. The Sunday morning streets were pretty empty so walking to the deli was delightful, especially since I could move without dragging my leg. Improvement! We got back to the room with our toasty bagels, and the door wouldn’t open. The lock wouldn’t light up. I figured since it was check out day, maybe the keys weren’t working. I used the phone near the elevator to call down to the front desk, and they sent up security.

The guard asked for my ID first–thank you for being good at your job, sir–and then tried to open the door. He said he had to call for the master metal key because the batteries were dead, and the locksmith wouldn’t get there until 10 AM. While we waited, we heard about his time in the military. He was a pretty cool guy. He called to check up on the guy with the key who was somewhere in the hotel doing another job until he understood that the key was needed immediately since we were in the hallway. He appeared in a minute to let us in, and they left promising us vouchers for breakfast.

We ate our bagels we’d already bought and packed up to go. I found the vouchers for breakfast under our door. They were worth $30 each. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity go to waste, so when we got down to the lobby, I asked the person at the buffet if I could simply get coffee and a Coke, explaining to her why I had the vouchers. She offered to re-date them for the next day, and I said we were checking out. She then took me over to one of the servers and told him to get me a decaf and a Coke to go. And he did. A $30 decaf and a $30 soda. Boom.

It was time to go home, ice my old lady joints, and to nap away the Hilton Grand experience. Sugar and iron and pretty city things, that’s what anniversaries are made of.

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Wave Walk, or To Complete A List

S likes to finish lists. I like to find public art. La Mer’s Wave Walk seemed to be essential to live our lives happily. A way to promote the UN’s focus on clean oceans, La Mer Blue Heart Ocean Fund teamed up with Project O to find celebrities to create pieces of artwork about the ocean. Most are circular waves. A few are surf boards. La Mer posted an interactive map on their website to boast these sculptures.

Fact: This interactive map is the worst map. No matter when or how you open it, it always starts on the sculpture in the Bronx in Yankee Stadium. When you click on it, it sometimes goes to where you want it to go, but mostly, it does whatever it feels like doing.

Fact: The waves are numbered in a way that seems random. I’m guessing they are numbered by how they were commissioned, and then they were placed across the city. However, the placement and the numbers don’t line up, so like #1 is near #45.

Fact: One of the waves listed is not the wave that exists. The lobby of the James Hotel has a fabulous sculpture, but it’s not the one listed on the site.

So the goal to see all the waves also became a project I’m very fond of: map making. I stepped away from using maps for a while–I used to use them in creative writing and literature classes but because the Google and the Flickr change how their map tech works often, I stopped because relearning and reteaching how to make a map takes too much time. Now, however, it was me, the Google, S’s neat organized list of wave sculptures, and a dream.

I saw my first wave by accident. When Eddie and I waited for the right bagels at JFK, I found one. It’s past security, which means public art in this case is open to all those who might have a plane ticket and are flying out of Terminal 4. Finding it was a delight, though.

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Only a few days later, S found some on her own at Albee Square.

Then came our first jaunt out into the wild together. First stop, Sugartarium at Unix Gallery. This has nothing to do with waves and everything to do with her love of sweets and my love of free things to do.

Next stop? Well, that’s when we were using the terrible interactive map that barely works on a desktop computer let alone a cell phone. So we zig zagged through the city and found some near the Flatiron, Brookfield Place, the Oculus, FIT, Wall Street, and Whole Foods on Greenwich. It took hours of confused subway rides and turned around street crossing.

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Near the Flatiron, basically hidden next to a large truck. Also, we couldn’t find the subway downtown after seeing this one so we crossed the same street maybe five times.

At Brookfield. Walked in, out, around, down the promenade, and then across the patio. It’s clearly inside but not on the side where we were inside.

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Down on Wall Street, we made a friend. (The wave is actually outside of the front of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian).

We walked by the Oculus and then back by it again. We went inside because S said I should see inside. Then we went outside. Then we looked at the picture on the interactive map and saw that they were actually inside. The address didn’t say that.

Oh sweet magnificent Whole Foods. They had a sign explaining the entire Wave Walk and Project 0 as well as where to find the wave.

The next week, we embarked on Day 2 armed with a better list of our own, a better map of our own, and pure moxie. Day 2 was about 100 degrees.  Thank you, summer, for arriving on the very day we’d be running around from north to south. First stop, Harlem.

It’s 125 under the tressle and not the address they give, but close.

Into the lobby of Sotheby’s where this surf board doesn’t look like the photo on the map.

We then made our way to the UN. We walked uphill and downhill and across streets and back across. We looked at the map. We looked through fences and gates. Finally, S climbed the stairs and peeked inside beyond security to find that they were actually inside the complex.

The security guard told us to simply go across the street and get a pass. It would take five minutes tops. Then we could get inside to see them. Ohhh. Okay. We went across the street, and S went inside while I waited outside as per the guard’s instructions. She came back out holding a blue paper bracelet and said, You wear the wristband, and I get this. She indicated the sticker on her shirt. Hahahahhahahahaaaa.

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We went back across the street and the guard smiled and welcomed us through. Security was quick. The waves were right there along with the other permanent sculptures. Also, there’s a ghost in one of these photos.

As aforementioned, the sun blazed, I sweated a lot, and so the memory of where we went and how we got there drifts fuzzily in my head. At one point, we got on a subway car that was not air conditioned, but we got to sit for a while. A balanced trade. So here are some waves we saw, possibly not in the order we saw them, but since the official map is terrible, this is still better.

Three waves along Madison.

Inside Vivienne Westwood

This one is called Mushball. It’s on either Madison or 3rd. It’s a blur. If it’s on Madison, then one of the ones above listed at Madison is on 3rd. This is very helpful, I know.

The one listed at 611 5th Ave is actually inside Saks. Why not just say “inside Saks?”

We did the hotels together: The James and then Crosby. As indicated before, the one in the lobby of the James is not listed, and the one listed on the map as the one in the lobby is not apparent anywhere in real life. The guys at The James Hotel were really helpful in simply offering up how to see the other two without our asking.

Three at The James Hotel

One at Crosby Hotel

There was also this one outside of the American Folk Art Museum.

Six at the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning.

Drenched, thirsty, starving, we headed to Cooper Square at some point. Along the way, I bought some fruit and a protein bar that had chocolate because I was craving both along with a third or fourth bottle of water. We sat in Cooper Square while I ate. The sun had started to set, so it was around only 90 degrees at this point.

S found a 7-11 to get a Coke slurpie. I saw a Vivi’s and got a bubble tea. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning and ice cold drinks. We also saw some typical NYC scenes along the way.

The Tide Is High wave is listed at The Kimmel Center NYU. We found the Kimmel Center. We walked around the Kimmel Center. I suggested we go into the park across from the Kimmel Center, but the map on the phone told us we were going the wrong way. We went into the Kimmel Center. I sat on the stairs of the Kimmel Center as S climbed them to look around. One of the guards spoke to her about the waves and he was like, I’ll show you. She beckoned me, and I climbed up after her. He took us up the escalator and indicated, It’s through there.

We walked down a hall and entered a room and there it stood. It wasn’t a special wave or THE wave we were looking for. However, something felt magical about it. Maybe because I was about to pass out from heat exhaustion. Maybe because it didn’t have a rope around it as most of the indoor ones do. Maybe because it’s orange and I like orange. Maybe because in the fading light, it glimmered. Again, that could be the onset of dehydration, but still. Magnificent.

We thanked the guard, who had seen quite a few on his own, and called it a day. We’d spent about ten hours searching for waves in NYC summer heat. It was time to pack it in for  now.

As a follow up, S got to see more in Brooklyn, on Roosevelt Island, and in other parts of Manhattan. The outliers are the ones in Yankee Stadium and Staten Island. The list may not have all checks by the time the sculptures come down, but it was an honest and determined effort to finish it.

I realize it’s for a bigger cause. However. The next time anyone wants to set up statues across NYC, call us. We’ll make a map and checklist and maybe we’ll offer prizes. Okay, we’re not offering prizes, but we can make a list and a map. It’s really simple. See?

Still Shaking

Tea and coffee and honey and knives and cookies and Geico and more tea. That’s what you find at the Coffee & Tea Festival. First stop, Queens to pick up B. Fun Fact: Queens a week after a snow storm looks like Queens the day after a snow storm. Narrow roads, no parking, me and my nonsense of direction even with a GPS all made for an interesting venture. Fun Fact: Siri wanted me to go the wrong way down a One Way and then wanted me to make a U-Turn by going on a highway. I did neither and still found B

Second stop, Brooklyn to meet SD and have tea and coffee. Fun Fact: Brooklyn a week after a snow storm looks like Brooklyn the day after a snow storm. After making wider and wider circles around blocks, we found a parking space in which I wedged my car and asked B to climb over the driver side to get out.

We’d made it to the mecca of free samples concerning hot beverages. The first thing we grabbed: free water enhanced with electrolytes. The second thing we grabbed: chicken with a spicy rub. Neither of these had anything to do with coffee or tea, but what a way to start!

Then came Kombucha and some tea and some coffee. Then came the lemonade coffee drink thing that sounds incredibly scary and tastes fantastically refreshing. Yes, these are the risks you take when you have free samples staring you in the face.

Tom's Lemon Coffee business card

I talked to pretty much every table, tasting anything that they offered. At one point, I had a small plastic cup of flavored sugar granules in my hand. That’s when I thought, Hey, maybe it’s better to think before snacking. I mean, in what world does one carry around a cup of sugar and eat it? I suppose in the world of free samples for all.

Whenever I caught sight of SD, she’d found a new snack. Once I also saw her talking to a man wielding a knife, and he let her demonstrate her new knowledge of how to use said knife to me.

Every time I saw some coffee, I called over B, which once ended with her having a tiny very strong espresso. I didn’t have any espresso, but I did have maybe every other kind of coffee you could have.

I also tasted almost every tea available. Then I tasted some kind of pumpkin seed milk. That’s probably where one should draw the line. I did not. I had more things, signed up for things, tasted some sort of hot sauce that clearly had no place being at festival for coffee and tea, and then I bought some very cute tea from a company called Oh You TEAse because their table was like being at a tea party. Oh, and the tea is yummy.

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We called it a day after we’d exhausted every turn and aisle including navigating around the Geico table that was giving away gekkos and sunglasses. Again, why were they there?

So, like, I drink green tea every day. I don’t drink coffee often, nor do I indulge in caffeine much. That means, by the time I got to the car, I was wondering if I could find a coffee shop for a bathroom break because I was  not walking back seven blocks to go. Eh, no biggie, it could wait.

Except that it couldn’t and I was like, B, I usually don’t do things like this, but I’ve gotta make a pit stop. And so I found a gas station that had a bathroom “outside around to the left.” It was a perfectly acceptable alternative to going in my pants.

When I got home, I was all shaky and hyped up on sugar and caffeine. I looked up how to counterbalance caffeine. Vitamin C and water. So I had some clementines and drank maybe a gallon of water. By that night, I was almost back to baseline.

Since then, I’ve been having my green tea in the morning and then trying a sample tea in the afternoon, and I’ll keep doing that until all the teas are gone. Which means I’ll have to go back for more when the festival returns. Or I could just find and buy it, but what fun is that?

Petting Penguins

Things I’m big on: free stuff, going to new places. Things I’m not to big on: animals. However, in, like, sixth grade, I made a penguin out of clay. It got smashed along with several other clay animals, and we were allowed to make them over. The smasher, to my knowledge, was never found. Since then, I’ve had a penguin affinity. Although I’m not big on animals, penguins are okay.

That brings us to the weekend of a lot of stuff.

Stuff 1: Travel Marketplace. Hosted by AAA at Hofstra, it’s two floors of free pens, bags, candy, chocolate, note pads, key chains, and stickers. This year, I also got a chip bag clip, and I spun a wheel to win a luggage tag. The best part, aside from learning that Hershey Park has a zoo–yeah, that’s right, a zoo–and aside from learning that you should get the hopper pass in case it rains if you go to Universal Studios, is that we got Moonpies from the good folks over at the Tennessee table.

Also, Eddie and I learned that we still don’t look all that old. We got to a table where two people who looked like they could be our children asked if we’d heard of their tours. I said I’d heard of the name. They were like, we specialize in trips for people in their twenties, and they went to go on but our laughing brought that to a short halt. We called over our two friends who are still in their twenties (And who could also pass for our children) to hear the rest of their pitch.

If you want to go to Scotland, there’s a tour company that offers two versions of a Game of Thrones tour. While I would very much like to see Scotland as a country unattached to a television show, I would also very much like to wear a cloak and shoot an arrow at something.

We booked no trips but did manage to work up an appetite despite the Moonpies and Hershey kisses, so we went to Sonic.

Stuff #2: Sonic. There’s a new Sonic near the mall by us and you have to wait on a very long line no matter if you’re taking out or sitting in a stall in your car and I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo which seemed like it would be the healthiest choice–still gross but healthier than anything else–and I took one bite and then threw the rest out. I think I have an aversion to fast food these days. Clearly, I’m not against junk (see “Moonpies” above), but Sonic food really isn’t great. It’s the drinks that makes them Sonic. Everyone else enjoyed their shakes and chili cheese fries. My unsweetened iced tea tasted delightful.

Stuff #3: The Long Island Aquarium. It’s been in existence for 17 years and this was my first time visiting. The one in Coney Island is closer, I think, and really, I’m not an aquarium kind of gal. Fish. Great.

My mind changed a bit when I saw the thingies–stingrays? is that what they are?–coming up out of the water to eat what people were feeding them. For $3, you, too, can feed them. It was fascinating but also a bit disturbing. The faces of these things are really weird.

We went outside to see the sea lion show. Outside was about 2 degrees. We lasted about eleven minutes when I leaned into Eddie and said, I need to go inside like right now. When we got inside, our friends had followed. Pretty much no one wanted to freeze to see a sea lion jump.

We saw sharks, an octopus, a lot of fish of all different kinds, and turtles. We also saw monkeys. I don’t know why they are at the aquarium.

Then we went to pet some penguins. A small group of us were brought to a room near the penguin exhibit, which was closed because it was too cold for even the penguins to be outside, and we sat in a circle while two penguins toddled around us. They nipped at boots and scarves. They crapped and then walked through it a bunch of times. The pecked at doors and windows. They followed around the keeper whenever she walked from one side of the room to the other.

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The keeper picked one up and let us pet the penguin. Then later on, we pet the other penguin. Then we got to take pictures with the penguins.

One of these two people who had arrived late sat looking as if he were going to be sick, and then kept clearing the steam from the windows so people outside could see in. Then he asked someone to take a video instead of a picture. I thought to myself, why in the heck do you need a video of sitting on a bench? Then he didn’t sit. He knelt down and proposed. The people outside knew it was going to happen, so they weren’t trying to see the penguins, really. They’d been trying to watch for the proposal.

The girl said Yes. I’d been holding my breath because it seemed she was going to say No, and I was fighting off tears of potential embarrassment for this guy. Phew.

Stuff#4: Witnessing proposals and penguins can work up an appetite so we went to and Irish-type pub called Diggers Ales & Eats. It was good. Okay, I got a salad, but still, it was a delicious salad.

Sign for Diggers Soup of the day Whiskey

Stuff #5: Eddie’s mentioned a few times this pretzel place that supposedly has the best pretzels on Long Island, Knot Of This World (get it?). From the pub, we went to Huntington to find them. Funny thing: every weekend in March is up for a St. Patrick’s Day parade even if it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. So we found ourselves at the winding-down of Huntington’s Irish celebration. Having just come from an Irish pub, we fit in, of course, except that we were not drunk or wearing green. We parked up a hill and walk in the freezing cold all the way down the main street. We found the pretzel place that had its door open so that the guy outside could yell in to bring out more pretzels to the table he had set up on the sidewalk. Why, sir, must the door stay open?

Aside from remaining frozen indoors, we delighted in very large pretzels. I want to go back with someone who has a palate for exotic tastes so I can split a flavored pretzel, like one with spinach and cheese or one with cinnamon or one with Nutella. These may not seem exotic, but to Eddie, they are because they do not fall into the main food group he likes, Bland. We split a regular pretzel. It was warm and delicious.

Five Stuffs is a lot for one weekend. We did stuff. We stuffed our faces. And I did this final stuff that probably made my weekend. Because it’s the little things.

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