Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Day in White Plains/A Night In Queens

Thursday night I stayed at the TONY Lounge for karaoke. We hadn't had it in two weeks because of the holidays so I was kinda missing it. I didn't intend to stay very long, but the excitement of singing took over my body and I stayed.

I grabbed some dinner at the Amish Market. Their hot buffet is discounted after 8pm It's a great way to get a decent meal for cheap. Cheap is good! When I got back to the Lounge, I finally gave Dakota a chance to do what he gets paid for: pour me a drink. I haven't had a drink in the Lounge in months. It's really been about not spending unnecessary money. Thursday, however, I wanted a drink. Jamison to be more precise. A nice Irish Whiskey that I enjoy diffused with one ice cube. I nursed the drink for quite a while. I only wanted one so I made it last. It was so nice to hang out in the Lounge with old friends and enjoy the drink and the company.

When karaoke started I knew I wanted to sing. I had been testing the chords all day. Having been a little congested for the past few days I wasn't sure if I could sing. I could! "And I Am Telling You" got a revisit. I nailed it. People screamed and applauded at the end. They loved me. I needed that ego and confidence boost. It made singing again easy. I joined my friend Patrick on the pop tune, "Taking Chances," then sang "Goodbye Earl" (country) and "Mercy" (pop). It was fun to put my voice and my spin on three different genre's. I want to tackle some jazz next. So back to staying later than planned. I had to get up early the next morning to go to White Plains, NY, with my friend Colleen. She was signing the paperwork to buy her first apartment. How exciting. I was a little jealous, but mostly excited.

Colleen was to pick me up in her newly rented zipcar at 9:45am. I made sure to be up, showered and ready on time to hit the ATM and get coffee before the drive. Colleen was running late. Driving in the City can do that to you. Traffic and nerves are a bitch. She left me a message which I didn't get until after I was in the car with her. Must have walked through a dead zone at the exact second she called. America's largest 3G network. "Can you hear me now?" Guess not!

No worries. We were on our way. I had Colleen's hand written directions from Google in my lap. We start merging onto ramps and taking exits toward interstates with ease. Everything was smooth. There was a spit of snow falling from the sky, but nothing detrimental to driving. As is somehow always the case, we hit traffic going slightly faster than a crawl. No stress. No worry. We left an hour early. Of course when the traffic started to flow freely again, there was no indication as to what the hold up had been. What are these phantoms that find joy in slowing traffic! Jeez!

We were driving along, catching up on our goings on for the past couple of days when we began looking for what should be our exit into White Plains - 8C/Mamaroneck Ave. Or as Colleen thought it said, "Mama no neck." We see exit 9. I'm thinking it will be the next exit. The next exit was 12. Then 13 and so on. Where was 8C? Had we missed it? How was that possible? We were supposed to be on Hutchinson Pkwy N for about 10 miles. A distance we hadn't traveled. We finally exited, out of fear of driving to far out of the way, at exit 17. I put the directions into my Google Maps App on my Blackberry and we tried it again. It looped us back around to Hutchinson Pkwy N and told us to look for 8C/Mamoroneck Ave. All we could figure was that somewhere Hutchinson was going to merge with something else and the exit numbers would reset. No such luck. Turned out our exit was 23N/Mamoroneck Ave. We took the chance that this was indeed the exit. It was. Google needs to update that info. We could have been stuck looping on ourselves for hours looking for 8C if it wasn't for our common sense and chance taking abilities. We made it just after the appointment time to the document signing destination. Colleen had called her lawyer to say she might be late. She was late, but earlier than she thought she'd be. I sat in the lobby reading my current book, Mississippi Sissy, by Kevin Sessums for almost an hour. The new home owner emerged from the room down the hall with all the papers signed and all the information muddled in her head. We decided to hit the mall or in this case the Galleria. My friend Michael says, sarcastically, that Galleria is french for mall anyway. I can honestly say it was just a mall. Sears, Spencer Gifts, Hot Topic & Cinnabon were all present along with other stores I'd never heard of. And that smell that's a bit over powering on the second level? Yep, The Yankee Candle Company. I guess I thought a Galleria would be somewhat upscale. Doesn't the name Galleria scream "upscale boutiques?" I commented when we arrived that I felt like I was in one of the malls in Nashville. Not the Cools Spring Galleria though. One of the other run-of-the-mill malls.

We spent almost two hours wondering around that suburban mall. A feat we urban dwellers don't have, or some might say take, the opportunity to do. First thing on our agenda however was lunch. We were both hungry. What to eat? Do we choose Wendy's, Taco Bell, Panda Express? No. Bourbon Chicken was the winner. Can't remember the last time I had Bourbon Chicken. It was a little greasy goodness. Hey, we were out of the City for the day so we gave ourselves permission to live a little.

I needed to find a long sleeved black t-shirt. My cousin Leah bought me a most fabulous gift while she was here. It was a Fashion's Night Out t-shirt. White with the aforementioned words in black letters along with a partial NYC skyline. Kind of abstract. I thought the hippest way to wear the shirt now would be to wear it over a black long sleeved t-shirt. We got side tracked though. A little kiosk in the middle of the mall was selling sheet sets. Full size, 500 thread count, 100% Egyptian cotton sateen sheets. I didn't really need them, but for that price wouldn't I have been just a bit foolish to pass them up? Since I didn't, we'll never know. They're caramel brown.

We spent quite a lot of time looking for me that black t-shirt. I'm picky, and not usually one to settle for the first thing I see. Well, after looking everywhere but Sears and Macy's we ended up right back where we started. A store I'd never heard of called Epic Designs. They had thermal style tops on sale. Two for $20. I bought a black one and a blue one. The first choice was the perfect choice.

Finally time to leave the Galleria, we headed toward Cinnabon. The Galleria didn't have a Great American Cookie Company so we had already decided to split a six pack of mini cinnabon's. I also wanted coffee. We went to Duncan Donuts for the coffee. I asked for a medium with cream and sugar. When we got to Cinnabon, I opened it to make sure it was well mixed. Imagine my shock at seeing the lightest coffee ever. Colleen said I was having a little coffee in my milk. Surprisingly enough, it was pretty good. From now on though, I would prefer to add my own cream and sugar.

Our drive back to the City was not without incident. It was perfectly lovely until we took the exit toward the GWB. What we didn't notice was exit 4S immediately veered to the right just off of the ramp. We stayed on the ramp and missed it. Realizing almost as quickly as we passed it, we tried to loop ourselves back around to it. No such luck. We ended up getting back on Hutchinson Pkwy N, taking some random exit and just driving until we found a way to get back onto Hutchinson Pkwy S. Lord have mercy! After getting past that one faux pas of a missed turn, we made it back to my apartment without incident. That is to say I made it back. I can't speak for Colleen after she left my place to drive the car back to the drop off location, but I heard tell that Third Avenue was a bitch and she got trafficked right onto the Queensboro Bridge and ended up in Queens. Sadly, that's no where near where she wanted to go. Oops!

I called my friend Michael to see if he had his roommate Tynan's phone number. We had been trying to find a time to watch "Far From Heaven" together. She had never seen it. It's one of my favorite films. It's so beautifully shot and acted. Of course, I own it. We just needed to find a time that worked for both of us. Anyway, she suggested Sunday night. My schedule is a little tight on Sunday night and there's "Brothers & Sisters" to watch so I wasn't sure Sunday would work out. I suggested Friday night. I suggested it via facebook. I hadn't heard from her and so the call to Michael for her phone number was to ask her if she was free that evening. He told me she had been pretty incommunicado with the computer for the past few days, but knew she was due home that evening around 9pm He suggested I come hang out. He said we would have a little wine and dinner on the cheap and wait for her to get home. If she was up for watching we would watch, otherwise we'd just hang out. His other roommate Corey was out of town so Michael suggested I just spend the night. Gladly and quickly I packed a bag. About an hour after my arrival, a glass of wine consumed, The replay of Oprah over and Ellen started, Michael suggested we go get some food. He suggested we go to a little gay-owned place just on the other side of Broadway. Thinking we were house bound for the evening, we were both dressed in pjams already. Easily rectified.

Dressed in presentable clothing again, we bundled up and headed out into the cold. When we arrived at Mundo Astoria it was packed. It was easy to see why as there are so few tables. There was a slight wait, but nothing we couldn't handle. We were third on the list to be seated. The waitress said several tables were getting ready to become available. Picking up the menu after being seated, I noticed he tag line, "A journey at the table." I was excited. I chose a Malbec for my wine and Michael chose the house white. Then we proceeded to order five appetizers and share. We ordered what the menu called their, "must-try signature dish," Red Sonja. It consisted of red lentil patties with cracked wheat, scallions, parsley and oriental spices on a bed of lettuce with lemon wedges. You spritzed the patty with the lemon then wrapped it in the lettuce like a taco. Amazing. We ordered edamame, falafal with hummus, an Argentinian beef empanada, and cheese rolls. The rolls were hand rolled dough stuffed with feta cheese. Oh the goodness! During dinner, Tynan actually came home. She must have seen our empty wine glasses, my bag, the movies. She immediately sent me a comment on facebook: "WHERE ARE YOU????? Please tell me you are just picking up a bottle of wine and will walk in the door any moment?!" I laughed out loud at the table. I had a missed call and a message from a number I didn't recognize. It was Tynan. Turns out she looked in the address book on Michael's phone and found my number and called. I called her back and told her where we were and that we were getting ready to pay and would be heading back to the house.

Back at the house there was brief conversation before a bottle of Prosecco was uncorked and "Far From Heaven" was placed in the DVD player. As I had hoped, Tynan loved the movie. It is such a beautiful film as I've already mentioned. It's also sad. The whole experience is made up of vivid colors contrasted with gray shadows and characters playing out a situation from the past informed by the present. It always makes me think of what a small piece of ground we've covered for how far we've come.

Tynan and I stayed up until 2am talking civil rights, equality, prejudice, family, career, life. It was amazing. Just sitting there talking and listening.

Life is good!