Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Classiest New Year's Ever (TM)

Happy New Year!

I keep seeing people online abbreviate New Year's Eve as NYE, and it reminds me of Bill Nye the Science Guy, which is appropriate because he occasionally lectures at the former school of an out-of-town visitor and old friend I was lucky enough to have over the weekend.

Before I get to New Year's, though, I'm going to rewind a little. Last Sunday, New York had a major snowstorm that resulted in a lot of businesses and transportation options getting shut down. Somehow, though, it seems I am the only person I know who didn't have any obligations (baby-sitting, cat-sitting, work, Park Slope Food Coop orientation, etc.) cancelled -- so I did a whole lot of tromping around in the snow, especially since the buses and subway service was questionable at best. (I still don't understand New York City's attitude toward snow -- it snows every year, but every year, it seems that the City doesn't know how to deal with it.) Anyway, I have a few photos to show for the tromping:

It's hard to tell, but that little bit of non-snow in the picture is a car, almost completely buried.

I got a kick out of this "COFFEE" sign because it is so obviously a lie, as there is no coffee on the ground where the arrow is pointing.

Another view of semi-buried cars. It was amazing to see how many cars had gotten stuck in the middle of the road, turned off, and left. I was very thankful that I didn't have to drive, even though I had a very interesting time getting home on Sunday night after babysitting. The trip home usually takes about 20 minutes, but this time it took 2 1/2 hours -- the train that I was on abruptly declared that a random stop in the middle of my trip was its last, so everybody got off. Everyone waiting on the platform groaned, complaining this was the third train that had done this. The rumor was that a train had gotten stuck somewhere. After futilely waiting for about 20 minutes for more information, such as whether there would be any more trains at the station, I decided to brave the snow and winds and go outside to look for a bus (which, according to the local news before I left, were all still running albeit on a delayed schedule, like the subway). I waited a long time for the bus, and about five jerk cabdrivers drove right past me -- why even be out in a blizzard if you're a cabdriver if you're not going to at least make some money from it? It was at least significantly warmer at the bus stop, since the partition blocked most of the wind. At this point, I called Cliff, who called a bunch of car services for me, none of whom picked up their phones. So I decided to continue on to the next-closest subway station, along the way passing strangers with whom I exchanged well-wishes.

There's a common stereotype as New Yorkers as rude, and despite my former barista-ish employment, I still don't think it's true. I do think it's true that people here are much more direct than Midwesterners, but it strikes me less as rudeness and more as focus. I have to say, I appreciate people who walk as quickly as me and say what they mean. Anyway, there is no other experience more illuminating to this stereotype than observing the way people behave toward one another in situations like a blizzard. Overall, people seem so kind -- giving directions, wishing others luck, sharing information. I went to a service at Trinity Church on Wall St. on Christmas Eve, and the sermon was about the kindness of strangers -- and it made me think about how much kindness I've experienced from people who truly owed me nothing. There's something to be said for people treating one another like people, and in a world that is devoid of this a bit too often -- both on a grand scale and a smaller one -- I really believe that unexpected kindness should be celebrated.

Oh, and by the way, the orientation was a success, and I am now a member of the Park Slope Food Coop along with about 12,000 other people. It basically entails working one two-and-a-half hour shift every four weeks, and getting reduced prices on groceries and household products (like Dr. Bronner's!). A lot of the food is organic or minimally treated, and I'm especially excited to have access to good meat, to be part of the community, and to learn a bit more about where my food comes from.

So anyway, back to New Year's. Peters, one of my friends from camp who I hadn't seen in roughly five years, came to visit, and we essentially ran around being awesome. On Friday I had the day off from work, so we went to the Met and wandered, summarizing some of the major life events that had happened since we'd seen each other last and looking at cool stuff. When we got hungry, we got delicious pizza that reminds me of the kind on camp trips to the Kalahari (I actually didn't realize until just now how appropriate that was, since anyone at Christmas Camp had eaten said pizza just the day before).

After that, it was already time to pick up some snacks and beverages and meet Cliff and Liza at Grand Central Station for the Classiest New Year's Ever (tm). We were a little early, so we sat down and did some people-watching until Liza showed up with signed letters on company letterhead that would permit us to be in her Times Square office on the 39th floor to watch the ball drop.

When we arrived at the building, we presented our letters and driver's licenses to the security guards. "We don't have any record of authorized guests for that floor," one of the guards told us. There were about two minutes of panic as we conversed with the guard and tried to determine what had happened and, more importantly, what we could do to remedy it. The guard told us that she couldn't authorize us to be there, since we had not been entered in the computer -- even though Liza had gone through all of the proper guest procedures. Tension mounted until one of the other security guards logged into another computer, and said, "Oh, wait, what were your names? You are on the list. I'm sorry about that." We breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed toward the elevator.

My theory is that the computer mistake was due to Y2K.

Once we got to the office, we broke out the night's necessary accoutrements: Brie, champagne, and Settlers of Catan, among other revelries. (Like I said -- Classiest New Year's Ever.) After boggling over the awesomeness of our view and the huge windows that looked straight out toward the ball, we sat down, poured some drinks, and set up Settlers.

Cliff plans his next move.

Peters looks worried here -- probably rightly so, since we play for blood.

Ridiculously enough, my biggest problem taking pictures was that I was too close to get a good angle. (I know, cry me a river Justin Timberlake-style, right?) Also, the glare on the window, which resulted in the above becoming a self-portrait.

It was bizarre looking down at the huge, tightly-packed crowd (of which I was a part last year!). We also had a bird's eye view of the stage and could clearly see the monitor of the televised program, and we could even faintly hear the bands performing. (Sample moment: playing Settlers, I suddenly recognize the music of the Backstreet Boys and run toward the window in disbelief. Could it be?! And it was! And New Kids on the Block -- wait, what year is this again?! Pretty incredible. So basically, I have now seen both of these bands in concert. Don't argue with me. BSB4LYFE)

The crowd dissipated quickly after midnight (though the huge clock in the square remained probably purposely stuck at midnight for at least thirty minutes after the fact). In the above picture, I was trying to get a picture of how much garbage was left on the streets, but it's pretty tough to see. I also took a ton of pictures of the fireworks on every hour, all of which were in vain due to my phone's modest camera as well as, I'm sure, my own human error.

View of some of the confetti as we were leaving the building.

This picture of me is pretty crazypants, but I am including it anyway because I realized I didn't take very many pictures of people, and those probably make for more interesting blog posts. (You see the sacrifices I make for you! YOU!) One of our collective goals for the night was to remember to take pictures, and we definitely took more than usual -- though Liza and I note with amusement that since Gwen has been in England, we have almost no pictures of our friends from the past year, except for the few days she was visiting. There definitely needs to be one photographer in every group of friends.

After the Times Square mayhem waned, we headed out to Cliff's place in Bushwick for a little while. We intended on taking a cab home, but little did I know that it is almost completely impossible to get a cab on New Year's Eve. So when we got a burst of energy around 5:00 am, we made a break for the L-train. It was a treacherous ride that involved accidentally stepping in someone's vomit (I am seriously anti-puke), but we made it, and enjoyed seeing people on the subway acting so uncharacteristically friendly and talkative toward one another. It is fair to say that everyone was in a party-mood.

We got home around 6:00 a.m. and promptly went to sleep. In the early afternoon, we got up and went to Huckleberry's, my all-time favorite brunch place, in which we both got delicious breakfast-y foods with a side of BACON, and I decided that one of my goals for the year is to get really, really good at making bacon. (There might also be a joke somewhere here about bringing it home...)

All in all -- an excellent start to the New Year that couldn't have been more perfect.

2010 was a pretty big year -- on St. Patrick's Day I started dating Cliff (who somehow manages to not only be compassionate, brilliant, and talented, but also really, really, ridiculously good-looking as a bonus), I signed an apartment lease like a grown-up, I got two new jobs and quit one, I was a bridesmaid for the first time, and I got to take a solo backpacking trip around Wales. I took the GRE. I read a lot and tried to fill in gaps in my knowledge (which I'm continuing to do, voraciously). I wrote a lot, and founded Rooftop Reading Series, with three rooftop readings to date. I've reconnected with old friends and made some new ones.

So here's to 2011 -- onward and upward.

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