Speaking of being crap, don't read the last post. I wasn't drunk. I swear. I was just...weird.
We'll settle on that.

This morning dawned bright and early and was blissfully ignored for a few hours and much, much later we woke up at 10ish or so, emphasis on the ish and the or so.

Krissa's childhood impatience means that there is a tradition in her family of waiting until just past midnight on Christmas Eve and opening all the gifts. Which is good, because Krissa's adult impatience is not that different to her childhood impatience, with the exception of screaming and bouncing on the furniture, which her parents never allowed her to do when she was a kid. Clocks were watched, feet were tapped, diversionary tactics were planned and deployed, troops retreated, regrouped, charged, and the lines broke, reinforcements fled, flags fell, negotiations began, and in the end, at 12.02, Christmas began with a rendering of wrapping and ribbon.

So this morning dawned warmly and late, with full knowledge of all the Christmas presents waiting downstairs in the remnants of the glittery Götterdämmerung on the living room floor.

I have an iPod. 30GB, video, photos, the whole shebang. The plastic cover is still on to protect against falling saliva. I also have an absolutely jaw-dropping pair of studio quality headphones, books, screwdrivers (swooshily designed), penguin themed underwear (marriage, what's up) and a big cheesy grin which seems set to last for a good while.

Bonza.

Feliz Hootenanny!

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Hey there! I feel a little weird about this blog at the moment. I thought that it would be strange not to have it, but recently it's been a bit of a stretch to find the time and the right flavour of nonchalant motivation to blog as I have in the past. I'm not stopping, but, like a lot of people, I think...changing.

I don't want to put a downer on my Christmas post! Sorry!

2005...well I'm off all next week so I expect I'll sum up the year in a few days...like I promised I would sum up 2004 in January! I never keep my blog-promises. I'm crap. But I never pretended not to be.

I think there's a lot to be spinningly happy about at this little moment in time.
A lot is wrong with the world, and needs to be dealt with, but for everything that is good and shining, I am grateful.

Have a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy yourself, enjoy others.

Merry Christmas, Strike Is Over

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Normal subway service will be resumed as soon as probable.

The Uncertainty Principle

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I'm not really sure how it goes and I'm too tired to look it up, but it's something about how the act of watching changes the thing being watched, so you can't be sure if what you're seeing is what is. Or something.

I found it difficult to judge the mood of the people forced to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge rather than take the subway last night, because there were other factors contributing the to difficulties of getting thousands of pedestrians and cyclists over the East River.

Like the Maginot Line of TV trucks and film crews blocking the pedestrian crossing from City Hall Park onto the bridge. Like the crews that were set up on the walkway itself, complete with lights, cameras and trailing cables, blinding walkers and congesting the flow.

I don't know how or why, but my body clock is synchronising in a sick and twisted way with our strike schedule.
Normally, every morning, I wake up at about 5.30 or 6am through thirst or lack of blankets. I check the time, feel relieved, sip some water, heave some insulation out of the wound-up knot of bed coverings that Krissa defaults to when she's asleep, and doze happily off again.
For the last two days, this regular moment of peaceful and relaxed semi-awakening has metamorphosed cruelly into our Actual Wake Up Time. Yesterday I woke up because I was cold, pulled a blanket over me, and then the alarm went off. This morning I woke with a half-headache and looked at the clock. I had just enough time for a quick burst of despair before the alarm went off.

So... it is New York's second day without subways and buses, one report put the cost of police overtime at $4.4 million a day. Apparently the negotiations got stuck on a pensions issue that would have cost the city $20 million over three years.

Bye, party-san

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Damn you, transit workers, damn you and your unreasonable tactics!

Tonight We're Gonna Party Like...

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Oh dear.
It's...ten o'clock.
I'm not at work.
Damn you, Transit Workers! Damn you and your reasonable tactics!
I partied a little hard last night, and we have an unexpected houseguest; Mr. Hangover.

Mister Whiskey Hangover.

Gimpy Snippets

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It may not surprise you, given that I'm in the middle of a straight sixteen day work-a-thon, that my lackadaisical approach to blogging is an indication of how busy I am. Here are, however, a few odds and ends...

I watched a great moment of street theatre, well...I suppose it was cafe theatre, yesterday. Starbuckses gets busy, oh yessss, and they only have the little roundses tableses, you see. So I was standing in line and watching these two businessmen. One was a tall, powerfully built bald black guy dressed very finely, with his palm pilot, cellphone, and a calculator laid out in front of him on the table. In his lap he was resting a notepad, which he was tapping forcefully in time with the points he was making. Opposite him was a small dark-skinned Indian guy, also very well dressed, clutching a messy pile of papers. Their coffees sat between them.
"So we are agreed that we are moving to Stage Two on the 15th."
"Yes. Creative Stage Two."
"No! Stage Two is *tap* not *tap* a *tap* creative *tap* stage!"
"Isn't it?"
"NO!" *tap*
"But we're far from finished with the creative side."
"That's what we've got to finish by Stage Two!"
"That's not what I understood from the schedule. Project Management states explicitly..."
And so on and so forth.
What made this so brilliant is that these two weren't alone. When it gets really busy people have to share tables, and a tiny old woman was sitting right in between them. Her brown woollen mittens rested next to the palm pilot, and her walking stick was hooked onto the table, brushing the Indian guy's pile of papers. She was clutching her hot drink in both hands, sitting a little back from the table but still intimately involved; wrapped up in her heavy coat and hat, watching the conversation roll back and forth like a tennis match. The closer I got to the front of the coffee line, she more impartial she became, tilting her head at one comment, nodding with another, turning to see what on earth could possibly be said in reply to such transparent common sense. She clearly had nothing to do with the men, but circumstances had pushed the three of them together around their cramped pine-coloured table.
I left the cafe with a huge grin, muttering 'I love this town' under my steaming breath.

For some reason I only called a doctor about my horse-fallen-on arm today. It got better, then it got worse, then better again, and now it's been about the same for a few days. The arm works okay at some angles, but it's completely weak and painful at others. I am a noolie. This is what doctors are for.

BANNER IDOL. I haven't forgotten it, please, don't worry. The vote-off will happen soon. Possibly before Christmas...I'm not sure. I'm working all day every day at the moment, peoples. My apologies. Any more for any more, while we're at it? 700x125 pixels please, not an enormous file please, and it must contain the word 'autoblography' after that all creative craziness is encouraged! (Sally?)

What else did I want to say? Ummm...something about bagels...uh...

The subways! The MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) worker's union 100 force union labor freedom squad are threatening to strike starting on Friday. This is, apparently, illegal of them. Friday, I'm looking at you.

I was taken by the sheer volume of clothing on the subway this morning. I myself was sporting conventional underwear, two undershirts, a white shirt, a black woollen jumper, seventy-six electric blankets woven into a complex interlocking pattern and running off a gas generator which I was towing on a small cart, and a coat. Also a hat which makes me look a bit like Man-At-Arms from He-Man. And Gloves. I did not present an unusual sight on this morning's commute.
My gimpy left arm means that on crammed carriages, I can either read or stop myself falling over, but not both. I have considered lying down, but this doesn't seem practical.
Anyway. On the subway this morning I was sharing a pole with a middle-aged gentleman. He had a weathered leather satchel stuffed with papers and books, with a rolled-up copy of the New York Times wedged into a too-small front pocket. His hair was greying and his skin was pink and slightly wrinkled. His rimless spectacles looked expensive. I can't explain why, but the second I looked at him I thought 'film director'.
I spent a couple of minutes wondering if he was famous, and then decided that it probably didn't matter. I have a personal policy of avoiding talking to famous people whenever possible, because if I do, I make an arsehole of myself.
But with my stop on the train coming up, I wondered how a non-film director, even one who walked around looking as though he should be one, would react to a stranger on the subway looking sincerely into his eyes and saying, 'I love your work,' before stepping off between the closing doors and into a perfect, unaccountable getaway.
I toyed with the idea for a while and then wimped out, but I might do it next time an opportunity presents itself. Knowing New York, the train would start rolling out of the station with the other person pounding on the door screaming, 'You do? You do? You love my work! Oh my GOD I thought I was a failuuuuuuuuurewhoooshytrainnoise'.
So I shall be careful.

Weird

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Today feels like a Monday.
My internal calendar is sick and wrong.

In other news, K and I put our tree up last night, which was fun.

So, er, I...

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...just worked four days in a row, which makes tomorrow Friday, right?

Four Things

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1. Just got home after watching The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Was excellent.

2. On the way home I had to get up and shield our freshly bought Christmas gifts as the train was coming to a halt. I had to make way for a woman who thought that the moment when there are all sorts of interesting inertia effects caused by decceleration and sharp stopping would be the perfect moment to begin her clear three-yard quest for door. While avoiding falling head over heels and sliding down the full length of the carriage aisle, I sort of wobbled rather than grabbing anything because I recently fell off a horse rendering one arm less than 100%, and the other arm was clutching the aforementioned gifts. In the process I did something weird and twingey to my right lower back. This hurt.

3. Walking Limping home, I theatrically slipped and fell head over heels onto my back on a lethally icy sidewalk. Banged head, badly jerked already bad arm, injured pride as still-vertical old people across the road called out in concern.

4. I have to work tomorrow and Sunday.

Shallow Sea Blue

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I can now happily strike an item off my 'Bloody Stupid Things To Do In Life' list.

No. 23: Fall Off A Galloping Wild Horse.

For a few short days, Krissa and I, Jen and her MK, Kate, Stan, Biscuit, Chris and Heather were on Eleuthera and Paradise islands in The Bahamas.

Lightly tanned, slightly grazed, and flying home in a mild Vicodin daze, I saw New York hove into view on Wednesday afternoon in a dusting of murky white and dark grey. This morning fat white flakes were falling outside our bedroom window, greying out the morning and making it hard to wake up. It's weird that I've been sort of happy purely at the unusual nature of both New York's winter slush and Eleuthera's December sunshine, regardless of how pleased I was to see either of them. Differences make me happy - new, different, unusual things.
Beyond that, of course, sun=great, snow=arse.

We arrived at Nassau International airport on Saturday afternoon, and while the Paradise Island contingent taxi'd off to luxury, cocktails and complete normality, honest, Krissa, Jen and MK and I took a bloody ripoff taxi around the corner from Nassau International to Nassau Exclusive. Still, now, after a safe journey, I cannot believe that I have, in my life, chartered an aircraft and survived, rather than appearing in one of those tragic 'Promising young people die through air crash, also persistent gnawing by hammerhead sharks' news stories.
Our pilot wanted to keep one door of the two-prop Piper open...because it was The Bahamas and it was hot, naturally. Once airborne he kept up a jovial spot of radio banter with the nice-sounding lady in air traffic control, and also the pilot of another plane coming from Eleuthera, who he pointed at grinningly when we passed in mid-air. The sea was vivid green and blue, with sharp and volcanic-looking brown ridges of rock marking the edges of reefs.

Eleuthera is approximately 110 miles long (although defining 'long' gets tricky) and only two miles across at its widest. We are talking severely stringy here. The airstrip were aiming to land at took over a significant proportion of the width of the Island. We landed and were handed a rental car without paperwork, without signing anything, without having to prove that any of us could drive. When we unloaded our bags one of the two ground staff asked, 'You the people rentin' the car from Hilton?' (Hilton being the owner of the car) and when we said yes, they gave us the keys. We drove off in search of our villa, with the Atlantic waves breaking fifty yards to the right, and the placid Bight of the Bahamas lapping little coved beaches a hundred yards to the left. Low, scrubby vegetation covered the island, with the occasional tall palm breaking the lines of the windswept canopy and sudden hills of brown rock.

The sky at night was incredible. You could see the creamy clouds of the Milky Way against a backdrop of brighter stars, and shooting stars were common. There was only one street light at the next property along the road, and we roundly cursed it, but I've only been two places where the stars have been even close to being that beautiful; the High Atlas mountains in Morocco, and a little village in the Alpujarras, south of Granada in Spain. Breathtaking. Walking back from our only restaurant dinner on the first night, we saw something really phenomenal - a bright blue-green shooting star, fast and seemingly low, leaving a pale white trail. It was so bright that at first I thought it was a flare, but it shot past so quickly, so straight and so silently. I instantly started babbling about the formation of free radicals (giving the green-blue colour as they burn up) in astral bodies and stuff which, despite the near total darkness, meant I could sense the odd looks from Krissa, Jen and MK. It's weird. I only learnt about it last week, in a 'Science And The City' podcast through iTunes, featuring Bob Park. I'm looking into reporting the shooting star..and according to a couple of websites it looks like it might have been a fireball. A once in a lifetime thing!

Two days of dreamy deserted beach exploration, snorkelling and rum ensued.

The snorkelling was perfect. Entire galaxies of fish, echoing the night skies, hung over weed and coral-covered boulders, tiny transparent jellyfish, harmless, slowly swept along. Tortoiseshell-camouflaged grim-mouthed fish avoided us, large flat blue fish were more inquisitive and stuck their heads out of their boltholes if we floated above them for any length of time. Sea cucumbers lolled on sandy floors. Starfish clung to rocks. And then, as Krissa and I were thinking of turning back because the sun was getting low, in the blue murk I saw the silvery-white outlines of an unmistakable shape. I freaked out and yelled at Krissa before powering away with my flippers in the opposite direction. I told Krissa.
"Manta Ray. Big one."
"I want to see it."
I had been so enjoying the little voyages into random snippets of memory (among them realizing that I knew what a Sea Cucumber was, a fact which up until that point had been utterly useless) that I panicked when I saw the size of the thing, with its wings moving slowly...and I'd forgotten that it was vegetarian. We swam back for a little while, but there was no sign of it.
This is all very easy to write, I bet you're thinking, with Google to hand. But seriously - I went through a phase, at about the same time as reading the James Herriot books, of reading all the Insert Animal Name Adventure books by Willard Price, and, geekily...books of Natural History, filled with pictures and facts about animals from all over the world. What can I say? I was 12. I had a long time to wait until Girls.

On our way back to New Providence Island we stopped off at Harbour Island in the North of Eleuthera prior to catching the ferry. Krissa used to ride horses a lot in Africa, so when she spotted horseback riding on the beach, she was excited. I confessed being a little scared, but thought I'd give it a go. Galloping unwittingly through the surf on the back of a schizophrenic mare, one of my stirrups snapped and off I went. I have a big graze on my forehead and my left arm is only just beginning to work properly again. If you're reading this before taking a holiday to Eleuthera and Harbour Island, take this as a warning - don't trust Robert and his horses. Krissa is a veteran horsewoman and she fell from her totally unresponsive horse twice. The horses, we learned from a local on the ferry, are taken from the wilds of south Eleuthera at very young ages by Robert, and while they're completely devoted to him, are not trained at all and virtually wild, taking their cues from the actions of the other horses in the manner of a pack (the unridden horses broke out of the stable and came and joined us), rather than reacting to their riders. Bad news, generally.

The ferry from Eleuthera to Nassau was a boat identical to the Southampton-to-Isle of Wight Catamaran, which made me feel very odd indeed. In half-waking moments I thought I was about to see my parents.

Beset by insect bites and bruised by ballistic activities on the beach, Krissa and I bowed out of the last night's reuniting fun in Nassau and slept.
The plane back to New York left on time, after I spent an agonising forty-five minutes slowly passing through all of the US immigration hoops (hopefully for the last time...my Green Card should be on its way soon).

And this morning there was 4" of snow on the ground in Queens.

Photos from the trip to follow...they'll probably get uploaded into Flickr over the weekend.

So...how're you?

Bye For A Few More Days

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Off to the Bahamas.

Back soon.

March On, Bahamaland

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So!
The Bahamas.
They're meant to be quite nice.

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