NYC for the Holidays and a Closing Decade

It's been another big gap between writing, in this gap I've been pretty constricted geographically, but still managed some good times and have a slew of options ahead of me again. I've spent many of my days coding Trip Hopping in the familiar confines of my old Queens apartment, broken up by shots being poured by Carl or a meal being cooked by one roommate or another.

One day in mid November I went to the Google offices in Manhattan where I worked on Trip Hopping while a couple of their Geo engineers gave paragraph long lectures and walked around giving advice, answering my questions. The night before I'd seend to movie 2012 with Mark, we'd make a drink by the same name, taking a sip every time the location in the movie changed, needless to say it had me slightly dazed this day.

From Google I wandered the city until I arrived in Chinatown in a round about way, Willie D had an EP release and Cyderobin (Mark, Sean and Carl) where playing before him. Everyone rocked out and spilled onto the sidewalk hours later ready to celebrate, we wound up at Manny's place with a bottle of Devil Springs, among other things. This of course guarantees a night to remember, or forget in some cases, but a night to speak of none the less. This particular night landed us on a cold rooftop, down the street later for drunken hot dogs and donuts, and on the subway back to Astoria at some odd hour before the sun came up. I remember playing my harmonica on the subway ride and all the way up Astoria Blvd, I meant every note I blew.

The next day I awoke to Sean playing bass, actually soothing despite what should have been a gnarly hangover, he was grooving to the warm hue of a saturday morning that's glows the most for monday to friday folks like himself. We wandered for coffee, a typical thing, a trip to guitar center, and returned back to the apartment to take it easy with some cheap beer and wine. I rocked in a hammock chair, a quarter asleep, Sean scrolled through different music from an era that fit the mood.

Later that night I met my little sister at Grand Central, she'd been in the city with some friends, we went back to the apartment and finished out the night and everyone faded to sleep. My mom picked my sister and I up in the morning and we headed back to Connecticut. I spent a few days there taking it real easy, coding away again in the quiet of New Canaan until Thanksgiving came. We had a big meal and later went to the movie theater, afterwards I drove to my dad's house some 30 minutes away in Yorktown Heights, NY. I caught up with my dad over some cocktails, we talked into the night intensely about various things on our mind.

We both started the next day slowly, back to sleep, then up again refreshed. I helped set up the plastic christmas tree with my little brother and step mom. I headed back to Connecticut after that and got the first barber shop haircut I'd gotten in longer than I could remember, had some food, then headed to Weston where I met Sean and eventually Mark at their folk's place. We made the obligatory Athena diner trip before heading back, I crashed on the comfy couch in their basement.

The next day brought a second Thanksgiving dinner at Mark and Sean's house, Sean had worked the day before so it was to make up for that. I spent the night there again, and a day or so later I arrived back in the city via the train, grabbing a mess of good beers before arriving back at the apartment.

November became December, I enjoyed my New York days, going to rehearsals on Tuesdays to listen to the guys play, a couple good beer nights thrown in the mix too, including a good one at Ginger Man. Finally Sean's birthday came around, December 12, the night of their highly anticipated show. Kelly and I tagged along with them in the afternoon to meet with a photographer who took them around the streets and snapped photos of them for an hour or so, posing, walking, standing - that kind of thing.

Their show worked out well that night, a lot of people turned up for it. Afterwards a mass of people from the show crowded into the nearby Dallas BBQs, probably 30 or more of us split up across big tables, cheering, laughing and drinking "Texas sized" drinks, an under the table bottle making them all the stronger, it was a good night for everybody.

More days of coding flew by, I'd finally pushed the updates live to the site I'd been putting together for so long. With good timing, I heard of an open bar in Manhattan and Mark had the night off. We went in and discovered the first part of the "open bar" was a vodka promotion, meaning we had to wait for a girl with a tray of drinks to get to us, we ordered a beer and finally got the vodka drink too. We nursed the one beer and the vodka drink for close to an hour and a half until the real open bar started, all you could drink Sam Adams. The bartender gave us a funny look when we pounded the first beer in minutes and moved on to our second after having taken so long with the one we paid for, but the free beers kept coming.

A girl I knew back in something like high school and haven't seen since then, Sam, found out I was in the city, and was on route to grand central. She sent me a message and Mark and I decided to go and meet her to see what else the night could bring. She was excited to see me and we quickly started catching up, her friend Dave was with her too. They'd left their jackets at some club on the westside the week before and were going to get them back.

Dave kept slipping away, not wanting to see some other guy who Sam was waiting for, but he finally came. Dave made it apparent he didn't like the other guy, saying as much and ignoring a hand shake. Mark and I found it pretty funny and were happy when Dave offered us some mini bottles he had stuffed in his jacket. Four of us hopped in a cab and grabbed the jackets from the club, meeting Mark back in Times Square where Sam wanted to go drinking.

One way or another we shook the other guy, or he shook us, I was never really clear, but we wound up at Dallas BBQs after some mild complaining and confusion from Sam. Mark and I ordered the classic Texas sized drinks while Sam tried to get a pinot grigio or some such, wound up with a margaritta, and then tried to exchange it upon seeing what Texas sized meant, wanting what we had instead. Dave and us rolled our eyes and Mark pleaded with her not to exchange it, "we told you! Texas sized is the shit, this is BBQs! You're not returning that drink, you had your chance and you didn't believe us!", we all laughed with it while she tried to give the waiter a hard time, he pretended to talk to a manager and said he couldn't return it, she accepted it and we moved on, enjoying some chicken wings.

We left BBQs and Sam said she wanted to go to an Irish Pub, I lead us to one nearby, the Blarney Stone. Once we got there she didn't want to be there, something along the lines of, "If I wanted to be in some dingy pub, I wouldn't have come to the city for it", at that line Mark and I both faced the bar and ordered a Guiness, her and Dave carried on. I think they both got drinks, but something finally set her off and she stormed out of the bar, maybe in tears, why not, saying she was headed for the train.

The three of us remained with our drinks, we told Dave he could crash in Queens, I think she was supposed to be his ride and an argument with his dad earlier had him on the fence about asking for a ride from him. We wound up on the subway, my harmonica came out again, playing it up Astoria Blvd again and at last plooping into my sleeping bag on the futon ahead of Mark and Dave who were walking slower. Mark went to bed quickly, Dave remained active, wanting me to take a shot. I kept telling him, "go into the kitchen, you'll see some sort of something, bring it in here and I'll take a shot, I'm just not getting up", finally he did and found some vodka, a couple shots later he smoked a cigarette and passed out in the nearby chair, it had been a good night. In the morning, or afternoon, Dave awoke and I hazily gave him directions back to the subway and Grand Central, off he went.

Days later some people came over for Monday night football, including some friends from San Diego now living in Astoria, our old neighbor Alex, and Willie D. I ended the night drinking with Willie D while we discussed the various options for New Years Eve. Manny came through early the next day with Carl, a bottle of rum in hand. Carl had just finished school for the time being and that's all it took, that and Sean with a day off the rum started flowing ferociously, we soon all found ourselves behind an instrument jamming out. Mark eventually walked into our madness, a plate flew from Sean's hand shattering on the floor, our burst of laughter was too much for him at the moment, but I talked him out of the funk and on went the night. They had rehearsal that night, I passed out for a portion of it, waking at the end and we marched back home to sleep.

The following day was the day of my parents Connecticut christmas party, Sean, Mark and I caught a 6 oclock train armed with a cooler of Magic Hat beers, eggnog and rum, most of which was gone by the time we met my brother at the New Canaan train station, he'd just got to town from San Diego. We stormed the party, everyone in high spirits. I fielded questions about my travels and Blake about his military life. Sean ended the night vomiting in the crease of the downstairs couch, and mostly everywhere nearby, Mark passed out by his side on the floor as a brotherly gesture. An old friend Lara came right at this time, mostly everyone else had left the party. My brother, Lara, her boyfriend and I made a trip to the diner before returning to pass out ourselves.

Christmas eve saw relaxation with the family, and Christmas day was started in Connecticut and ended in New York at our Dad's house after a big dinner, our uncle stopped by as well. After breakfast the next morning my brother and I headed back to Connecticut, Sean and Kelly came for a while. We got some food with the family, saw a movie, and met back up with Mark, Sean and Kelly for another Athena Diner trip.

The following day I played basketball with my brothers at the open gym, and later went to Mark and Seans to enjoy some football and good micro brews. Blake and I took a drive around our old school in Weston that has since been developed a great deal, also driving by our old house, the same one my mom had grown up in. We watched some more football and finally called it a night.

We drove back to Astoria the next night, Blake met Sean in Manhattan to see an old friend of their's, I hung back at the apartment drinking over priced beer and watching a show called Deathnote with Mark. Sean stumbled in late screaming something about a cheeseburger, Blake followed shortly behind him, Sean disappeared quickly. We made a quick deli stop, and after some food we all faded to sleep.

Back to Connecticut again the next day, then back to our dad's for the night, and back to Connecticut in the morning. This is where I find myself now, less than 24 hours until a new decade begins. I'm looking forward to the New Years Eve night, the promise of a new decade and the coming weeks. I've been getting pent up in this Connecticut-New York familiarity, ready for the road again.

Mega Bus is a regional bus company that had a wild deal, free bus tickets, I managed to book the following trips, all for a 50 cent "reservation fee": NYC to Boston to NYC to Toronto to NYC to Philly to NYC to Washington DC, then Columbus, OH to Chicago to Kansas City. All of the trips are tight knit, starting on January 7 and putting me in Kansas City by the end of the month, if I choose to go along with all of it, the only jump being a hitchhike from Washington DC to Columbus to keep it going.

My pack is lighter and I'm all fueled up, bring on another decade.