January 24, 2009

Just Breathe

The weekend before my last day at work, I had to make an impromptu trip Upstate. Given my impending unemployment, I chose the cheapest means of getting up there and back: a last minute rental deal from National Car, with pickup at their LGA airport office. I used to rent cars there all the time when I lived in Brooklyn, but since moving to Manhattan I'd sort of forgotten it was an option.

Since it's kind of a pain to get to LGA from the city, I picked the car up the night before I had to leave, and took the occasion to drive over to the office to park illegally and dart upstairs for some heavy and bulky personal items that I was going to have to haul in a cab anyway - namely books, framed pictures and my Gold record.

Driving five hours upstate and back last weekend gave me some time to think about where I'm going, as this was a short-term journey that would lead right into one of indeterminate length and difficulty. It was snowy when I left at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, snowy through the Poconos and up most of Route 81N, and snowy in Syracuse. My whole body tensed up driving, and my breathing took on the same slow, deliberate rhythm as when I went skydiving and kept reminding myself to breathe so I wouldn't pass out.

A quick stop at Waffle House in Clarks Summit, PA on the way up, 24 hours of family time and doggie cuddling in Syracuse, and a last minute Denny's visit, and I was ready to come back and battle more snow. But this time, I was full of Pancake Puppies (which are basically fried balls of pancake batter) and not hungry when passing through the Scranton area, so I was able to drive all the way through on the way back instead of stopping for a waffle. Little did I know that Clarks Summit was my last chance to appreciate the warmer, milder weather before hitting something far more harrowing.

The closer I got to New York City, the snowier it got. Route 80E was completely whited-out, and mine was the lone car to brave the left-hand passing lane which was covered in fresh snow while all other cars drove single file in one slow lane. I knew where I was going, but I didn't know what was going to happen along the way. I kept my eyes open and fixed straight ahead. I tried to ignore the windshield wipers which obstructed my view every few seconds. And I resisted turning on headlight highbeams which would have reflected off the falling snow, cutting off my long-range vision.

approaching GW Bridge from Jerz

On 95N, traffic began to slow as we approached the George Washington Bridge, and I took the occasion to snap some photos of my journey. It was beautiful and terrifying. My driving was a little unsteady and off-center, but I was moving forward. Even on Harlem River Drive South, where the road was so slick that I couldn't tell if I was even driving in a real lane, and I competed with all the car service drivers for my space on the road while rounding each curve, I knew I would get back to LGA to return the car on time.

I have the same feeling as I approach my first week of unemployment. I know how the car works. I know what direction to drive in. I'm not sure what the other drivers are going to do around me, or how the weather might change while I'm behind the wheel, but if I just keep breathing, I'll get to where I'm going. And in the meantime, I'll pause just enough to enjoy the beauty and terror of the journey.

Last Day at Work

empty lemon drops

There were times earlier in my career when my job seemed to be all about drinking. As a lowly assistant who came from nothing and received a nothing paycheck, I would take advantage of any open bar or susceptible bartender I could find to keep my social life running. Eventually, I turned to drinking every night to cope with the stress of work. That was soon before layoffs put an end to my job at Atlantic.

At Razor & Tie, I entered the company as Party Girl but eventually passed the torch on to various other, younger, blonder coworkers who joined the company - some who made me look like a schoolteacher compared to their shenanigans. But when our friend Michele, who arranged all the happy hours, moved to Florida, she passed her torch as Party Planner on to me. It was a good and more authoritative role for me to take on and didn't require quite as much drinking on my part.

Over the last year or so I've been slacking. My office moved upstairs to the "quiet" floor and my job shifted away from a lot of the people I would have been social with. New employees were hired and I wouldn't meet them for weeks, months, sometimes ever. Other coworkers started planning happy hours and not inviting me, but it was OK. I probably wouldn't have gone anyway. I couldn't deal with work as it was, and when I started drinking again to cope, it was alone. I figured once I actually made it to my last day, I would simply slither away quietly, unceremoniously, without the kind of going away party that I had thrown for a number of friends who'd left work over my six years there.

Ever since I decided to leave, though, I've felt better. More social, more confident, sassier and saner. When I go to bars alone now, I don't stay alone: I'm sometimes mobbed by guys buying me wine and frozen margaritas and shots and fighting over each other to get to me. I thought it was because they could smell the neediness on me, the impending doom of unemployment and poverty, but my friends theorize that it's the weight that's been lifted off of me. I am once again open. And light. And free.

So when Vic offered to have a little bash for me after work, I thought it would be nice to go out with a (small) bang, to have a going away party of my own, even if I didn't know a lot of people anymore and only my BFFs showed up. The day was a pretty good one already, with a celebratory (though mimosa-free) brunch at Cafe Cluny in the West Village, where I received a parting gift of a framed cartoon version of myself standing outside our office building, surrounded by some of my key props (like my Dirty Dancing poster and an Easy Rock box set), under a banner that said "No Regrets" (a reference to my blog posting of the same name, but also to my whole life mantra I think). I had enough time to really say my goodbye's, to give some final words of wisdom to Julian who I'm leaving in the lurch a little bit, and to give one last look around my cleaned-out office. By 6 p.m., I was ready to drink.

We gathered at Thunder Jackson's, an "urban roadhouse" that's a relatively new addition to the neighborhood and whose only real roadhouse qualities are the weirdly upscale skirt steak skewers and the bartender girlies who spit fire, in tribute to places like Coyote Ugly, Hogs and Heifers and Red Rock West. I drank red sangria for most of the night, with the occasional scorpion bowl, lemon drop shot and jello shot. I tried to just have a good time, put the past in the past, and not dwell on my history at work. It is a time to rejoice!

We could have met for drinks at any other bar besides one on the horrible Bleecker Street strip, especially on a Friday night, but I wanted one last happy hour that felt work-related, and a location that made it convenient for people to stop by even just for a few minutes. I also had my heart set on a late dinner at Arturo's.

It was a good sendoff: core people, not too big and splashy, genuine sentiments of goodbye and good luck. I spent all day in bed recovering today but that was sort of the plan. It was a blissful hangover, and a proper end to a big chunk of my life.

I'm embarking on an unknown journey now but I'm happy, perhaps for the first time in over a year. It's about time.

For photos from my going away party, click here.

January 23, 2009

More On Dogs

Not only did I not grow up with a pet dog in the house, but the only childhood encounters I had with dogs were brief and sometimes terrifying.

My Aunt Evelyn had a harmless black poodle who peed and shook all the time, but she lived far away and we didn't spend that much time with her. My Uncle John, however, who just lived over in East Syracuse, had an obedience school dropout named Willie who would barrel towards you and knock you over til you were laying flat on your back and he was standing on all fours on your torso. I tried not to be scared and laughed when it happened, and eventually became prepared for it, but still, I was scared.

I could never shake the feeling I had when I was really little, one late afternoon when my sister and I were walking home from Bill's Bakery on Burnet Ave, up that big hill back to our house, bringing big boxes of sheet pizza home for dinner. As we trudged up the hill, a stray dog came sniffing after me and my pizza, and I became so terrified that I swerved around like I was being chased by a bee, eventually ending up right in the middle of the road with a car coming towards me. Mom freaked out of course as she always did when there was the slightest hint of danger, and screamed at me for what seemed like all night.

A couple years later when I was bitten by a doberman on the back of my knee on a bike ride in my neighborhood, I didn't dare tell her what happened. But I had two fang holes in that delicate fleshy area, and they really hurt. Fortunately the dog had just approached me from behind, bit, and left, rather than embarking on a full-blown attack, but it was still scary. I told my sister about it one night at twilight on our back porch, but I didn't tell my parents.

I was so shaken by the experience that when we had a class assignment to write a "Letter to the Editor" as a writing exercise, I wrote mine about my dog bite and how I thought that leash laws should be enforced. Little did I know that my teacher actually sent the letters in, and mine got published.

My father came home one night clutching the newspaper that someone at the bank had brought to his attention, accusing me of lying, grilling me as to why I would make up such a story, especially to the newspaper. I professed that it really did happen, but my father thought I was still lying, and threatened me with rabies shots in the stomach and other horrible things that happen to you when a dog bites you and runs away.

My sister didn't seem to remember me telling her what happened so I was on my own.

It all blew over eventually as many of those dramas did when I was a kid, but unlike most big fights, the dog bite never seemed to be thrown back in my face again. It was like it never happened. But I still remember the feeling of those canine teeth piercing my skin.

January 22, 2009

Miss Indypendent

This is Indy.

We brought him home from the breeder's in May as a tiny puppy that you could hold like a baby. A loving pup who drank water out of a bottle in my lap while we drove him home. Who licked the water off of my skirt when it spilled.

Indy is huge now but he's learned how to be gentle and not play rough with me (though he occasionally accidentally clocks me in the face).

He waits for me outside the bathroom door and tries to nose his way in when I'm in the shower.

And after I leave Mike and Maria's house in Syracuse where he lives, he doesn't understand that I'm gone for a while, so he waits for me outside the attic door.

It's hard for me to accept love, to believe that it's permanent when I'm told that it is. But I'm learning how to be loved by this beast (a term I use lovingly), a big loving gentle beast who probably doesn't remember how we first met or why we feel so close.

I never grew up with pets, and the closest I ever came to having one is when I took care of Nicki's sister's cats for a summer. Winnie and Tigger were cuddly, but more with each other than with me. Winnie slept on my head every night, sometimes clawing at the rubber bands that I left in my ponytails, other times waking me up by gnawing on my scalp.

I only spent one summer with Winnie and Tigger but I still have a framed photo of them in my kitchen. I heard that Winnie got really sick a couple years later, and I have this sinking feeling that she's not around anymore (but can't verify since I'm no longer in touch with her owner).

It's hard to lose the things you love, or to lose love, but sometimes you've got to take all you can get while you can get it.

So for now, I've got a puppy that lives five hours north who's too huge to be a lapdog anymore, which doesn't prevent him from climbing up there and licking my hair.

I am imprinted.

Further Reading: Long Train Runnin'

January 17, 2009

No Regrets

On Monday, I gave two weeks' notice.

Resigning wasn't really a New Year's Resolution - it had been building for a long time.

I remember I'd been chasing after Razor & Tie for about a year before I finally got hired in September 2002. I really wanted to work there, mostly because I'd bought two copies of Easy Rock, owned and enjoyed Monster Booty, and given Darrin's Dance Grooves as a gift to my friend Tony. Any company that had the sense of humor and music taste to release those projects needed to be on my resume.

When I was still interviewing, I'd asked a friend of a friend who was interning there at the time what he thought of the company. He said, "It seems like the kind of place you get in, learn as much as you can, and get out." And true, I've seen a lot of people come and go over the last 6+ years, some lasting longer than others. I guess it just took me longer to learn. Or I had more to learn.

That's not to say that I've stopped learning altogether in my position. In fact, I think I've learned the most about myself. And once I'd come to terms with the kind of place I needed to work for, and the kind of support I needed, I knew I had to go and find it.

The most important thing is that I'm leaving with no regrets. I got the job I wanted after a year of trying. I put six good years in. And I'm leaving with my sanity.

Some of my biggest career highlights have come in my tenure at Razor & Tie and Kidz Bop.

Winning two Kid Power awards

Presenting at LA Office Roadshow

Receiving a Platinum award for We Are...The Laurie Berkner Band

Business trips to Six Flags

Business trip to Canada's Wonderland

Singing on Twisted Sister's A Twisted Christmas CD

Appearing on QVC

And meeting BFFs

I'm not sure what's next for me but I'm really excited to find out. Maybe more hosting / spokesperson work? Writing? Photography? Travel? Adventure?

Here are my other two QVC appearances if you haven't seen them yet:

January 15, 2009

Making News in the TCI

I've been on TV a lot more than most people I know. Sure, I've been lucky to get on (and win) two game shows, and I worked hard and was trained to get on QVC. But I had to really pursue those opportunities. Sometimes, the cameras just appear.

Starting in grade school or junior high, when I was interviewed about our school's new AIDS education program (in the mid-80s when it was critical to do so), and then high school, when I used to speak in front of the school board and campaign for causes I believed in, I've managed to get on the news.

More recently, I was shopping in Tower Records at 4th and Broadway once in NYC and a local news crew asked to interview me about some recent Michael Jackson scandal. I was happy to oblige.

This time, I wasn't thrilled about wearing no makeup, the state of my ocean-soaked, windblown hair, or the amount of skin I was showing, but when Andre from TCI New Media Network asked to interview me for his news story on our KIDZ BOP music video shoot, I couldn't say no.

Skip to 7:58 to watch.

January 09, 2009

Island Time

aerial view, departing from TCI

The more I try to avoid regret, the more regret I experience. I am terrified to not go to a place like Turks & Caicos if I have the chance, but the only chance I ever have is for work – whose busy schedule prevents me from exploring and doing the many activities that people go there for. So I get to say that I went. But that’s about it. And I think about all the things I didn’t get to do.

Given the local culture and what they call “Island Time,” everyone and everything moves so slow that you just can’t cram very much in.

If I were to ever come back, I probably wouldn’t stay at Beaches again, and I don’t really like resorts anyway given my two experiences with them. But TCI actually seems like a great place to visit, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, with still waters that make the clear ocean tremendously swimmable. There are explorable caves on one of the islands and even a ghost town, with standing relics from the plantation that once occupied the land. There is also an abundance of fish (not only conch, but also grouper, snapper, dozens others) and gentle, man-ignoring sharks that makes snorkeling and diving popular – two things I have still never gotten to do.

Still, a day in the sun in 80 degree weather while New York City becomes a winter wonderland and my colleagues are stuck in the office isn’t too bad. I may not have been able to take advantage of the many included amenities that Beaches offers, but whenever there was a slight lag in the production schedule, I got to intermittently tear off my new board shorts to run into the ocean or take a dip in the pool where I swam up to the bar for a frozen strawberry daiquiri.

A woman on the beach offered to cornrow my hair but I declined.

I skipped out on the shoot a little early to get cleaned up once the sun was going down and the pools were closing, catching a minute on my balcony with a Red Stripe and a tiny lizard watching me. There were plenty of those on the island – the kind you’re afraid to step on because they blend into wood and grass, unlike the big iguanas that bathe in the sun in St. Thomas. I scooped up an orange fuzzy caterpillar from a blade of grass and let him explore my finger for a minute while the kids I was working with watched in delight and horror. We all tried to pet the skittish cats that roamed about the resort, usually sleeping on rattan chairs but occasionally rubbing against your table legs at one of the many outdoor caf├ęs.

We spent a lot of time working in the French Village, which reminded me of my experiences in Vegas and at Disney. These resorts focus on approximating other exotic locations rather than celebrating the one they’re in, or, in the case of Orlando, creating something completely unique. In the case of the Beaches Resort, I actually preferred staying in the Caribbean Village, which was built 20 years ago but at least reflected the culture and the style of the place I was actually in. And to expand their property to even more far away lands, Beaches is about to open a whole new Italian Village later this month, which I got a special preview tour of today. True, it’s gorgeous, with marble fountains and lofted arches and tiled floors and a whole “piazza” you can walk through. There are even suites that come with their own butler. The huge pool has a swim-up bar like the one in the French Village, though the operations manager noted that they don’t have swimming waitresses yet. Still, it’s not Italy, and it’s not really an Italian theme park either. I guess it’s a welcome escape for tourists who can afford to take advantage of all the Caribbean has to offer – weather, palm trees, ocean, water sports – and then escape to a place that seems more sophisticated and elegant than, say, a hut.

I might rather stay in a hut.

TCI is still early in its development. It’s fairly Americanized already (using U.S. currency and voltage), but it’s only become a popular vacation destination in the last 10 years or so. Many of the islands only have a couple hundred inhabitants. I doubt if there are many or any actual huts here, but the running water is still incredibly sulfuric, making restaurant ice water undrinkable to my palate and my dirty, chlorinic hair preferable to the smell of rotten eggs. Everything has a slight fishy taste and smell to it, too, like the inside of a conch shell. Still, I think nowis the time to visit, before tourism really takes over and makes the islands unrecognizable – and ghettoizes the more urbanized areas like what’s happened in Jamaica or Puerto Rico or even St. Thomas.

It was nice to escape to a warm climate this week, but the humidity continues to plague me. I look forward to my return to the California desert in February, where dry, desert life is celebrated and, unlike Vegas, not veiled or lacquered as something else. Bring on the roadrunners!

January 07, 2009

Looks Like I Made It

I didn’t think I’d ever make it to Turks & Caicos. I’ve been working with the corporate office of Beaches for a year and a half now, and although I’d made it down to Miami to meet with them, I was shut out of the company trip to their Turks & Caicos resort last year (despite the fact that I created the relationship with them).

As a second attempt, I’d tried to arrange a meeting in Turks & Caicos this fall, but Hurricane Ike had delayed construction of some of the resort’s new features, and so the trip was postponed until February, when everything would be up and operational.

But we had another company trip scheduled for this week – another music video shoot, which has become something of an annual thing – and I had written it off as a potential trip here, anticipating being excluded again like I was last year. Although I don’t go to that many shoots for work, it turns out it was a really good idea for me to go to this one, especially since Mike couldn’t go.

And so I am here. Finally.

When I arrived at the tiny island airport, a Club Med greeter saw me chatting up my two Beaches greeters, and he asked me why I did not choose his resort instead. I stage whispered, “Because Beaches is free!” It’s true, Beaches had comped us enough trips for me to go this year as part of our marketing partnership, and although work had to pay for my flight down, everything from that point forth was going to be covered.

As a single woman with no kids, I would have been more likely to choose Club Med instead of a family resort, but I was still excited to get here, especially after leaving LGA a rainy mess behind me, and spending two extra hours in Miami International Airport and on its tarmac, waiting for a hazard light or warning buzzer or some other faulty gauge on the plane to be fixed. At first, I was glad for the delay, allowing me to get a Cuban sandwich grilled up all hot and bubbly and stringy with melted cheese. I mean, I couldn’t be in Miami and not get a Cuban sandwich, especially not after so many past trips there had gotten me attached to their customs. Since I don’t get to Winter Music Conference anymore (not til DJs really start getting into the kids music biz), I had to make the most of my only (likely) trip to Miami this year.

Once I got to the Beaches resort, I was greeted with a tropical rum punch at check-in (which was about time, considering we got them at the airport in St. Thomas), enough to get me through till I could make it to the Turtles bar for a free frozen margarita and to the sushi bar for a Volcano roll (which tasted sort of barbequey but maybe they used jerk seasoning?), eel roll and spicy conch roll.

Our driver from the airport – who turned out to be one of the head operations managers, and Austrian – had been telling us of all the many uses of conch and its shell – you know, the big kind you hold up to your ear to listen to the ocean. Some people use them as horns, but apparently the fish itself makes for a good spicy ceviche, fritters (like crabcakes), and, as I discovered at dinner, sushi rolls.

We stopped by Bobby Dee’s Diner for some free self-serve, soft-serve ice cream, a feature of the resort I’d been jealous of last year and anticipating ever since I booked my trip this year. Like many things, it didn’t live up to the hype. Sure, not having to pay for anything is enough of a novelty, but the chocolate soft serve was kind of…watery? Something was off. It wasn’t creamy. So I chucked it.

I moved onto cookies & cream hard ice cream with hot fudge, but the hot fudge was neither hot nor fudge. I picked out the one chunk of cookie dough and left the rest.

To be honest, I was appreciative for the self-restraint. It wasn’t long ago that I was the girl that couldn’t turn down free food or an open bar, and maybe one day my finances will force me into that position again, but for now, I can say no.

And I can be selective. So many of the options here are for kids – tiny slices of pizza (of which I had one nicely browned, slightly overcooked one, which was perfect for me), ice cream dyed in Superman colors, character breakfasts – that I’m not going to like everything. But the sushi dinner was delicious and the staff has been amazing, and I don’t have to lift a finger, so I’ve got no complaints.

Oh yeah, except that pesky shoot tomorrow.

Hopefully I’ll get a swim in, even though the pools close at five in the afternoon. (Then again, it does get dark at 5:18 p.m.)

January 05, 2009

One Man's Trash

I got really mad on the subway today. Sure, I've had my share of arguments on public transportation in the past, but today was different.

Usually my altercations are with urban high school students, or with some dirty old man who's groping himself, to which I reply, "Try to keep it in your pants." Last week, an old woman refused to get up from her aisle seat while I was trying to get to the window seat, and when my posterior got terrifyingly close to her face, she reached out both hands and put them flat on my right cheek, pushing my bottom away from her. When I finally got into my seat, I looked at her flirtatiously and said, "Well, you got a good grab in there, didn't ya? I wasn't expecting that tonight..." She looked at me, shocked, and said, "What?!" to which I replied, "Yeah, you got a good one in there" and gestured an ass-grab with my hands. That was probably the worst thing I could have done to her because she called me a jerk and got off the bus at the next stop, as I chuckled smugly to myself.

Today, I saw an old guy - not that old, 60? - opening a package of batteries for a flashlight in his seat. I heard the plastic and cardboard packaging drop to the floor in front of him, and as I looked down at his trash, I considered picking it up myself and dropping it in the garbage when I got off at the next stop. But then I noticed the battery packaging had fallen on top of a pile of similar trash, all formed plastic and torn cardboard, some in the shape of batteries, others in the shape of flashlights. How many packages had this guy opened on the train, and just littered the floor with his waste?

I've picked up people's newspapers and other non-food garbage before and thrown them out myself. I'm no militant environmentalist, but I'm certainly aware of the trail that we leave behind ourselves, and I feel bad for the other passengers that have to shove the trash aside just to sit or put their packages down. But there was too much today, too shoved under a seat, too between this guy's legs for me to scoop it up. So I said something.

"Are you going to pick that up?" He said no.

"You're just going to leave it all there?" He said yes.

I asked why. He mumbled something, maybe not in English.

"You're going to throw it all on the floor and you're not going to throw it out?" Yes.

"Because you don't care." Yes.

"Because you're going to die in five years and you don't care." Yes.

"Because you're a piece of trash and you don't care."

I demanded that he tell me why. It wasn't just carelessness; it seemed too intentional. Was it a "fuck you" to the MTA? To the other passengers? And, because I'd actually said something, to me?

But he wouldn't explain himself, so I continued to berate him and call him a piece of shit, and I even told him to lie down on the floor with the trash because that's what he is. I wished I had a drink or some food wrappers or a used feminine hygiene product that I could toss in his face, or that the trash had been reachable enough for me to pick it up and chuck it at him.

As I walked down the W. 4th St platform after exiting the train, I was surprised at how mad I got. I tried to consider where he might be from - a place where litter is more accepted? - or the mores of his generation, whose members would put out a cigarette anywhere, spit anywhere, pee on anything, blatantly, without remorse. I knew no matter how much I degraded him, it wouldn't embarrass him. And for all the things I would try to do to be aware of my carbon footprint, that guy would always be behind me, clipping his nails in public, picking his nose and plugging non-rechargeable batteries into flashlights.

January 02, 2009

Better Than Staying Home

I was going to stay home for New Year's Eve this year. I'd had enough of high expectations, expensive tickets, no one to kiss at midnight, and no cabs. But then Edith gave me a flyer for NYE at Terrace on the Park, and I exclaimed, "My dream come true!"

I've been stalking that building, the one that looks like a big table in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, for a couple of years, since I first saw it as part of an Open House New York tour. It's another one of the buildings that was erected as part of the '64/'65 World's Fair, originally as the Port Authority Pavilion and a working heliport / observation deck. But since it's been operating as a private banquet hall / event space in modern times and isn't usually open to the public, I couldn't figure out how I would get in to see it first-hand. I've skulked around its perimeter, rattling the big black gate that separates it from the park. I'd even considered calling them up and telling them I was getting married, just so I could get a tour. But thanks to their annual New Year's Eve party, I wouldn't have to...

One of the best things about the building, besides its history, is the grand ballroom level observation deck, which overlooks the rest of the park (including those blinking towers) and the city that looms beyond it. We had a great view of the Unisphere as well as of the new CitiField and a couple of bridges in the distance - Triborough? Whitestone? - that twinkled in the cold, black sky.

One of the best things about the party they threw was the dancing. I was prepared for a hilariously horrible evening, but instead we got a really good live band (as far as wedding bands go), Alive N Kickin', who had a hit in 1970 with the Tommy James-written song "Tighter and Tighter" ("hold onnn, just a little tighter now babayyyy...") which I totally knew and they totally played. But the great thing was, with only two original members from their hit-making days, the band's repertoire wasn't stuck in the 70s or even 80s. Who knew a cheesy cover band could do such great versions of modern hits like "Disturbia," "Sexyback" and "Calabria"?! The dancefloor was jam-packed, and Michelle and I followed suit, competing with middle-aged and older couples for space, including one 50-year-old woman in a white suit who challenged me to a dance-off. She got served.

The music and dancing were so great that nobody paid pigmuch attention to the food, but there was lots of it. The cocktail hour had a full suckling pig (so popular that only the head and some scraps were left by the time I got to it), whole poached salmon, a raw bar, pasta bar, stir fry bar, veal, stromboli, and many more delights that we couldn't possibly fit on our tiny cocktail plates. Even Michelle found vegetarian options to eat, including a phyllo pocket of vegetables during the sit-down dinner which was like a nice, buttery dinner croissant. With open bar that started at 9 and didn't stop before we left, the event was well-worth the $125 ticket price. A lot of money, but we got a lot of party for it, much more than just the opportunity to explore the former heliport! If it had cost any more, though, I would have insisted on roof access.
And of course I had no one but Michelle to kiss at midnight, not even the young Latin waiters and bartenders. Worse yet, when we tried to leave, no cars were available from the car service, and no yellow cabs or even black gypsy cabs to be found anywhere in Corona, so we had to walk through the tundra (Flushing Meadows Corona Park tending to get quite windy) to the 111th St subway station to catch the 7 train into the city.

And of course when we got to SoHo and needed to get to the LES, we still couldn't find a cab, and I got into a physical altercation with some drunk dude who was trying to hail one right in front of me and was invading my personal space.

I ended up staying out until after 4 a.m. but I'm not sure why. I guess I was just worried that I would miss out on something, even though Michelle had already pooped out and went home.

Nothing terribly crazy happened on New Year's Eve, and I didn't meet Prince Charming, but I did meet a gay Japanese self-proclaimed psychic who predicted I would meet Prince Charming in 2011. I'm going to hold him to it.

And thank the Lord I got to get my dance on. It's amazing how hard that is to do in Manhattan.

Happy New Year!

For more photos, click here.