Monday, September 29, 2014

Navrati in JC 2014

For the past few days, I celebrated my first normal-human weekend since I began my latest phase of employment. Meaning my first weekend without freelance work.

I did the sort of things most people do, like laundry, grocery shopping, a trip to IKEA, coffee with a friend, some apartment organizing, and then I briefly took a look at the barbecue festival across the street.

The festival was just silly. Is Jersey City known for its heritage of barbecue? Where did all these earnest young men in trucker caps and facial hair come from? Why do people choose to wait in long lines in the sun for the same food they could just go to the barbecue carry-out for on any given day?

The scene, and that is very much what it is, was depressing. I love where I live, but it's evolving, changing into something kind of annoying.

Later that night, a friend of mine—Ed Ward—was visiting from out-of-town. He was staying at a little hotel in India Square, up near Journal Square. I'd walked by it once after dropping off my car at my mechanic's, and sent him the link, and here he was checking it out.

"There's a festival up here. Starts at 7."

I went up on the jitney, the dollar van. We toured the movie palace, walked around Journal Square, and finally, the street party was happening.

Jersey City is still great and one of the most diverse cities in the country. You just have to go a little farther out to find it now.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Touch of Imelda

It's that time of year when we all get confused about whether to wear sleeves or not, sandals or shoes, jacket or no. So I've been getting ready to swap out the seasonal clothing, but also not quite sure if I should yet.

I pulled all my summer shoes out of my closet.

This is ridiculous. And I have two more pairs under my desk at work. And how many of these shoes don't give me blisters? Only two sets.

And sometimes one of those rebels too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Even Spidey Needs A Rest

I just found this in my Photostream.

Spidey must've had a long day at Baltimore Comic Con.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In My Parallel Life, I Never Left Austin

When an old friend of mine was in town in July, I went by WORD Jersey City to see him perform Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase with his wife and daughter.

At some point when I was chatting with him, he said, "You know, there's an HEB on Oltorf with a painting that looks just like you."

Sure, sure, I thought.

And then he sent me a jpeg.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I went through a tear of making stuff, right before I got utterly bogged down in work. 

Pottery was fun, but in the end, it was taking up too much of my time. My first-ever mug is below, complete with too-big handle. I loved pottery! But you can't do it in two hours a week. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day Job: The Previous One

I got around the paywall for the WSJ with a little help. 

So this has been going on for months now. A bit more detail is here. 

It's pretty nuts. Especially considering we're essentially inactive right now. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Please Curb Your Dog

I wish I knew what the lower sign once said.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book of the Month

Look at the bottom of this! It's for August, but I was traveling when this came out. 

Unexpected, but kind of awesome. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Busy Day in Barcelona

Noooo! My shopping expeditions in Barcelona were a bust.

The caganers were of a terrible quality this time. If I'm honest, they were last time too, but I bought some out of habit. I suspect that the popularity with tourists has caused a kind of caganer gold-rush, turning out um, shitty caganers as quickly as possible. I'm backing out of caganer collecting except when I see high-quality ones from now on.

Then the shop with the Bionic sign above it, which never really was called Bionic but I suppose it's to do with commercial changes you can make in the Gothic quarter, is closed for good now. I bought clothes I wore almost every day in Kuwait here at this shop, when I was en route and desperate for something with long sleeves that was too frumpy-modest. 

I could buy clothes on Etsy from the couple that ran the shop now. But it's not the same without trying them on. 

Plus one of my other go-tos, On Land, was closed for summer vacation. 

And Tomo II, where I'd picked up a lot of inexpensive shirts over the year, was closed permanently as well. That one at least had a second branch near the train station, but I didn't find anything there I wanted to buy. 

One new addition was Fete again has a store in town, so that's a bonus. I used to get their stuff all the time until their shop closed some years back. 

I didn't buy much, and what I did buy from Fete and Anna Povo is a little too big, and I keep believing I'll have the time to take the shirt in. I made a special trip (with my T10 metro card) up to the Skunkfunk Outlet, but even the stuff I've bought at home from them never fit me quite right. 

I don't know what it is about Barcelona that keeps me coming back. I don't know anyone there and staying in the tourist area never brings me great luck with finding food. I realize Barcelona is a great food city, but I don't eat seafood at all, and I hate going into crowded places by myself. I had a fabulous, perfect lunch at a little cafe, which is what I gravitate to when I travel rather than proper restaurants. I'm just not a gourmet foodie in any way, because I have too many dietary restrictions, some legit and some self-imposed. Normally, I'd pick up fresh food at the open-air market, but not for a short stay. 

Staying in the beachside made eating trickier due to the massive crowds and shocking prices. But it was only one day, and I was packing a lot in, so the last thing I wanted to think about was researching good food in suitable atmospheres. I tried loading up Foursquare a few times for reviews, but in the end, just went by the kebab shop on my way back to my room. 

(yes, yes, I know, what a crime against Barcelona to not try this and that and good god, please don't give me hell. I have shit to do. I can't be obsessing for half a day about where to eat dinner. Reminder: this is my constant life, not a my once-in-a-lifetime fantasy holiday.)

My old Raval building has been renovated
I was pretty beat after my day of crisscrossing Barcelona in search of new clothes and caganers (and I stopped at the comic book store where I was a bit shocked by the sneering High Fidelity-esque brusque "assistance" I got--I wonder if they'd have been nicer if I weren't female and middle-aged. Did I come off as someone's mother looking for something I had no clue about? I won't be going back to that comic book store.) 

I took my chicken kebab back to my room, where I got back to work on the DC comic books I'm overseeing for the mass market until I couldn't see straight, then collapsed into bed. I'd have to get up before too long. 

The next morning, I ignored the gross processed-food breakfast basket and just ate the banana and peach I'd picked up. I headed out at the crack of dawn to the Barceloneta metro, zipped up to Plaza Catalunya, and caught the airport bus. At the terminal, I checked in, went through security, and happily immersed myself in a latte at Costa Coffee. Finally, I boarded a plane for the trip to Copenhagen, where I'd soon learn my United pass would NOT get me into the lounge as I'd expected it to. Instead, I found an outlet by a window, and worked for hours on editing a prose novel for Marvel. A really nice old man sat next to me for a while, and he complimented my work ethic when he left. That made me feel pretty good.

Eight hours later, I disembarked at Newark, caught the monorail to NJTransit to Newark Penn, crossed the platform to the PATH for the short trip to Grove Street, stopped by the all-night deli for a banana, an apple, and a little container of milk so I could have breakfast in my own apartment, then walked home. 

And I stood there at the steps of my building for a minute. And I thought.

Four flights to go, and completely out of willpower and strength. 

This is the always a tough moment. Challenging after every trip. 

I keyed open the door and took the steps, one at a time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Dorm in Barceloneta

My flight to from Sofia to Bulgaria was half an hour late, and by the time I got to the dorm room I'd booked in Barceloneta, it was already 8:30 p.m.

This was my first experiment with the dorm room. It was okay. The price was right at $130 for two nights, including private bath, a/c, wifi, and a desk. Oh, and breakfast, but it was a basket of packaged, er, treats left in the fridge. So an envelop of instant coffee, a packaged croissant, a sugary yogurt, some bread and processed cheese. Eww. And unfortunately, the a/c dropped water all over the closet, so that limited my a/c use, and the window was unscreened, so I didn't want to have it open at night when I had a light on.

The real issue with the room was the location. It isn't far from Born, but it's a little too far for easy convenience. The restaurants in Barceloneta are expensive and touristy, mostly for the throngs of beachgoers. I ended up at a kebab house the first night.

But for the price in Europe in August, I was doing all right.