Category Archives: billy

Decision:

We got our lease renewal in the mail today.

Up until about two weeks ago, we were thinking of potentially breaking our lease early to find a place in the wild where we could live amidst nature and barbecue our breakfast and play catch with our dog (which we would finally be allowed to have) without having to walk 3/4 of a mile to find an open space to do so. But, things change, and now it looks like we may be here another two years.

Billy is starting a nutrition studies program this semester so he can finally get out of the retail rut and do something he enjoys. While he could probably finish in a year, it’s probably best to do it in two, particularly since we sort of need his income and being in school full time and working full time is just crazy. Since the school is here in Queens, it looks like we’ll be sticking around for another couple years.

In all honesty, though, I may be disappointed, but this does give me more time to make the case for moving somewhere warmer instead of somewhere colder.

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This year’s Christmas menu

Breakfast: bagels and lox with capers and homemade scallion cream cheese

Lunch: garlic and cheese fondue with French bread and apples

Dinner: Thai pork skewers with peanut sauce, coconut rice, and improvised Thai salad

Dessert: peppermint brownies and peanut blossoms


Outdoor People

Meeting Wood and Luv over the weekend was a real treat for me and Billy. We drove out to their cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania and, although it’s trite to say about people you’ve known on the web for a long time but are just meeting for the first time, they were exactly as I’d imagined them. Only way cooler. Which is saying a lot, because I had high expectations for the weekend!

These are the type of people I want to be when I grow up. We arrived in time for lunch and then headed out to Gettysburg for some history and hiking. Then it was back to the cabin for the much-anticipated dead rats. Dead rats, for the uninitiated, are scooped out jalapenos filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and grilled over an open flame. The fun was trying to figure out whether the bite you took that is burning your face from the inside out is a hot jalapeno or a mild one. They were delicious!

Dinner was likewise delicious, and we followed that up with a game of Five Crowns. I started off really well in both games we played, but I think I finished second place each time. Billy… well, the most we can say is that he gave it his all. I think he may have set a record for the worst score ever, but even that is something to be proud of in some way, right?

We sat in the hot tub under the stars for a while and enjoyed the silence of a fall evening. And then we settled off to sleep in the darkest, quietest room I have been in in a very, very long time. I slept all the way until 9am, which for me these days is absolutely unheard of. There’s something to be said for peaceful, warm, welcoming homes.

We woke up for some NYC bagels and muffins and then we were off to the nearby park to play disc golf. We did pretty well, I think (for us). I threw about 20 over par, which is probably way better than the last time I played when I didn’t even bother to keep score. The one part of the day I’d probably take back was when I threw my hand directly into a nearby tree while making my toss. That one still stings a bit.

After frisbee, we tried our hand at geocaching. I’d always wanted to try this, and it was fun! The first cache was a bit of a challenge to find. We must have looked around for a good 20 minutes for it before we thought of MOVING rocks to look under them. That cache gave us the location of the second one, which held the actual prize. This one was a bit easier to find, and we walked away with a Boy Scout patch. Then it was back home for some amazing tomato soup (yummmm!) and burgers. Somehow, after that, we had to leave.

I think what struck me the most about the trip was how much at home I felt with them. For people I had never met before, they welcomed Billy and me in as if they’d known us their whole lives. What a special treat, and I hope someday to return the favor.


Musing

I have spent a lot of time on this blog not writing about my mom. Mostly it has been to protect her privacy. But I feel now that if I don’t get through this post, all the things that follow without it will be a fraud.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my mom and I are not speaking to one another. It’s been about three weeks since we last spoke, and when she joined Facebook a few days ago, she friended everyone in my family… except me. Having leaned on each other most of our lives – though I am only speaking for myself – it’s not exactly been the best couple of weeks in my life.

If I had to guess, it probably has less to do with the sum of money I wouldn’t lend her and more to do with the way I told her I wouldn’t lend it to her. I probably could have been gentler in telling her no. But I also think I deserved a bit more respect than I got in response.

The details of our argument are not worth getting into publicly. It’s not about taking sides, or getting in the middle. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. But I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve both suffered a loss, here, and a significant one. And whether it’s real or only my perception, I’ve really felt quite cut adrift from the rest of my family as a result. Maybe I deserve it. I don’t personally think so, but then I’m probably a little biased.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is try to look forward and focus on my own life, the one I’ve been neglecting in my worry over my mother’s well-being. I’ve turned around and realized I’m 31 years old and hey, I’m married, too. When did that happen? To say that Billy and I are reconnecting is an understatement. It’s been wonderful and difficult all at once, and that, I suppose, is marriage.

We’ve assessed our debts and come up with a plan to pay them off in their entirety within the next 10 years. It involves sacrifice and dedication, but so far in the last two weeks, we have made incredible strides. Eating home-cooked meals has helped. Not drinking has also saved us heaps, in more ways than one. Because, yes, I am back on the wagon, and it has been great.

My job is blossoming into a career, and although most days when I get home I need an hour or two to lay in bed and recover from the mountains of stress I encounter at the office, I have to say that it’s a job I do truly enjoy. It’s challenging, and always pushing the bar, and I feel like what I do makes a difference. And, it helps to pay our debts. Right now, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Billy and I are considering a move in the next year or so. New York City is one of the best places in the whole world, no doubt. But it has a way of churning our souls, and after nearly 15 years, our souls are ready to sit back on our porch in the country and watch bees buzz amid the daisies. Right now, it’s hard to say what we will be able to afford, both financially and emotionally, but a front-runner is Ithaca, NY. We are also looking a bit closer to home, but nowhere specific. It’s nice to finally start seeing plans take shape, though, and to know that we have choices.

And as I think of the family I have lost and potentially lost, between my father’s death and my mother’s illness, I can’t help but think of the possibility of starting anew with a family of our own. It doesn’t seem as farfetched as it did several years ago, somehow.

Even with all these developments on the horizon of my own life, I can’t help but resist the change a bit. It’s always been my affliction – wanting my world to change, but being afraid to actually change it. But, now is the time. As they say, when a door closes, a window is opening. And maybe I’m ready to seize the moment after all.


Weekend plans.

For the first time in what feels like ages, Billy and I both have the weekend off and we don’t have any plans. I almost hesitate to say that out loud, because I’m sure I’m inviting people to offer to fill the chasm. I’m not sure we want the chasm filled this time. It will be nice to stay in the city and do things that only cost no money. I have a feeling we’ll be doing a fair amount of dreaming, and by dreaming I mean planning. Because at this point I think we’ve got our dreams fairly well established. It’s now time to start making them happen. Time to roll out the paper and start making blueprints.

I’m envisioning us walking around in white t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up, sharpened pencils in the front pocket (because all white t-shirts should have a pocket in the front), and visors as we buckle down and make it happen. We’ll both grow some stubble and take out some calculators with long reams of receipt paper streaming out as we calculate furiously. We’ll blare out Metallica to the point that our neighbors have to smoke their whole stash of pot to numb their senses. We’ll get high off the fumes and eat fried chicken and smoke Marlboro Reds and when we are done we will streak down Roosevelt Avenue until we are arrested. When they come to clear out the apartment, there will be news articles about that crazy couple who went mad trying to plan for the future. We will be the coolest people on C-block and we’ll never have to cook our own meals again.

Sounds like a plan.


Tubing the Esopus

I have wanted to go tubing down the Esopus Creek ever since I was a pimply teenager. Now that I’m a pimply adult with my own car and a husband to drag along with me, I can finally say that I’ve done it!

On Friday, we headed over to the Town Tinker to rent our tubes and hit the water. We got a nice little speech about tips for tubing the Esopus. It was about 45 seconds long and most of it was spent parked on the bridge pointing out where we would need to exit the creek in order to return the tubes and gear. About five minutes later, we were dumped out at the creek and I think I may have heard the driver laughing evilly under his breath as the tires squealed out of the area.

Ignoring what had surely only been my imagination, we got into the water! Yippee! I was all set for a leisurely float down the creek where we would take pictures and chat about intellectual issues. If only I’d brought my camera, goddamn it! Oh well, I’d have to take pictures with my feeble human memory instead.

I got into my tube and was quickly whisked into the current. Billy got into his tube and quickly got stuck on a rock. The distance between us kept increasing and increasing until we could barely hear each other shouting at the top of our lungs. So, I did what seemed a perfectly reasonable thing to do and I tried to get out of my tube and wait for him.

You guys, the Esopus Creek does not fuck around. I obviously did not respect the creek, because I got out of my tube and the creek knocked me down. And in my surprise and haste to grab my tube, I dropped our car key. Into the rushing flood of water that was knocking me over. And just like that, only two minutes after the bus driver left us for dead, the car key was gone.

At this point, I’m holding onto my tube with one hand and a tree branch with another and my arms are being stretched out like rubber bands by the river current. Billy is still stuck on a rock. So I decide the only logical thing to do is to try to get to calmer water where I can wait for Billy and cry.

Billy finally made it over and reassured me that there was nothing to worry about because he still had his car key! Yes! I asked him where it was and he said it was in the (locked) car. I figured at this point, though, that it didn’t matter where the car key was because our only objective now was to get the hell out of this creek and have a strong drink. And that meant another 2 1/2 miles of tubing.

So we climbed back into our tubes and let the current take us away.

About 10 minutes later, Billy’s tube got flipped over by rocks and strong current, and when I turned around to try to help him out, I saw it. Our car key! Seriously! Right there, floating next to Billy’s butt! I managed to paddle my tube over there and grab the key and I was so happy, people. I think I cried more after finding the car key than I did when I lost it.

We continued bumping and bustling our way down the creek, which wasn’t as fun as it sounds. We both kept getting stuck on rocks because the water level was so low, and because I weigh a lot less than Billy, he got a lot more hung up than I did. So I kept having to paddle my way over into quiet sections to try to stop and wait for him. Otherwise I probably would have finished tubing later that afternoon, and he’d probably still be there, stuck on a rock.

There was one rapid relatively early on that I just wasn’t expecting to be as strong as it was (you’ll see this is a recurring theme), and it knocked me right out of my tube and under the water. I think I took a nice big deep breath of water, not realizing I was underneath it, which understandably made it difficult for me to breathe air. Making my way back above water, I realized, with one hand holding onto my tube for dear life, that the force of the water had not only knocked the wind out of me, but it had also dislodged both my contact lenses. To give an idea of what it’s like for me without my contacts, I’d need to be about three inches away from someone to identify him, which I would still have to do by smell.

I managed to crawl over to the bank (thank god there was actually a bank here, and not just a bunch of tree branches that I would have had to hold onto) so I could catch my breath and try to find my contacts, which thankfully were still in my eyes somewhere and not in the creek. I managed to slide them back into place, and slowly my heartbeat began to fall back into the realm of “moderately terrified.”

After a while, we hit a stretch of calm water. Sensing this was too easy, I looked over at Billy and noticed his wedding ring was missing. I asked whether he’d had the foresight to take it off before we got in the water. You know the answer, don’t you? Some fish in the Esopus Creek is wearing an awfully nice wedding ring right now.

[Aside: Actually, now that I think about it, that’s probably what started the whole idea for The Lord of the Rings, isn’t it? I think it must be.]

By now, we were both destroyed. Emotionally, physically. We just wanted to get back to our campsite, drink a case of beer, and pretend this day had never happened. But we still hadn’t even come upon the first landmark we were told about! We were doomed.

We trudged on, continuing to get thrown and tossed around on our little tubes, and FINALLY, there it was. Our landmark, the first bridge.

I made it through without much incident. Billy was not quite so lucky. He plowed directly into a downed tree with such force that the tree itself was knocked loose and dragged into the next zip code before Billy could even look up. Billy’s tube went out from under him and as he tried to grab it, he slipped on a rock. The tube went one way, he another, and he belly-surfed over the rocks all the way to the bridge. And I’m sitting there in my tube, holding onto my tree branch thinking, OK. Car keys, wedding rings, and pride I am all ok with losing. But we will NOT lose my husband’s tube!

It was pretty heroic, really. I rescued the tube with triumphant valiance! And I only cracked two kneecaps in the process.

After passing somewhat uneventfully by a quaint little hand-painted wooden sign that simply said, “Danger Area,” with a cute little skull and crossbones underneath it, we finally saw it. Our bridge. The one that signaled the end. We started paddling to get downstream faster until… we stopped. We were about 200 yards away from the finish, and the creek at this point had dried up to about 3 inches deep. The Esopus won. We had to walk back, defeated.

People: All I can say is, beer never tasted so good.


A short story from our vacation, which is now a distant, fading memory.

I’m still working on sifting through videos from our trip, and these are even better than the still photos, in my opinion. While you’re waiting (and don’t pretend like you aren’t sitting on the edge of your seat wondering where my vacation video is and what is taking me so long to provide this to you), here is a story from our trip that I didn’t already share.

Since we were going to be spending roughly 12-15 hours in the car, driving through desert, I figured we ought to have some good driving music. And so I compiled a 13-disc playlist of awesome (if I say so myself) music for driving on the open road. About three and a half hours away from the entrance to the South Rim, Billy and I were self-congratulating ourselves due to the awesome music selections, singing loudly with the windows open, and looking forward to an early(ish) check-in at our hotel, where there were showers. With hot water. And soap. That you didn’t have to insert quarters to use.

That’s when we heard the strange noise coming from the back of our extreme-economy rental car. We pulled over to investigate. Sure enough, it was (dum-dum-dum) a flat tire.

We got to work trying to change it for the donut in the trunk (by which I mean Billy got to work trying to change the tire and I used the 15% of battery life left on my cell phone to attempt to call the car rental company to figure out what to do next. This involved a short hike to the nearest mile marker without applying sunscreen or drinking any water, and did I mention that it was 115*F that day? Because it was. And I don’t care what you say about “dry heat.” 115 degrees in full sun is HOT).

Anyway. The word from the rental company was that we were to drive to the nearest rental location so we could switch out the damaged car with a new one to get us the rest of the way to Las Vegas. We arrived to the Kingman, Arizona location and discovered that the location where we’d rented the car (Las Vegas) was owned and operated by an independent franchisee, and as such a car from the fleet from that location could not be switched with a car from the fleet from the corporate location. Therefore, we were stuck with a car with a flat tire, 150 miles from our destination.

Our choices were: fix and/or replace the flat, or have someone from the Las Vegas location drive out with a replacement car and have this one towed back to Vegas – both options at our own expense.

And so we found ourselves at the Superior Tire store in Kingman, Arizona, buying a new tire. Thankfully, my credit card will cover the cost of the tire.

While we were waiting for the tire to be replaced (now nearing 3pm), we happened to notice that Billy’s wallet had gone missing. This isn’t really an unusual occurrence, but when after 45 minutes of fruitless searching through everything we had in the car we hadn’t found it, the tension was starting to truly get tight.

Logical thinking prevailed, however, and we decided it was either at one of two places: on the side of the road where we’d changed the tire, or on the floor of the IMAX theater where we’d gone to see the Grand Canyon IMAX movie that morning, directly outside the entrance to the South Rim, three and a half hours away from where we were. A quick call to the theater confirmed that yes, a wallet had been found, and yes, it did belong to one Billy Regan from Jackson Heights, NY, and what would we like them to do with it?

Faced with nine more hours of driving, after being on the road since 5:00 that morning, we decided to have them mail the wallet back to us in New York, and we’d make do without it for the last two days of the trip. Then we decided we needed to have some lunch, as I was feeling some serious heat exhaustion at that point and we were both starving.

While we were at the restaurant, it occurred to us that we were flying home the following day, and oops! Billy didn’t have ID to get through airport security! So, we used the last fourteen seconds of battery life on my cell phone to call the airline, who assured us that although it wouldn’t be a smooth, easy process, Billy could get through security without ID. He’d just be pulled aside, given a cavity search, and questioned at gunpoint. No big deal. So we sighed a sigh of relief and ate our quesadillas in peace.

We finally were getting back on the road to Vegas around 5pm, and got to our hotel by 8, and can I just say? That shower really was everything we’d worked so hard to get to. Definitely in the top five best showers of my whole life. We probably should have pressed our luck on the slots outside our hotel room door – I mean, at that point it had to have been kicking in in our favor – but we fell asleep before we could think of it.

What can I say? When we travel together, adventure abounds.