PLD Montage Vol. 2.3: Surprise Edition

I love surprises. There’s something so fun about planning a surprise for a friend or family member, surprise visit, surprise party, surprise gift. I’m not great at secret-keeping necessarily, given my tendency to talk too much and too often, especially to fill an awkward silence, but when it comes to important things like first dates and surprise parties, I work really hard to keep details on the DL until it’s finally time to share. After the fantastic surprise party to celebrate the engagement of my lovely friend M and her N last month, most people would have toned down party-planning mode, but in fact, my fashionista C and I had another party in the works at the same time, which came to fruition this weekend, when we surprised our partner-in-crime R with a bachelorette drag brunch and a bridal shower on C’s roof. There were so many wonderful moments this past Sunday that I’ve been trying to chronicle in a succinct story, but the more I wrote, the more I realized there was only one way to memorialize the day.

So without further ado: PLD Montage, Vol 2.3: Surprise Edition

  • As mentioned above, C and I were planning the parties for R at the same time we were planning the party for M. We had group texts going with both of the girls talking about two different parties which were the primary forms of communicating details among ourselves.
    Lesson learned: ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS confirm you’re sending the correct group text when simultaneously planning surprise parties. Literally, always.
  • We’d decided that C would handle most of the decorations etc. for the bridal shower, while I’d handle plans/decorations for the bachelorette brunch. Losing my wallet on Memorial Day continued to enhance my life by completely screwing my budget, which meant I couldn’t actually order anything for brunch until five days before the big event. Not wanting to deal with the inevitable screw-up of the Washington Heights post office, I decided to have the decorations shipped to my office, where they thankfully arrived just in time on Friday for me to spill the beans to my coworkers about the plans for the weekend, and have them insist to see the decorations that I’d ordered.
    Lesson learned: Maybe don’t take out penis-shaped memorabilia during office hours.
  • The day before the party, C, M and I met at C’s place to bake the treats for the bridal shower, including R’s favorite banana pudding and a paleo cupcake recipe because we’re all a little crazy. M and I had a *few* drinks at happy hour the night before and had spent the morning eating and relaxing at her apartment, trying to balance our blood sugar after too much wine. Though we spent literally the whole morning eating, upon arriving to the Financial District to bake, we decided we needed a smoothie to chase all of the hangover food just before getting to C’s place. Oh, and then we brought chips and salsa to C’s place as an accompanying baking snack. And also ate some of the Nilla wafers while making the pudding. Also sampled a cupcake. Oh, and some of the frosting.
    Lesson learned: Eating everything in sight does not make your hangover feel better and actually might leave you on the couch at home on a Saturday night with stomach cramps that make it impossible to move.
  • The plan for the day was simple: M, C, R and I would meet for drag brunch at noon, which was actually R’s surprise bachelorette party, and then head to C’s rooftop where more friends would be waiting for a surprise bridal shower. When party day finally arrived, M and I went down to the restaurant early so we could decorate the table with the aforementioned silly bachelorette decorations, like a chair ribbon and uber-classy penis centerpiece. After setting everything up, we went to the bar to wait for R and C to arrive, bouncing with a nervous excitement. And then another bachelorette party came in and the poor girl got really excited when she saw a decorated table.
    Lesson learned: There’s no better way to put a damper on someone else’s bachelorette party than running to the table where she’s trying to sit down screaming “THAT IS NOT FOR YOU.”
  • Brunch was wonderful and just as drunk as brunch should be, and there is even a video of R lip-syncing on “stage” to a song that she hates (which I am not allowed to share but FYI it’s amazing). We got in a cab on the way home and took awkward photos together, trying to distract R from the slowly-rebuilding nervous energy, as the rest of us knew that the surprises for the day weren’t over yet. We confirmed everyone had finally arrived to the surprise party and I distracted R in her apartment for a few minutes before we walked to C’s rooftop; I tried to keep it cool but I was a little too tipsy and kept bouncing around while we walked to the roof. We made it to the roof and I let R lead the way, looking for M and C, until she stopped and said “Are. You. Serious.” while smiling, as she saw the pink tablecloth and a big group waiting with surprise smiles. The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying perfect weather on the rooftop, drinking champagne and eating treats, watching R open presents and ending with big hugs all around, since the next time we’ll all be together in the not-so-distant future is at the wedding.
    Lesson learned: Maybe it’s difficult and stressful to plan two surprises on one day for your best friend, but watching R surrounded by love and friends (and presents, of course) was worth every freaking second of it.

It’s bittersweet sometimes, looking towards the end of the summer when my one-time single partner-in-crime will become someone else’s other half. I don’t think I could have survived the first few months as Single LB in the city if it weren’t for her pushing me out of my comfort zone and into a lot of vodka. And yet I’m looking forward to that wedding, probably not quite as much as she is but definitely a lot. She brought H the Scot into my life, our lives, and in his crazy, Scottish way, he makes the group feel complete. It’s definitely been a wild year of surprises as they’ve fallen in love and planned a wedding, and I have memories (and sort-of memories) that will last me (mostly) forever. Throwing her a day of surprises leading into the next few months was the least I could do to pay her back for all of the memories, lessons and love she’s brought into my life in the past year.

So here’s to the next chapter for my partner-in-crime and her Scot! I foresee a follow-up to this post after their wedding, where I’ve already had to swear “no vodka” and am only mostly positive my bridesmaid’s dress won’t lead to everyone’s favorite game of “If you see something, say something” with my boobs. But until then, the above lessons in love, surprises and PLDs should keep us grounded for the busy summer ahead.

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Gumshoe

There’s nothing like a mid-morning walk through Chelsea during the week. The city in general has a different vibe during the workday, somehow more and less panicked, panicked tourists trying to find their way around but no panicked workers trying to navigate the throngs of aforementioned tourists and fellow commuters. Yesterday I was heading up to 30th and 7th around 11am, and while I’d originally planned to take the subway up from my office on 15th and 9th, it was such a nice day outside that I wanted to walk. The walk itself was so relaxing, exactly what I needed despite only being three hours into the work week; the sunshine made me smile for summer and I had happy music in my earbuds providing a soundtrack to a precious few moments alone. And then I noticed my sandal sticking while I bobbed and weaved through aforementioned packs of panicked tourists – because of course, on today of all days, I stepped in gum.

I should elaborate on why exactly I was walking 15 blocks up into midtown on a Tuesday morning after a holiday weekend. To get there though, we need to back it up a few days to the perfect, sunny magic of Memorial Day Weekend.

The chance to do Sunday brunch with the people I love the most is an opportunity I wouldn’t ever pass up, so when my fashionista C sent out an email to the group a few weeks back about the rooftop at Hotel Chantelle for $8 pitchers and live jazz for Memorial Day Sunday, I couldn’t reply fast enough. I wore my favorite summer dress, switched to my weekend purse and took a million photos, most of which will never see the light of Instagram, and had a perfect, perfect day. The weather felt like a present after so many months of winter and cold, and there was no question that we would spend the after-brunch hours on my partner-in-crime R and H the Scot’s rooftop. Where the questions start popping up is after about 9pm, after we migrated downstairs to R and H’s apartment with two New Zealanders we found on the roof and their German friend. A great time was had by all, but for all my bemoaning a few weeks back that I was becoming boring, let’s just say Sunday had enough PLDs to last me through R’s wedding at the end of the summer.

Monday morning I awoke slightly disoriented and very thirsty. I patted myself on the back as I started mustering the energy to roll from my bed to the La-Z Boy chair in the other room, because not only had I washed off my makeup, I’d remembered to take out my contacts and brush my teeth. Adulthood! I lazed around on the chair for a minute and then decided to play everyone’s favorite post-night-out game of “How much money did I spend last night?” I reached for my purse to pull out what I assumed would be a stack of receipts from aforementioned poor decision making, and found…. nothing. Not like, there were no receipts, or no hints as to how much I’d spent. I mean literally nothing. My wallet was fucking gone.

I’ve had a hard time assimilating my body to life after Whole30. On the one hand, it’s awesome to have the freedom of food rules, and not having to check labels obsessively or ask a waitress for seven thousand substitutions makes life a lot easier. On the other, I’m physically reacting to things in ways I haven’t before. Foods I used to love give me headaches, and after a particularly motivated food binge a few weeks back, I thought someone was twisting hot knives into my intestines for three days straight. Maybe these symptoms were there before and I’m just aware of them now, but alcohol is another story. I don’t know if I still haven’t figured out how my tolerance has changed, or if I’m processing booze differently now, but I go from zero to fuzzy to TANKED in the span of one drink. It’s never the same drink: once it was the second margarita, once it was the third glass of wine, and okay Sunday night may have involved tequila shots (or so I’ve been told), but I’m noticing that I’ll feel fine, fine, fine and then all of a sudden I’m a little bit tipsy and then I’m fine no more. I’m not an irresponsible person, not even usually while drunk (*unless I’ve been drinking vodka which I strategically avoided Sunday #justsaying), so I knew the moment I looked in that empty purse that my wallet was not going to be there. It put me in a mood for a little while on Memorial Day, while I cancelled credit cards en masse and borrowed a MetroCard so I didn’t miss C’s rooftop barbecue, and I spent most of the day thinking the same thing over and over: “What is wrong with you, LB.”

Which brings us back to Tuesday morning, walking through Chelsea to the DMV license center to find out what I could do to get a new photo ID, and hopefully switch my residency to New York officially. Turns out it’s a fairly complicated process when you don’t have your old license, so as I walked I was trying my hardest to smile and accept that I probably won’t have a license for six weeks when I stepped in gum with 10 blocks to go. I pushed through the anger and frustration of a lost wallet and gum on my shoe until I got back to the office, naturally just in time for things to get crazy and throw my emotions into haywire. Much as I wanted to collapse on my chair when I got home and do nothing, I forced myself to put on my favorite leggings and pull out my mat, the first time I’ve practiced in a week after injuring my shoulder last Wednesday. Yoga really has this way of making me feel everything, in this case all the frustration and stress from overdoing it on Sunday and all the emotions around losing my wallet, and I had a moment after sitting in a hip-opening pose (remember: negative emotions are stored in the hips) where I felt an emotion start to bubble up from deep inside. I couldn’t tell if I was about to laugh or cry, but I could feel that something was going to happen and it was going to be big. And all of a sudden, it hit me that I didn’t need to brace myself, or wait for something to happen: I had the choice to lay down on my mat in frustration and anger, and cry and feel sorry for myself; or I could just start laughing.

So I laughed. I laughed a little at first, and then once I started I couldn’t stop. I laughed so hard tears ran down my face, I grabbed the cat and we danced around the apartment while I laughed and she squirmed to go free. I mean, the whole situation is pretty ridiculous. Who loses their ENTIRE wallet?!? Credit cards left at bars fine, phones left in friends’s apartments okay, but losing a FULL wallet? It’s a skill. And it’s nothing worth crying over, because at the end of the day, it’s all going to be okay. I’ll get a new ID eventually, I cancelled all my cards and only one card had a $65 charge to Boost Mobile that definitely wasn’t me. I’ll find a pretty new wallet and use my passport at bars like a weirdo in the meantime. It was a weekend of detective work to find a missing thing that ended with a gumshoe and me laughing like a crazy person alone in my apartment. People always tell you “Everything happens for a reason” when things happen we can’t fix, and maybe I don’t know the reason for all this wallet craziness quite yet, but maybe I do – because if all that comes from this situation is my new-found knowledge of DMV and social security card locations around the city, sticky stranger germs on my favorite sandals, and the ability to laugh at the little things instead of crying and making them big, it’s a pretty successful lesson from a big ol’ PLD.

Friendly Conversations: Dos

Shorter round-up today – I kept forgetting to write all the fun things down! Here’s a fun snapshot of life in the past two months:

On Atlantic City pick-up lines
Man: Guess what ethnicity I am
M: No thank you.

On weekend theme songs
Me: I’m going to make a cheese plate and open some wine. Any preference?
Mama B: Whatever you want! (sings) because you know I’m all about that cheese, that cheese, AND PINOT!

On Ladies Who Brunch.
Mama: I want a real breakfast. Like, French toast with a side of pancakes.
Me: That sounds AMAZING.
Mama: I know right? I bet it’s definitely trending on Instagram.
Me: ????
Mama: You didn’t even know I knew that, did you.

On Post-Ballet Activities
Twinster: I am SO EXHAUSTED.
Mama B: UGH me too.
Me: Oh… so I’m gonna go to the hotel bar alone then.
Twinster: Oh, I mean I’m not that tired.
Mama: I’m never too tired for the bar!

On 70-hour work weeks
Me: WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS DAY. Ugh, sorry guys, I’m just exhausted and cranky.
Coworker: I know, it’s a long week. If it helps, I left a chocolate chip cookie on your desk.
Me: …. Please marry me.

On Actual Friendly Conversations
Me: I’m heading up to Washington Heights, thanks.
Cab driver: No problem! Have you ever taken an Uber?
Me: Um. Yes?
Cab Driver: Well would you like me to tell you why Uber is evil?
Me: Honestly man, I don’t mean to be rude, but I just talked for 16 hours straight and I need this to be a quiet cab ride.
Cab Drive: Totally understand. So this one time, when I used to drive for Uber…
Me: (falls asleep)

Buckle Up

“Buckle up, B. It’s gonna be a wild ride.”

My father is a man of few words, but the ones he saves for special occasions are never anything less than spot-on. The words above were his toast to my soon-to-be brother-in-law, as we welcomed him into our crazy family with a beach party this past Saturday, the first time the whole family has been together since Christmas. Mama B outdid herself planning the weekend, one of the best I’ve had all summer. Saturday started with drinks at the house while lounging over burgers and hot dogs, and segued into an afternoon and evening at the town beach, all family and close friends, a veritable buffet of everything from 20 lobsters, to figs with lavender honey, to fresh tomatoes picked in the backyard and more, all accompanied by a whole lot of wine. My lovely friend M joined me in Connecticut this weekend, and gets full credit for convincing a very tired and slightly tipsy me to join my brother and a few friends at the one bar in town after the sun went down at the beach. She made the point later that night, while we all drank the ever-symbolic first pumpkin beer of the season, that the holiday weekend didn’t feel like we were mourning the end of summer this year. Instead, we were celebrating the beginning of fall.

Yeah, growing up here didn't suck.

Yeah, growing up here didn’t suck.

The weekend really did feel like a celebration of new beginnings rather than conclusions. Sunday was a lazy morning with just the family, the whole family and spouses-to-be, sharing the best pastries (ones that required me to stand in line at 7:30 a.m. after getting home at midnight, I’m just saying) and omelettes with leftover lobster. Mama B, T, our grandmother and I went to get our nails done before I got on the train, and I spent the rest of the day lounging on my couch, renting movies just for fun and munching on whatever I could find in my bare cabinets. Monday was a morning adventure to Whole Foods and a yoga class with M, into a champagne brunch at Paradou with my fashionista C, partner-in-crime R and her Scot H. I made it home around 6 and spent two hours prepping food all week before collapsing into bed at 8:30, exhausted from the general spirit of a day off. This weekend we celebrated T and her fiance, we celebrated our family, and we celebrated $4,99/lb lobsters for sure. I celebrated time to myself at home to relax and reflect, celebrated the simple luxury of a friend living so close when you need motivation to get to the grocery store on a Monday morning. I celebrated the first of the month, counting down the days till my birthday and toasted all of that at brunch with some of my favorite people in the world.

This fall is going to be another crazy season, I just know it. I’ll have cross-state wedding planing for T, a wedding for another childhood friend, a trip to M’s family house in Maine, a trip to Boston for a few days, and a few other exciting changes coming my way. It’s football games and apple-picking adventures, and I’m finally picking up my apartment redecoration, so weekends of furniture shopping and wall-painting loom in between all of those. Post fall, there’s holidays and a long winter with plans just waiting to be made, more crazy times, more crazy adventures. Papa B’s advice above is great advice for T’s fiance, as he faces a lifetime with a family that celebrates life milestones by busting out the beer at noon and then throwing a party on the public beach. But I think I might take it with me in the next few months, as I buckle up and get ready for my very own wild, wild ride.

Curse you, Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday. Two seemingly innocent words, conjuring images of brunch, surrounded by friends, followed by a day outside, sun everywhere, laughing, dancing, youthful and home by 8, in time to throw on sweatpants and head to bed early, ready to face the Monday. In theory, Sunday Funday should be the classy part of the weekend, keeping in mind that there is work the next day and we should be all tuckered out from the previous two nights. Sunday Funday should be an ease into the normal week, just enough party to be fun without getting too out of control.

While I was staycation-ing in my partner-in-crime’s apartment this weekend, my fashionista C and I decided to take advantage of the slowly-emerging spring weather and spend our Sunday at brunch, followed by afternoon wine on her kickass roof deck. As everyone else (literally, everyone) was out of town, we imagined a day of just us, the lone remaining single ones, relaxing in the sun, trading dating tales and catching up on our semi-new jobs. C picked a spot by her apartment that offered unlimited mimosas (duh) and well-reviewed food for under $20, so off we went in the early afternoon, giving ourselves enough time to enjoy the sunshine after brunch, but not going so early that we were getting day drunk around the church crowd. Making friends with the bartender worked VERY much to our advantage, and after stuffing ourselves with cherry pepper, gruyere and broccoli rabe frittata, egg-and-cheese pizza with prosciutto and broccoli, breakfast potatoes and enough champagne to put the Oscars to shame, we stumbled out and back to her apartment, taking a minute to appreciate the warm sun that would be the backdrop to our afternoon.

Now, so far this seems like a fairly innocent tale, right? Two friends, eating brunch on Sunday, about to have a glass of wine on the roof. Where is this going, you might ask? This is a blog about poor decisions, and so far this sounds like a lovely afternoon.

Me, at the end of the day.

Me, at the end of the day.

After grabbing the wine from C’s apartment, we stepped into the elevator which was occupied with a cute boy and a cooler. We struck up a conversation, as he clearly had the same rooftop idea we did, and decided to meet him and his friends up there for a few hours. Now, when you see a cute almost-30-something who lives in a beautiful high-rise in FiDi, you admittedly make some assumptions about him and his friends. Like, for example, they would all be the same age. Or, perhaps, they’d all be employed. Or even, if you were lucky, none of them would be “escaping from a pregnant fiancee” for the afternoon and maybe there would be another cute one, just for fun.

Yeah. No.

Most of our rapidly-becoming-less-cute friend’s friends were between the ages of about 18 and 22, save for a guy about our age who tried to steal my sunglasses (NO) and a random man who had to be at least 45 that rolled in after about an hour and a half, chain smoking Newports and commandeering conversations with a strong Brooklyn accent. The company was fine, don’t get me wrong. But talking to 21-year-olds about to graduate college, seeping self-consciousness and job-desperation from their pores made us uncomfortable enough to drink a little faster, which in turn loosened our own tongues with hilarious tales (“MY BLOG IS AWESOME where is more wine”) and I’m pretty sure at one point someone was rapping along to a guitar, while I maybe tried to join in. Before you know it, it’s 8 p.m. on Sunday, I’m rolling myself back to R’s apartment, and C and I had somehow been separated for the past two hours, trying to meet up and eventually giving in to champagne hangovers and the general absurdity of the afternoon. Naturally, my legendary self-restraint with distributing my number was in full-force on Sunday, so I’ve already heard from cute boy, asking if I wanted to get a drink this week and what was my name again? I spent yesterday in a hazy fog of crazy tasks at work, trying to relive the afternoon with C via GChat, and planning this post, wanting to savor all the details of such an insane, unexpected and in the end, incredibly fun day.

Perhaps that’s the best part of Sunday Funday, the rapidly-escalating afternoon that ends on a crazier note than most of my Saturdays – after all, this blog was born after Super Bowl Sunday Funday, a day that still lives in infamy with R and myself. And despite the underagers, the unexpected separation from C and the throbbing head that lasted until just before I walked into the office yesterday, it was a great day with an amazing friend, soaking in sunshine, surrounded by strangers, getting a chance to be our crazy selves and walk away by 8 p.m., just in time for sweatpants and an early bedtime, like we’d initially planned.