Laura Does Karaoke

On Saturday, I went to a surprise karaoke birthday party for a friend of mine. When I looked at the invitation and saw that the party would go on for six hours, I laughed a cynical laugh, and said, "WHAT?!! No way!" Because, how one could sit in a room and karaoke for six hours was beyond me.
The day approached, and I had decided that I would be a good friend and stay for the full duration of the party (perhaps partially because I was still convinced that it would not last the entire six hours.). Apart from Rock Band, or karaoke at friends' houses I was a karaoke virgin. Yeah, I like to sing. I'm no Whitney Houston, but I can usually carry a tune.
So, that shin-dig starts. "SURPRISE!!" Yay, our friend is all surprised and stuff. And the singing begins. Right of the bat, BOOM, Grace Kelly by Mika. That's no warm-up kind of song. But yeah, we rock it. From then on, I am singing the whole night (unless I didn't know the song or I was in the bathroom).


Laura Takes the Bus

There are various transportation-related decisions that a New Yorker needs to make on a regular basis; take the local or hang back for the express, wait for the bus or walk, or screw it all and hail a taxi. Today I faced one of these vital judgement calls. It was M60 bus VS. N train, with an awful transfer through the tunnel, to the A train. Goal: Get from Astoria to the Upper West Side.
It was a BEAUTIFUL day, so I thought, "It might be nice to walk outside to the bus, and then enjoy the magnificent view of the East River and the sights of Harlem from the window." So I arrive at the bus stop, after a fair bit of a walk (but it will be worth the 'no transfering' that this bus will provide), though quickly, I begin to question my decision. I don't know what it is about buses and bus stops, but there is clearly a higher concentration of crazies on both accounts. Rules: Do NOT say hello to anyone. Do NOT make eye contact. And NEVER react to anyone's eccentric behavior. Just walk away. Just walk away.
The M60 finally pulls up, and it is completely full. Sardines full. Seats and aisles. I had a bit of false hope that everyone would get off, but no. And this is New York, so we are GETTING ON THAT BUS. The driver begins to yell for everyone to move back, "If you can't fit behind this line, then get off the bus!" 
People in the back: "There's no more room back here, we can't move!" 
Driver: "WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE UNTIL PEOPLE MOVE BACK OR PEOPLE GET OUT!" (And no one was going to get off...are you kidding.) People start flipping out...understandably. Curse word! Curse word! At this point in the trip, I still think all this is pretty amusing and laugh quietly, to myself, so I won't get beaten. And let me tell you, it did not take long for that smile to be wiped off my smart mouth. 
We eventually make enough leeway to allow for us to depart, and at least make it to Manhattan. And no...I did not see the sparkling East River in all her glory. The only thing I could think about was, "Ah, I hope my eggs don't get crushed!" (Because I was carrying some eggs. I was on my way to go bake with my friend.) May I also mention that there is no air conditioning on a bus in February...even if its 65 degrees outside and 100 degrees inside.
Amidst the yells and stank air, there was an outspoken etiquette police who confidently called people out for their poor manners; A punk kid trash talking a woman (who apparently bumped into him?!?!??? really?), and a girl sitting in a 'Priority Seating' seat (Funny story with this girl actually. She was with a friend of hers who later asked her, "Is this what you thought it'd be like to visit New York?" I think the poor thing had JUST come from the airport. If she knew any better she'd just stay on the bus till it looped around back to the airport.). After several bus stops of commuters shoving off and on and shouting irritably at one another, I just HAD to get off the bus. I didn't care if it wasn't my stop or not. I would gladly walk. Past the Apollo, past the 'I heart Harlem' t-shirts, past the Popeye's, sticking out like a sore thumb all the way. White girl carrying her carton of eggs. (They were unharmed, by the way. I'm sure you were concerned.)
Eventually, after a few blocks and a hike uphill, I made it to my friend's place, in a foul foul mood.
The lesson: Guys, don't take the bus. Its not worth it. In challenge, M60 bus VS. N train+tunnel+A train, the latter was the champ. Even if Shelob was in that tunnel, I can't imagine it being worse than that bus ride.


12 Ways to Pretend You're on a Beach Vacation

  1. Apply a good bronzer. (Its okay, men, you'll feel like a million bucks.)
  2. Spray on a tropical scented body spray.
  3. Ask your neighbors to pick up your mail and feed your pets, even though you're still at home.
  4. Wear your swim suit around the house and turn your heat up high.
  5. Play some Bob Marley (or Beach Boys if you must. Whatever floats your boat.).
  6. Make tropical cocktails at the workplace and drink them out of coconuts. Why not suggest a company luau?!
  7. Bring your mask and snorkel to the tropical fish store.
  8. Find an aqua aerobics class at your local YMCA. Wear sunglasses and a sun-hat when you attend, even if its indoors.
  9. Get your hair braided in cornrows, and have them to put beads or shells on the ends.
  10. Make great effort to find a subway car with a mariachi band. Once found, follow them from car to car.
  11. Send postcards to family and friends.
  12. And finally, cut and paste a bunch of beach photos off of Google and make an album on Facebook called, "My Vacation to _________!" (You fill in blank.) Do include captions with how much you enjoyed your trip and all the sights you experienced!
Well, friends, I hope these tips will help to get you through the rest of winter! Enjoy your vacations and don't forget to apply a hefty SPF!


Valentine's Day Cards

Since good ol' Valentine's Day is right around the corner, I thought I'd gather a collection of some lovely Valentine's Day cards to share with you. Unlike my Christmas cards, these need no alterations. Their creativity stands alone. Enjoy, and tell me your favorites!

Sis, this one's for you.

HA! "You can run, you can hide, but you can't escape my love."

I don't know why the teddy bear had to be eaten by a shark. Love is complicated.

Umm...girl, he's a loose cannon. Get out.

That's real love, right there.
Thinking? Let's be honest with ourselves.

Definitely the creepiest card I've ever seen. Unbelievable. I can't even tell if its a child or an old man or woman...ironing. Is she/he a bell boy?

Awwww!! Its LEGO Star Wars people! And they're in love!
So, if you're going to give a Valentine's Card this year, I hope I've given you some ideas of what to do, or not do. Have a fabulous holiday everyone! (barf) JK! (no really, barf) : D


My Weekend Getaway to Florida

Once in a while, all you need is to get out of New York as quickly as possible. New York. I love it. I hate it. Thank goodness my friend was getting married in Florida over the weekend. Although I commuted at least 16 hours in only two days it was completely worth the trip. I got free Doritos Munchies and Dunkin Donuts tea on the plane! And probably more importantly...I was preparing myself for all the weekend trips I will be taking in the future when I'm a celeb.
When we arrived at the Orlando airport, I felt like I was in some tropical destination; not at all America. It wasn't that it was really hot, but it was not frigid in the least. You know how they say that you can't appreciate the mountains without experiencing the valleys? Well, I'm from Canada, so I appreciate the warm weather immensely!
Tallahassee a la Zombieland
We drove the four hours to Tallahassee, and before the wedding, we dined with the locals at one of their fine BBQ establishments. Pick your meat, pick your sauce, pick your sides. If only all restaurants were this flexible. I could mention the salad bar, but I have nothing to say about it except that I'm baffled by its existence. I am amazed the difference in cultures from place to place. We must have looked like the tourists for once! Maybe it was my black garb, stilettos and lapdog that gave it away. 
The wedding was beautiful, of course, and after no time we were headed back south. 
Sadly, we left EARLY the next morning. I won't lie, I wanted to cry a bit when we got back to New York. But after sulking for an afternoon or so, life called and it was off to a Superbowl Party at the PIT. Like an intelligent friend said to me, this is all part of life; the fun, warm times in Florida, and also the times of hard work, and frustration in New York. Life is full of all kinds of moments, but that's what they are - moments.
Though I will make my peace with NYC, I am keeping my specs on for my next opportunity to head out of the city still. Preferably a beach-bound one.


Laura Goes to Restaurant Week

I love food. I can probably count on one hand the times in my life that I've missed a meal. So, I was pretty excited to finally take part in Restaurant Week after living in New York for two years. Its a great opportunity to try excellent restaurants for a much more reasonable price. My foodie friend and I hiked over to the East River to check out Riverpark. Even though its winter, it really was a pretty view through the large glass windows that covered the eastern wall of the restaurant. We unfortunately, didn't get a spot by the window, but it was a nice atmosphere none the less.
I decided to start with a Butternut Squash and Apple soup and my friend got this thinly sliced Italian ham (I quickly learned that she was much better at ordering than I.). My soup was kind of sour, but her pig was delish! So buttery that you barely had to chew it.

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup
Some kind of Italian ham with blackened toast
Second course I opted for the Lasagna (I really am not sure what I was thinking), and my wise friend got the lamb (2 points Lucy, 0 Laura). My lasagna was fine...but her lamb was quite good...not gamey at all, and came with a nice yogurt sauce. A very Greek tasting dish, I thought.

Lamb with Yogurt Sauce
Luckily, we shared dessert. A chocolate souffle with ice cream and their version of an apple crumble. The chocolate souffle was probably my favorite part, but after the sundae I ate from Serendipity 3 last night (I need to stop eating), it didn't really compare.

Chocolate Souffle with Espresso Ice Cream
Apple Crisp with Custard Sauce
All in all it was an interesting experience. The presentations were all beautiful and unique, but I think I just need to come to grips with the fact that I'd rather a huge serving of something simple but delicious, versus something elegant, but not very practical. Next time, surf and turf.


It's February.

It's February. Even my calendar mocks me.
I guess I'm glad that February is the shortest month in the year because its definitely the worst one. I found this quote that I believe sums it up quite well:
      "February is a suitable month for dying." -Anna Quindlen 

Yeaaah. That's about it.