this morning i had a million errands to run before i was ready to drive down to long island for the 3rd annual hamptons summer weekend. most importantly was i had to write out a bid for a potential project, one of those accelerated schedule affairs that seems like more than i can chew but i'd love to get the work if i can. on top of that, i had to burn a bunch of music cd's for the trip, wash all the dirty dishes in the sink, pack, contact dan and mandy to coordinate when and where we were all going to meet, ride down to brighton to pick up a scrabbles deluxe edition that was for sale off of craig's list, and finally my mortgage consultant and my refinance lawyer wanted me, pushing to arrange a time for me to close early next week. suddenly my life was really busy and i yearned for those quiet fridays when i had nothing going on, instead of everything happening all at once before noon.
i had to be in brighton at 10:30am to pick up the scrabble. i'd mapquested the address, which told me it was down at the end of washington street that wasn't even in brighton, more like newton. it seemed strange, but i didn't question it too much, figuring mapquest would know better than i do. i rode out to the location, which seemed kind of off. the place i was going was an apartment, and i seemed to be in a neighborhood of all large suburban single family houses. i called the people i was supposed to meet, a woman answered, possibly a wife, her english not so good, her japanese accent very strong. talking with her and asking for direction was perhaps no better than consulting with a mapquest that seemingly gave me the wrong information. she said something about "taking a left," but in my mind i was thinking, "does she know the different between right and left? maybe she means right but said left." she mentioned something about st.elizabeth hospital, so i turned around and headed back towards brighton. when i couldn't find the address once again, i went back down washington street, went even further into this very posh residential neighborhood, then gave her another call. she said something about a police station this time, so i knew it had to be near brighton center. i quickly sped back, and finally found the place, the time already 11am. i rang the doorbell when i got there and she came out with a large brown bag with a handle, inside the box of scrabble deluxe. i originally thought the game would be big enough to fit into my courier bag, but it was too oversized. i rode back home with the large brown bag dangling dangerously from my right arm. the rope straps dug into my flesh, and whenever i went above 30mph, the bag would fly up like an airplane wing, tugging on my arm along with it.
i went to the cafe to dropped off the motorcycle and exchange it for my parents' toyota camry. i drove home and continued with my errands, miraculously finishing everything by 2pm.
caterpillar news: cat v2 has become a chrysalis! it was still a caterpillar dangling from the jar lid this morning, but when i came back from brighton in the hour it took me to pick up scrabble, it had shed its skin (lying at the bottom of the jar) and was a pale green chrysalis, not fully developed yet, some of the golden dots still just yellow. cat v3 is close to a chrysalis as well, not yet dangling, but it already migrated to the top of the jar and is definitely more compressed in length, the sign of an eventual dangle then molt into a chrysalis. unfortunately i won't be there to see cat v3 actually change into a chrysalis either, since i'll be in new york, but i cleaned the jar and put in a fresh leaf, just in case i'm wrong and it decides to climb back down for more food (which was what v2 did).
i drove out to allston to pick up dan. he still wasn't quite ready, printing out some last minute portuguese phrases for his family when they fly down to brazil with him this weekend for his wedding ceremony. i helped him bring some stuff downstairs, then we headed out, not before stopping at the BU shaws supermarket (my first time there, massive place, aisles big enough to drive a car through them) to get some drinks for the road (i had a cooler of cafe ice in the backseat of the car), then to the allston post office so dan can pick up his stop requested mails. from there we took the turnpike to needham, to pick up mandy, who was at her grandmother's house (sounded very little red riding hood). i totally neglected mandy as she hopped into the backseat, i was talking on the cellphone with paula and jonathan, who just closed on a condo today and was asking me for painting advice. after the phone call, i properly introduced dan and mandy (even though they've met before). we got back on the turnpike and proceeded to drive down to long island.
we made 2 stops. the first stop was an hour into our ride, both mandy and dan complaining about their need for dunkin' donuts coffee. the place we stopped at didn't have any dunkin' donuts, although there was a honeydew donuts shack. dan got a muffin and a coffee; mandy, who was earlier talking about a coffee, settled for bottled water instead. the second stop was initially just a bathroom break somewhere in connecticut, but ended up becoming a dinner break as we ate at the macdonalds restaurant. mandy debated long and hard about getting a macdonalds salad (there was something oxymoronic about it), but ended up getting the salad anyway. dan and i both got the 2 cheese burgers meal at the extortion price of something like $5.50 (normally much cheaper elsewhere, but on the side of the highway with very little alternative food selection, they price gouge you).
while eating our dinner, i got a call from my refinance lawyer. i excused myself then took the call, since it was important. the lawyer, john rogaris, told me everything was set for a wednesday closing, and he'd call me back early next week to let me know what time. then he asked me a weird question: "hey, are you the same tony yang that went to belmont high school?" "yeah, that's me! how did you know...?" i said. "hey tony, it's me, john rogaris, remember me?" of course i remember him! when i first heard the name, i didn't believe it was him, and hearing his voice on the phone, it didn't sound like him, so i didn't even bother to speculate that perhaps it was the same john rogaris that i went to both middle and high school with. but what a small world! turns out he does a lot of work for my mortgage consultant, so hopefully he can cut me a good deal, although i think at this point, how much a lawyer can do is pretty much already predetermined and fixed. after the phone call, i apologized once again to dan and mandy for being "that guy who neglects his friends to talk to people on the cell phone in public places."
somewhere in connecticut we got caught in a serious downpour, the kind that rains so hard you can't even see. fortunately it lasted only for a few minutes, and the rest of the ride of smooth sailing. we listened to the 6 cd's i burned earlier that day, chock full of 80's and disco songs and anything else interesting i could think of. i snacked on a jar of dried orange peels i'd bought in chinatown last week, neither dan nor mandy able to acquire the taste for it when i offered it to them. i played with the air conditioning control a lot, turning it up and down depending on how cold or warm i got. dan, sitting driver side, was my navigator, occasionally reading me the number of the next highway i should be taking. mandy sat in the backseat, occasionally opening her 15" ibook to play chess with the computer, cursing profusely as the computer cheated its way to victory after victory.
no one else drove but me, and i wasn't tired anyway, my spirits buoyed by the cold air, the choice music, and the company. daylight driving slowly became nighttime driving as we made our way south, finally to the long island expressway. once we got close to deanna's place, there was some confusion as to where to go. i think through shear luck we managed to travel in the right direction, but in the end, i had to get the gps out of the bag to finalize zero in on her location. GPS SAVES LIVES! the toyota camry 2003 gets amazing mileage, we made it all the way down, something like 300+ miles, never having to refuel, using up just a little bit more than half of the gas. there was nobody home when we got there although the lights inside the house were on. the three of us wandered around the house, looking for ways to get inside, all the while mosquitoes feasted on our exposed flesh. thankfully, minutes later, deanna came back with a carload full of people, including john, his friend mark, and deanna's friends meghan, may and andie. it was my first time meeting may and andie, and i remembered their names from the fact that "may" + "andie" sounds like "mandy."
we watched the beginning of a bad david haselhoff movie (bail out) john had purchased from some discount video rack. while the ladies went to bed, the boys jumped into the pool, then later the hot tub, chattering away, occasionally converging for a quiet whisper whenever the conversation was too sensitive or risque.
once we were probably pruned, we dried off (it was freezing in the house with the central air circulating). john took us to the cabin where we'd be staying. unfortunately the key was nowhere to be found, and john even went back to the house looking for them but couldn't find them. so we all trekked back to the house to sleep in the living room, two leather couches and an aerobed. unfortunately the aerobed had a gash wound and wouldn't inflate, but that's when mark found the cabin key, and we all decided to go back to the cabin again, where we ended up spending the night.
i woke up to sunshine and a peek of blue sky outside the window. i got up before dan and mark and left the cabin for the house where there was already activity.
some of the ladies (andie, mandy) had just gotten back from a run, and people were just starting to venture out into the sun. christine had just arrived, and john's friend lionel soon showed up as well. i went with mandy to explore the shoreline of the property, where this year's new addition was a wooden deck where once there was nothing more than tall reed grass.
we saw a live horseshoe crab the size of a large frying pan retreat deeper into the water when we approached. below the wooden deck was a waterfront lines with seaweed covered ocean rocks and man-made bricks, the smell of sea rot and clouds of salt water flies.
mandy thought about going into the water for a swim, and without hesitation hopped off of the deck and onto the rocks to further investigate. i reluctantly followed only so i wouldn't appear too cowardly, but i had serious reservations about the cleanliness of this rocky beach. on some slanted beams of wood were lined several more horseshoe crabs, dead and dried up ones.
as soon as john started to make pancakes for breakfast, dan, mark, mandy, and i went out to pick up some stuff from the local rite aid in the heart of westhampton center. i was entrusted with not only picking up some paper towels, but also a particular brand of conditioner for deanna. i also grabbed an issue of premiere magazine (tom cruise on the cover from samurai), the kind of lighthearted entertainment news that makes perfect lounging around reading. mark and mandy made a quick side trip to a local bakery to buy an apple pie for tonight's dessert.
i figured once we got back there wouldn't be anymore pancakes left, but apparently john had been working diligently over the stove making pancakes after pancakes, in what deanna affectionately calls "johnny cakes." besides plain, he also made cookie (which we missed) and blueberry as well. while we ate, mandy explained to us how to make "window toast", a technique i'm going to try the next time i make breakfast.
after brunch came pool time, everyone feeling the irresistable draw to the cold water on this hot day. i brought the sex doll (henceforth known as "sandy duncan"), which made for a great floatation device. i was only in the pool for a few minutes (with flippers of course, how else could i stay afloat?) before jumping into the hot tub. i found a woolly bear caterpillar on the deck, which surprisingly moved very fast, crawling up and down my arm before i put it back on the ground. megan spent most of the time underneath the gazebo, studying from a thick yellow pages-sized tome, some kind of business book, occasionally taking a break to get a snapshot with her disposable camera (her digital elph was broken).
what's the hamptons without a game of croquet? besides john and dan, mark and andie joined us for a game as well. we were attacked by mosquitoes before everyone sprayed down with a can of deet,
i even got some into my mouth which tasted like pesticide. there were also these large dragonflies patrolling the skies. i'm a bad croquet player, hitting the ball way too hard, pounding the grass in fustration after every miss, occasional tossing the mallet in anger. dan was the big winner, followed by john, then andie. i was last, but after some lucky strokes, i was able to pull ahead of mark.
at 2pm i drove dan to the jfk airport, so he could meet his family coming down from pennsylvania, and then together they'd go to brazil for his wedding ceremony. driving to the airport was pretty effortless, but it still took 2 hours. dan would occasionally call his mother to let her know where we were. coming back from the airport was a different story however, as i got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic jam for about an hour. nevertheless, it still only took me a little bit over 2 hours to drive back to westhampton, even making a pitstop to get some gas and buy some candy and drinks. the total time it took me to drive to the airport and back i could've drive back home to boston. i got back to the house at 6pm, everyone was missing. one of the car was gone, so i figured some went out for groceries. i saw mark sitting in the porch on the swing. i later learned that mandy and some other houseguests went down to the took and took a swim in the ocean water, which to me seemed kind of risky, because the water is kind of smelly around that area, who knows what's in that.
as the sun started to set, we had a barbecue for dinner - burger, hot dog, corn. although john fired up the gas barbecue, mark was the grille master,
even rolling his own burgers. christine cooked the corn while mandy made the salad. while most of the people ate inside, i had my meal outside on the deck, watching the sun slowly recede over the horizon.
after dinner, we played apples to apples, a card game of word association, where players have to match the designated adjective card with a qualifying noun card. we played with the regular deck, then made our own.
after the game we watched thunder fist, the second bad movie john had brought with him for this weekend. it's a horribly dubbed kung-fu movie with terrible video transfer quality, about the japanese occupation and the power of the christian faith. mandy had disappeared, which had me concerned, since i was the one who persuaded to come down this weekend, i felt somewhat responsible for her well-being, and i hoped she didn't run off upset, bored with the company. i watched about 20 minutes of the movie before i decided to get back out to the cabin, where i took a hot shower and worked on the weblog until 2am.
i woke up cold, a brisk ocean breeze blowing in through the window. i got up and went to the house, where i had cereal while reading the issue of premiere magazine i had bought yesterday. i went into "town" with john to pick up some supplies. we tried to buy a few cases of beer but the cashier told us there was no sunday alcohol sale until after 12pm, then promptly moved the beers behind the counter, as if this happened all the time when non-native elements descend upon the hamptons. back at the house, i was all ready to go back to boston, but everyone wanted to visit the beach, and since i was in no great rush (although i realized the later i left, the later i'd get back home), destination beach it was.
we took two cars, john driving lionel, mark, andie, and mae, me taking mandy and megan. first we had to drive mae to the bus station, and since i didn't know the way, i followed john. little did i realize john wasn't quite sure how to get there as well, so there was a lot of "follow the leader" driving as we pulled u-turns on highways and right turns from left lanes. we finally did manage to find the train station, but not before pulling over and consulting my map of long island and the gps. mark received an alarming phone call, his parents were in a car accident on new hampshire, they're relatively fine, but a helmetless motorcyclist had struck their car and had to go to the hospital.
the beach wasn't as crowded as in previous summers. we camped out close to where everybody else was, what we lacked in privacy was more than made up for in people watching opportunity.
we got back to the house around 3pm. mandy and i left shortly afterwards. we hit some traffic on the long island expressway, but eventually we made it to my personal mecca, the long island ikea in hicksville. it was to be mandy's first visit to an ikea store, we made a beeline to their cafeteria since we were both famished. i let mandy try some of the swedish meatballs i'd ordered. after we finished eating, we spent about an hour browsing the store, which was absolutely mobbed with weekend shoppers. i didn't want to buy too much, not with the high 7.85% new york state tax. i ended up getting two red slipcovers for my ikea ottomans, a green shag rug, and some cork trivets.
i then drove mandy to westchester, where she was staying with a friend since she had an interview in NYC tomorrow. we had some interesting conversation along the way, and i even watched as mandy flirted with a guy on the highway ("the long island expressway is not your dating service!"). we met her friend in the parking lot of a home depot off of I-95. mandy switched to his car and i drove off, another 4 hours before i would be back in boston.
i didn't get back until 11pm, drove non-stop listening to my 6 cd's of mixed music. at one point in connecticut i blew 90mph across a speed trap (i saw the police cruiser and everything) and i was sure i'd hear sirens behind me but it never came. i was surprised when i heard noises coming from the backyard, which turned out to be andrew and maura, waiting on the deck for my return so andrew could pick up his mail. after they left, i quickly changed and drove to belmont, where i returned the car to my parents and had some late night dinner. i took the motorcycle back to cambridge, glad to be finally home.
manu chao - bongo bong