A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the power of ten (and puppy row)

i have a deep dark secret, dear blog readers.  and that secret is that i hate the metric system.  that's right!  i lived in England for 6 months and i refused to learn any part of it.  i pride myself on this.  in fact, one day i was bragging to the bolshevik about how instead of learning what my weight was in kilos, i asked my mother to bring over a scale in pounds.  that's right, i made my mother travel across the pond carrying a non-metric scale.  and i will never forgot my amusement when one of my british flatmates weighed himself and was utterly confused when he found out he weighed 145. he didn't even know what that meant because he was brainwashed by the metric system.

needless to say, the bolshevik thinks i'm a bit stubborn and possibly crazy.  but those are just some of my more lovable quirks!

why am i telling you this?  yesterday when we were exploring the city we found ourselves in an area that most likely isn't for tourists.  first, there was an area dedicated solely (no pun intended) to shoes.  not selling shoes, but stall after stall of various shoe repair shops.  there were even sneaker workers, shining up sneakers.

then, and this was my favorite, there was the area that we now refer to as "puppy row."   it was an entire block of people standing on the street selling puppie.  the gentleman above was even "double fisting" it, with a puppy in each hand.  one man even had a sack of puppies.  like santa!  if you look closely at the picture you can see a man in the foreground holding a puppy, with a box o' puppies at his feet, then there's a man to the left holding two puppies, and a woman on the right towards the back also holding a puppy for sale.

and finally, getting to the point, further on in this commercial wonderland there was a woman who had a digital bathroom scale, and for a small fee you could stand on it and find out your weight.  the bolshevik felt that i was the perfect candidate for such a service, since i like to weigh myself daily.  but i scoffed at the idea, explaining that her scale was probably in kilos.  unacceptable!  so now, yet another money making scheme is for me to import my own digital scale in pounds and slowly convert south america to the preferred anti-metric system.

lima: city of thieves

everywhere we go people tell us to watch out for scam artists, thieves, pickpockets, rapists, banditos, and machete wielding gangsters.  and wouldn't you know it, lima is no different.  this morning at breakfast while i was working on my novel, i looked over to see a robbery in progress.  this turtle had nearly succeeded in stealing my hello kitty wallet right out of my bag!  ay dios mio!  mira las tortugas!

man on a horse with a sword

the bolshevik and i have created this game ... it is similar to punch buggy.  whenever you see a statue of a man on a horse with a sword, you have to shout out "man on a horse with a sword!" and then punch the other person.  it's a bit wordy to say, but it's more fun than you'd think. and trust me, these statues are plentiful.  sometimes, if i say it without thinking it comes out as "man on a sword with a horse," which would be rather painful.

Monday, April 26, 2010

a regular parade

when i was a kid, i spent a lot of time with my grandparents at their house out in hampton bays.  one summer day we were driving through town and we happened upon a parade.  there were baton twirlers and marching bands and guys from the local elks club, etc.  as we watched the parade go by we started to wonder what the reason for the parade was.  it wasn't memorial day or 4th of july or any of the other typical parade-inducing holidays.  then when my grandfather asked a passing policeman "what is this parade for?"  the policeman said, "oh you know, it's just a regular parade."  then the rest of the day we pondered what a "regular parade" was.

you may find it hard to believe, but every time we go to a south american country, the bolshevik and i are welcomed with a parade.  true story.  for instance, when we went to buenos aires last fall we were awoken the first morning by singing in the streets.  when we looked out our window we saw thousands of people parading down the main avenue, throwing flowers on the ground as they passed.   later we found out it was actually a funeral procession for a beloved folk singer who had recently passed away,  but why get caught up in the details?

anyway, today was our first day in lima and we had breakfast on this cute little garden cafe on the roof of our hotel.  we could hear marching bands parading down below.  when we walked to the main plaza we saw all these different groups of dancers and musicians in various costumes.  obviously, they knew we were coming.  south america hearts us.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

and away we go

it's 3:49 ... woke up in the middle of the night.  can't sleep.  is this what it feels like on christmas?

the bolshevik is reading about baggage limitations, and we are now wondering if we'll be able to take all of our stuff.

airport pick-up at 7.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

a week of celebrating ourselves

only days after the bolshevik's return, we have embarked into what we now refer to as "the week of celebrating ourselves."  pretty much, every night we meet up with different groups of people in honor of us leaving and celebrate ....well ... us.  saturday night we had a big blow out party with our friends.  sunday we rested because it's god's day.  monday we packed.  tuesday i had my farewell with my writer's group.  wednesday was punk ropers and the bolshevik's drunken irish family friends.   this afternoon we meet with my bubbie, and then tonight we dine with the bolshevik's father.  then tomorrow night we have dinner with my immediate fam (mom, siblings, aunt-like cousin, ex-step-siblings, ex-step father, ex-step-father's wife ... what do you call your ex-step-father's new wife?  is she kind of like a ex-step-step mother?)  anyway, then we leave and everything can go back to normal.  phew!

so last night when we had a gentrifiers+old skool brooklyn mash up, i actually booked my first freelance writing gig!  don't get too excited.  mister fleshwound (husband of miss fifi fleshwound), commissioned me to write a piece on machu picchu.  he gave me $34 to write 20 pages in whatever style i like.  miss fifi has warned me that he is a slave driver and i should be wary of entering into an oral contract with him.  but hey, 34 american dollars is 34 american dollars.

on to more important things like buying a sunhat and convincing the bolshevik to make me pancakes ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

milk shake consultant and punk rope instructor looking for work

even though the bolshevik and i have become certified TEFL (teaching english as a foreign language) instructors, we are still interested in the possibilities of picking up other odd jobs in order to get some extra cash once we settle down in buenos aires.  so when we are at a loss of conversation topics, sometimes we will brainstorm potential vocations.  part of the brainstorming process is also coming up with a scenario in which we will experience some sort of lapse in service, and then we will present the person responsible with a business card, touting our skills in said service area.  here are the contenders:

1. Punk Rope Instructor - i have recently gone through a training to become a certified punk rope instructor!  so i am hoping that if i can generate enough interest, maybe i can get a class started in buenos aires.  and wouldn't the punk rope logo make a cool looking business card?

2.  English Proofreaders - the bolshevik and i, both being obsessed with the art of grammar and proper spelling, have often noticed that in non-english speaking countries there is a widespread problem of poorly translated signs and menus.  at first the bolshevik thought that maybe we should start some sort of non-profit organization in which we helped businesses and individuals correct these errors for the good of humanity.  but then the bolshevik decided it would be best to offer our services at a small fee to those in need.  and of course we would have business cards handy for those instances in which we are out and about and come across bad grammar and/or improper spelling.

3.  Milk-Shake Consultant - it is a little known fact that the bolshevik is an expert in the realm of milk-shakes.  not only does he have impeccable milk-shake making abilities (he owns an ice cream scale for precision of milk-shake creation!  an ice cream scale!), but he also has a very sophisticated pallet when it comes to milk-shake critique.  given the fact that the ice cream in buenos aires is so phenomenal, it would stand to reason that they may need help in keeping their milk-shakes to the same high standards.  and because their ice cream is so good, it is possible that they haven't even felt the need to branch out into milk-shakes.  it is quite possibly an untapped market.  and i do so enjoy picturing the bolshevik sampling a local milk-shake and then spitting it out in disgust.  "no!  es muy malo!"  and then handing over his Milk-Shake Consultant business card. 

other less amusing ideas include: beginner piano instruction, professional knitting, and freelance article writing.  only time will tell which of our many talents will be utilized for profit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

5 more days in this country

does it seem like i have been preparing for my trip for a really long time?  in someways i feel like it was forever ago when we made this plan, and in other ways it's rather unbelievable that in less than a week i'll be off on a life-changing adventure.

and for your reading pleasure, here are some random musings in no particular order:

1.  the williamsburg post office has decided to continue its lasting legacy of uselessness, and has been unable to forward any of my mail.  two months of phone calls and follow-ups and no one knows where my mail is.  thanks guys!  i'll miss you too!

2.  i would like to know exactly how kenley (of project runway fame) wound up as a karaoke hostess at Trash Bar ... and after an incident in which the bolshevik was denied singing a duet of meatloaf's "i would do anything for love but i won't do that" on the basis of that he 'didn't know the song' i must say that i think she is too strict for latenight karaoke.  she does not embody the rock n' roll spirit necessary for these things.  but i would totally buy some of her clothing, you know, if the pieces didn't all cost $300.

3.  i have done everything on my to-do list, including making an appointment for allergy shots in lima.  this was one of those tasks i'd been avoiding, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy.  i made up a list of useful sentences in spanish, things like i need a doctor to administer my injections for allergies and i have serum, but i do not have syringes.  and then lo and behond the secretary spoke fluent english.

4.  not having any more tasks to complete is very satisfying, but also very odd.

5.  i may be bringing 7 pairs of shoes with me.  is that wrong?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

the curse of the spare room

so my beloved bolshevik and i were united this week after his SIX WEEK stint in the motherland.  urgh, let me tell you it is not fun to be without my man for 6 weeks.  but this was the last time!  from now on we will be partners in adventure and intrigue. 

so the bolshevik and i are staying in the spare room for a night, and then the next day we go for a walk on the boardwalk at jones beach (despite the bolshevik's aversion to sunlight).  and then when we are about to go back to brooklyn to be with our own kind, i realize that i have left the front door to the house unlocked.  so we drive all the way back to the house, lock all the doors and such. 

and then as i am packing out of the driveway, animatedly chatting to my man about plans for our trip, i wind up tapping a parked car.  it turns out that this parked car belongs to the neighbors across the street, and upon inspection very very very little damage was done to the car.  there were some scratches that the car owner admitted were there before, and then there were a few bits of chipped paint that were caused by the tapping which can be easily fixed with one of those little jars of touch up paint.  so i explain the situation about me leaving next week and tell them my step-father lives across the street, yada yada yada.  and i give them my email address and tell them that if they just tell me what i owe them for the touch up, i'll send a check to them.

so then the next day i get a call from my ex-step-father saying that there's a message on the machine from an insurance company about my "accident." really?  they had to call an insurance company about this?  so now i fear that they are somehow going to try to take me for a ride and get me to pay for an entire new bumper even though there is no physical damage to the car beyond two or three pea-sized spots of chipped paint. 

i hate the suburbs.

beware the spare room, dear blog readers.  only misery and drama will befall those who stay there.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TEFULLLLLL!

i am pleased to announce that the bolshevik and i have finally finished our TEFL course, and our certificates are on their way!  when we signed up for the course, we were offered a deal which included a supplementary course in Business English, which we are now able to start.  it turns out there are 5 or 6 chapters and then an online test.  i am thinking the best course of action, since we are dedicated and passionate teachers of english now, would be for us to not read any of the homework and just go immediately to the test.  right?  claro!

Monday, April 12, 2010

uncensored librarian: files from the archives part 1

we've had a request!  oooooh, i love requests!  a certain loyal reader has asked if this blog will be "uncensored" and if so, can we please please please hear some of the stories i've had to hold back in the past?  well, how can i say no to a request?

this story is called:
Books Come in Boxes

over the summer i had a fairly well-known author visit the library and talk to the kids.  we don't get many celebrities around here so it was pretty exciting.  part of my plan was to try to round up some funds to buy copies of the author's books so that he could sign them and we could give them away to the kids.  fun, right?

so i contact a certain higher-up and i ask if i can get some money.  he is pleased with the idea and he gives me a special spending code to use to buy the books.  but of course, with all my library stories, there is a minor problem that can be easily fixed with common sense ...

now excuse me for having to slip into some boring industry talk for a second.  it is necessary to the plot, i swear:  when we purchase books they are sent to Central where they are processed.  this means that labels, barcodes, and RFID tags are stuck onto them, they are put into the library catalog, etc.  after this takes place, they are then shipped to the library.  now, for a prize i do not want to give a kid a book that has a bunch of library stickers and labels on it.  i want to give them a shiny new book like they'd get in a bookstore.  this shouldn't be a problem, right?

so i ask around and no one at the library knows how to circumvent this process ... but we agree that there must be a way to "flag" the books so that they aren't processed and labeled, and instead are just sent to us.  it is then suggested that i call mister higher-up, since it was he, after all, that was able to get me the money for the books in the first place.  it goes something like this:

me: i'm trying to figure out how to have the books sent without them getting processed at central
mister higher-up: why are you asking me this?
me:  (confused) well, you're at central, and the books come to central. and i'm trying to avoid them getting processed at central.  i just want them sent here without getting processed.
mister higher-up:  i don't understand why you're asking me.  when the books come, don't process them.
me:  yeah, but they don't come here to the branch. they come to central.  where you are.  so i just want to know how i can stop them from getting processed.
mister higher-up:  you see, books come in boxes.  you buy them from the vendor and they are sent by a truck.  a ups truck i think.  and when you open the box the books are inside (i swear to god he actually said this to me) ... so you need to speak to whoever unpacks the boxes at your branch.  i don't work at your branch, so i don't know why you're asking me.
me:  but the problem is that BEFORE they come here, they come to central and then they are processed at central before they arrive here.
mister higher-up:  (sighs loudly like it is very difficult for him to be speaking to someone as mentally deficient as myself)  i don't understand why no one over there knows how to unload a box.  did you speak to your manager?  doesn't anyone know how to unload the books from the boxes over there?
me: (giving up, while simultaneously realizing that i am close to getting my branch manager in trouble for "not knowing how to unload a box") thanks.  that's very helpful. yes, i'll ask around.  thank you.(hang up the phone then scream really loud)

realizing that i will never be able to order the books without them getting processed through central, i decide to buy them on amazon.com.  they are more expensive this way, since we typically get a large discount from our book vendor, but i am guaranteed that they will be sent directly to me and will not be labeled with various library stickers and barcodes and things. (i figured out that had i been able to purchase the books from the vendor instead of amazon, i would have saved enough money to buy one additional prize book for the kids, but oh well.)

after i submit my expenses to mister higher-up, i get an email from him saying that in the future i should never ever ever order books from amazon.  instead i should order them through our typical vendor and then contact so-and-so at this-and-that central department so that they can be alerted that the books should not be processed.

really?  isn't that exactly what i asked in the first place?  i bet you're wondering if mister higher-up apologized for talking to me as though i was retarded.  the answer is no, he didn't.

what have we learned?  books come in boxes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

a hoarder's diary part 2: pharmaceutical powerhouse

5 months of nasonex
3 months of astepro
3 months of singulair
3 months of allegra
5 months of loestrin
4 epi-pens
and a year's worth of contacts

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a hoarder's diary part 1: luna bars

it is my belief that after the revolution comes and we must rebuild society, luna bars will be our new form of currency.  just kidding.

in my many preparations for our trip it occurred to me that even though our meals and daily snacks will be provided for us on the inca trail, it would probably be good to have my own provisions.  i have a severe nut allergy (of course i do, would you expect anything less?) and i was suddenly picturing everyone partaking in a lovely homemade trail mix, chock full of nuts, and little old me wasting away with no daily snack.  so sad, i know.

and that is when i came up with my clever luna bar stash idea.  but after buying 8 bars (two per day), i panicked.  what if the bolshevik tries to eat some of my luna bars? so then i bought four more.  but i am putting my foot down with four!  the bolshevik is only allowed to steal one of my luna bars per day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

adios miss dewey decimal

that's right .... that joyous of joyous days is finally here!  it is my last day as a working stiff!

the folks here at the library threw me a nice little party last week with a cake and flowers and a thoughtful parting gift (it was a gift certificate!  and i used it to buy such extravagant things like aluminum water bottles and water purification tablets for my 4 day hike to machu picchu).

but then when i came in this morning i found an interesting treat in the staff room.  sad cupcakes!  that's right, my fabulous partner in library crimes made me these lovely sad cupcakes which are obviously distraught with sorrow over the loss of little ol' me.  and they're tasty too.

you know, as much as i complain about work ... i will miss some of the people i work with.  some of them.

moving on!  i would like to say that i will spend the next few days being lazy and watching tv and eating bon bons, but sadly that is not the case.  there is much to be done!

only 21 days left to prepare!