Advertisements

Tag Archives: New York

The new kid in town

Moving to a new area (especially after spending over a decade in the last area) there’s a bit of a transitional period. I mean, more than you have to unpack everything and put everything away and figure out where the closest grocery store is. Of course I’ve done that. If I hadn’t, I’d probably have starved to death by now (or tripped over a box in my living room and broken my neck and Dumbcat would have eaten my face.)

I WILL EAT YOUR FAYCE, MOMME.

I WILL EAT YOUR FAYCE, MOMME.

No, it’s more the little things you have to get used to and relearn about your new place before you can feel truly at home there. Those are the things that keep popping up and tripping you up and reminding you that you’re a newbie.

THINGS THAT KEEP CONFUSING AND UPSETTING (AND SOMETIMES DELIGHTING) ME IN MY NEW HOME!

  • Where all the local towns are. I have to ask people at work this ALL! THE! TIME! A lot of my job is sorting towns on this one website by county (we serve a tri-county area, with a few forays into the other surrounding counties) and I have to look up all these towns online to find out where they are, and I’m forever asking my coworkers “OMG WHERE IS COPENHAGEN!” (Side note: Copenhagen is actually a town here, not just a town in Denmark. TRUE FACTS!) And then they explain to be “that’s south of us” or whatever and I have no sense of direction and they have to show it to me on a map and I’m still all “where is north” and then they all laugh at me because I am a freak of nature but also lovable like a stuffed animal made of hugs.

    Also, see Theresa? You pronounce the "h." THE-resa. I have a LOT to learn.

    Also, see Theresa? You pronounce the “h.” THE-resa. I have a LOT to learn.

  • The local news. We have one local news channel (THIS IS OUR COMPETITION! We watch this broadcast in the newsroom at night to make sure we have all of the big stories. And if we had them first, we like to say “WE SCOOPED YOU!” OK, fine, I’m the only one who says that. But I say it with a LOT of enthusiasm.) The local news is fine (they make a lot of typos on their website, which I like to point out and laugh at) except they have this local sports guy who makes me want to light both my eyeballs and eardrums on fire. His name is Busler. I don’t know what his first name is. (The website says it’s Mel.) He looks and talks like Champ from Anchorman. And he does this thing called “Busler’s Beauties” where he narrates sports plays with things like “Uh-oh! Spaghettios!” when someone falls down in a really obnoxious voice. According to my coworkers, who also think he’s got the most annoying voice ever, he’s a very generous guy who raises a lot of money locally for charities, so I suppose I shouldn’t pick on him. But when his segment of the news comes on, I always say “CAN WE TURN OFF THE NEWS NOW?” and coworker R. always says “Oh, yes, SORRY AMY!” because he knows Busler’s Beauties makes me want to stab kittens.
    Doesn't goold old Mel Busler...

    Doesn’t goold old Mel Busler…

    ...look like Champ from "Anchorman?" I totally want the WWNY team to get in a rumble with PBS. I would watch that.

    …look like Champ from “Anchorman?” I totally want the WWNY team to get in a rumble with PBS. I would watch that.

  • The local commercials. This should be a side-note to the last one, because good old Mel Busler does about 3/4 of the local commercials. He’s selling cars and vacations and who even knows what else. Also, there’s this one local commercial where a car company has their kids (grandkids? I don’t even know) do the commercial, and the little girl says “IT’S CRAAAAAZY!” with this weird look to and then away from the camera and the finger-around-her-ear gesture that signifies crazy and it makes me insane so I guess the fact that it MAKES me crazy means it’s working. I’m used to local commercials starring my friends (one of the best parts of being friends with the actors in the area!) so seeing these is jarring and weirdo-times.

    (This one actually isn’t THAT cheesy, but it provides you some local flavor. And now you totally all want frozen yogurt, don’t you? I’ve been to this place. It was a weird time of the day and most of the good flavors were gone but if I go back on another day I’m sure I’ll have better luck with it. There really are a billion toppings.)
  • Local stores and restaurants. FIRST you have to deal with the fact that you miss all of your favorite restaurants (Ala Shanghai – *sniff*) and find NEW favorite restaurants (I’ve found some that will do, but none that I’m crazy about yet. However, I’ve only been here 5 months.) Then you have to find your way amongst new and perplexing stores. There’s a store here called Herb Philipson’s (which seems like kind of a outdoorsy Big Lots? Like, it sells a lot of camo gear, but also random bins of sunscreen? I don’t even know.) I cannot remember the name of Herb Philipson’s to save my life. So whenever I talk about it I call it Harvey Fierstein’s. Dad always says, “IT IS NOT HARVEY FIERSTEIN’S!” So now of COURSE I call it that ALL! THE! TIME! (In this town’s defense, I have to applaud it for its shopping and restaurant choices. We have more shopping and eating venues here than you’d imagine. It’s kind of impressive.)
    It's Herb Philipson's!

    It’s Herb Philipson’s!

    Not Harvey Fierstein's! I AM SHOCKED WITH YOU, AMY!

    Not Harvey Fierstein’s! I AM SHOCKED WITH YOU, AMY!

  • Finding a new local radio station. I had FINALLY found a station I loved in Albany, with a nice mix of alt-folksy-rock and sometimes they’d play Pink, and now I have to start all over again. I’ve found one that randomly plays “Oops I Did It Again” and then five seconds later plays “Pour Some Sugar on Me” so I like that it’s unpredictable, but I need an alternative channel for my Brandi Carlile days. I don’t think we have that here. SIGH SIGH. Yeah, I know, that’s what the music on your phone is for, but I really like not knowing what’s coming up on the radio. It’s like a Magic 8-Ball of music for me. I’m easily amused.
  • Learning all the local lore. In Albany, you had Mayor McCheese, with the most prodigious orange tan (who left office right before I moved away.) Now I have to get used to our NEW mayor, who has a blog and owns a bar and is said to have an eye for the lay-deez. I have to re-learn things like “don’t eat there, because food poisoning” and “this is where the best coffee is” and “don’t trust that, because LIES” and “OMG, that’s the part of town where you’re going to get hooked on heroin, don’t drive there” and “that’s a stabmurderer, don’t slow down, JUST KEEP DRIVING.”
    This is my current mayor. He's nowhere near orange enough to be a mayor.

    This is my current mayor. He’s nowhere near orange enough to be a mayor.

    Right, Former Mayor McCheese?

    Right, Former Mayor McCheese?

I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ones that keep standing out. I say “HELP ME I AM NEW!” over and over at work, and my coworkers, who are sparkly-shiny-wonderful, always help, which is reason number 47 billion and 4 that I love them more than anything. They want me to fit in. I love that about them. (And in return, I tell them stories about my hometown, which is one of the counties we cover now and then, and sometimes I know people we write about because they’re someone I remember from my childhood so I give them the inside scoop and it makes them laugh.)

Until next time, my little chickadees. May you find a radio station that’s always playing your favorite songs and may you visit Harvey Fierstein’s, where I assume they would sell feather boas and FABULOUS false eyelash kits at an amazing discount!

Advertisements

ZOMG SNOWQUADO

So there’s a saying. Shell-shocked. Which I think is a precursor for the more modern PTSD.

Is there a saying, “snow-shocked?” If there isn’t, can there be? Can it be a thing we institute? Because when I woke up this morning and saw that it was snowing again, I think “snow-shocked” might be the definition of how I felt. Not happy or sad or mad. Just cold and dead inside like a robot. “More snow. Yes. Shovel. Yes. Cold. Yes.”

I was warned (and I knew) when I moved here there would be snow. We’re right next to a lake, so we get lake-effect snow. But I don’t think I was prepared for this MUCH snow. I mean, I don’t know if you CAN be.

So far this year (this YEAR, which we are TWELVE DAYS INTO, mind you, so that’s not counting the two storms of over a foot each we got in November and December), this town has received a total of 49″ of snow.

That’s over four feet of snow in 12 days. Most of it arrived between Tuesday and Saturday this week. There is nowhere to PUT all this snow. Here. Look.

This is the view from my front porch. There's a road there. I think. Somewhere.

This is the view from my front porch. There’s a road there. I think. Somewhere.

I have snow removal people. They've stopped having anwhere to PUT the snow, so I've had to be creative with where to park. I'm kind of on the lawn here. Not that you can SEE the lawn.

I have snow removal people. They’ve stopped having anwhere to PUT the snow, so I’ve had to be creative with where to park. I’m kind of on the lawn here. Not that you can SEE the lawn.

Now, I grew up in a town where there was a lot of snow, and it was very cold. I’m a native New Yorker. This isn’t new to me. But, just for comparison, let’s look at the average snowfall for some of the places I’ve lived in my life.

Albany 59″ – OK, this is manageable. That’s about 5′ a year. And it’s not like it falls all at once, or anything. The roads are crappy and everyone forgets how to drive, but that’s fine.

The town where I grew up gets, on average, 74″ a year. OK, that’s a bit more. Plus it’s super-cold there. Lots of negative temperatures. It’s the frozen tundra up there. I was a kid when I lived there, though. I let my parents worry about the cold.

Binghamton 83″- Yeah, I’m not super-surprised about this. I went to college here, and it would start getting gray about October and last through May, and it would snow and snow and SNOW. I didn’t have a car, so I’d have to slog to the bus stops in all that snow and my feet would be FREEZING and I’d be one of those sad people you’d see waiting for the bus all bundled up and shivering and snow-covered. But I was, again, young. And I used to drink a lot then. Probably I was too tipsy to realize how much snow there was, who knows.

Flagstaff 100″ – So, funny story, when I moved to Arizona, I thought Flagstaff would be warm, because I didn’t do any research? But it was NOT always warm. It was pretty damn cold, actually. And it was in the mountains and it snowed. A LOT. Once I was at work and elk walked right up to the door. Because they thought it was their world and not human-world. BECAUSE ALL THAT SNOW. (It was pretty damn cool, though. Elk!)

Watertown – ok, what do you think the average snowfall is in Watertown? It kind of varies site by site, but here’s what I found, and I think it’s probably right. Ready?

112″. ONE HUNDRED TWELVE INCHES. This sounds like it might be right, considering it’s not even mid-January and we’ve already had approximately 73″. 112″ is over 9 feet a year. NINE FEET. I’m not even SIX feet.

I’m quite sure I moved to some sort of alternate snow planet, where this is ALL THAT HAPPENS. Everyone here keeps laughing that it won’t end until May. THEY ARE NOT KIDDING. We all have this hundred-yard stare going on.

All we write about at work lately seems to be snow. Coworker R. and I came up with the latest Syfy movie title: “SNOWQUADO!” Part snowstorm, part earthquake, part tornado. Since these movies have to star an 80s star, it will star both Milli AND Vanilli* (two’s better than one, right? And it’s not like they’re doing anything these days) and be QUITE a hit.

Want to swing on my porch swing? Just wear your snowpants.

Want to swing on my porch swing? Just wear your snowpants.

In good news, I work about 3 minutes from my house, so the drive isn’t that bad. And when I get out, it’s about 1am, so I can drive really slow in the middle of the street and no one much cares.

The snowbanks are as tall as I am. Today the garbage man put my garbage can on top of one and how the hell was I supposed to get that down? I mean, I DID, but not without it falling on me. Gross.

The snowbanks are as tall as I am. Today the garbage man put my garbage can on top of one and how the hell was I supposed to get that down? I mean, I DID, but not without it falling on me. Gross.

The cat’s loving this. This is weather meant for cuddling and sleeping in and purring all night long. Sadly, one of us has to go to work to pay for cat food and Pringles, so I can’t stay home and purr all day, as much as I’d like to.

My car's there. I can't get to the garage. (I can't park in there anyway; that's where the landlady keeps the lawnmowers. Don't ask.)

My car’s there. I can’t get to the garage. (I can’t park in there anyway; that’s where the landlady keeps the lawnmowers. Don’t ask.)

I keep expecting there to be penguins. So far, there have been no penguins. What good is this kind of weather without penguins?

One hundred and twelve inches. Heaven help me.

And I'm pretty sure these icicles are trying to kill me.

And I’m pretty sure these icicles are trying to kill me.

*I have been informed by a very kind reader that Rob Pilatus from Milli Vanilli killed himself in 1998, a fact about which I had no idea. So, that joke fizzled. Not in the least bit meant as an offense toward Mr. Pilatus or a slight on mental health issues, which you all know are very near and dear to my heart. My apologies, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention if you are struggling with mental health issues and feel like you’re going to do something final to yourself, please call someone for help – you matter too much and owe it to yourself to do this. Trust me, ok? If you’re not comfortable talking to someone you know, there are plenty of wonderful groups that are happy to talk to you anonymously, and are WAITING to talk to you, which you can find a list of here. Thank you for letting me know about this, B., and much love to you all.


I have a fancy nametag and EVERYTHING.

You’re totally right, anthropomorphic computer equipment. Thanks for the reminder. Stop talking about me behind my back, though, you’ll give me a complex and scare the cat.

Things have been a bit upended thisaway. Completely upended, actually. To the point that I have to reschedule the time I sleep and eat and such. Plus a gigantic move to a new town, and a whole new apartment, and a new town to learn, and a new JOB to learn, and and and…

I’m a bit chicken-head-cut-off here.

Overall, all’s well. I miss Albany, and I really miss my people there, but am learning my new home. My job makes it worthwhile; it’s a fantastic job. I love my coworkers, who are intelligent and sarcastic and make me laugh until I snort pretty much daily. I love the work, because it’s never the same and I get to be all crack-the-whippy about grammar issues and I get to be the night-and-weekend social media person, things I love doing AND I GET PAID FOR THEM. How often do you get to do things that you like, and get paid for them? I love the building, which is old and historic and filled with the best of newspapery ghosts whispering “extra, extra.” I like that my apartment is literally four minutes from my job, which will be fantastic when the snow falls (and that could be any day now…it’s getting chilly here.) I like that I know the news because I have to proofread all the stories so I’m all knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world. (Some days, I wish I wasn’t as knowledgeable. There’s a lotta shit going down right now, yo.) I like when the phone rings I get to answer it with “Newsdesk, Amy speaking.” I like that I had a hand in 5/7 of the newspapers that come out in this city every week. (5/7 only because I get two days off each week, not because I’m a slacker.) I like that when people ask what I do, and I say “I work for the paper,” they get an impressed look on their faces for the first time in my LIFE. I like that I look forward to going to work every day. Every single damn day. They even gave me a nametag with my PHOTO on it so I am all OFFICIAL.

This is NOT from my paper, but from my beloved cousin S.'s paper. I asked her if perhaps a tutor was revived IN the Tudor; the answer was no, sadly.

This is NOT from my paper, but from my beloved cousin S.’s paper. I asked her if perhaps a tutor was revived IN the Tudor; the answer was no, sadly.

I’m getting used to a nights-and-weekends schedule; there are pros and cons to it. Nice to only have to set the alarm a couple times a week, but working until the wee hours still makes me a little loopy. I assume I’ll get used to it eventually and stop being so yawny all the time.

My new place is amazing. Roomy and beautiful and old. Dumbcat and I have moved right in. This morning, he realized if he sleeps right on a register grate, the hot air from the furnace is ALL HIS. I walked by and laughed so hard I hurt my stomach. He had a look on his face as if he’d discovered pirate gold. “ALL HEET! ALL MYNE! MOM, IS SO GUDE!” My birthday present from my parents this year was – are you ready? – MY OWN WASHER-DRYER. I don’t have to leave the house to wash my clothes! I FEEL LIKE A MILLIONAIRE!!!

Random apartment photos! Ignore the cat-hairy floor. LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM I HAVE!

Random apartment photos! Ignore the cat-hairy floor. LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM I HAVE!

Bookcase! Bedroom! All the space!

Bookcase! Bedroom! All the space!

Kitchen! Frog-thing hanging on the wall! SO MUCH SPACE OMG!

Kitchen! Frog-thing hanging on the wall! Random Amy-shoes on the floor! SO MUCH SPACE OMG!

I have also purchased many bookcases and filled them with many books. And there is room for MORE books (which is secretly why I purchased VERY tall bookcases.) Gigantic book sale going on at the library starting next week, yo. Guess who’ll be there? ME ME ME. (Dude, fifty-cent paperbacks and dollar hardcovers? Like I’d NOT be there. Please.)

Two of my 6 bookcases. The guy at the store where I bought bookcases was all "are these for books? YOU OWN THIS MANY BOOKS?" Heh. Yeah, kind of.

Two of my six bookcases. The guy at the store where I bought bookcases was all “are these for books? YOU OWN THIS MANY BOOKS?” Heh. Yeah, kind of more than that many.

SIDE NOTE: I haven’t had time to read a single book since I moved. Not one. I KNOW. It’s kind of a travesty, yeah? I’m hoping to chisel out a little more time for that sometime soon. I also haven’t written a single poem. NOT ONE. Another thing I need to get a move on. I have scraps of phrasing scribbled on a million post-its all over this place. I need to turn them into something.

Very little theater here (at least compared to what I’m used to in Albany) but a decent amount if I make a bit of a drive. Went to a concert in Potsdam last night – about an hour and a half away – which was totally worth the trip. (Postmodern Jukebox – if you live on the internet like I do, you’re sure to have heard of them. They’re the ones that take pop songs and make them all swing-y or blues-y or big-band-y. They’re fantastic live, and they’re on tour, so I highly recommend if they come by you, go see them!)

Terribly actiony shot. They were very move-y. Such a wonderful show.

Terribly actiony shot. They were very move-y. Such a wonderful show.

This was my favorite song they played:

(Also, we totally had a singalong to a “Baby’s Got Back” mashup that made me laugh and laugh. And YES, I sang along. Of course I did.)

All in all – all’s well. Some sadnesses, sure. When are there not? Those weigh heavy on my mind. It’s funny how the little sads weigh so much more than the big happys, isn’t it? Relatively-speaking, they should all weigh the same, like the pound of feathers and the pound of lead in that oft-repeated brain teaser.

So: yes. Alive: check. Well: check. In the middle of a billion things, most of them completely different than anything I’ve ever done or dealt with before: check. Mostly remaining upright throughout all of them and not collapsing into a pool of puddly tears: check (mostly, so I’m counting it as a win.)

I keep thinking of things I should blog, like things you learn working at a newspaper, and things you learn running a newspaper’s Facebook page, and I think Dumbcat wants to talk to you about how it is living in the new apartment, and I want to tell you about the new town, and the new library, and all the local fauna here (holy crap with the fauna that seem to live in my backyard exclusively!) but it’ll have to wait for another day. Hoping that’ll happen sooner than later.

Here is a teaser of local fauna. A GIGANTIC SKUNK WAS LIVING IN MY BACK YARD FOR A WHILE, YOU GUYS HOLY HELL.

Here is a teaser of local fauna. A GIGANTIC SKUNK WAS LIVING IN MY BACK YARD FOR A WHILE, YOU GUYS. HOLY HELL.

Happy Wednesday, people of the blog. Hope you’re all happy and healthy and wise. Wealthy would be nice, too, but let’s not push it. How about JUST wealthy enough to afford delicious HoHos. There you go, then.


When it rains, it pours. And I never remember my umbrella.

The universe has a funny way of loading a lot on you all at once and then saying, “‘kay, I’m going to leave you to figure this out…good luck with that” and then taking off to traipse through the celestial flowers or whatever the universe does on its day off.

2014, so far, has been the year of both getting my ass kicked and kicking ass back. Gigantic highs and huge old lows.

I went to the land of the Finns…

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn't like anyone stopped you...)

Where I was amazed by the fact that you could TOUCH LEMURS (well, illegally, but still, it wasn’t like anyone stopped you…)

...and I got to see this in really real person...

…and I got to see this in really real person…

...and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world...

…and I got to hang out with my most favorite little Finnish girl in the whole world…

...and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle...

…and Andreas evilly tried to poison everyone with windshield washer fluid in a Coke bottle…

...and I got to sleep with this guy...

…and I got to sleep with this guy…

...this lovely lady...

…this lovely lady…

...and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

…and the two most perfect red pups in all the world.

Then things kind of went to shit once I got home…in a nutshell, I was let go from an amazing job and all-too-quickly took a job that was offered, mostly out of fear of not having one. To say it was a nightmare is to speak a little too well of what went on at that job. But, professional grown-up ladies don’t badmouth places of employment, right? Right.

I put up with what I think can correctly be called Emotional Abusetown for four months, and then quit. Without a backup plan. Because sometimes you need to run. I mean, come on, Kenny Rogers taught me that when I was a wee Amy, right? I’m still not sure when to hold ’em or fold ’em, but I am VERY good at knowing when to run. Even when it doesn’t seem like a good idea because you won’t have health insurance in your life on the lam.

However, the universe (good old universe) decided maybe I didn’t have ENOUGH going on, so threw in the MOST EPIC CURVEBALL.

It said a lot about Emotional Abusetown that after three days there, I started jobhunting again. I applied near, and when nothing seemed to be coming of it, I applied far. And I decided to stretch a little for the kinds of jobs I wanted, not just settle for the kinds of jobs I could do, but wouldn’t be all that soul-enhancing. What the hell, right?

So when I got a call from a newspaper wanting me to do a phone interview in the middle of the day one day, I looked around for the hidden cameras. People like me didn’t get calls from newspapers, right? Unless it was a person wanting them to SUBSCRIBE to the newspaper.

Over a few weeks, I actually got calls from TWO newspapers. I had multiple phone interviews and one full-day in-person interview. (Yes, you read that right. The interview was – withour the slightest bit of hyperbole – six and a half hours long. It was almost an entire workday. And I did work, too. It was as if I was actually working for quite a bit of the day.)

Hey, guess what?

Both papers hired me.

One paid so little I couldn’t afford to take the job without taking another job (at least part-time, if not close to full-time) to make ends meet. It would have been a very good job. It was a reporter position for my hometown paper, the paper I read growing up that taught me to love newsprint. But it’s a very small town, and a small-town newspaper can’t afford to pay much. I said no, but sadly.

The other paid better, but not as much as I’m used to making. There was a lot of thinking involved. When the editor called with the job offer and explained that, in order to get me to say yes, he’d moved some things around and added on some extra things here and there just to bump up the bottom line…well. How can you say no to that?

So of course I said yes. I am their newest copy editor, and will also be doing some social media, and maybe some writing and reviewing, if the need arises.

Thing is…the really HARD thing is…

…the job is here.

You know I love it here in the Capital District. It’s home, and it’s been home for 12 years (12 years this weekend, actually – I moved here Labor Day weekend 2002.) My heart is here. That’s never happened anywhere I’ve lived, this sense of pride and ownership of place. I’m completely at home here. I feel very safe here.

But, around the time I got back from my adventure overseas, I’d started to get the itch.

Do you get this? This itch that something’s off, and something needs to change? It’s not something small, like, something that can be fixed by going out and buying a new outfit or a getting a kicky haircut (although those itches happen, too, sometimes.) This is a bigger itch, where you don’t feel comfortable in your skin, and something BIG needs to change. I used to get this quite often, which was ok, because when I was younger, I changed jobs or apartments or cities on the regular. But it seems you don’t outgrow the itch. It still shows up out of nowhere and starts bumping around your head like a fly made stupid with autumn.

I thought that finding a new job would satisfy it, and it would – it will. But the universe is, if anything, a trickster. So the universe said, “Sure! Here’s a new job. The new job is, actually, a job you’ve been dreaming of for, oh, only your whole LIFE. But here’s the catch – you have to move three hours away to a town where you only know one person and that you’ve never been in for more than half an hour. Also, the winters are kind of cuckoo-bananas. So, how are you going to handle THAT?”

I’m handling that by spending the last week packing everything I own…

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It's insurmountable.

This is my living room right now. Say hello to Mount St. Amy. It’s insurmountable. Believe me, Dumbcat has tried. And failed.

…cancelling all my utilities, apartment-hunting, saying goodbye to people, quitting my two part-time jobs, sleeping too little, fretting too much, trying to get Dumbcat to understand I will NOT be leaving him behind so he doesn’t have to cling to me like a remora, and getting ready to leave my home for my new town.

I somehow had the best luck in the world and found the perfect apartment with the very first one I saw – really close to work, in a nice area, wood floors, fireplace, a ton of space, a yard, a porch…and only a wee bit more than I’m paying now. And the new landlord seems delightful. She gave it to me almost immediately, even though other people had applied. I think she knew it was a me-place as much as I did. It has good vibes. And it’s almost 100 years old! I have old-building love. Always have.

The town is about a third of the size of where I live now, but has a lot of history and is well-appointed – lots of shopping, lots of green space, beautiful old buildings, a zoo(!). Two of my most beloved people live within an hour of my new place, so I’ll get to see them more often, and I’m an hour closer to my family.

And, it all comes down to this: I’m ready for a grand adventure.

This is a job I’ll love, and dammit, I’ll be GOOD at this. The apartment is great. I don’t have anything I can’t leave here – I love it, but it’s not like I have family I can’t uproot, or something along those lines. I’m ripe for a change, and when better to make one?

In two days, my family will show up with trucks and trailers and such and we will have a day of MUCH physical labor…and by the end of it, I will be the newest resident of Watertown, NY, with a new job waiting for me just a few days later.

*deep breaths*

It all happens at once, or not at all…I guess I got the all at once this year.

Onward and upward.

(P.S. – apparently, it pays to be a grammar nerd. GO ME!)

 


Why zoos aren’t usually open in the winter in the northeast

Last month, The Nephew, his mom and I went to the science museum in Schenectady to see butterflies and a planetarium show and also play with huge Lego blocks and train sets. It was very much enjoyed by all parties and the minute it was done, The Nephew’s mom and I started talking about our next adventure, but weren’t sure what it would be.

She sent me a message on Facebook not long after I’d gotten home saying that The Nephew had already planned our next adventure.

Your nephew wants our next adventure to be at the zoo! I told him it’s too cold for a zoo in the winter so we can go in the spring or summer. He said with his infinite wisdom “Mom, the animals don’t just disappear in the winter. Take me to wherever they put the zoo animals when it’s cold. Maybe Aunt Amy will know.” Impossible to argue with that!

Well, I have to agree. How can you argue with that? So I began to research local zoos.

At first, I thought of the Binghamton Zoo, which used to be open year-round when I was a student. I know this because friend R. and I used to go there, and once went the day after an ice storm and were the only ones in the zoo and it was just the best. The animals were all frolicking just for us, and I got a puma to come out of its home by saying “rrawr?” and it said, “RAWR” and came out and we had a happy talk through the wire. He seemed very engaged. He was probably lonely. Or wanted to eat my face. Debatable, I suppose.

But the Binghamton Zoo is no longer open year-round, and a lot of other zoos nearby are also closed for the winter, so I started to despair until I found…

THE UTICA ZOO!

Open year-round and a mere 90 minutes away. We would see our animals in the wintertime after all! AUNT AMY WINS!

So we packed ourselves into the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived at…

The Utica Zoo!

Driving through Utica makes me sad. It was a grand town, once, and now it’s kind of falling apart, and the buildings have a lot of broken windows and are filled with lost grandeur. You can see how beautiful it must have been, once, though. The buildings are beautiful and stately in that old-fashioned way, and look like they’re waiting for the next act…but the next act isn’t coming, I don’t think. I think the show’s been cancelled. And things like that hurt me. I love history. I don’t like when things are thrown away like that.

On the drive there, mostly The Nephew played Angry Birds and said, “Aunt Amy! Play this level, it’s easy!” but they were never easy, and then he would sigh like I exhausted him and he would say, “Oh, just give it to ME” and then he’d solve it in a second. (I’m terrible at Angry Birds. Those pigs are WAY wily.) He also is fascinated with family relationships. “Aunt Amy, who is your mom?” he’ll ask me, and I’ll say, “Your grammy is my mom!” and he’ll laugh and say, “Oh!” and then he’ll say “Aunt Amy, who is your dad?” and I’ll say “My dad is your grampy!” and he’ll laugh and say “Oh!” and then finally he’ll say “Aunt Amy, did you know my daddy’s mom and dad are my grammy and grampy?” and I’ll say, “Yes, did you know your dad is my brother?” and he’ll say “OH!” and this always cracks him up and he laughs. To REALLY make him laugh, I call his dad my LITTLE brother. “No! He is a grown-up MAN!” he’ll say, then giggle and giggle. I enjoy that kids don’t understand that once, the GROWN-UPS were ALSO kids. This makes me smile, to think that in a child’s mind, we’ve always been this age.

So there were a few signs when you first entered the zoo saying “paths may be icy.” We were all, “pooh pooh! How icy can they be?”

The answer is…glare-icy.

Apparently, in order to stay open all winter, they had to cut back on grounds maintenance. None of the pathways had been cleared at all. There was ice and snow and SO MUCH ICE ZOMG, and of course The Nephew tramped along it merrily (and fell once, but picked himself right back up like he’s made of rubber and kept-on a’runnin’.) At one point, the path just STOPPED, and we had to tromp through the snow, and The Nephew was all “well, now we are lost in the WOODS!” and he was sort of right. But then the path started again, sort of. It got so bad I purposely walked through the snow instead of on the path because the path was slipperytown. Bad news, Utica Zoo! I realize salt wasn’t probably a good idea with all those animals. But sand? Maybe? Or don’t be open? Because you are COURTING DEATH with those paths, you guys.

Other than the DEATH-ICE, and how cold it was (we all had windburned faces and chilly legs and hands when we were done) and the fact that about half of the animals were gone (I don’t know where…I guess wherever animals go when it’s cold? Vacation? Florida, like retirees? Just inside in the groundskeeper’s buildings? Anyone know?) it was kind of an awesome zoo. You know how much I love zoos. It would take a lot more than a little ice to put me in a terrible mood.

What’s that?

You want to see photos of our day at the zoo?

Ha, it’s like you don’t even know me. I took a MILLION photos of the zoo. The whole time, I told The Nephew’s mom, “This is for a MOST IMPRESSIVE BLOG I will be writing about this adventure!” and she said, “Of course you will!” She totally knows about the bloggery. Most of my people do. It doesn’t even shock them anymore.

Let’s go to the zoo!

First we had to go to the bathrooms, and outside the bathrooms, randomly, was this loose peacock. The Nephew was all “LOOK AT THAT!” and wanted to I think either pet or ride the peacock, but the peacock was having none of that and booked it away from us. (Isn’t it pretty? I’ve never seen one up close!)

Here’s The Nephew chasing it as it walked away. He really wanted a pet peacock.

.

It was all, “listen, dude, I am JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU” and The Nephew was all, “No, seriously, come back, I will play “In Your Eyes” to you on a boom box! YOU COMPLETE ME!”

Then we saw some goats. I know some people who like goats. I took a lot of photos of these fellas.

This one looked like a genetic abnormality. Therefore he was my favorite.

There were none of those little feeding stations at this zoo. I hear rumors that they all had to be removed because hooligans were breaking into the zoo to steal the money in them. This goat didn’t get the memo. He wanted me to feed him. I had no food. Only Tic Tacs. I don’t think the goat wanted Tic Tacs.

This goat looks like he knows a secret. Do you think it’s the secret of why they didn’t put any sand on the paths so we almost died like a hundred times?

This goat was chewing on a log. I don’t know why, either. But it made me laugh. He was SO FOCUSED on this. He didn’t even look up. Look at his funny pupils! This is why I love goats. They have curious eyes.

I think this is the genetic abnormality goat again. I was a fan of his.

ZOMG GOAT! Stop with the log, already, people are going to think you have a complex!

Next was a thing I loved, and I think I need to get it on a teeshirt.

I BITE! And there was NOTHING IN THE CAGE! So it was totally scary for no reason. I like that it’s in ALL-CAPS.

But then the bitey thing came out. What do you think it was? A cougar? A wolverine?

Nope.

This stork-thing. I would think he pecks and pinches more than bites. Just to be safe, though, in case his beak was hiding sharp teeth, we didn’t poke him.

This is his wanted poster. I BITE, DAMMIT!

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of snow. We’re really mired in this neverending winter up here.

Thought you’d like to see some adorableness. Here’s The Nephew taking a photo-op in front of the children’s zoo. He has many layers on. We were chilly, yo.

Yeah, I know. Worst photo ever. See, my nice camera totally died almost immediately and I had to use my phone for the rest of the day. This is a zebra. He was really far away and to get to him, you had to cross TREACHEROUS ICE. So I decided to zoom in as far in as I could and call it a day. HI, ZEBRA! (He totally finds me fascinating. Look at him checking me out.)

This is a camel I decided to call Spicoli. He seems to be stoned, and really laid-back. I think he would call you “dude” a lot and laugh inappropriately. Look, he totally has hay in his hair and he doesn’t even CARE. And he looks like he’s grinning at NOTHING. (Also, apparently in the winter, this kind of camel grows a lot of dreadlocks, and their humps droop randomly to one side or another. Just makes them look more like stoner-camels to me.)

This was some sort of peacock with a huge lacy tail. There was no sign on this exhibit so I can’t even tell you what kind. I liked how fancy it was. This peacock would ALWAYS get invited to the dance.

MERKA!

The Nephew didn’t see this eagle at first, then when he did, he was kind of tired, and said “That doesn’t even LOOK like an eagle” and I said, “No? What does it look like?” and he sighed and said, “A big bird with a yellow beak.” But later when we asked him what his favorite animal was, he said the eagle.

Oh, pretend there’s a photo of a sea lion here. They wouldn’t stay out of the water long enough for us to photograph them, but they were very cool. One popped up long enough to kind of clap his flippers at us, then disappeared again. I do so like sea lions.

Why does every zoo have Cotton-Topped Tamarins? These things freak me out, man. Where’s that stoner camel. He’d calm me down. I think he has something that’ll help me out with that.

IMG_0630

Snakes! This one’s pretty. I think it was a corn snake.

IMG_0629

I don’t remember what kind of snake this is, but the photo turned out well. Sometimes that happens.

These were gigantic pythons, and they would most definitely eat you and digest you. I even like snakes but I’m glad they were safely behind glass.

The website said there would be so many turtles and tortoises, and there was only this one. This is for Heather. She is my tortoise-friend and she said I would love this guy the most of all the turtles and tortoises. She was right, considering he was the only one. Sadly, this is not a very good photo. Good grief, why is it so RED? Sorry, Heather.

It is very hard to see, but up in the upper left-hand corner of this one is a beautiful owl. I love owls. I went “hoo! Hoo!” to him but he was all “I’m napping, lady, sheesh.”

This is not a helper mule, as much as I’d like it to be. This was just a donkey. He was pretty cute, though.

This was a HUGE Flemish rabbit. The sign says they can grow to 28 pounds. I was all “The Nephew! Come see this huge rabbit!” and he came over and said, “Aunt AMY, that rabbit isn’t that huge. He’s just really fat. I think he eats too much food” and that made me and The Nephew’s Mom giggle.

Look at this guy. He’s GORGEOUS. I sincerely want an owl. On the way home, we saw two hawks, too. It was a raptor-bird kind of day.

Look! He looked at us! He wanted to be our friend!

It’s hard to tell, because he’s very blending-into-the-landscapey, but this is a beautiful lynx. He watched us the whole time but not in a scary way. In a “bring me home!” way. The Nephew said I could bring him home, and he PROBABLY wouldn’t eat Dumbcat. I like them odds.

I saved the best for last. What do you think is best?

What’s that? You can’t see them very well? I CAN FIX THAT!

LIONS!

At first, The Nephew said, “I don’t think I want to see lions…” in a scared little voice, but then he realized they wouldn’t eat us and he was cool with the lions. This one was pacing the whole time we were standing by it. He wanted to eat our whole faces. I loved him.

I’m going to be obnoxious and show you a lot of photos of this lion. He was my best fella.

Isn’t he so PRETTY? I do love big cats.

And you know what you have to do when you’re around the lions.

You HAVE to make a lion face! (Those lions don’t even care.)

Then we discovered one of my favorite things at zoos…

.

One of these “you are an animal” face-thingies! First The Nephew was a lion. You can also see Aunt Amy behind him holding him up so he didn’t fall on the little teeny-tiny piece of wood he was standing on in order to be a lion. I especially like the paws on this thing. Very realistic.

I am a scary lion! This is totally my Facebook cover photo right now, yo. This is like the best thing ever. RAWR I AM A SCARY LION (who is also holding a Utica Zoo sign, for some reason!)

Then we were cold and tired, so we hoofed it to the gift shop and The Nephew decided he wanted a scary lion thing that bit things and grabbed things but we convinced him that really he wanted a spelunker’s hat with a VERY cool flashlight built in (when I told him the word “spelunker” he repeated it and giggled – this kid LOVES learning, it is so good for my heart) and I got a NEW FRIEND!

His name is Trent. He is a very brave tortoise, and not at all afraid of Dumbcat. (Right after this photo was taken, Dumbcat randomly started purring and headbutted poor Trent right onto the floor. Oh, Dumbcat. That’s no way to treat your new housemate!) Don’t even mock my warm flannel PJs, yo. It’s going to be NINE DEGREES tonight. Where is my spring?!?!)

Then we all went to a diner and The Nephew had pancakes and french fries (which was an awesome combination, I thought) and I helped him clean up some spilled milk and I told him I was helping him because I loved him all the way to the moon and back, and he said “I love you TWO TIMES that!” and I kissed him on his little head because that made me have tears. Oh, do I love that child.

Then it was time to go home, and tonight I am ouchy from walking and ouchy from windburny but we had a lovely day. But I would recommend that you probably don’t go to a zoo in the winter that DOESN’T upkeep their paths, though. Total liability. Otherwise? Good times had at the zoo by all. Including the animals. They were probably so sad to see us go. We’re excellent zoo visitors. No one was as happy as we were. We won zooing!


%d bloggers like this: