Thursday, August 26, 2010

and how old are you?

Although I am 28 years old, I look very young. Depending on what I am wearing I can usually pass for a college age kid. I almost always get carded, except when I order a scotch, my drink of choice. I guess most underage kinds don't enjoy a good single malt.

This past weekend I was at a craft fair on the boardwalk with my family when I saw a booth featuring the new voting machines for NY. These new machines are paper ballots that once you finish filling them out, you scan the paper into the machine. Being slightly involved in politics, I wanted to take a look at them. I walked over to the machine, took a ballot and fake voted. It is a pretty interesting system although I am not sure it will work better than the lever machines.

I was about to leave the booth when a woman asked if we would fill out a survey about the new machines. I said sure and and I took one and she laughed and said "It's for your parents." I looked at her strangely. She replied, "Or will you be able to vote in this years election?"

I started fuming and impolitely blurted out, "I am 28 years old!"

She asked, "Really? Gosh, you look 17!"

My dad saw what was happening and came over to pull me away before I completely freaked out on the woman. 17! really?? Come on, do I really look like a high school student? My 10 year high school reunion is this year!

I know some people would love to be mistaken for a high school student but not me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I’m a true New Yorker!

I heard somewhere that you can’t call yourself a real New Yorker unless you have lived in the city for more than 10 years. Well, I have only lived here for 5 years but an incident this past weekend has me questioning that theory.

I was headed out to a very causal wedding in Pennsylvania so I tossed on a fun polka dot dress, a pair of heels and a black chain link strap bag. I drove my car to PA and had offered to drive home a girl I had never met. I was going to ask the bride who she was so that she could put her bags in my car before we ate. Before I could get over to her, a girl approached me.

She said my name and I looked at her funny. She told me she thought that she knew who I was before she even asked the bride. I was confused and she went on to say that “You are very New York City with your high heels, dress and Vera Wang bag!”

I laughed and looked around at all the other guests. Everyone was dressed much more causally that I was. No one was wearing heels and everyone looked relaxed including the bride in her sundress and flip-flops.

I stuck out like a sore thumb as a trendy, stereotypical NYC girl! Although I’m not sure if that is a good thing but it was pretty cool to be recognized as a real NYC girl!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures in Biking

This past Saturday I decided to take a trip out of the city. I decided to leave the car at home and bike to a small town in Rockland County about 22 miles outside of Manhattan.

My friend planned out the route and starting at 9:30 am on Saturday we were off on a biking adventure. The weather was perfect as we conquered the streets of Manhattan all the way up to the George Washington Bridge. The bridge was gleaming in the sun under the clear blue sky. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. As we pedaled across the bridge, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to use the power of my body to propel myself on my little red bike. Here is the view from the bike lane on the GW bridge.

We got to New Jersey and biked past my office building then down a crazy hill! I was flying so fast at almost 25 miles an hour, smiling while the wind hit against my cheeks. I wish I could bike downhill forever. It feels so freeing.

After riding a few more miles, the landscape changed and there were farms and a horse backing riding school with horses right by the side of the road. What a huge change from the bustling city. I wanted to stop at a farm stand but didn’t have any place to put the goodies.

We arrived at in Piermont and immediately saw why cyclists chose to ride to this town. There are bike racks outside each store and no one locks them up! I’m such a jaded New Yorker and was nervous to leave my bike even though it was next to bikes worth thousands!

After a quick lunch and bathroom break at a store Lance Armstrong ate at, we went back to cycling. Everything was going great until I got a leg cramp, in both legs. I popped some Advil and begrudgingly got back on the bike.

Remember that beautiful downhill I spoke of so lovingly earlier? Well what goes down...must come back up. This monster of a hill was stuck in my mind and I started to worry. What would happen if I could not make it up? This was not a bike tour with support just a phone call away.

My buddy thought he found a route that would be less of a hill for us to climb. But he was very very wrong. I had to put my bike in the complete lowest gear and push so hard on the pedals for fear that I would roll back down the incline. It really tired me out but I finally got to the top. Of the first hill. There was another one hiding behind a tiny little downhill. Damn! At this point I had run out of water and Gatorade and was near tears. I had no choice but to get to the top and I did it but not without cursing out every sliver of asphalt under my tires.

Once back on flat road I was incredibly tired but still had over 10 miles until I would arrive back at home where a hot shower was waiting. I sucked up the exhaustion and pain and pedaled back over the bridge and through Manhattan stopping once at an ice cream truck to get some water.

This ride was an exciting adventure and great training for the NYC Century, which I will be riding in only a few weeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dinner and the Single Girl

This is the start of a series of blog posts where I bitch about being single. Here is the first of many blogs where I talk about things that are much harder when you do not have a significant other in your life. So, if you are sick of hearing this stuff, don’t read it. I might follow this up with reasons why it is great to be single but maybe not…

Everyone has to eat about 3 meals a day. Breakfast during the week is easy. Lunch during the week is a bit more complicated because I bring mine to work every day. I have to either bring leftovers from the night before or make food that morning but once again this meal is consumed at work so there is no need to be upset about eating alone. But this post is about dinner….

Oh, dinner. How I hate the nightly fight I have with you. It’s the meal that tortures single girls everywhere. Cooking for one sucks. Every night, I play this game with myself:

Do I want to…

a) cook for myself and end up eating a fancy meal alone?

b) nuke a crappy frozen meal and scarf it down fast so I don’t have to think about it?

c) screw it and order in an overpriced dinner?

d) go out to a restaurant ALONE?

Option a makes me pretty sad but it’s what happens most of the time because of my desire to eat healthy and save some money. I dream up gourmet meals with exotic ingredients, plated with beautiful garnishes. Then I remember I am cooking for one and there is no need to impress myself. So I toss together some sad gluey pasta with sauce and whatever frozen veggie is in the freezer.

Last night, I attempted to cook a fancy meal, Bean’s coconut curry with quinoa and tempeh. Yes, I put my name on it because I made it up myself! I started cooking and as I chopped up the veggies and tossed ingredients into the pots and pans, I had two sinking feelings. One, that I would have to clean up the dishes and mess that I made, all by myself. I had used a frying pan, two pots, a cutting board and a variety of utensils. Two, that I was cooking enough food to feed a family of four.

Here is a picture of the food cooking in the pan. It actually turned out delicious but yummy enough for me to eat it for the next 4 meals? No way. I’m sure some of my food will end up in the trash, which breaks my heart, but I am a single girl and tossing out food is a regular occurrence.

As I scooped the food into four take out containers, I thought about my single status and how sad I was that no one got to enjoy this meal with me. I took the time to create something tasty but all I got were some tears while I was washing the mountain of dishes.

I am going to skip talking about option b because anyone single girl or in anyone in a couple can do that if they are busy. It’s option c that sucks. Ordering in costs extra money for the privilege of eating a restaurant meal cooked at home. Most of the time I can’t afford this option but sometimes I treat myself and will bring in food. I usually eat it in front of the TV and inhale it too fast. There goes my hard earned money and usually I am still hungry.

Option d is for the bold, happy single girl. I have tried a few times to go out to eat on my own but I need to be armed with an arsenal of things to keep me occupied while dining out alone. I have found that a book seems like a good idea but it is hard to turn pages while shoveling food into your mouth. I feel like the server is constantly bothering you and the worst feeling is when you ask for a table for one and they scoop away the second table setting and seat you in the back corner at the worst table. It’s not worth the embarrassment I feel sitting alone when I go out to eat myself.

So there you have it… dinner… one of a single girl’s worst enemies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I am in medical bill insurance HELL!

Whatever you do, don’t get into an accident on your bicycle with a NYC taxicab. You will lose hours and hours of your life trying to get the medical bills paid. Here is the breakdown so far of my struggle. The bill is still unpaid and just days away from going into collections.

• Get into an accident while bike riding with a taxicab. Get taken the hospital in an ambulance and turns out I am fine just a bit beat up.

• Attempt to get police report two days after the accident. They only accept money orders or checks, which of course I don’t have with me so I don’t get it.

• Get letter in the mail from health insurance that the hospital bills will be covered but the ambulance bill will not be. The bill is $522.

• Call the FDNY ambulance and ask why they wont take my insurance, they said they would put it through again.

• My dad gets a call from them because they mixed up my number and my emergency contact number (IDIOTS) asking him to pay my bill. He tells them to call me.

• I talk to them and they tell me that my medical insurance won’t cover it so I have to use my car insurance. I yell at them I WAS NOT IN A CAR I WAS ON A BIKE! They say sorry, and that the cab should pay the bill.

• I call my insurance and ask what they need from me to get this bill paid. They said I need the insurance info from the cab and my car. Once again, I scream at them I WAS ON A BIKE! You are not using my car insurance info and since I was in the ambulance I don’t have the guy’s insurance info.

• I figure out that I need to get the police report so I walk 30 blocks to the station to get it only to learn that it is thirty days after the accident and the report has “gone to Albany”. I have to fill out a form to mail with a $10 check to get it in the mail. So I mail it out.

• Two weeks later, I get a letter from Albany returning my check saying that they wont give me the report and that I have to get it from the DMV because it was a car accident and it will now cost me $25!

• At this point, I start to freak out and scream that this system is beyond stupid and my very good friend suggests that I contact my elected officials and have them help. Since I know two of them, I call both offices and get two different people to attempt to get the report for me. A week goes by and I get a call back from both offices asking for more details. After a few days, they both tell me that an officer from some bureau will give me the report at the station if I bring my trusty $10 check (that is now dated two months ago).

• So I call the police station and they say that officer is only in the office from 7am -3pm. I had to beg my friend to help me to get the report by coming with me before work to sit in the car so that I could run in and get the report without double parking.

• I walk into the station with my forms and check and tell them what I need. Of course the person I need to talk to isn’t there so I have to explain everything to another officer and he says he will see what he can do. He disappears for 10 minutes and comes back with the piece of paper, hands it to me, winks and tells me that I don’t have to give him the check. Thanks officer for thinking I was cute and saving me the $10.

• With the accident report in my hand, I am hoping that the guy’s info is there so I can call his insurance. But of course the box for insurance information is blank. Thanks Mr. Bah.

• I get to work and call my insurance and they tell me that I have to get his information and that the police report is not enough. I can’t just mail it to them. Nope, I have to do the work.

• So a week goes by and I try my insurance again to tell them that I cannot find the guy’s insurance and can’t they just handle this for me. The representative says she will transfer me to another person who can escalate the process. I stay on hold for 10 minutes and the phone disconnects. I scream and pull out a few hairs.

• I call the insurance back and have to input my customer number and my accident claim number and birthday for the second time. The person who picks up asks for the information to confirm it. So I give them my life story again and they tell me that they have to transfer me AGAIN.

• Ten more minutes on hold and the person tells me that she will help me. Great! I tell her all the information and she asks me how I even got the police report and that she was in an accident with a taxi and it was so hard to get the report and why was my car insurance not involved! I WAS ON A BIKE! She was very unhelpful and told me to get the taxi driver’s insurance info.

• I turned to Google and after inputting an address, got a phone number and called the taxi company. I told them that I needed this taxi’s car insurance information. The woman put it into the system and told me that the taxi was self-insured and that there is no record of an accident. She gave me a number of a law firm to call because they handle the insurance for the taxis.

• I call the number and it’s a main office of the law firm so they give me another number to call. I speak to this lady who asks for my claim number and I tell her I don’t have one and that I just need the taxis insurance information to pay a bill. She tells me that there is no record of this and I need to fax her the police report. Then she asks me if I am from the ambulance company. Ughhhh, after I explain to her I am the bicyclist who was in the accident with a taxi she tells me to fax her the report and if I don’t hear from them in a week to call back.

That’s the long story for now. I have an unpaid bill and still no insurance information from Mr. Bah (the taxi man who is going to want to kick my ass for raising his insurance rates).

Stay tuned to find out what happens next because I am 100% sure that there will be more phone hours logged, more hairs ripped out and a bit more yelling at insurance representatives.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Double parked- in

Alternate side parking is a bitch. Having to think everyday about where you parked the car and having to move it for street cleaning is just awful. Luckily, I have to move my car before the street cleaning rules go into effect so I can get to work. I found that a few streets above my apartment the parking rules are a bit different and I don’t have to move my car until 9:30.

Yesterday, I went to go get my car and noticed that on this one particular street people were doubled parked against the side of the street where the cars did not have to move that day. I believe the police do not frequent this block as I have seen this happen before. Unfortunately for me, I had parked the night before on that side and a car had chose to double-park and block me in. I wouldn’t dream of leaving my double-parked car unattended but this person did not care. My head was starting to explode when I saw there was another person double-parked behind the offending car. That man chose to stay with his vehicle so I thought maybe he would have seen where the person went who left their car next to mine. I asked him but he had no idea. So I walked back to my car to think what my next steps would be.

The person had parked their car about halfway up on the side of my car so there was some room but I was not sure I could maneuver it out of the spot alone. I have great parking skills but didn’t feel like testing them when I was angry. I walked back over to the man in the parked car and asked for his help directing me out of the spot. He said he would and at the same time a man was walking down the sidewalk offered his advice.

“Just turn the wheel and jump the curb and you can get out of the spot.”

I was not going to “jump the curb” in my low to the ground Camry and risk damaging the bottom of my car but thanks for your helpful advice mister.

The other man stood next to my car and directed me back and worth allowing me to get dangerously close to the double parked car without hitting it. After about 30 turns of the steering wheel, I was free! I thanked the man and off I went to work.