I am in the middle of a week of forced vacation.  My Big Work Thing is kinda calming down a little bit and I had about sixty hours of use-or-lose leave that my boss made me take before the end of the month.  I originally balked at her suggestion requirement because I can't really maximize any leave by taking, you know, a proper vacation.  We don't have any disposable money (I spent it all on day care), The KingofHearts doesn't have any time off and I already paid the non-refundable fee for the girls' summer camp this week... so what's the point of vacating?  But then I realized that I began working on the Big Work Thing last August and that means this month marks my working on this project non-stop along with my other regular job duties for AN ENTIRE ^%^&* YEAR.  So a week off from obsessively checking email and trying to make people happy, even if it meant just sitting in my house staring at the TV, sounded actually kind of nice -- especially since while I'm on vacation, no one else in my house is.  Today I went to Wal-Mart and TJ Maxx and spent two hours leisurely shopping without a single whine or "Can you buy me this?' or "I have to go to the bathroom" or hurrying to get back home before someone's bus arrived or fretting that someone had to be somewhere. It was decadent.

And yes, I realize how bad that sounds that I consider one uninterrupted trip to Wal-Mart and TJ Maxx "decadent." 

My life makes me sad.

Actually, I did take a couple days to make Monica and a couple others run off to New York with me over the weekend.   So I might be exaggerating the woe just a bit. 

Our trips to New York, are, unconventional, to say the least.  We both have often had friends and family tell us they want to join us in our New York adventures.  We usually explain that while you may want to go to New York, you probably don't want to go to New York with us.  It takes a very special person to enjoy accompanying us on one of these whirlwind trips in the style that we like to travel.  That someone who would need to also enjoy the following:
  • taking the $1 bus whenever possible and sharing your travel experience with the kinds of  people who take the bus (namely, us)
  • the high art of mocking those people
  • leaving and returning in the middle of the night so as to squeeze a few more hours out of the weekend while not miss a day of work and/or childcare pick-ups/drop-offs
  • chasing food trucks around the city
  • not talking for long periods of time
  • very bad theater
  • not seeing any of the typical New York things most folks do (Look, if you want to see the Statue of Liberty or take a tour bus, you can find photos on the internet.  What you cannot do on the internet is experience an awesome crazy dude wearing a tinfoil hat and riding on a bicycle adorned with lights, a burly guy wearing lumberjack flannel and walking two teacup yorkies with shoes on their paws, or two guys holding hands and walking down the block while loudly listing every kind of bear they know.  This is the New York I want to marry and get pregnant.)
  • our complete refusal to go anywhere/do anything that you can do in our own town  (Times Square is full of billboards and lights, yes, but it's also full of chain restaurants and stores that you can find in any city.  I am not sitting on a bus for four hours enduring  the pathetic attempts of the guy next to me try to pick up his seat mate so I can eat at Applebees and buy M&Ms.
  • our need to change the scheduled activities to investigate whatever we see, whenever we see it.  ("What's that?"  "I don't know."  "Well, then we must walk two miles out of our way to figure it out."  "Clearly.")
  • sharing beds and/or sleeping on someone's floor
  • carrying everything you plan to wear in a single bag on your back at all times.  On this trip, I didn't even bring my camera because it was too big/cumbersome to carry and the forecast was for rain the whole weekend.  We actually stayed in a hotel this time and had a place to put our bags, but old habits die hard and I reverted to the old days when we brought old clothes we didn't want any more so we could throw them away and not carry them throughout the trip.  Fortunately, I had my mobile phone and a fake instagram app, which allows me to share some photos with you:
This Battery City park was so cute.  I have to go back with a real camera one day.
Who doesn't want a bike cozy? NO ONE THAT'S WHO!
When the kids' college fund comes up empty, it'll be because I decided all the streetlights on my block needed to be so adorned.
It just doesn't get better than Grimaldi's pizza and Dean Martin music
Brooklyn Bridge lampost
Lovers' locks on the Brooklyn Bridge
I desperately wanted to remove it, but it's in there pretty good.
I didn't go in here and I'm not a fan of the musical Mama Mia.  But we walked by on our way somewhere else and I just had to photograph the place that made Al Jolson so famous.
The Chinatown franchise of a Baltimore tradition
OK - this is the one thing you might have wanted to do but I can't tell you what it is because I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures inside.  Shhh!
I can tell you that I waited outside in this in order to get into what's above.
I have an obsession with old and/or iconic buildings.
I'm also weirdly obsessed with smoke stacks/steam coming from random places.
Five fish?  I'll be rich!