My parents were never too big on vacations. Actually, I never was, either. We have made the obligatory trips to Disney World, went on a cruise to Bermuda, and visited my Grandma's house at the Jersey Shore. Then I entered 8th grade, and family trips went out the window. Then, the regular trips you would take become the real getaways. Every summer I would spend roughly a week with my Aunt Baba, Uncle Ed, and cousins Eddie and Suzanne, while making trips to see my Grandma who lives almost down the street. This became my way of relaxation, to "get away from it all." Leaving one suburban town to go to another to escape really doesn't sound plausible (or sane), but it somehow works.
The trips have become a bit different now. Eddie is out of the house and out of college. Sue landed a job working at Astralwerks Records in the city and just moved to Long Beach. For some reason, I'm too busy to spend more than a few days there (even though I don't have to depend on my Dad to drive me to and fro anyore). This year's trip consisted of 3 nights and 2 days, and it was probably the longest day of the summer.
While driving to Sue's, I realized that Long Island has about 800 highways (give or take 3) and they all have similar signage, but different names. Why, well, I clearly do not know. One road in particular, the Meadowbrook, must think pretty highly of itself. The exits aren't in your usual "number" fare. No, they are prefaced by a capital M, like Exit M4. Why does the Meadowbrook (not the Grand Central or the Cross Island, or the LIE for god's sake) Parkway feel the need to stamp each exit and remind you that yes, you are, in fact, on the Meadowbrook. The cookie-cutter-LI-highway-sign emblazoned with a capital M by the lighthouse is more than enough. Self-important pavement - the worst kind of blacktop.
I showed up to Long Beach, which looks strikingly similar to every beachfront community that exists, and saw Sue's place. It is far too large and good for her. The girl has about 8 objects to her name and oodles of square footage. I want to buy her something large just so she can take advantage of it...like a blow up pool or something. After watching some of Law and Order SVU: Season 2, I retired to the futon. The futon is a rare creature. It was already evolved upon--the pullout couch--yet it still thrives, even more so than the more evolved piece of furniture. Why is this? The futon doesn't even hide the fact that it's a bed - it's all there to be looked at. I want to bring the pull out couch back. But that'll come in a few years as the new apartment will have a sweet futon. Futons rule!
We took the Long Island Railroad in (affectionately known as the "LIRR" for all you crazy out of towners who want to sound local while talking to someone from Smithtown) to the city for a day of watching Sue go to her job. This was a part of the plan that I never fully thought out. For my "vacation," I get to wake up at 7:30 to get into the city by 9 and not leave until 7 PM. Who does that? A dopey Polack, that's who. The LIRR had an odd situation for its many rows of chairs. They had the standard set of three on one side and two on the other, but some of the sections were turned backwards, creating an immediate and awkward "stare down effect" for the entire trip. You can't even look to the left or right to avoid it, because you fall right into the trap constantly. There is a train full of people looking at the ceiling and the floor to not feel like a creep. And these people shit on New Jersey.
Sue had a fantastic little set up in her office. There was a desk, and envelopes, and cds, and walls! It was quite cozy.
It was here that she and I put Astralwerks labels on manila envelopes, then stuffed them with promo cds, and then put address labels on them (that's what the pile is on the desk). My lovely cousin is in the back right. I'm giving the big thumbs up for free labor!
I eventually moved on to counting Subtle cds and adding their tour dates to the official database. I also remember the passwords, so any time I want to completely fuck up their touring schedules, I most certainly can. The power I yield is incredible. Soon, it was off to packing up a box full of cds with bubble wrap. Clearly, fun was had:
Finally, the end of my slave labor came from one of Sue's coworkers asking for some help. She needed me to take some burned cd singles and package them by folding a piece of paper, putting the cd in that piece of paper, throwing that in a flimsy plastic case, then putting a sticker on the opening to keep it closed. I was handed 200 blank cds, 10,000 plastic covers that eerily resembled Kraft Singles (without the 2%, calcium-stuffed, yellow square of delight inside), a roll of stickers, and an iPod. Luckily, one of the actual interns came over to help me. This is the result.
Her pile was the blue one. She did 10. I did 190. The kicker is that I did them wrong, as the labels should be 90 degrees more to the right. Oh well, I'm not doing slave labor for college credit, so I don't give a shit.
For payment, I received an Inside Man DVD, about 15 cds, and a Chipotle burrito. And yes, it was the best burrito I ever ate. There simply is no comparison.
While on the way back to Sue's with her friends (and, over the years, mine as well) Rob, Annmarie, and Nicole, we hit some interesting stores along the road. One Jiffy Lube had a "fast lube" sign that I refused to comment on for lack of difficulty. Another store had signs displaying 59, 79, and 99 cent items. This is easily the worst advertising I have ever seen for a store. What the hell are you going to buy for 99 cents when other items are only 59 cents? Just take the plunge and have a 59 cent store, you pussies. I'm sure that extra 40 cents isn't going towards better quality (a 99 cent store special can opener literally fell to 8 pieces in my mom's hands while trying to do the can openers only given function of opening a can). We also went to a KFC/Taco Bell that had no Mountain Dew: Code Red and raw potato wedges. It was the highest form of blasphemy since the inception of premarital sex. That fucking building should be smote (cause “smited” isn’t a real word, but I think it looks better).
After a night of Funions, Hostess fruitcakes, and even more SVU, I woke up the next day ready to leave. I was left directions and a note on how to lock up the keys and where to leave them, in the Paulinski mailbox. Of course, I got lost on the way to my Grandmas. Traveling on the Northern State Parkway and going west surely didn't help matters. Eventually, I end up at my Grandmas to have garlic knots and see an Aunt, an Uncle, and a cousin. On my way out, in an effort to save time, I give my Aunt Baba--Sue's Mom--the keys, since she was already going to the mailbox and it saves me a trip. I receive a text from Sue asking why I didn't leave them in the mailbox at her place, and why I gave them instead to her mom who lives 40 minutes away. Sue gets to see me, and I give her dirty dishes, laundry, and a far away key as thanks. I'm the best cousin ever.