What a moment! This is the kind of thing a Dad dreams of. My wonderful and talented daughter surrounded by a beautiful group of friends being proposed to by her long time boyfriend Kevin. These folks don’t do small, it had to be an event.
Much thanks to Kevin for inviting me to be there. It all happened Sunday June 15th at about 8PM in Little Italy New York City on the corner of Mulberry and Hester at Da Gennaro Italian Restaurant, the restaurant on the first floor of their building. Thanks to all of their friends who pulled this off!
It’s been a while since I’ve written here in what I call “The Notes Blog.” I’ve toyed with the idea of renaming or refocusing, but for better or worse I’ve established a presence here. I sometimes submit my URL as vinnybogan.com or vincebogan.com both of which resolve here.
I still journal furiously. I’m the crazy guy on the train with the moleskine on my lap. Lately my focus has been to develop an online presence with The Brooklyn Sutras my Buddhist training site. I augment Sutras with social media in a bid to “get it out there.” So please follow me
In recent weeks I find myself turning back to “Notes” as the last few Negril trips are looming large in my scribbles. It takes time for me to sort out the many crazy tangents jouncing about in my undisciplined mind.
The experience of my 50th Birthday Extravaganza was profound, and stupid, and unexpected, and fun, and and and . . .
And I’m finally ready to write about it. My 51st party is only a few months away
I don’t know why I love this place. It’s kind of horrible, it’s somewhat unhealthy, but it has a certain charm.
Maybe it’s the people who wander helplessly among throngs of transit vets while looking up and bumping into people.
Or could it be those transit vets who have the commute trimmed down to the step. Second door, left side, clockwise around the stairwell (counter intuitive), and then two stepping it up the Gate 201 escalator.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not there too often, but I know how it works. Downstairs to the private bus lines and upstairs for NJ Transit. I know to get tickets in the South Terminal where the lines are shorter, but when riding NJ Transit I can never find the right gate and I often miss my bus.
The more I ponder, I think it’s the movement, the randomness, the hundreds of daily destinations that intrigue me. I like to think that these are good folks going to good places to do good things. Bus-folk.
We fly out from JFK at 5:40 AM on Saturday March 8th. And yes, the packing has already started. I’m at the making a list and checking it twice stage, but the day draws near!
I usually post my packing list before a Negril trip anyway, but this time it may actually be helpful to the newbees on trip number one.
Packing List – 50th Birthday Extravaganza – March 2014
- 2 pair – Swim Trunks (I may need to upgrade mine to something more stylish.)
- 3 pairs – Shorts
- 1 pair – Gym Shorts
- 16 Assorted T-Shirts (Plan on two a day. I’m in country 8 days. It’s hot and t-shirts don’t take up much space.)
- 4 Hawaiian/Nice Shirts (Basically non t-shirt shirts. I don’t bring anything actually dressy.)
- 1 pair – Jeans (I wear them on the flight, so this isn’t technically a packing item.)
- 2 pairs – Socks
- 12 pairs – Boxers
- Flip Flops
- Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running. I wear these also . . .)
- 1 Hat - (Down from two, I’m in no mood to wear an Eagles hat . . .)
- Laundry Bag
Health & First-Aid
- First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
- Sun Block 50 SPF – Spray on (Up from 30 because my sister Theresa nags me if I buy any less.)
- Bug Repellent (Get the good stuff with at least 40% Deet. Jamaica skeeters ain’t no joke)
- Pepto Bismol (Tablets Individual Packets)
- Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)
- Wet-Ones (This is my secret weapon, put them in the fridge as a quick cool-off remedy. Try it and you will thank me.)
- Misc over-the-counter drug packets. ( Dayquil, Imodium, Benedryl)
Mind and Body
- My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me years ago that I only use in Jamaica.
- Meditation Stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, cushion.
- Books - When I read actual books, I would leave one on the shelf in my room like a long-term lending library, but since I’m all Kindle and Audible now, I bring a completed book and leave it. This trip’s selection is “The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” by Alan Watts.
- Cash – a few hundred in 20′s, and $50 in singles for tipping
- ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
- Travel Wallet
- Plane Tickets
- Printed Hotel Reservations
- Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. Be a hero because no one on the plane has a damn pen)
Other Stuff - iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
- Netbook (I always say this, but this trip I plan to post a lot on various social media and on this blog) - Flashlight
- Rain Poncho (I always bring, though I have never used) - Travel Clock
- Breath Freshening Gum (Keep in checked baggage only) - Disposable Lighters - Mini Leatherman - Pocket Knife - Waterproof Matches
This is an awesome low carb, good carb, low-calorie and low salt breakfast.
I cook most weekends so while I’m in chopping mode I prep veggies for the week making breakfasts like these quick and easy. I usually dice an onion or two, a few tomatoes, occasional mushrooms, peppers and a jalapeño or two. Also this is a recipe for one so do the math.
3 oz re-fried beans (many different brands and flavors Mexican brands have less salt)
3 oz egg whites (I use liquid egg whites)
1 ea avocado diced
2 oz diced tomato
2 oz dice red onion
1 oz minced jalapeño (sub sriracha hot sauce)
.5 ea lime for the juice (sub a squirt of lemon or lime juice)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
.5 tbsp butter
.5 tsp fresh ground black pepper
.5 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp Salsa (red or green)
Put the re-fried beans on a plate and microwave till hot.
In a hot pan add the olive oil, pepper and butter
Once the butter has melted add the onions.
Wait a few seconds and add the shrooms, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, lime juice and garlic powder and cook till it all comes together. It’s basically hot guacamole now.
Add the egg whites and cook to as hard as you like them. I use the egg whites only to hold everything together, and I like to brown them slightly on both sides.
Fold neatly on the plate with the beans, dump on the salsa and you are living good.
The day is drawing near. The official countdown widget has been created. The plane tickets have been purchased, and the hotel has been booked. All we need to do now is Pack & Go!
What am I talking about? Just the biggest most extra extravagant extravaganza in the history of Negril!
Vinny’s 50th Birthday Extravaganza at the beautiful and famous Blue Cave Castle in sunny Negril, Jamaica!! March 10th, 2014
The Blue Cave Castle Negril, Jamaica – Pic by Christine Joseph
Who’s all coming? Me. The Kid and Kevin. Mom & Dad. Betty Boop. My Brother Michael, his wife Amrita and the kiddos. The Lerches. Kaptain Kramer. The Eardley’s. A bunch of people from Chicago, and many others. The Castle is full, but there are sill rooms nearby.
Now and then I find myself at this corner bar in Soho. Maybe it’s the pool table, the rough clientele, though I do like the wrap around windows. There’s a nicer place a few corners away, but I feel comfortable here.
By day it’s the quintessential old man’s bar, full of townies, with Bud drafts and shots of Fleischmann’s. By the way, where do they find townies in Soho?
And then there’s late night. When I find myself stumbling though the door post three AM, I know I should question the choices made in the preceding hours, but I don’t. The last bar is the last opportunity. There’s an aspect of last chance hopefulness that graces this tawdry place at three-twenty AM, an unlikely maybe hanging in the acrid air.
One more cocktail, one more witticism, one more drunkenly bared honest word to turn the tide. A word that will break through the separation we spend our lives straining to transcend, while simultaneously expending all other energy fortifying that same wall. Why must we shroud our needs with alcohol and half-truths? Yeah, same here . . .
I’m sad to report that just before noon today my dear friend Rosie “The Cat” passed away.
A few weeks ago I began to notice Rosie wasn’t eating much but still drinking water. She seemed lethargic, but I knew something was up when I opened a can of Fancy Feast and she took all day to eat it.
I took her to the vet a few days later and the Doc gave me the bad news that she was showing signs of kidney failure. He gave me some medication and in his thick Eastern European accent said, “Either she’ll come back or she won’t.” His face told me not to get my hopes up.
Over the next few days she was quiet and slept a lot, but the drugs didn’t look like they were helping. A few nights ago I couldn’t find her and when I did, I knew that she knew. I looked into euthanization and resolved to go that route if she seemed to be suffering.
In the interim I did my best to keep her comfortable, but last night she had labored breathing and I knew it was close. This morning she stayed close to me, curling up around my feet as I worked at my desk. Looking at her, she seemed peaceful, resigned.
Around eleven o’clock I carried her into the living room swaddled in a blanket where she passed away peacefully in my arms.
Another lovely morning along the cliffs of Negril. Well into my second cup of coffee, and just finished a wonderful breakfast made by Teddy the Chef here at The Castle.
I’d planned to get home early Friday after work, attend to some last-minute details and get to bed early. Of course that didn’t happen.
I ended up working till about 7 PM, then made the plan-bashing step of the night and met up with some work friends. We wound up having an impromptu sort of sad makeshift payday holiday party.
The married people had to get back to their families, but for me it was still early enough to get the “Last Boat Out of Hoboken”‘; so dramatic. It sounds like a movie from the 1940′s, but it’s what the boat dude announced (with much bravado) several times before closing the gate.
It must have been nine-thirty-ish, so I had been officially on vacation since I left the office at seven so I decided to splurge on a taxi back to Brooklyn for me and drinking pal Gabi. For some reason she and I find ourselves stumbling out of Hoboken together from time to time. We get in the cab near the Trade Center and off to Brooklyn we go. OK, home by ten thirty-ish sleep by eleven, taxi to airport 4 AM. No problem.
No sooner did we get in the cab when my phone started buzzing. It was “The Lerches”! They were in town and were looking to meet up in Soho within the hour. I looked over at the beautiful-but-too-young-for-me-brunette and asked, “Blue Ribbon in Soho?” She responded, “oooh oysters . . .” Gabi is never one to turn down a party. So I halted our driver, I think I may have actually even used the word “halt”, and he detoured the few blocks over to Sullivan at Houston.
It was great to see The Lerches so unexpectedly. They were in town for SantaCon, and had just gotten back from Negril a few weeks ago. I hope they got the kiddo home before mid-day happy SantaCon turned into late-night drunken evil SantaCon. It can be unpleasant.
As usual Blue Ribbon did not disappoint. Papa Lerch ordered the big-grande raw-bar extravaganza, with caviar and shots of vodka. There was more food and more shots. We got a little blurry, but it was a great time.
Gabi took off around midnight and “The Lerches” graciously paid for dinner then we went to find a night-cap bar. We ended up at a corner bar on Prince off of Broadway, but it was late, Mama Lerch was getting tired and I was to be on a plane in a few hours. We said our goodbyes and I got a slow R train back to Brooklyn, so slow in fact that I hopped out at Atlantic Ave and grabbed a town car home. I walked in the door at two-thirty AM.
The driver was picking me up at three-forty five, so I did what any overfed slightly buzzed person would do. I pounded a Red Bull, got in the shower, put my traveling clothes on, and fed Rosie the Cat.
Being a bit OCD on packing, was a big help in this situation. I had everything laid out and ready to go. I guess I know myself too well.
The driver was right on time, and I must have slept in the car because we were at JFK in like 30 seconds. I zombied through “Web-Check-In” and security and into my seat. It was a great trip, I slept all the way through.
I arrived in Sunny Jamaica around nine-forty five AM and was through the airport gauntlet by ten-thirty. I waited for a couple I’d met on the immigration line who’d suggested we split a cab to Negril. We found a driver, they haggled the price, and away we went.
Our driver was the serious type. Straight-through, no stops, and he drove fast. Very good choice. It seems every year the trip gets shorter. Every year they finish a bridge, or re-route around a town, or simply improve the roads in general. We dropped the nice Canadian folks off at one of the All-Inclusives just north of town, and I was at The Castle before noon.
The place looked great. It was a bright sunny day, wonderfully hap-hazard xmas decorating here and there. A lot of familiar faces. Ed “Ras-Walleye” and his lovely wife, Teddy, the staff, and of course Petrona and Susan.
I did my normal arrival routine. Change clothes, unpack then over to the store for supplies. I encountered Milly the Juice Lady on the way over, so I came home with some orange/pineapple juice too. “Home” meaning my room, Deluxe #1 at The Blue Cave Castle, after nearly ten years staying there, it feels like home.
I don’t know exactly what time, but I opened my second beer and realized I was exhausted so I “took a nap” expecting to be up for sunset. I woke up at just after ten PM. I guess I needed the sleep, and the tropical air is great for sleeping.
Sunday I just stayed around The Castle reading and decompressing. Other than a short trip to the store, and two sunset beers at the No-Limit bar; I did nothing.
How can I honor the last days of the Mayan long-count calendar? How about with a Packing List?
Packing List – December 2012
Clothes (Unless you’re going to Hedonism)
Ok, the Hedo joke rings a bit stale. Especially after that time me and . . . Umm, nevermind, I promised never to tell that story.
- 1 pair – Swim Trunks - Down from two, I almost never swim, and I hate getting salt water in my beer.
- 3 pairs – Cargo Shorts
- 1 pair – Gym Shorts - Down from three. Gym? Really? As if . . .
- 14 Assorted T-Shirts - Up from ten. I noticed the only one that has been with me since 2002 is my Sponge Bob shirt. A classic is always a classic.
- 3 Hawaiian Shirts - I’m realizing these are like my Jamaican uniform. Hmmm, might be time to reconsider.
- 1 pair – Jeans
- 2 pairs – Socks
- 12 pairs – Underwear
- Flip Flops
- Running Shoes (LOL, as if I’ll be running) - Ditto
- Light Jacket/Windbreaker - Hoodie (2012 update)
- 1 Hat - Down from two, I ain’t wearing that Eagles hat anywhere . . .
- Laundry Bag - I still think this is a great idea.
Health & First-Aid
- Prescriptions - These weren’t part of my 2005 world.
- First-Aid Kit (Simple, Band Aids, alcohol wipes, tweezers)
- Neosporin (For creepy crawly bites)
- Sun Block 50 SPF - Up from 15 because my sister nags me.
- Sun Block Stick 70 SPF (For my nose) - Up from 30 because I’d rather not get burned, I only blame my sister so as not to diminish my perceived machismo.
- Bug Repellent - I went all natural organic friendly this time, we’ll see how it works. Stay tuned . . .
- Pepto Bismol (Individual serving packets, helps w/ humidity)
- Excedrin Extra Strength (Great for hangovers! Individual packets also)- This gets more and more vital with each trip. . .
- Vitamins (Which I buy in single serve packages anyway)
- Hand Sanitizer (Good when hand washing doesn’t permit itself)- Confession: I carry this stuff but I never use it . . .
- Wet-Ones (I put them in the fridge, Woo Hoo! Instant cooling!) - This is like my secret weapon. Go ahead and scoff. Try it and you will thank me.
- Condoms - And no, they are not the same ones since 2002 . . .
Mind and Body
- My Jamaica Journal – It’s a leather-bound journal Kristine got me a few years ago that I only use in Jamaica. - This is still with me, still not full. I haven’t used it on the last few trips. It’s become such an heirloom I’m afraid to lose it, but since it’s the “End of the World” trip, what the hey.
- Meditation travel stuff – Buddha, candle, incense, zafu.
- Books - Books? What’s a book? I used to enjoy leaving my book on the shelf in my room for the next inhabitant, but on my last few trips I’ve embraced my Kindle.
This trip I’m packing a pre-read book to leave on the shelf. So if the world doesn’t actually end subsequent Deluxe One Blue Cave Castle stayers can enjoy Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
- Christmas Lights – Two boxes to decorate my space at The Castle! I like to refer to them as Holiday Enlightenments . . .
- iPhone - Camera, Camcorder and about a hundred other things . . .
- AAA Batteries – Energizer Max – 8 Pack
- Netbook (I plan to blog this trip daily!)- I always promise to blog daily, but I get all flubunged . . .
- Flashlight (De power go black a lot)
- Rain Poncho (for those afternoon storms)
- Disposable Lighters (Keep in checked baggage)
- Pocket Knife
- Waterproof Matches
- Travel Clock
- Reading Glasses – Ouch
- Breath Freshening Gum (Red Stripe and Jerk Chicken are great, but . . .)
- LifeStraw http://lifestraw.com - This is a personal water purifier a friend bought me for Xmas. I wasn’t gonna bring it, but it is the “End of the World” trip
(This is the boring part)
- Mouth Wash
- Disposable Razors
- Shave Cream
- Hair Brush
- Hand Lotion (Udder Cream is my fave)
- Nail Clippers
- Towels – Washcloth
- Money some 20?s, and $50 in singles for tipping
- ID, ATM Card, Credit Card
- Travel Wallet
- Plane Tickets
- Printed Hotel Reservations
- Pens (For the customs forms on the plane. I’ll be a hero because no one has a damn pen)
OK Mayans, the time has come. Now it’s put up or shut up!
There was something wrong
with the animals:
their tails were too long, and they had
Then they started coming together,
little by little
fitting together to make a landscape,
developing birthmarks, grace, pep.
But the cat,
only the cat
turned out finished, and proud:
born in a state of total completion,
it sticks to itself and knows exactly what it wants.
Men would like to be fish or fowl,
snakes would rather have wings,
and dogs are would-be lions.
Engineers want to be poets,
flies emulate swallows,
and poets try hard to act like flies.
But the cat
wants nothing more than to be a cat,
and every cat is pure cat
from its whiskers to its tail,
from sixth sense to squirming rat,
from nighttime to its golden eyes.
Nothing hangs together
quite like a cat.
Ahh what a welcome sight that Guinness tap was as we finally got into Shannon Airport in County Claire Ireland, but we were still far from our destination.
No, I didn’t actually order a Pint of Guinness upon arrival. It being 5:45AM local time I felt it a wee bit early and opted for airport coffee, and then we went searching for our bus to Dublin.
Yes a BUS to Dublin! We arrived at JFK about 3:00PM for a 5:40PM flight and Aer Lingus would not let us check-in. 3:30, then 4 o’clock, and still we could not check in. The line began to grow longer and angrier as time wore on. Luckily, we were near the front of the line so we were among the first processed when the line started moving.
The check-in kid seemed stressed as I gave him my paperwork, and in almost a whisper he said, “Sir, I’m afraid your flight has been cancelled.” Yes, CANCELLED! But before I could get too pissed, he quickly offered us seats on a 6:20PM flight to Shannon with connecting bus service to Dublin.
Yeah its a pain in the ass, not to mention adding almost four hours to our trip, but at least we could leave that night. Many people in the long line did not get that option. Nice job Aer Lingus! (note: Irony)
We boarded and had a nice flight to Shannon, and the morning drive to Dublin Airport afforded us a pretty ride through the Irish countryside. From Dublin Airport it was a quick run to Dublin City Centre and to our hotel The Arlington O’Connell Bridge.
It was about 9:30AM by that time so we stored our bags at the hotel and staggered out into the Dublin morning to fine some food and some coffee, and to then get into what Dublin had to offer.
Oooh! The heat is threatenin’ our very lives today. . .
If I don’t get some AC, I’m-a-gonna melt away . . .
Woo Hoo, 104º in Manhattan today, the RealFeel® temperature is 115º. I’m sitting in relative comfort in a Starbucks at 51st & Broadway watching people stumble by. If there is a good day to be in the tourist-choked Theater District, 116º day is the day.
It’s funny to me how the media is freaking out about a little heat. Hey guys! It’s summer! But they report it as if it has never happened before when actually it happened about, I don’t know, eleven to thirteen months ago. Do we really need the Daily News to have sweaty people plastered on the front page? At least The Times put the story below the fold.
In a few months we will be all bitching about the cold. I’m heading back in the pool!