Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween at Housing Works

As you, my lovely readers, may know, last year Hurricane Sandy hit NYC on Halloween.  This led my WONDERFUL city, Yonkers, to postpone Halloween.  Yeesh.  It was VERY detrimental to the city.  My friend, Maeve, who lives near Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, got the worst of it.  Thankfully, her house is totally intact, and nobody was hurt, but she said that she saw cars floating in the streets.
Then, the year before that, we had a freakin' blizzard!  ON HALLOWEEN!
It's quite impressive what New York City has gone through. King Kong!  The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!  Daleks!
So, naturally, this year, I wasn't going to get my hopes up completely.

I had a bit of trouble in the costume department, as I was in the thick of rehearsals, as well as moving into a new house.  And usually I sew my costumes.  Usually two or three of them, because I couldn't decide what to be.  Usually planned in late July.  (I have a thing for costumes.)
But eventually, I just decided to be a steampunk fairy, because I was going to a steampunk event at the Housing Works bookstore in SoHo with a couple of friends.  There was going to be a costume contest, and steampunk writers talking about steampunk.
The Housing Works bookstore is AWESOME.  It's got a cafe in the back, and everyone that works there are volunteers.  It's got two floors of WONDERFUL, wonderful used books, with a lovely polished staircase that was great for taking pictures on.  And the best part is, 100% of the profits go to helping homeless people, and people with HIV/AIDS.

So, this was my first Halloween not going trick-or-treating.  I'm not TRYING to be "popular" or "cool" or anything like that. I'm homeschooled, for crying out loud!  It's just that I'm a bit tired of it, and most candy isn't vegan, anyway.
SO I spent twenty dollars on candy!  I loaded up on vegan marshmallows, dried apricots... and Turkish Delight.  (I also made gluten free vegan pumpkin scones to bring to the steampunk event.  They were quite good, and even passed the Mom test!)  That weekend I gained eight pounds.  But it was so worth it.
After my playwriting and drawing classes ended, I went uptown to buy said Turkish Delight at Zabar's.  And then, I walked to Lush, because they let you try on their makeup for free and i needed blue lipstick for my outfit.  So as I'm smearing blue all over my mouth, a lady that worked there noticed the turkish delight poking out of my bag, and asked what it was.  I told her, and she said she's never had any.  So I gave her some, as well as everyone that worked there.
It turns out, Lush actually has a product (a body wash) called Turkish Delight, so I ended up with a free sample!  And THEN they suggested taking a picture of me holding both the Turkish Delight candy and body wash to put on their facebook page. (I agreed, of course.)(But I've yet to find the picture.)
So, after this episode, I took the subway back downtown again, going ALL the way to SoHo.

It's VERY interesting, seeing the different characters on the subway on Halloween night.  One of my favorites was a mummy, wrapped in toilet paper completely.  He left toilet paper in the subway car and up the stairs.
So then I arrived at Housing Works!  There were lots of people in costume, Georges Melies silent movies were playing, and I saw... Valentina!  I had just explained steampunk to her last week, so she opted for wearing an elegant gold and white sequined top.  And Julia arrived as well!  She left homeschooling and started high school last fall, so she was missed dearly by us.  The third girl that came wishes to remain anonymous, so I'm just going to call her Delilah.
So, as Delilah, Julia, and I were all wearing steampunk outfits, we entered the costume contest.  And Delilah won!  The prize was four horror novellas and a steampunk novel.
After the event, we all got on the subway to go to our appropriate destinations.  I was going to spend the night at Valentina's house, so I went with her and Jackie, for which I was glad, because there was a creepy older man eyeballing me. Thankfully, he was off the subway, but it just occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't the wisest thing to wear an underbust corset on the subway at night.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The SALT club

A couple of years ago, one of my closest friends moved back to Australia.  I was nearly inconsolable for months, and while I was definitely alone and friendless, it had me (and my mom) thinking: How many other homeschoolers were having trouble connecting with the homeschool community?  
So that very night we decided to create a club where homeschoolers connect to likeminded homeschoolers.  We spent several hours trying to come up with a cool acronym, and finally ended up with "SALT", which stands for "Society for Artistic and Literary Teens".  The very first meeting, we met up at Edgar's Cafe on 84th street (Edgar Allan Poe street).  They had WONDERFUL cheesecake (this was before I went vegan) and the decor was very quaint and quirky.  Apparently my parents went on a date here many moons ago.  
So, after sorting out the unforeseen problem of NOT HAVING ENOUGH CHAIRS, we shared our favorite books to break the ice.  

The meetings themselves are very relaxed, and are a mix of homeschool veterans and newcomers to SALT.  Sometimes I assign optional "homework", which is usually something like, "Dress up like a pirate" or "Bring a portable instrument to Bryant park where we'll be spazzes and sing to our hearts' content".  It's usually just to get to know each other. 
The most recent SALT club took place in Little India just yesterday, because Diwali starts on Sunday.  So I asked everyone to research Diwali so they're not out of the know.  
After rehearsal for Yeast Nation (warning: shameless self-advertisement), I, my brother, and our friends Izzy, Luna and Leo took the subway to Jackson Heights in Queens.  I... honestly don't think I've ever been to Queens before.  It's embarrassing.  I'm in Manhattan and Brooklyn all week!  We then met up with brother and sister Zachary and Candace (Jazz musicians who just moved from San Francisco!) and  Jules (who is my age and EXTREMELY interested in visual arts) in front of Patel Brothers.  Patel Brothers is a grocery store which has ALL KINDS of specialty/imported/exotic ingredients, like atta flour, garam masala, Indian sweets, frozen chapatis... they were selling diyas (lamps for Diwali) as well, and even henna that came in a tube!  After browsing a bit, we found a buffet, and a couple more of our friends, Julia, Sofe, and Michael, came.  

There are quite a few buffets and diners in Little India, and VERY reasonably priced (10-12 dollars).  The owner was surprisingly friendly and welcoming to us, considering that we were a dozen loud, crazy homeschool teens.  but we got some amazing food (rice, tender, saucy potatoes, fresh naan bread, and some GLORIOUSLY spiced chick peas).  AND they gave us free rice pudding!
We then wandered around the area, window shopping and seeing the sights.  My mom found us, which  I thought rather impressive, as she (we) NEVER go to Queens.  Luna and Izzy drifted off to look at clothes, Quintin and Leo went off as well, which left the rest of us to browse the shops.  One in particular that was quite cool was Butal Emporium.  It was recommended to me by a homeschool mommylord.  I left Little India with some turmeric and adhesive bindis.  Eventually, everyone came back and my mom took a picture of us!  
from left to right: Candace, me, Julia, Izzy, Sofe, Luna, Leo, Michael, and Quintin.  Zach sort of disappeared.

I definitely think that organizing SALT meetings was one of the best things I've done.  A lot of homeschoolers have made friends through it, and if they were new to homeschooling, then it seemed like the transition was easier.  It has grown quite a bit through the years.   I love meeting all of the awesome teens that come to the meetings!