Laugh hard, it’s a long way to the bank…

Sounds I’m listening to this week:

Howdy,

sunday sunset

I’ve been in the city for nine days, now, and I’m pretty sure it’s rained for eight of them — at least for a few hours. It’s not just up here, either; apparently we did a good job of kicking this whole climate change thing into gear and Mother Nature’s been shitting on us accordingly. Rain’s not so bad, though, but what’s concerning is the idea that all this shifty weather could bring about a brutal heat wave as the summer wears on. It got really hot here last summer, but things were a little more bearable because I lived in a building with air-conditioning. I don’t now, so I’d rather not die of heat exhaustion.

We caught the dying breaths of Tropical Storm Andrea at the end of last week, which brought about a day and a half of sustained rainfall and a 50 mph wind gust every now and then. It turned out to be a lot less debilitating than I expected, but then again, I’m a Midwesterner and I’ve never been anywhere near a hurricane or tropical storm or whatever. You know how all the out-of-state people start shitting themselves at the prospect of tornadoes back home? Well, I’m like that, except with Hurricanes because, frankly, I haven’t the slightest clue what’s severe and what isn’t.  The closest I’d ever come to that kind of weather before last week was whenever I’d watch the telethons and benefit concerts that followed Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy — destruction footage and all. So, as you can imagine, I was a little on-edge. As the storm came closer, the weather forecasts began to look a bit more tame and, to my knowledge, there wasn’t any notable damage within in the five boroughs. I’m sure that came as a relief to people who had to live out that hurricane nightmare last year. I still can’t imagine.

The storm did destroy my nice umbrella, thus forcing me — involuntarily — to begin the tedious process of finding a new umbrella in New York City. For those of you who’ve never been in NYC without an umbrella when a rainstorm hits, the majority of stores and vendors here are notorious for selling shoddy, lanky umbrellas at staggeringly high prices. Sure, you can bypass this by going into a department store and paying $60 for a big, multi-layered, high-end parasol; but, when a tropical storm is unleashing a torrential volley of raindrops upon you while you stand helplessly on the sidewalk, you’ve got to bite the bullet. So, just like my first summer, I had to blow $20 on an umbrella that will likely break the next time I open it, thus beginning what will likely become a never-ending cycle of me getting methodically boned by the NYC umbrella racket for the rest of the summer (and no, I can’t bring myself to spend $60 on an umbrella). So hopefully it stops raining.

It didn’t rain Saturday, though, which was perfect because that was the day of the Belmont Stakes. Since I got in the day before I started work last week, I hadn’t yet had the chance to meet up and go out with any of my friends who are in the city this summer as well. T.J., one of my closest fraternity brothers who is working 45 minutes away in Stamford, Conn., took a train down in the morning. Usually you’re allowed to bring a cooler full of whatever into the ‘backyard’ area of Belmont Park, so long as you don’t take it with you into the main grandstand. However, this year they decided to step up their security measures and banned coolers and outside booze. Luckily, since we’re college students, we’ve accrued a good amount of experience and wisdom when it comes to sneaking beers into public places. Once Kate, one of our friends from KU who’s working in Midtown, and her roommate came over, we transferred a few beers into some empty bottles of ginger ale and made our way to Belmont Park in Queens.

belmont 1

We got there a bit late — an hour before the main race — but we were able to find my friend Greg’s parents, who live on Long Island. Greg, T.J. and I are all in the same fraternity at KU, and over the last two summers, Greg would have me out to his hometown on Long Island to hit the beach and relax for a few days. His parents are extraordinarily welcoming and are a blast to to hang out with, so even though Greg is working on an internship in Kansas City this summer, we made a point to meet up with them. After drinking for a bit, Greg’s dad and I took to the betting window to start putting some money on horses. I had a goal that day: Kanye West was playing the next day at Governor’s Ball Music Festival and tickets were listed around $150, so I was hoping to make as much as possible so I could afford a ticket and see Kanye play. However, unlike last year when I miraculously won a ton of money after following my dad’s horse racing expertise, I had shit-awful luck and only won a total of maybe $12 from about $30-$40 worth of bets. I probably would have lost more had I not decided to cut my losses and start making smaller bets on the last few races. Regardless of my shit luck, it was a solid time and I was very happy to hear that the others had a blast as well.

final stretch

I got into Aziz Ansari‘s secret show last week, too. He just finished up his last tour and wanted to try out some new jokes he’d been working on, so he tweeted out that he’d be playing a few blocks from my building and the first 150 to the door would get in. I made it in time and got to see the show. The man’s hilarious; if you ever get a chance to see him live, take it.

Aziz

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this weekend, but I’m sure there’ll be something solid going on. Work’s going very well, too, so I couldn’t be happier.

We’ll talk again next week.

All the best
AJ

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