An Introvert in Vegas – Part Two

When we escape, we shed our introvert persona in the most subtle ways.  We know we’re escaping to something we totally geek out about so we’re in our element.  We have no problem doing things alone, in fact some times we prefer that so we don’t have to engage in all that small talk.  Give us a damn good conversation that goes beyond the weather and the latest jargon and we are in…

So off I go to geek out at the Neon Boneyard.  As I already said what Vegas lacks in sophistication and culture it surely makes up for in glitz and excess but it does have history.  There’s no denying that and I’m a history geek so the Neon Boneyard fit me to a tee.

It’s easy to get one of the ubiquitous cabs and it turns out it’s my first cabby’s first day.  I look at the bellman…really?  He confirmed, it’s the kid’s first day.  What a joyful twenty minute ride.  A young man with an accent I couldn’t place.  He misses his family but didn’t share where they were.  Please forgive me but I must use the GPS… he was incredibly cautious and sloooowwww. We chatted about Vegas, how it’s no place to be in the summer. And he hopes to be in school by then. But so what, we made it by the time my tour started.  My guess would be confirmed later that my fare was a bit more than it probably should have been but we enjoyed each other’s company.  Hopefully his confidence will grow and his self conscientiousness will subside. And a new life is in store for him.

From their website: In 2012 the Neon Museum Boneyard opened at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North.  The nearly two-acre campus includes an outdoor exhibition space, known as the Boneyard, which features more than 200 signs, seven of which are restored, a visitors’ center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is used for weddings, special events, photo shoots and educational programs.

So basically we toured a lot full of broken down, pieces and shards and rust and chipped paint.  I loved it.  Our group was small, maybe 8-10 people and our guide was cool and knowledgeable.  As I’m prone to do I hung behind and poked and snapped away.

From the website: The Museum includes nine restored signs which can be viewed as public art and visited on a self-guided tour twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The gallery includes the Lucky Cuss Motel, the Bow & Arrow Motel, The Silver Slipper, Society Cleaners, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Normandie Motel, the Hacienda horse and rider, the Landmark and 5th Street Liquors.

Some of the more prized refurbishments which may be retrofitted with led lights for the night tour.  If you’re going to go, book your night tour as early in your visit as you can, it sells out quickly.

From their website: Most of our signs are exhibited in the Boneyard where they serve as inspiration to fascinated artists, students, historians and designers.  It is home to some of the most treasured and world-famous signs of Las Vegas – Caesars Palace, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget and the Stardust.

The two-acre Musuem campus includes the adjacent Neon Boneyard Park, the Boneyard itself, which houses more than 200 historic signs, and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which contains approximately 60 additional signs including signs from the Palms Casino Resort, New-New York, Lady Luck and O’Shea’s.

Each sign in the collection has a unique story about who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and how it fits into the development of Las Vegas and the city’s rich history.  Changes and trends in design and technology are also illustrated in the pieces that range from the 1930s to the present day.

As part of our guided tours of the Neon Boneyard, the signs can be viewed at ground level and up close. Each has been donated or loaned by individuals, businesses or sign companies.

A popular destination not only for events and weddings, but also photographers, film and production crews from around the world, the North Gallery enables the museum to keep up with growing demand and international attention the signs bring.  It provides a picturesque backdrop not only for weddings and special events, but also commercial and commemorative photo shoots as well as educational programs.  At this time the North Gallery is not available for guided tours.

There are people running this museum with the same dedication you’d expect from any non-profit trying to preserve history.  It is worth your while to visit for the history but their enthusiasm is contagious. And the hour tour won’t seem long enough.  But that’s ok you can stay as long as you like and then chat with them while they call you a cab.

What begins with a cab ride naturally had to end with a cab ride.  This time, Manuel, a well seasoned cabby since 1982, first in California and now in Vegas, knew every shortcut and back road to land me at the front door of the Aria in at least 5 minutes less during rush hour. He knew a great deal about Fremont Street and “what goes on there”… and managed to give me a good education and highlight some sites along the way back.  And yes it was cheaper, but I can assure you my tip was the same…


An Introvert in Vegas – Part One

Most people don’t think of me as an introvert but I can assure you I am indeed of the introverted point of view.  It’s not always about being shy, it’s not about being sullen or lacking the ability to small talk, it’s about how and where you gather your strength and what depletes your strength.  Vegas, a convention in Vegas, definitely depletes your strength. Let’s be perfectly clear, Vegas is an introvert’s worst nightmare.

The flight out was relatively uneventful. I ran into some dealer colleagues at the airport who I enjoy very much.  These are some fine outstanding individuals and we passed the time with humor and coffee.  The flight was relatively smooth although some people thought there was a lot of turbulence.  Having taken the bus from Bergen County to the Port Authority in NYC I didn’t think it was all that bad.

Now that we’re in the age of mobile everything, check in was a breeze.  My room was lovely, not the highest floor, not the best view but comfortable and complete with a nice big soaking tub. And room darkening drapes.  And a goodnight button.  Can I get an alright…score one for the introvert.

Vegas is three hours behind New Jersey, remember all that pissing and moaning I did when I lost one hour…just saying, gaining three was going to take some doing also.  My regional colleagues were in practice conferences for upcoming corporate meetings so I was on my own until the regional get together later on.  I was on my own, that is, until I opened my laptop and there they were…the zillion emails that had gathered while I flew the friendly skies…she said tongue in cheek after hearing how United is carrying on.

As caught up as one can ever be on email off I go with a band of merry makers, undoubtedly they had a head start, to the regional dinner, if you can call it that. I’m always reminded of our former regional admin extraordinaire whenever these events take place.  They pale in comparison to what she could conjure up.  She had a knack for turning a limited budget into a 4 star affair complete with courses, desert, and unavoidable mingling.  This was not that…this was something else with chafing dishes.

Clearly everyone had a head start on me but I’m not one to try and catch up.  It must be Vegas when usually reserved people are letting go and instigating questions about God verses religion.  I might have written something about that recently never expecting it to become bar room banter.  We made it work, note to self, what happens in Vegas…

I was grateful to escape for a nice walk back to the hotel with a fellow clear thinker as it was already way passed my bedtime.  As I walked by the bar there were plenty of people imbibing among them one of my all-time favorite people.  Can I buy you a drink, sure.  We chatted for a few minutes and I took my wine to go.  Another score for the introvert.

5:30am I’m in search of the Starbucks. A resort and casino in the early morning is a completely different animal.  There’s still music, there are still flashing lights but no people, no winners. There are left overs, the desperate and dazed.  There are the “working girls” leaving rooms, walking more slowly, looking tired.  You can see why each was chosen the night before but the morning light doesn’t pay tribute.

When the convention started on this morning it was electric.  So many people, many of them looking a bit…morning after…many of them I hadn’t seen in years.  This was a wonderful huge ballroom filled with the excitement of our company and the people who believe in it and make it what it is.  This I can do, this I believe in, this is us.

Communal lunches with people I don’t normally get to socialize with and back to the jazz.  Then back to my email, who are these people emailing me while I’m in Vegas?Surprisingly, I was grateful for the familiarity over the course of these days.

Dinners with my car hag counterparts from other regions or other departments were delicious.  We are all cut from a similar cloth, something on the light side but fabulous, the wine, the camaraderie all perfect.  We lingered over dinner and chatted away then we were on our separate ways.  Not to the casino, I didn’t place one bet the entire time I was there, not to the bar but to the sanctity of our rooms. My books. My tub…the quiet.

I did manage to squeeze in a side trip which I’ve been wanting to do for some time.  What Vegas lacks in sophistication and culture it surely makes up for in glitz and excess but it does have history.  There’s no denying that and I’m a history geek.  The Neon Boneyard…more on that in a separate post but suffice to say it was a highlight of this trip.

The convention lasted for three days, me not so much.  By the last day I was done.  The constant down beat of the music reminiscent of jazzercise classes from decades ago up to the current techno banging of today.  I had walked thousands of steps, eaten more exquisite rich food than I had in, I don’t know maybe ever, glad handed and talked shop until I reached my limit.  And tonight was going to be the gala. Seriously, me, deaf-in-one-ear and a DJ turning God knows what…the thought of that made me look into flying out early.  No luck on that as the flights into EWR were already delayed due to weather.

So my last day went like this, an hours-long breakfast with a dear friend so we could finally catch up after too long and a tip from the concierge about an amazing hiding spot. Benjamin took pity on the woman standing across from him wanting to know is there anywhere, beside my room, where one could have their coffee in a quiet friendly place.  No music, no flashing lights or dinging, nothing.  Would soft background music be ok?  I think my exhale said it all.  Behind the Aria is a sister hotel called the Vdara. Go passed the Buddha, make a right at the modern sculputure that looks like an instillation of canoes, OK…

It doesn’t have a casino, or flashing lights, or dinging.  What it does have is a quiet lobby bar with no one in it and a Starbucks.  I was in heaven, no one knew me, no one cared that I simply had my coffee and journaled to my heart’s content.  Benjamin saved a life that day…just sayin he most definitely was an introvert’s hero.

Late that afternoon when many people had already left I was reading, ordering room service, packing and taking a long hot bath.  It was the end of a perfect day.  I was off for home the next day with a few little glitches but nothing to speak of knowing I’d be sleeping in my own bed with my dear Toti Nonna. Yes there was a welcome home happy dance.

Would I do this again, the short answer is no.  My guess is my job designation won’t make the invite list next year, it was probably a mistake this year to be perfectly honest but I’m glad I got to experience the convention once before I retire.  There is one less thing to be crossed off my “why-not” list and there were some amazing high points.

In the end Vegas is no place for introverts. Most definitely not this introvert.

For more pictures from the trip you can check out the Ordinary Legacy Instagram page. Yes the Toti Nonna happy dance is there too.




What’s Next?

There probably comes a time in every career when you begin to think, what’s next?  For those starting out, it’s a matter of; is this working for me?-do I like this job?-am I bored?-or I can do better?  For those of us beginning to wrap up it’s a matter of relevance and retirement.  The big R & R.

Many of those in the middle aren’t even thinking about it, somewhat afraid to tempt fate.

Something happens to start the process, for those starting out it’s a matter of money-status-deserving-entitlement!  For those of us wrapping up it can be something along the lines of technology.  Technology rushing ahead of us with the force of its fury sneaking up behind us to bite us in the ass. Or…you can find yourself in the unusual position of being one of a select few who actually know something others don’t.

About what?  A rickety old mainframe system, once state of the art I’m sure, that now needs to be upgraded to interface with the real world. The app world.  The world that includes code and mapping and URLs, that world.

I recently found myself in that position and I’m not sure how I feel about it.  On one hand I feel like a dinosaur about to take the plunge into extinction and on the other hand I feel like a dinosaur being resurrected from a company archeological dig.  You notice either way I remain a dinosaur.

Regardless of how I felt about it I found myself, along with one other colleague of the same status, awake at 6am and at the ready to test the newest upgrade of the poor old mainframe system.  We came to the conclusion that the last time we heard each other’s voices, this time over Skype, was the last time this function got a facelift.

The test failed at 630am and there was much discussion of what went right and what went wrong, most of which escaped me.  Fast forward several hours later and phase one of the testing had been completed successfully.

These are the things that get me thinking, wouldn’t it be better to think of yourself as a well-regarded “company historian” than a dinosaur?  Didn’t it prove better to take a preexisting system with good bones, that has served you well, remains relevant and important and upgrade it?

Could one make the leap that in our throwaway society, where spikey hair and skinny jeans reign, sometimes the lessons and knowledge of the past also serve you well and remain not only relevant but incredibly important?  If only to prevent you from trying to reinvent the wheel?

Perhaps this is what’s next; a renewed respect for the company elders. Perhaps…or more likely, since the last known existing old mainframe system has been upgraded, a bit of R & R is in order.


Ellie, That Friend

I learned today of the death of a friend.  The kind of friend who knows all about you, all the nasty bits, the things you’ve done wrong and the things you’ve done right.  Things your family and other friends don’t know and never will, it’s confidential she’d say. That friend.

The kind of friend who was once in the thick of it with you and then faded back into her life and you into yours all the while touching base on occasion and meeting to pickup where you left off. That friend.

The kind of friend that reminds you that people your age are dying faster than you’d like to admit, that makes you want to clean out your closets (both literally and figuratively) so you can curate what people find when it happens to you.  That friend.

The kind of friend who cared so deeply about others, one especially wonderful old gal and treasure, that she forgot to comb her hair most days.  The one that could occasionally wear mis-matched socks, who had the same thing for lunch everytime we met. That friend.

The impact of this loss will unfold over time, with fond memories and picking up the slack by checking in on our mutual old friend. It will unfold when I put my glasses down and can’t remember where I put them as she often did.  It will unfold when I find myself at our old familiar diner.

She was a remarkable woman who shared.  She will be missed. She will not be forgotten. Farewell, Ellie

Escape! Room? Weekend?

Isn’t it true what they say about the good things always being so unexpected? Sometimes it just starts with an “I want to do this, who’s in?”  Hands go up, shouts of “pick me” “pick me” and we’ve got ourselves an adventure.

This past weekend, before Stella ran her ass through our neck of the woods, two of my nearest and dearest found time, and an opening in their schedules, for a visit.  All centered around too-much-time-had-gone-by and this thing called an “escape room”.

Of course an adventure needs fuel, so brunch was in order at a lovely place called La Pecora Bianca on the corner of 26th and Broadway.  Parking was a breeze on 26th between Broadway and 6th, and Escape the Room is also on 26th.  All thanks to David’s extraordinary “producer” instincts, and recent run on the “Circus”, we were a well-oiled machine left only to enjoy our game.

From Escape the Room:  An Escape Room is a real-life escape game in which you and your team have an hour to solve puzzles and unravel mysteries through finding clues. The room can take up to 12 people; you must work together as a team.

Am I going to be locked in a room?  Yes! It wouldn’t be much fun if you weren’t! Don’t worry though, every game is monitored by audio and video surveillance. In case you need to leave the room during the game, there is a green exit button clearly marked by the door that unlocks the room in case of an emergency situation. Should you choose to leave during the 60-minute time limit, your game is over, however, the remainder of your group may continue until the time runs out or succeed in escaping.

The prospect of being locked in a room for an hour can be a bit intimidating and the blood red walls didn’t help, nor did the slam of the door and the start of the clock.  But that intimidation lasted less than a minute, there was work to do.

Kyle, David and I have been friends for a very long time, our conversations are varied and intelligent and often very funny. Now here we are locked in a room with three very nice kids, college kids, like Harvard and Brown kids.  Isn’t it funny how intelligence can transcend age at times?  The enthusiasm of those kids mixed with our patience and breadth of knowledge made this even more enjoyable.

Set to our task the minutes clicked by and we were sooooooooooo close (no spoilers) but unfortunately we had to be released from the room, we did not solve the mystery.  We have all taken to saying we would have had it solved in another five minutes.  Really, five minutes.  We were that close.

Retrieve the car, back to Stowe Lane, where we took up residence around my table and do what we do.  Catch up, with animated conversation, and divine friendship.  It is so easy to be together, it is so easy to pick up where we left off and go places we’ve never been all without leaving the table.  It wasn’t easy to drop David off at the train station.

One more day with my dear summer sister and she would be out and home before the storm. Her visit to see Gramma was a huge uplift for her in her rather limited existence.  Rere adores her as do we all.

And then we do what we do best, chat or not, coffee and a sweet, love of an old dog make for a relaxed day of this and that.  It was a lovely weekend escape on so many levels.

T.F. Hodge said it best, “Feed the mind good wisdom, the body good nutrition, the soul good vibes, and the heart good love. Elevation for your situation.”