Last night, I went with NYC's CFI (Centre for Inquiry) to a Karaoke event in the East Village, which was mostly fun (although I stayed a bit longer than I should've and drained by introvert batteries pretty low, eventually cumulating in the paranoia that I only barely moved past as I left). Entry was a bit tricky because I traded my PA ID for a NYC ID (which both lacks a picture and I managed to not bring), but it was fun, some of the company was cute, other company was pretty awesome, and there were just a few people who were neither. My first song utterly bombed; I chose "I've got a little list" from the Mikado, but I don't know that song super well and the teleprompter usually brought up the words after I already should've sung them; I just kind of stuttered through it, and everyone just talked with each other. My second song was considerably more successful; I went with "We Both Reached for the Gun" from Chicago (which I know considerably better) and had its lyrics handy on my phone in paragraph form for when I needed them. I did this one pretty well; people were getting into it. I wasn't very successful at the conversations outside of singing, but it was a high-noise environment and there were a few aggressively friendly dudes hogging the attention of the women there and I only managed a few conversations with other guys. It dragged on a bit, but overall was a good experience.
Today I woke up with a light migraine (still have it); I'm tired of letting those entirely ruin my day so I've been bearing the pain and having adventures; hopped the Q to Manhattan, changed to the Q (not a typo) and took it to Atoria, where I walked around a bit and then settled down at Waltz Astoria, a cute teahouse/wine bar/performance area. They have good tea that's just labelled "French"; it's slightly floral and quite good and I am curious what it really is. Carrot Cake is pretty decent too. I like the atmosphere; it seems to be the first floor of a large house, hollowed out a bit, and there are books and guitars all over the place. It's also not too crowded. Astoria's rather distant from where I live so I can't see myself becoming a regular here, but this is a pretty great place and I might come back every so often.
As for Astoria, which might or might not be typical of Queens, as Queens is unique as a Borough in that it was never a city, just a big part of Long Island that NYC grabbed at some point in the past), it doesn't feel a lot like NYC. There's still the infrastructure, but it's more sparse than in Manhattan/Bronx/Brooklyn, and the stores are not cramped. In those other 3 boroughs, you get the feeling that any bit of space was made according to some brutal cost-benefit analysis, so if there's a big store or coffeeshop you know it's got to be really amazingly successful, and all walking spaces are kind of cramped (supermarkets are cavelike; you don't walk a lot to see things, you just move your eyes). Not so here. It's not as relaxed as Pittsburgh (which feels like it has the metric of "be smart, but there's plenty of room") or Columbus (you have more space than you know what to do with); it feels kind of like Philadelphia, which is reasonably lenient with space. Astoria's kind of a likable place to relax a bit, only hampered a bit by there being a surprising number of ugly or smelly people about (still dressed okay, just a bit undesirable). The city's still pretty around here though. Oh, there are also a lot of people who drive cars here, which doesn't feel so common in other bits of NYC I've seen.
I am trying to decide if I want to see Randalls Island on this trip or if it'd be better seen by bike (some other trip). Maybe my next adventure will be to some spot on Staten. I'm coming to really like this way of doing things; hop on the subway, hop off somewhere distant, find a place to sit for a bit, walk around, and head back in the evening. NYC has enough of that to keep me busy for quite some time. The public transit pass is pretty groovy for this lifestyle.