Friday Anticipation: Friends in Town!

This weekend, E and I are having a friendstravaganza! Our friends Molly and Drew, who live in lovely Stratford, Connecticut, are making their way into the city and to our apartment tomorrow, and we will have many adventures with them! We have known Molly since E was in undergrad at the University of Connecticut. We lived down the street from her when we lived in Somerville, MA, and were on a weekly pub trivia team with her, so you know she’s gotta be awesome, right? Right. Our local friends will join the fun, and all will be lovely (crossing our fingers for decent weather)!

Right now the plan is to go to Octoberfest at the Bohemian Beer Garden (from April to October, basically every weekend involves the beer garden in some way, D-E-A-L-W-I-T-H-I-T or just come visit and we’ll take you, too!), and then get up Sunday morning and head into Manhattan for bagels and a walk through one of our favorite places, the High Line. The second section of this park built on old abandoned elevated train tracks opened this summer, and meandering through it is an absolutely lovely, so-New-York way to spend an hour.

From there, we’re planning to head to Williamsburg for the Brooklyn Flea. E and I have a running list of Things We’d Like to Buy Secondhand, including art and nightstands, but on Sunday our main goal will be to have an enjoyable browse experience. I’ve actually never made it to the Flea before, so I’m excited! I might even wear my hipster glasses, WHO KNOWS.

Tomorrow is also NYC’s SlutWalk, at which I am going to try to make an appearance, so if you’re interested in such things (my own reservations about the event are a topic for another time, but I do support the effort to raise awareness and demand accountability), there’s more info here.

Friday Anticipation: Trains, Rain, and Automobiles

Today I wore some crazy bright red galoshes to work. I felt a little silly traipsing around in red rubber boots this morning when it was bone dry outside (not counting humidity, of course, which is still through the roof), but when I put them on before I dashed out to get taquitos for lunch, I let go of any regret that remained. Rain boots are AWESOME, guys! And it looks like I’ll be getting a lot of use out of them this weekend, since the forecast in New York is calling for rain through Wednesday.

Even still, I am excited for this weekend! I’ve been feeling the interior re-decorating bug lately, so tonight I am trying to muster the motivation to make a quick run to Ikea for a new rug for our entryway and possibly some fabric panels to fill the wall behind our brass bed.

Tomorrow we are heading into Manhattan for a tour of the abandoned City Hall subway station with the New York Transit Museum. E and I have been dying to explore the station since we learned of its existence a few years ago, and I finally bought tickets (and the required NYTM membership) for his birthday this year. I am frustrated all the time by New York’s tendency to bulldoze and pave over many of its historical sites, but the city still holds some of its secrets beneath its surface.

The station's been abandoned since 1945. Photo from the Huffington Post.

Then, E’s brother, N, is coming into the city to enjoy an evening at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, New York’s oldest standing beer garden and one of our favorite places in the city. Luckily, it’s also on our block, so we spend a whole lot of time there when the weather’s good. They have a tent set up now that it’s cooling down, so we’re hoping to still enjoy the garden despite the weather.

On Sunday, I have the privilege of attending a baby “sprinkle” for a good friend of mine. She’s having her second child, a boy, in November, and the ladies in her life decided to take the opportunity to gather and celebrate in a low-key way – hence the “sprinkle” rather than a “shower.” I’m excited to see folks and enjoy the day, and to love on the mama-to-be. I also always like an opportunity to head up the highway into New England in the early Fall for some foliage, since the leaves in New York usually just stay green forever and then drop off the trees.

Here’s to a wonderful weekend!

This week: That time we saw Benjamin Linus on the N Train

A chance to share a quick story from sometime this week!

Heading to Brooklyn from Queens on a Sunday when the trains are super slow and lame and full of tourists never seems like a good idea. And yet, there we were, on our way to meet folks for lunch in Brooklyn Heights. E and I had been bickering all morning in the way that people-who-live-together do sometimes, when he turned to me and whispered, wide-eyed, “Benjamin Linus is sitting next to me.” I looked, and, sure enough, there was Michael Emerson. We giggled to ourselves for a few minutes, took this clandestine photograph, and I tried frantically to think of something to say to him that wasn’t, “4-8-15-16-23-42.”

He got up to get off the subway just 2 stops later, and as he passed in front of us, E said, “Good luck with your new show!” He turned and looked down at us (and I was grinning like a madwoman at this point, just so you don’t think I’m cool or something), and said, “Thank you very much. I hope it’s worth watching.”

YOU GUYS. HE IS TOTALLY BENJAMIN LINUS IN REAL LIFE. HE EVEN WEARS THOSE LITTLE ROUND GLASSES IN REAL LIFE.

You know what this means, right?  LOST WAS A DOCUMENTARY.

We Do New York: Stillspotting NYC

One of my priorities as I enter my third and possibly last year of living in New York City is to experience as much of the city as possible, as cheaply and meaningfully as I can. This means about a million things, from taking advantage of free admission days at local museums, to using the heck out of our museum memberships, to prioritizing those activities that are worth paying for that allow me to see the city in a new way.

One activity that fell into the lattermost category (but that I didn’t have to pay for myself since I went on a field trip with work, score!) was the To a Great City tour, part of the Guggenheim’s Stillspotting NYC, a series of installations around Lower Manhattan.

The staging of five recorded works by Pärt gradually transports visitors from the hustle and bustle of the streetscape to an elevated urban experience that makes them newly aware of their sense of hearing. Visitors can experience this confluence of music and architecture at five separate locations downtown that quietly celebrate the city, ten years after the September 11 attacks. Traveling through sites along the periphery of Ground Zero, participants encounter a green labyrinth created by the Battery Conservancy, reflect in an underground chamber at Governors Island National Monument, and enter otherwise inaccessible spaces in landmark skyscrapers. The stillness and seclusion of these spaces heightens awareness and recalibrates the senses. Over the course of a day, participants may visit each space multiple times at their leisure to understand how their perception changes based on circumstances such as time, stress, appetite, and sleep. Listeners become increasingly sensitized as they are drawn in and ideally are transformed to a focused and tranquil state.

We were able to hit 3 of the 5 sites (the other 2 located on Governors Island had to be skipped because we missed the last ferry of the day, boo), and so we got to walk a labyrinth in Battery Park, check out the view from the 46th floor of 7 World Trade Center, and hang out in the Woolworth Building. In each location, music helped to quiet the world around you and focus your attention.

I’d say, overall, the project wasn’t super successful. The coolest thing about it was getting access to non- or semi-public areas, and most often the music felt rather forced and awkward. I would have liked to have seen more spaces that New Yorkers take for granted (the labyrinth in Battery Park, for example) given a soundtrack for download and personal use. How cool would it be to be hanging out in Battery Park and see a few people walking the labyrinth with headphones on, participating in something you don’t know about yet, but want to find out about?  As it was executed, it felt rather stiff and formal.

That said, I was glad to have done it, and would have paid the $10 ticket fee myself. The inside of the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building was insanely detailed and beautiful (This photo hardly does it justice), and the views of the newly opened 9/11 Memorial from 7 WTC were lovely. I only wish we’d been able to see the sites on Governors Island to round out the experience – that might have changed my impressions of the tour overall.

Tours for To a Great City run from Thursdays to Sundays, September 15–18 and 22–25, 2011. Hours of operation are 11 am–7 pm, with the last ticket pick-up at 4 pm (but try not to miss the last Governors Island ferry!). Information available here.

Friday Anticipation

It’s Friday! And, at the risk of seeming too culturally irrelevant/lame, we we we so excited!

This is the first weekend in several that E and I have been in New York for the WHOLE WEEKEND, and I am pretty excited about it. Last weekend we went up to Massachusetts for our adorable nephew’s first birthday party and to get some quality time in with family, and the week prior to that we were in Washington, DC, visiting my sister. This weekend we are planning to try a new grilled cheese and microbrews restaurant in our ‘hood, enjoy some beer garden weather before it fades away, use a Groupon for bowling, and maybe stop by the Maker Faire! The awesome thing about that laundry list is that it doesn’t require us to leave our home borough, Queens, at all!

And they say Manhattan is where it’s at. Pshhhh!

I am also on a mission to do two seemingly opposed things: 1) Sleep a LOT; and 2) Clean out our closets/shelves/drawers/etc.!

Tessie will be pretty happy to have us home all weekend, too.

Pesky-tarianism

E is a pescatarian. After nearly 25 years of meat and dairy and basically everything else making him sick, and 4 years of me nagging him to try going vegetarian for a little while to see if it helped, he broke after one particularly awful car ride from New York to Massachusetts, and hasn’t eaten meat since. The dairy avoidance comes and goes, but he’s definitely better off when he’s not eating dairy. For some reason, seafood doesn’t really bother him, so he still eats fish and their water-going friends for a quick protein fix.

I still eat meat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I still eat it. However, we don’t prepare meat at home. Neither of us in interested in making multiple meals to please individual diners, and I’m okay with not having meat for dinner, anyway. Most of the time. I find that, generally, our meatless meals are more thoughtful, healthier, cheaper and easier to prepare, especially since I never really got comfortable with cooking meat and was always convinced we were one meal away from lethal food poisoning.

Sometimes, though, meals without meat feel like a great betrayal to the elaborate meat-centric family dinners that my parents put on the table growing up. Meat, starch, vegetable — I admit that creating a dining experience where the various components complement each other was easier and more fun when you had more discrete elements. Occasionally I find myself wanting to just have a simple 3-item meal rather than concoct some elaborate vegetarian dish to satisfy us. It can begin to feel like every night we’re just throwing a bunch of vegetables and a grain in a pot and mindlessly eating whatever comes out – since we avoid fake meat, it seems like most vegetarian cooking blogs offer these one-dish meals as our only other option. And who can blame them? It’s easy otherwise to end up with a diet that feels like it’s composed entirely of side dishes.

So, I am always a little bit extra pleased when a dinner comes together easily and makes us feel like we got something tasty and satisfying out of the deal. Last night, we had salmon tacos full of the veggies pictured at left and some black beans, cheese, and, of course, salmon. It was a great way to begin to say goodbye to summer (I walk through the Union Square Greenmarket on my way to work, and every time I am overwhelmed by a desire to BUY ALL THE PRODUCE before they are gone!), and the leftovers made an awesome salad which, admittedly, felt a bit like making a meal out of a side dish. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

A Work of Love

Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.

-Walt Disney

I am lucky enough to have good people in my life, to be a notch or two above poverty, to not be a total misanthrope. And yet, sometimes (more often than I’d like), a lot of my day-to-day activities feel like a total chore, and exhausting ritual to get through in between getting out of and into bed. So, I’m trying to work on that. I’m trying to be positive, to enjoy what’s around me, and to develop habits that will make it easier to do both of those things. At the core of it, I love my life. I just need to work on it. I want the unfurling tapestry of my lifetime to be a work of love, woven in good times and bad times with care and thought.

That sounds lovely, but the reality will likely be hairier. I’m okay with that. Just the way that Walt Disney, quoted above, weathered his share of controversy, my world will not remain unshaken by my own woes. But, like Disneyland, hopefully I’ll get better at making people around me — and myself — happy. We’ll see.