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Archive for June, 2010

Call Me Angelina.

Breaking news in the land of moi.  I’m famous.

NO I’m not famous because I’m such a good blogger (I wish.  Anyone who wants to pay me for this, please, feel free).  I’m famous because I played hooky on Friday and instead of going to work I went and spent the day doing New York-y things (read: shopping) with my dear friend who was leaving for Tanzania the very next day.

Friday also happened to be Opening Day of probably the best, most ridiculous store I’ve ever been to: The Forever 21 in Times Square.  Yes, it’s discount, and yes, it’s cheesy and trendy, but  YOU GUYS.  This store is an ENTIRE city block long and it’s the biggest one-brand store in Manhattan.  Also, they were giving away free stuff.

So the day basically goes off without a hitch, I spend more money than I probably should buying rompers and trendy straw fedoras, and the weekend rolls on as weekends do.  Yawn.

BUT WAIT.  As I was casually shopping on Friday things were happening.  Namely, things like photographers snapping pictures of me for Reuters and then plastering it all over the internet so on Monday morning I get ambushed by people informing me that my mug is the new face of American Spending habits:

I AM FAMOUS.

I’m having mixed feelings about this.

1. OMG YAY I AM FAMOUSSSS.

2. Ahhh scary HOW can they do this without alerting me in some way…IS THIS LEGAL?

3. Now my 45 second study of this ugly shirt is going to be preserved for posterity for all time.

4. Oops, I hope my bosses don’t read Reuters regularly, cause Friday was a “sick day.”

Also, a smug sense of joy cause out of the 1,000,000 shoppers in that Forever 21 on Friday, YOURS TRULY was the one who’s breath-taking beauty caught the eye of the camera.  Bam.

I also especially love the news that this article is reporting.  Spending is up, you say?  My bank account certainly agrees with you there, Reuters.  Spot on reporting!

The internet is so weird.

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Confession time: I worry a lot.  About everything.

That’s probably an understatement.  I worry a TON.  It’s my favorite activity, other than sleeping, or eating.  It’s exhausting and I can’t help it and I don’t even notice I do it, most of the time.

I went to Boston this weekend and since I don’t have a car (hint hint, mom & dad…25th b-day present!) I took a bus.  That’s right.  A BUS.  It was my first bus ride EVER, which is pretty impressive since apparently the Northeast Corridor is primo bus-traveling territory.

It wasn’t the dreaded Chinatown bus that I took, but rather the very nice and clean and harmless Megabus.  Nevertheless, my worry over getting myself on said bus kicked in approximately 6 days before I even had to leave.  Example phone conversation with H, on Monday (bus departure time: Friday, 4:50pm).

Me: But I don’t know where it departs.

H: so look at the website.  It will tell you.

Me: BUT I don’t know what time I should leave my office or how early I have to get there or what I have to do once I get there or if I have to print my ticket or an electronic ticket is okay.

H: …

Me: AND WHAT IF I CAN”T FIND THE BUS AND IT LEAVES WITHOUT ME THEN WHAT.

H: (can’t even get a word in edgewise)

Me: AND IT”S DOUBLE-DECKER, YOU KNOW.  WHAT IF IT CRASHES AND I GET CRUSHED OR SOME CRAZY PERSON IS ON THERE WITH ME AND STARTS CUTTING OFF PEOPLE”S HEADS LIKE HOW THAT HAPPENED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO.  REMEMBER THAT?!?!

I won’t go on, cause I think you get the point.  I didn’t even get any comfort from my stupid boyfriend.  All I got was an “are you serious right now?” and a prompt adios.  He’s experienced my worrying before…he knows there’s nothing he can do to stop it, and it probably doesn’t matter what he says anyway.  I’ll still worry.

So Friday rolled around, and by this point my worry had climbed up to about an 11 on a scale of 1-10.  It didn’t help that a quick last-minute internet search brought up frightening reviews and horror stories having to do with no A/C, an incompetent driver, a broken-down bus, and pee smells.  It was official: my worry had turned into anxiety.

Anxiety is a fun word that I’ve started to throw around with abandon lately.  Don’t know what to make for my office summer picnic? ANXIETY.  Sad that H travels and I am left home alone? ANXIETY.  Hear a scary noise in the middle of the night? ANXIETY.  ANXIETY.  ANXIETY.

It’s awesome.  H, I think, especially enjoys that I’ve gained a new interest in psychiatric self-diagnosis (thank you, WebMD!).

Anyway: the bus.  I arrive with plenty of time to spare.  Time enough, in fact, to make a last-minute Starbucks trip (why I thought caffeine would help my mindset at that point I have no idea.  Hello, jittery!).  Momentarily distracted by my iced chai-tea latte, I start wandering around the vicinity of Penn Station.  And suddenly I realize that the departure point, which I so meticulously noted on a post-it, is sitting not in my bag, but back on my desk, 35 minutes downtown.

PANIC.ANXIETY.HELP I’M LOST.

Disclaimer: Penn station is where every single bus on the face of the planet departs.  It is a bus orgy.  There are buses on every corner.

As my anxiety-hives start to appear and my heart stats to pound I arbitrarily pick a corner and a bus that looks promising.  I linger near it, trying to look casual.  It is now 4:35.  I see no sign for Megabus, no lines, no nothing.  I am terrified.

Suddenly by God’s grace I spy a woman reading a piece of paper that has the Megabus logo emblazoned on the top.  It takes all my willpower not to hug her.  Instead, I surreptitiously run-walk after her and follow this stranger approximately 3 blocks away to where I am actually supposed to be.  Joy!  The giant two-decker mega bus is sitting waiting for me….

And 100,000 other people.

Here’s the thing.  Megabus departs not IN Penn Station, but on a random sidewalk adjacent to Penn Station.  There are buses going to not only Boston, but to Philly, to DC, to Baltimore…pretty much every city on the East Coast.  There is no organization to speak of.  A destination is announced and there is a mad rush towards the bus door.  Luggage flying.  Sweat-droplets dropping.  Children crying.  Oh, and it was 800 degrees out.

Needless to say my anxiety didn’t dissipate, but instead grew.  After checking with some conveniently non-English speaking fellow passengers I found myself at the very tail end of an extremely ridiculously long line for the bus to Boston (maybe.  I wasn’t positive.  It was an educated guess).  My thought process went something like this as I made my way down to the end:

Oh, this isn’t so bad…wait…it keeps going…wait…it’s still not at the end…WAIT OMG HOW AM I GOING TO GET ON THIS BUS I’LL BE STRANDED HERE FOREVER AND I’LL NEVER GET THERE AND MY WEEKEND IS RUINED AND I HATE MEGABUS AND STARBUCKS AND TRAVELING IN GENERAL.

I am not exaggerating.  Thoughts of this nature actually go through my head.  And apparently, it’s not normal.  Who knew.

Anyway to cut this story short (because who wants to read about my psychotic bus worries) I made it on the bus, it didn’t crash, and I didn’t get brutally murdered by a fellow passenger.  It also didn’t smell like pee.  I made it Boston and had a great weekend with my dear sister.  The end.

…until July 4th rolls around.  And I brave the bus again.

Now who wants to write me a prescription for some Prozac?

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Obsessed

You know that weird skinny-person theory that goes on and on about food being fuel ONLY, and how you should “eat to live”?  Well.  I don’t exactly eat to live.  Actually, I live to eat.  Yup, I am obsessed with food.

I’m not sure how this happened exactly.  It’s kind of weird because for as long as I can remember I’ve been an extremely picky eater.  So it was hard to be obsessed with food if I disliked 99% of it.  The pickiness is not completely gone these days, but it’s certainly much better than it was.  And it certainly hasn’t hampered this growing fixation.

A few other things that happened lately probably also contribute: A. I finally have my own kitchen and can stock my own cabinets and fridge B. I suddenly discovered I didn’t actually suck as a cook. C. Said kitchen was located in what is arguably the culinary capital of the USA, if not the WORLD.  Even the universe maybe.

So the food hurricane is blowing like crazy.  And last weekend was basically the eye of the storm.  Because of two little words: BBQ.  FESTIVAL.

That’s right.  Hello, Madison Square Park.  Hello, 18 of the top “pitmasters” generously bringing their specialties for me to munch on.  Hello, delicious delicious BBQ goodness.

People who know me will be shocked that I am raving about BBQ because I was that girl pretty much flat out refused to eat red meat until a couple of years ago.  I had never eaten a fast food hamburger until I was maybe 22 years old.  Not kidding.  Thankfully I’ve grown and matured and can now enjoy things like pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, and ribs.  Hallelujah.

my tum is grumbling already

We got there pretty early because if there is one thing I am NOT obsessed with it is standing in stupidly long lines.  So by the time 1:30pm rolled around, as the crowds of BBQ deprived NYC-ers flooded in, H and I were already slowing sinking into a wonderful meat coma.

NOM

But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.  Oh no.  As you can imagine, events like this draw a unique crowd of people.  Fun loving, hungry, a little bit wacky.  The food was good and stuff but what really put the icing on the cake was this:

Look Closely

No, not the guy’s heinous choice of pseudo-Hawaiian shirt (perfect for a BBQ on a Saturday, though.  Bet you thought about that one for a while, buddy).  Look beyond the ugly shirt (if you can).  Look to the left of the ugly shirt.  What do you see?

If your answer is “I see a woman pole dancing on a pole mounted on the back of a adult-sized tricycle, Mary” DING DING!  You are correct!  Because what would any BBQ Festival be without a mobile stripper showcasing her talent?

I chased this dynamic duo down the street, obviously.  Here’s another one:

Stripper Trike!

I mean, to the stripper’s credit, she was talented.  Pole dancing is not easy, you guys.

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Babies

There are a few things that I really, really, really love in life.  Chocolate & peanut butter, sushi, noodles, party dresses, sleeping…and most pertinent to this post: BABIES.

I really love babies.  I like watching them do funny things on YouTube (type in ‘funny baby’ and you’ll be occupied for 165 hours, at least).  I like it when they try to sell me stuff on the TV (especially those E-Trade toddlers), and when I see them on the subway/on the street/in a restaurant/really, anywhere, I will blatantly stare at them and make faces until I garner some kind of reaction. I love them.  I really do.

So when I saw a trailer for the documentary “Babies.I knew I had to see it.  Someone described it as “March of the Penguins, except with babies.”  Considering I had cried like a (appropriate!) baby at that movie, I was sold.

It’s a pretty basic concept.  A film crew followed 4 babies from vastly different environments (San Francisco, Mongolia, Tokyo, and Namibia) during their first year of life. There is little talking, but LOTS of fun baby noises.  Also featured: exceeding cute facial expressions, fat chipmunk cheeks, and drunken-sailor walking attempts.

Now lest I start a rumor within my own gossip-friendly family, there is a very specific difference between loving babies and wanting to have a baby.  I DO NOT want to have a baby.  God no, not now.  When I do, you can bet I’ll be pumped to the gills with any and all drugs I can weasel out of the attending docs.

I think my baby-affinity stems from being presented with those drooly little life-forms at very young age.  My hey-day at being the ‘baby of the family’ lasted an extremely brief 3 years.   Throughout my formative years it was always “take care of your brother!” “brush your sisters hair!” “hold their hand when crossing the street!” “stop hitting them! Go play in traffic! (just kidding on that last one, mom)”

I mean, there were 5 of us.  So God forgive my mother for pawning some care-taking off on us older ones.  It made us better people, I think, even when the end result was occasionally stitches, concussions, and hospital visits.

So anyway, back to the movie.  Not only was it squeal-inducing cuteness overload, but it was interesting.  You don’t realize how much babies actually see/understand until you really leave them alone and watch them just do their thing.  The movie also ended up being pretty eye-opening in terms of how different cultures raise their children.  To no one’s surprise, the USA-born Hattie (hello, hipster name) seems to have parents who were determined to have her read by age 2 and grow her own organic veggies by 4.  Meanwhile, in Mongolia, little Bayar’s mom thought it was totally cool to leave him to wander around the yurt or whatever it’s called and defend himself against cows, goats, chickens, cats, and a big brother whose sole joy in life seemed to be making him cry.  My friends and I kept asking why this little guy was alone so much.  He was so happy, though, even when he was getting semi-trampled by baby cows.  Here he is saying his first words.

Sigh.  I could literally watch this movie on a never-ending loop for the rest of my life.  OKAY FINE, here’s another adorable clip:

That adorable little muffin was another poster-child for the ‘leave your children the hell alone’ camp.  She liked to eat dirt.  Not exaggerating.

So if this movie is playing in your general vicinity I would say RUN, don’t walk, to go see it.  And then buy it on DVD.  And then send it to me as a gift so I can watch it whenever I am feeling sad or baby-deprived.  Thank you in advance.

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It is suddenly excruciatingly hot here in NYC.  I’m usually a fan of summer purely because I am always ALWAYS cold (it’s a medical disorder, okay?), and summer allows me to be less cold than usual.  But NYC in the summer is just disgusting.  It’s humid and there is no air-flow and it absolutely stinks like rotting garbage.  You walk down the street and get dripped on by what one hopes is air-conditioning liquid.  Waiting for a train becomes an impromptu trip to a sauna.  Ever try sitting next to a very sweaty person on public transportation? It’s as bad as you imagine.  Really, really bad.

So of course I decided this week that I wanted to make calzones.  Which involves an oven, and standing over a hot stove.  Because I am a genius.

Was it hot?  Yup.  Was I sweating profusely as I not only cooked, but then tried to eat my delicious concoction?  Yup.  Was it worth it?  YUP.

From now until August it’s salads and sandwiches.  But as my last cooking hurrah, I give you:

Broccoli & Sausage Calzones

You’ll Need:

1 container of pre-made pizza dough

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 package of sweet (or hot, if that’s your thing) italian sausages

1 medium-sized bunch of broccoli

1 small container of ricotta cheese

1/2 an onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Marinara sauce, for dipping

A few dashes of Italian seasoning, or equal parts garlic powder, oregano, salt, pepper

A very small dash of nutmeg

Parmesan cheese

To Do:

  • Pre heat oven to 425 degrees (I’m sweating just thinking about this)
  • Saute onion and garlic in a pan w/a drizzle of EVOO until browned
  • Remove outer casing from sausage and add to pan, tearing the meat into small pieces
  • While sausage is cooking, steam broccoli, then chop into bite-sized pieces
  • When sausage is done, remove from pan w/slotted spoon (to drain fat)
  • Combine broccoli, sausage crumbles, 1/2 the container of ricotta, spices and mozzarella into a bowl, stirring well.
  • Stretch pizza dough onto a non-stick pan.  Divide evenly (I divided it into 2 big pieces, but I think next time I’d divide it into 4 smaller sections as I had leftover filling)
  • Pile filling into the center of the dough and cover, making sure to seal the edges
  • Cut 2 or 3 small openings in top of calzone to allow ventage
  • brush tops with oil, Parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Bake for approx. 20 minutes
  • Heat marinara sauce and enjoy!

I was so preoccupied with being a hot sweaty mess that I didn’t take pictures.  Whoops!  Suffice it to say that the outside was crusty and golden, and the inside, because I pre-mixed the filling, was yummy and melty and awesome.  Try to use your imagination.  If you aren’t too hot to do so.

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True Life: I went to the Jersey Shore for Memorial Day weekend.

Long Branch, NJ, to be precise.  Which is a nice little town, in case you’ve never heard of it.  It’s about 1.5 hours by train from NYC, and that, combined with a free beach-front condo to stay in (thanks, friend of H!) is why I, a girl pretty much the opposite of anything remotely ‘Jersey’, found myself amidst guidos and guidettes.

Going “down the shore” isn’t exactly a new thing for me.  My family (aunts, uncles, cousins, assorted hanger-ons) has been renting a house on Long Beach Island for years and years.  You should see peoples’ faces when I say that I go to the Jersey Shore every summer.  They are terrified and suddenly suspicious:  Wait…she’s a guidette in disguise!  The red hair is meant to distract!  I see her belly button piercing and tramp stamp tattoo from here!  RUN AWAY! (note: I have neither of those things)

What they don’t realize is that LBI is not what is depicted on MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”  It’s low-key and laid back and more surfer-brah than Ed Hardy-bro.  More of a visual learner?  No problem!

LBI, these people:

my mom & bro, enjoying LBI

Other Jersey Shore, these people:

the cast of Jersey Shore

I have never actually been to the “other” Jersey Shore.  I’ve only, luckily, seen it on TV. UNTIL THIS WEEKEND.

Now is this just me, or is it hard to envision what you see on TV in real life? Especially when that TV is something so ridiculous as Jersey Shore.  Do people like that actually exist? Apparently, yes.

As a disclaimer, Long Branch isn’t even all that bad, in terms of pure dirty jerzzz-ness.  It’s no Seaside (where the idiots above reside).  But it gave me a little taste nevertheless of true Jerseyfied beachgoing.

There were orangey tans.  There were speedos.  There were thong bikinis.  There were more fake boobs than I could shake a stick at.  There was full make-up, full jewelry, fully styled hair.  Needless to say, my pale, make-up free, haven’t showered in 3 days stylings stuck out like a sore thumb.

Strolling down the beach was my favorite activity of the weekend because the people watching was just insanity.  Old people who resembled shoe-leather? CHECK.  Roided out meatheads covered in sweet tribal tattoos? CHECK.  Little girls in disturbingly age-inappropriate bikinis? CHECK AND CHECK.

I wish that I had surreptitiously photographed these people, because some of them you simply have to see to believe.  I had so much fun blatantly staring at them that I went and got myself a nice lil sunburn. Ouch.

Our host D. wanted to take us down to Seaside to get “the real Jersey Shore experience.” Sadly, we never made it.  But I like to think journeying to the JS is a bit like getting into a hot tub.  One toe at a time, or else it’s just too much.

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