Category Archives: travels

Making Up Stories About Men

Filed under creepy boyfriend obsession, living in new york is neat, travels
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Via Gothamist‘s “Ask a Native New Yorker”:

Dear Native New Yorker,

I moved to Fort Greene about six months ago. Surely I didn’t move to Brooklyn to find a significant other, but it would be nice. Even some make out sessions! Anything! Why is the dating scene here so rough?

I have met interesting, attractive, not insane people but they all seem to be flakes. What should I do? Give up and accept my fate as someone who ogles hot New Yorkers on the subway but goes home alone? Or keep trying?

Signed,
Room for Two

Dear Subway Ogler,

Many newcomers find themselves loveless or friendless for a time when they first arrive in New York, but they rarely stay that way long. E.B. White perhaps put it best: “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy. It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.” So the question, really, is this: how do you get lucky in New York?

The first step is an internal adjustment. You say you’re looking for “Interesting, attractive, not insane people.” Take it from a native: in 37 years I have never met a person in this city that embodied all three of these qualities at once. Perhaps this is possible in a simpler town—Minneapolis, maybe, or Vancouver. But you chose New York, a city so expensive that it drives the sane mad just trying to make rent, tempts the attractive with cronuts until they become morbidly obese, and forces all the interesting people to discuss real estate and careers until they kill everyone with boredom.

If you’re lucky enough to find someone who’s attractive and interesting, but insane; or interesting and sane, but ugly; or attractive and sane, but boring; hold on to this person like grim death: they are a rare jewel. Remember: New York rewards those who tolerate imperfections in others, like crooked teeth or a minor felony record. Open your heart, and you will find yourself bum rushed by potential suitors.

Or you could just join one of those kickball/bowling/parkour leagues in Williamsburg; I’ve heard those are basically swingers parties for hipsters.



Obviously my whole life revolves around what I’m eating and who’s showering me with attention, so those were the two main topics of conversation yesterday when my friend Kim and I took the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to Long Beach for the day. I don’t have a job, and she has one that she can either show up to or not depending on her desire to pay bills, so we left my apartment at 10, took a comfortable train an hour out of the city, and arrived on the beach while there were still only a handful of other people awake. It was a glorious day spent alternating between swimming past the huge breaking waves to the calmer waters where we could just float and getting so tan on the beach my family wouldn’t recognize me as not-Latino at this point. We also went into town and intended to eat dinner for a half an hour before heading back into NYC but somehow ended up spending three hours at a pub, talking about our friendship.

Long Beach, NY

Long Beach, NY

The most important thing that happened was that at one point, Kim informed me that we had somehow stumbled into a jellyfish nursery and were being cuddled/choked by a thousand baby jellyfish that weren’t old enough to have their stinging tentacles yet and were basically just swimming breast implants at the moment, and while this seems adorable and awesome in retrospect, I freaked the eff out at the time and swam at one thousand miles per hour toward the shore.

The second most important thing that happened is that Kim told me one of her friends told her to stop making up stories when it comes to men. So, like, if he asks you out to coffee, the only thing you know is that he asked you out to coffee. He didn’t take pity on you because you’re single and jobless, but he also didn’t ask you to marry him. He just wants to drink coffee with you. (Don’t worry; no one is trying to drink coffee with me.)

Can you imagine? Basically all of the writing I did in college and beyond were the stories of which boy said or did what to me and what it meeeeeans. On one hand, it’d probably give me so much relief to just listen to what men actually say and watch what they actually do and not infer anything beyond that. To not have to stress so much about what hidden meaning there is in this touch or this word. To wait until someone explicitly says “I like you” before I start imagining our future penthouse apartment with the infinity pool on the roof. It’d take so much stress off of relationships. Either there are no feelings, or there are all the feelings, and you happily date for six years or maybe even longer.

On the other hand, how boring is that?

Puerto Rico Vacation 2013: Part 2

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, travels
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My former-as-of-three-weeks-ago co-workers and I have been doing family vacations for the last few years, first in the Hamptons and then at the Jersey shore, and we decided that this year should be our big, kickin’, out-of-the-country trip. Of course I was the one planning it, and of course I don’t have a passport (Ohioan!), so we ended up in Puerto Rico, where everyone speaks English and the currency is American dollars. The flight was at 7 a.m., because when planning the thing, I thought, “We won’t be able to wait to get there!”, and then I wanted to diiiiie when my alarm went off at 3:30, but riding in a black cab through the streets of Brooklyn and Queens in the dark to join all of my best NYC friends at the airport made it worth it.

Even though we had been the only people on the flight when we booked our tickets, Delta dumped us from our chosen seats and assigned us new ones away from each other. I got called to the service desk right before the flight, and the rep told me I was getting a complimentary upgrade to business class out of nowhere and asked if I was traveling with anyone. Seeing it as a chance to possibly sit with one of my friends, I gave her Kim’s name. She said, “Do you mind leaving her behind?, and I said, “I will abandon her without hesitation,” and the guy beside me called me a terrible friend, but sleeping for four hours in my huge business class seat was the best flying experience I’ve ever had.

Coming off the plane in Puerto Rico, I thought it’d feel like southern California, where it’s like a weight has been lifted off of you because of the change in humidity from NYC, but it was much hotter and more humid in Puerto Rico, and we were all dragging from the middle-of-the-night wake-up call anyway, so the first hour on the island involved us clumped silently in the corner of the car rental building while Jack waited in line. Nik found us a restaurant on Yelp, which apparently also works in tropical paradises, and we all went for quesadillas and Bob Marley and many, many pitchers of passion fruit sangria from a waitress in very little clothing and no makeup and beachy hair.

Puerto Rico Vacation
Beth (actually, she was still on a plane), Ahmed, Ash, Jeff and Shea, Kim, Bridgette, Nik, and Jack’s biceps

The house we rented was in Humacao, which looks ten thousand miles away from San Juan but is actually less than an hour’s drive because the island is apparently about the size of the state of Delaware. It was attached to a resort, so we had access to things like golf and tennis and basket-weaving, but it was tucked away in a residential area and had its own pool that we spent twenty-four hours a day in and filled with our tears, because whoo, boy, was there a lot of drama on this trip. Mostly inflicted by me. But anyway, the pool area was INFESTED with these little lizards that provided entertainment all day long as they HOPPED from fencepost to fencepost and probably ate our faces off in our beds at night:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Here’s Kim with the pool in her eyes on one of the many mornings when she woke up at 6:30 a.m. to, like, kickbox and crash around the house trying to get the rest of us to keep her company:

Puerto Rico Vacation

And here’s the view of the sky from the pool, and by “the sky”, I mean the trees that were blocking the sky and were full of these birds that sang ALL DAY LONG and that we literally didn’t ever actually see once:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Our friends Jeff and Shea were really proactive about finding things for us to do, which was good, because I wouldn’t have left the house for the entire week if left to my own devices. On the second day, they found out where all of the locals go to beach and took us there via the longest, windingest, scariest, totally-only-room-for-one-car-on-a-two-way-road roads ever, but being driven around is basically my favourite thing in the world since I moved to NYC, so it was the time of my life, especially with Nik in the front seat with Jack playing Moby and RJD2 and all of the Marina and the Diamonds’s “Lies” I could ask for.

Anyway, we got to this beach, and it was the most amazing thing I’d seen. Everyone assured me that this water was actually really lame and that I’d see much better water later in the trip, but I was sold. The ocean was so blue-green, and the sky was so blue-blue, and everyone there was brown, and there were giant turbines on a hill in the background that somehow made the whole setting appear so . . . frou-frou? I don’t know. I guess caring about the environment seems like a rich person thing to me.

Puerto Rico Vacation

So everyone was being kind of stupid and, like, needing to go to the bathroom in the shady bar next to the beach with a thousand motorcycles parked outside, but Kim and Nik and I went straight to the water like people who know how to operate in the context of a beach vacation, and it was glorious . . . until I felt like I got stung by something. Not even stung exactly but zapped by an electrical current.

Kim called me a drama queen.

Then Nik felt it, too, and Kim had to believe. And then Kim felt it, too! And then we all flipped out and huddled together, like more densely-packed flesh wasn’t going to be more appealing for whatever was after us.

Nik got hit once again, and this time it left a welt, but he didn’t tell any of us, and we spent the next couple of hours happily crisping under the sun while he sat on the beach on a random abandoned boat and pouted about his injury while also congratulating himself on not ruining his friends’ fun. The greatest American hero.

We drove through town along the water:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

and ended up at a restaurant where I had pork chunks

Puerto Rico Vacation

and Jack had a whole fish with the eye still basically seeing

Puerto Rico Vacation

but everyone else had mofongo, which is the national dish of Puerto Rico, or at least I’m declaring it to be right now. It’s mashed savory green plantains with bacon and seasonings. So, like, mashed potatoes but porky and maybe less terrible for you? I don’t know about the nutritional content of plantains, and I’m not looking it up.

Puerto Rico Vacation

Everyone agreed that this mofongo was only so-so, but we had some really good versions of it eventually since we basically were fed it AT EVERY SINGLE MEAL.

Tuesday, we rode into San Juan because Ash was abandoning us and needed to be taken to the airport, and we went to another beach that was 100 times more beautiful than even the first one with the stinging sealife. We rented beach chairs, which I’d never done before and really is the easiest and nicest thing you can do for yourself, and the current was thrashing us around so much that I basically saw everyone’s boobs that day as their swimsuits tops fell off, so if you need a numbered list of who has the best rack in order from worst to best, let me know.

Puerto Rico Vacation

Afterward, we went into Old San Juan for dinner. And by “dinner”, I mean “sangria”. Jeff, Shea, Beth, and Ahmed had already eaten, so it was just Bridgette,

Puerto Rico Vacation

Kim,

Puerto Rico Vacation

OMG Jack,

Puerto Rico Vacation

my muse, Nik,

Puerto Rico Vacation

and me for empanadas,

Puerto Rico Vacation

chimichurri steak,

Puerto Rico Vacation

and fish wrapped in bacon or some nonsense:

Puerto Rico Vacation

DRUNK:

Puerto Rico Vacation

We took a walk around town to admire backlit palm trees

Puerto Rico Vacation

and then headed up the hill for views of the ocean and the sea fort lit only by the moon, which somehow seemed to be full for the entire week we were there:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Walking around Old San Juan, we ran into some really incredible street art, which Nik went cuh-razy over, and while I have to admit that it was pretty rad to hear him describe the type of effort a large-scale piece like this requires, I was more taken with the little alley beside it, which seemed so overwhelmingly Puerto Rican to me that I swooned:

Puerto Rico Vacation

The next day, we finally went to the resort our house was a part of to take advantage of their huge pools and waiters with cocktails, but first I had to take pictures of the beach right beside the pool and everyone on it:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

And then we went home:

Puerto Rico Vacation

Puerto Rico Vacation

JUST KIDDING. There’s, like, a million more days to this story. But those are all of the photos I took on my DSLR, because I am a failure. But the iPhone photos are forthcoming, and you’ll be expected to gush over them, too.

Puerto Rico Vacation 2013: Part 1

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, just pictures, travels
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There’s so much story to this vacation that I’ll ease you into it with a photo of my friend Nik placing the moon in the sky over el Cañuelo, the sea fort in Old San Juan:

Puerto Rico Vacation

My favourite one of the whole trip.

Adventure Time with Kat and Kam: Princeton

Filed under adventure time, creepy boyfriend obsession, just pictures, travels
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When we met six and three-quarters years ago, Kamran told me that he had gone to school “in New Jersey”. Later, I found out that he had spent six years at Princeton, getting his PhD in physics before deciding to go into law. The first time he took me to visit the campus was magical, since:

1) I had only lived in a NYC for a year and had never taken NJ Transit, which was completely different from the subway in that it was expensive and comfortable, and
2) living in NYC for a year was long enough that I’d forgotten what nature looked like.

Waiting for the dinghy to take us from the Princeton campus back to the Northeast Corridor station on that first visit, Kamran asked me to “go steady” with him after a month of trying to convince himself that he didn’t want to be yoked exclusively to this lady ox. Aww.

So, all these years later, we decided to go back a couple of weekends ago to relive his golden years and the birthplace of our looooove. We were supposed to leave Penn Station on the 11:15 a.m. train, but of course we got there at 11:16, so we made a stop at the Tim Horton’s inside the station and then casually watched a guy threaten the life of his girlfriend in the midst of a fight while we munched on a bagel in the alley out back. On the 12:15 train, we tucked our tickets to Princeton Junction into the slot on the back of the seat in front of us and alternated between solving the mysteries of the universe and napping.

Princeton, NJ

We took a cab straight to the graduate college (Kamran wanted to show Princeton that he’d left and conquered the world and didn’t need to wait an hour for the dinghy to campus), which was, um, gorgeous.

Princeton, NJ

Princeton, NJ

Princeton, NJ

Princeton, NJ

On our way down to the D-Bar in the basement of the grad college to see where Kamran drank tens of beers during his tenure, we went inside to the dining hall, where adorable/smelly/geeky grad students were eating bananas with their parents and stopped to stare at us, the stylish/successful/handsome people they hope to someday become.

Princeton, NJ

Then we walked up the hill

Princeton, NJ

to the main part of campus

Princeton, NJ

to begin the real reason we’d come: to eat everything Kamran remembered from his six years there.

The first stop was Hoagie Haven, where Kamran got a cheesesteak and I got a meatball hero, and he was so sure everyone inside was going to be like, “Hey, Kamshaft! Kameroon! Kamburger! What are you doing back here after all this time? Didn’t you go off into the world and make something of yourself while we stayed here slinging hoagies?” But no one was the same, and no one was there to congratulate him on becoming The Most Excellent Physicist-Lawyer Princeton Has Ever Produced™.

Princeton, NJ

Next, we walked up to the electrical engineering building to burn off our hoagies and then circled back to Zorba’s Grill for chicken gyros, where the guy in front of us was super rude to the kid behind the counter, and I said we should publicly shame him, but Kamran didn’t want to get knifed.

Princeton, NJ

Next door was Thomas Sweet, where we got cake batter ice cream with Butterfinger and sprinkles, because that combination makes sense.

Princeton, NJ

Princeton, NJ

This is Kamran eating ice cream just like Einstein, who lived/worked/died at Princeton. Only I had handed him both of our spoons to keep my hands free to take the picture, and you can see he’s using both of them at once. And that there’s no ice cream on either of them. Also, there’s a huge glare on Einstein. This could not have failed worse.

Princeton, NJ

But the ice cream was awesome. And then we were full and were mad at how old and small-stomached we are.

Continuing our walk through campus, we came this crazy fountain

Princeton, NJ

and these way crazier heads of animals, which we decided were Chinese zodiac symbols. And we were right (of course). It turns out they’re Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads“.

Princeton, NJ

It’s hard to describe how huge and affecting these were.

Princeton, NJ

Cutting down a side street on our way to the physics building, we passed by the Princeton eating clubs, which are like the frat houses at your college except classy/elegant/full of much more money. I mean, but still not immune to keg parties in the backyard. (Two weeks later, Kamran is still bringing up “the time we went to that keg party with the live band at the Princeton eating club”. I’m 99% sure he’s joking.)

We stopped to pet the tigers outside the stadium

Princeton, NJ

and then walked through this huge Richard Serra sculpture called “The Hedgehog and the Fox” made of giant panels of rusted metal where one path gets wider and brighter and the other path gets narrower and darker. And where the immaturest of the Princetonians hang out, evidently.

Princeton, NJ

I saw some nature

Princeton, NJ

and then some more

Princeton, NJ

and then still more

Princeton, NJ

and then some involving Kamran,

Princeton, NJ

and then it was time to go home, so we stopped at another of Kamran’s most-remembered haunts, the Wawa, for some water. (Which I would call wa-wa if I was a child or just that much lamer.)

Princeton, NJ

And then we were back on NJ Transit,

Princeton, NJ

and then NYC skyline was coming into view,

Princeton, NJ

and then we were right in the middle of it again.

Princeton, NJ

And that was that.

The Jersey Shore Trip That Made Me Kind of Not Hate the Jersey Shore

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, holidays don't suck for me, just pictures, travels
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So . . . the Jersey shore is better than the Hamptons. My friends and I went to Avalon, which we basically knew nothing about except that renting houses there is about $21,000 cheaper per week than in the Hamptons. And after I signed the lease with our rental agent, she told me that the house is “not new but very beachy”, which I assumed was a nice way of saying “old and full of the sand of a thousand old men’s swimtrunk crotch areas”. So I was worried.

But it turns out that the town of Avalon is full of the cutest restaurants and shops called things like Pudgie Pelican Cafe and Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, that the houses are just as impressive as Hamptons houses, and that the people are so nice they actually said hello to us as we passed them on the sidewalks, which I haven’t experienced since I left Ohio.

And we even loved the house! Mostly because this was in the backyard:

Jersey Shore

Along with these three ducks, two of which my blogfriend-turned-inreallifefriend Kim C. won from a claw game at a Wendy’s along the way down, and one of which was given to her by a little girl we cheered on as she pumped her mother’s entire paycheck into the machine:

Jersey Shore

And also this hot tub, which was never mentioned on our lease and which my roommate/landlord/co-worker/friend, Jack, was clearly . . . surprised by/pleased by/pooping his pants over?:

Jersey Shore

And many, many of these glowing-eyed owls, which were meant to either ward off rodents or predatorially ogle us in the pool:

Jersey Shore

Our joy over these things allowed us to forgive the fact that the house was this many degrees all week long:

Jersey Shore

The rental agent called me on our way down to the house on Saturday and said, “The air-conditioning isn’t working properly, so the house won’t get as cool as you’d like. They’ll be out to fix it on Monday or Tuesday.” And by that she meant the next Saturday as we were leaving. Even though I’m not the type to complain, I toooootally wrote a letter to the rental agency. Kamran said I should have had him write it on his special lawyer stationary to make it seem really threatening.

But I didn’t want to threaten, because really, we had the greatest time, as you’ll see:

Jersey Shore

Jeff, Nik, Beth, and Andrew sitting by the pool, pretending to make conversation for the sake of this picture. I think this should be used in a brochure for the Jersey shore.

Jersey Shore

Nik doing what Nik did for most of the week. I took this picture from the pool. Which means my $1000 camera was in the pool. I drank a lot of Smirnoff that week.

Jersey Shore

Beth, who was probably technically the first friend I made in NYC, posing with the shady pool owl, who was turned to face the trees many times throughout the week to keep him from watching her in her bikini.

Jersey Shore

A frog by the outdoor shower, clearly not dissuaded by the pool owl.

Jersey Shore

Kim making sangria. From box wine. That spilled out all over the sides of the pitcher as we filled it more and more full of fruits.

Jersey Shore

Grillmaster Jeff, trying to be nice to the people who asked for their steaks well done.

Jersey Shore

Beth and Kim, our resident fashionistas, wearing actual clothes poolside.

Jersey Shore

I don’t remember what Beth is doing here, but this pretty accurately sums up her personality.

Jersey Shore

Nik deconstructing kebabs in the shade of the tree-fence by the pool.

Jersey Shore

Nik deciding to forego the deconstruction and just gnaw the hell out of the things.

Jersey Shore

Jack with his fancy Grolsch bottle, which we later used to capture and drown greenhead biting flies. The flies were the only drawback to Avalon, actually; apparently they live in the bay behind the town and fly over to the ocean when the wind is blowing that way. Murdering them made for some of my sweetest Avalon memories.

Jersey Shore

Kim K. kebab-stick-fighting with Jeff. No eyes were harmed in the making of this photo.

Jersey Shore

Kim C. posing in the bathing suit that showed me her boob.

I guess I should tell that story while I’m here, much as I’d just like to just mention her boob and leave it. So, the ocean was about two blocks from our house, on the other side of some woods with a path through them. Kim and I went one afternoon to jump some waves, and the ocean was a bit unwieldy. We were getting sucked under by the waves and then spit out on the shore over and over. The ocean was also really crabby, so every now and then when we’d put our feet down, a crab would clamp on for a second. Well, just as Kim was shrieking about a crab eating her heel, a particularly crazy wave knocked us both over, and when we came up, one of Kim’s boobs had totally popped out of her suit! So I screamed, “Your boob is showing! YOUR BOOB IS SHOWING!” And then another wave came and wiped us out again, and her sunglasses flew off her head and were gone forever (only someone who grew up in Cape Cod would wear sunglasses in the ocean, right?), and she had totally covered up her boob by the time we both recovered, so I didn’t even get to enjoy seeing it. She saw mine later, too, so we’re totally almost dating now.

Jersey Shore

I told Beth and Andrew to scowl at me. Beth is doing an amazing job, but Andrew looks like a friggin’ model.

Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore

On the 4th of July, we went to the beach to watch the fireworks just as the sun was setting.

Jersey Shore

It was my first time seeing fireworks on the beach (my hometown ones are set off in the high school parking lot, and I’m never on the waterfront for the NYC ones), and I love the way they reflected off the water and silhouetted all of us watching them.

Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore

The peanut butter and jelly sundae from Sundae Best Avalon. It was as good as it looks. Or better, if you think it looks like baby poo.

Jersey Shore

Kim C. in the pool, sippin’ on a lowball.

Jersey Shore

The Kims, looking ethereal in their bedroom on the first floor that was perfectly cooled the entire time because the air-conditioning actually worked down there.

Jersey Shore

Roommates Jeff and Nik, pretending to hate each other.

Jersey Shore

Roommates Jeff and Nik, pretending to like each other.

Jersey Shore

The whole group with the creepy owl, which we had forgiven for its lascivious ways and were feeling nostalgic about by the last day.

Jersey Shore

To say that this was our best trip in three years is like saying I’m mildly interested in getting Kim back into the ocean with an even less sturdy swimsuit. We spent approximately eight hours a day in the pool (and sometimes many more), the ocean was uncrowded and actually warm enough to swim in, every restaurant and store in town was run by sixteen-year-olds who were sweet and polite, there were places to kayak and paddleboard (which only 75% of us did, because eww, bay water), Jeff brought a projector so we could watch HBO on the living room wall, I wore nothing but tank tops and jersey shorts every day except for the night when we went to Atlantic City and ate Cuban food and I lost $3 on the slot machines but paid $5.99 to use an ATM, and I totally didn’t sunburn for the first time in three summers. I just got heat rash. No big deal.

JERSEY SHORE!