Monday, September 30, 2013

Day Trippin' - A Day At the Races

Last Saturday, a few frousins (cousins who are also friends, duh) and I journeyed down to Monmouth Park on NJ Transit to celebrate another of our frousin's birthdays. It was also the NJ Thoroughbred Festival and my first time at the races. It made for an excellent day trip out of the city.

Christie, Jake, and I missed the train from Penn Station by about four minutes and had to wait for an extra hour. It's obviously a good idea to check how frequently the trains run when you are taking a trip like this, but hey, you live, you learn. After the hour wait, we had to ride the train for almost another hour and a half, so Jake and I were running out of things to make fun of Christie for even before we got to the racetrack.

Once we got to our stop, we ran up a couple cars, hopped off the train, and had to walk about five minutes to the track. We paid a whole $3 to get into the racetrack after getting yelled at for getting in the senior citizen line. And I know, $3 is steep, but we also each got a complimentary NJ Thoroughbred Festival cooler, so we can't complain too much. We met up with my sister, Katie, the birthday boy, Steve, and all of his friends. There were Wawa hoagies, TWO kinds of Doritos, and plenty of adult beverages. Even without the horse races happening, it would have been a great day.

I only made one bet the entire day. I didn't want to put money down for one of those wimpy bets, where you pick a few horses, or you pick one horse to place. I wanted to pick a horse to win. I did my research carefully, by just reading the names of the horses. "Geeky Gorgeous" spoke to me. She was number 5, so I put $5 on her for the win. She kicked butt and I got to exchange my ticket for $21.50. I was a happy camper.

We didn't want to miss our train again so we left enough time to walk back to the train station, sprint across the tracks thinking that we were going to miss it, realize it was a different train, and watch a drunk shirtless guy do pushups on the tracks for about ten minutes. Jake was an all-star and had secretly packed us all a few more beers in his NJ Thoroughbred Festival cooler and we thorough-bredly enjoyed the train trip back. (See what I did there?)

Don't worry, I didn't spend my winnings in one place.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Summer Surprises

I'm lucky that my summers are always full of things that summers are supposed to be full of - tons of beautiful beach days, time with family and friends, and margaritas. But this summer was also full of things I don't typically encounter and that were quite lovely surprises.

My neighbors got a new firepit in the backyard so almost every single weekend night at home was spent in front of a fire with my best friends and our families and plenty of drinking games and "You the hottest b*tch in this place."

I hadn't been on a family vacation with my parents and sister since a spring break Puerto Rico trip sophomore year of high school so our trip to Italy this summer was long overdue and more fun than I could have imagined.

I explored the city in brand new ways thanks to the new Citibike bike share program and to me making good friends with the owner of a sweet Vespa.


I was actually decent at some (semi) athletic events - I won in ping pong at Salvation Taco, tied in miniature golf at Pier 25, and was told by a professional dart player that I had a better form than these two bozo clowns below.

I was finally able to get up on the rooftop of my building, which is typically locked, on the most perfect night for it, when the World Trade Center Tribute lights were on and visible.

What kind of surprises do *you* have for me, Autumn?


Monday, September 23, 2013

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street

There are plenty of street fairs in New York City. Most of them pop up out of nowhere and within a few hours are gone without a trace but hundreds of lemonade cups strewn across the avenue. San Gennaro is a little different. For some reason, this street fair stands out above the rest. Maybe it's because it has been going on for 87 years or that it goes on for 11 days each fall. Maybe it's because the Patron Saint of Naples is watching over the festival. But maybe it's just because of the spirit of Little Italy or how the festival reflects decades of Italian-American history and heritage in New York. Although you have *just* missed it this year as its last day was Sunday, luckily you can enjoy Italy in New York all year round in the adorable 'hood of Little Italy.

Some of the standard street fair fare (see what I did there) has invaded the San Gennaro festival over the years, but there are still Italian staples aplenty - cannolis, pizza, sausages, and more. In the event you get a chance to visit next year, I suggest you go splits-kies on a sausage sandwich with plenty of peppers and onions, a stick of fried pickles, a lemonade, italian ice, and a bag of fried Oreos - Italian because they are derived from Zeppole. I'm Ita-lia-n you, if you haven't tried fried Oreos, you are missing out big time.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cheers to the Governor!

Going to Governors Island has been on so many of my to-do lists - my 26, 27, 28 lists, endless lists of the summer, and a long-standing list of things to do with Kat. GI is a small island about a 10-block length off the South Street Seaport. It is only open during the summer months and only reachable by ferry. Kat and I finally made it this past weekend. It was a little chilly as summer is ending, but hopefully next year we won't push it to one of the last weekends possible.

Here are some of my favorite things about our trip to GI:

The Ferry - I really love being on the water around Manhattan, whether in a kayak, speedboat, or just sitting on a boat docked near the Boat Basin. The Ferry to Governors Island is a quick ride, maybe around five minutes and is free. On the way there and back, Kat and I just made it on before the ferry left so we had to sit inside instead of on the open second level. Considering how cold it was on Saturday, this was probably for the best.

Fête Paradiso - This summer, Governors Island was home to a traveling vintage Parisian festival, with antique rides from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the carousels and swings were actually in working order and you could pay $3 for a ride but there were three-year- olds aplenty and many lines so we didn't ride anything. We did wait in the most important line there, though - the cotton candy line.

The View - Seeing the city from different viewpoints always reminds me how lucky I am to live in the middle of such a beautiful skyline. I think it's amazing to see as you're coming back from a weekend at home on the bus or train, or hanging out in the parking lot before a Bruce concert, and definitely from this tiny mysterious island.

The Pocket Project - Outside of the GI Children's Museum is a display of random pockets sewn onto a long piece of canvas with wishes for what people would find in their pockets if they could find anything. Although cheesy, I appreciated the sentiment and the crowd-sourcing and it reminded me of Yoko Ono's exhibit at the MoMA as well as this post-Sandy display at Fishs Eddy's last year. I spent some time peeking in the pockets at others' submissions and then added a weird one of my own - any guesses?

Chickens and Goats! There is a large area where goats can sit on picnic tables and chickens can walk around freely (and into the sewer grates if that is what they choose to do) in an effort to teach New Yorkers about composting. The people working there would only let twelve people into the pens at a time but I'm not sure why this was an issue since the chickens were allowed to come and go.

Head in the Clouds - Kat and I went to look at a large tent-like sculpture in the middle of the park and realized that it was made of milk jugs. The inside is lined with water bottles, each with just a splash of dyed blue water. Considering what the sculpture is made of, the inside is actually quite beautiful.

Next summer's trip will definitely be while it is still nice out and complete with a picnic basket and a frisbee, but Kat and I had a nice introduction on Saturday. This also gives me an entire year to collect milk jugs and water bottles for my own art installation, if anyone from Governors Island decides to give me one. Pretty please?


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rome - When you Wish in Front of a Fountain

I'm not exactly superstitious, but I am a *little* stitious. I don't really avoid bad luck, by staying away from cracks in the sidewalks, black cats, or ladders, but I do try to enhance my good luck. I wear my birthstone, sometimes pick up lucky pennies, and never miss a chance to make a wish. My mom always told my sister and I that anytime you're in a new house of worship, you can make a wish. Because of this, I made tons of wishes at the wats when I was in Thailand, but I made even more wishes in Italy, as there was a church on every corner. Say what you want, but my life has greatly improved in many different aspects since coming back from Italy in mid-July.

Of course I was excited to visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, not only because a coin thrown over the shoulder into the fountain means that you will return to Rome one day, but also because with that coin throw, you get yet another wish.

Aside from the Vatican, the area around Trevi Fountain was the most crowded we encountered on our trip. My family stopped by before and after dinner on our second night in Rome and were able to catch it in two different lights. Way before you get to the square, you can hear running water gushing through the 24 spouts and you start getting pumped. That was a fountain pun. Did it work?

Trevi Fountain is beautiful. It was completed in 1762 and depicts the Ocean personified in a giant shell-shaped chariot surrounded by Triton blowing into a conch shell, horses, and rocks that resemble cliffs in front of the actual ocean. The coins are collected to help feed Rome's poor.

photos courtesy of KRF
We each only had a few seconds to make our wishes without any other tourists getting in the way. It is interesting what you find yourself wishing for when you only have a split second to think about it. I wished for something in that moment that I guess deep down summarizes what I really want in life. Of course, I have to be vague here because revealing what you wish for is one bad luck superstition I won't mess with. But like I mentioned above, if my life continues the way it has since returning from Italy, I will be one happy lady.

What would you wish for??

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