Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Diary, Today I Saw a Boy

Please refer to Britney Spears' classic love song, "Dear Diary," if you are not familiar with this post title. It's okay if you can't make it past the first 30 seconds, I sincerely understand.

Speaking of 1999, have you ever gone through boxes at your parents' house and been completely transported back in time? Most of my old poetry, school projects, and stories just make me giggle - just this summer I laughed until tears came when I read my "autobiography" from when I was 12 to my parents and sister. But some items, especially the journals, actually put me in a weird mood because they take me back to some topics that were pretty serious for me - if I would ever learn how to drive well (no), if we would ever finish the yearbook (yes), if my manager at the seafood restaurant would ever realize I was good enough to waitress (yes), if the Laurens would ever stop making fun of me (no), if a boy I liked would ever like me back (eventually). I'm sure you had similar issues growing up, although you may not have written about them as intensely as I did (I'm *almost* ashamed to admit that most conversations I had with cute boys from 1999-2003 are analyzed in my journals).

This is my "Worst Driver" picture from the yearbook...

Enter Mortified - an event similar to The Moth, where a few brave people share stories on stage to strangers. One difference between Mortified and The Moth is that these stories are straight from the performers' childhood diaries, artwork, original stories, and more. My friend Geoff let me know about Mortified about a year ago. Em and I went to an event soon after and loved it. Kat and I trekked out to Littlefield, a great performance space in Brooklyn, for the most recent event a few weeks ago.

At this particular event, Kat and I did not go thirty seconds without cracking up hysterically. One woman (Lori Baird) had written an extremely "adult" play when she was 10. Instead of reading it herself, she called two volunteers from the audience to act it out. Just watching them keel over with laughter as they turned the pages of the script and realized what they had to say and do next was well worth the $10 ticket price. Cheryl Calegari read her made-up memos from when she used to play pretend that she was the President and CEO of Chanel. Selections from Sarah Sandusky's diary were shared where she wrote (but didn't send) letters to a crush who had moved away. Christine Gentry had written an angry book about how to deal with parents and siblings. And G Scott Morgan read from his high school journal where he was more dramatic than the entire third season of Dawson's Creek.

The thing about Mortified that is so special is that all have had some kind of drama in our lives that occupied our thoughts and that we'd have never believed we would survive. And when we look back at how we felt at these moments, we're able to laugh. It puts today's problems into perspective as well and helps to remind me that a decade from now I will forget about the bird who lives across the hall and squawks every ten minutes and other issues that are currently stressing me out.

Mortified Nation is an amazing documentary made from clips of different Mortified shows across the country. Look out for it on the Sundance Channel and see the trailer here to get more of an idea of what you can experience from a Mortified show:

I would love to share something from my awkward amazing childhood at some point on the Mortified stage. The question is if it will be the superhero movies I made with my frousins at Thanksgiving, selections of my original poetry, samples of writing from my 'N Sync website, or maybe something even more embarrassing from my actual journals. There's really way too much to choose from. But whenever I figure it out, you're all invited to support me.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Orleans - (Sand) Wich You Were Here!

New Orleans is famous for its Po' Boys - sub-like sandwiches on French bread, traditionally filled to the brim with fried seafood or roast beef. Over MLK weekend, MK and I took a trip to Louisiana, mainly with a mission to gain a few pounds. I had six Po' Boy places highlighted on the NOLA list, but I had no idea what other kinds of amazing sandwiches we would encounter while in the Big Easy. Here were our favorites - the sandwiches that made us close our eyes while taking bites and made us say "Damn, that's good" with our mouths still full:

Shrimp Po' Boy at Deanie's

Deanie's is just one of a thousand places you can find a delicious traditional Po' Boy, but it's where we had dinner the first night and we were delighted. I only had a few bites but it was very pleasing. It came "dressed" with pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce, and probably had about 30 shrimp on it. I would have liked it just the same with only a third of the shrimp, but some people do a better job than I do of not overappetizing on roasted potatoes and chargrilled oysters.

Muffuletta at Central Grocery

The Muffuletta is an Italian sandwich not found in Italy, created by Italian immigrants in New Orleans, specifically at Central Grocery in 1906. We split a half sandwich without the traditional olive salad because we both think olives are way icky. (I know, according to How I Met Your Mother, it will never work out.) It's a simple enough sandwich in theory (salami, ham, mozzarella, provolone), but we decided the bread is what makes it - it's similar to foccaccia, buttery and crunchy with sesame seeds all over. MK ate his quickly while I opted for savoring each bite slowly, which I was teased for by MK making sounds as if I were a lion devouring an antelope.

Pork Belly at Cochon Butcher

We had a long list of restaurants to try and I was tickled when MK's friends recommended that we meet at Cochon Butcher because it was on the list. It's an offshoot of Cochon, which was also on our list. As we had just eaten our Muffuletta sandwich, we split the Pork Belly with mint and cucumber and once again were transported to heaven. Their marinated brussels sprouts (which I would have never tried prior to 2009) were incredible as well.

Eggs Benedict Po' Boy at Stanley

Frousin Emily introduced me to Eggs Benedict back in 2010 (as I wrote about in my 2nd ever blogpost) and I've enjoyed it dozens of times since. Sunday brunch was the right time for me to try a New Orleans' twist on Eggs Benny and have it in a Po' Boy. It was perfect, and one of the only times in NOLA where I finished everything on my plate without MK's assistance. Sure, it got quite messy once the poached egg was broken and the hollandaise sauce and yolk ran through my fingers, but it was worth it, as most messy foods tend to be. I did give up a little when my napkins ran out and decided to eat the last few bites with a fork.

The Ralph at Mother's

We almost didn't go to Mother's because even at 3:30 the previous day, typically a slow time for restaurants, the line was 30 deep. But what they do there is let groups of 15 or so in to order at the counter and then sit and eat, so the line actually moves pretty quickly. We decided to get the Ferdi special, "a Po' Boy packed with baked ham, roast beef, debris and gravy, served dressed." At this point we knew what "dressed" meant, but we also learned from the menu that debris is "the roast beef that falls into the gravy while baking in the oven." YUM. The gentleman in front of us in line ordered the Ralph and I quickly looked it up on the menu to see that it was a Ferdi with cheese, so we went with that instead. This sandwich was divine. I actually took several "last bites" because each time I thought I was finished, I just wanted more.

I've been trying to think how I can possibly recreate these sandwiches when I order from the deli without being a total pain in the behind. I'm not sure that it's possible. Perhaps the solution is to return to New Orleans and enjoy these in the flesh again. Anyone want to join me?


Monday, January 13, 2014

You're So Fine...You Blow My Mind

The other night, Kater and I went to check out the Ear Inn, one of the EARiest places in Manhattan. (Do you hate me?) The Ear Inn has been our lists for a long time, and not just because it's one of the oldest bars in Manhattan, a la McSorley's. We have especially been excited for it since our West Village Ghost Tour back in the fall. The Ear Inn is supposedly haunted by a sailor gentleman named Mickey and we wanted in on that. Mickey is said to have been a customer of the bar kind of recently in the ghost world (1950s or '60s) who was hit by a car out front.

The Ear Inn gets its name from Ear Magazine, which had offices above the bar in the 1970s. Instead of getting a new sign out front, they simply painted black over the right side of the B in "Bar". I'm obsessed with the sign and I hope that it's never updated.

It is said that Mickey will often pinch women standing at the bar, steal sips or entire drinks from customers, and drain cell phone batteries. He has also been speculated to have started fires in the fireplace and one outside of the fireplace in the '90s. Kater and I couldn't wait. We expected (hoped?) to be pinched and grabbed, kept an eye on our drink levels, and checked our battery levels before and after we left.

But Mickey sadly did not want anything to do with us. We were seemingly unattractive to him or perhaps we were playing too easy to get. Nothing apparent happened to our drinks or our cell phone batteries. I did have a weird feeling when we first entered and sat down, but that was most likely nerves. Now, don't get me wrong. Any night Kater and I have together is awesome (duh), but we had been on a mission and were slightly disappointed.

To make ourselves feel better, we pretended that the pictures we'd drawn in crayon on the paper tablecloth were not of our own volition, but were spirits speaking through us instead. This at least explains why we both strangely drew outlines of Mickey Mouse. If you count that as something, then you'll also appreciate that later on, a crumb showed up on my napkin that was most definitely 100% a heart. Maybe Mickey was just being subtle.


PS - For more on the Ear Inn & Mickey, listen to the Bowery Boys Podcast #144: Mysteries and Magicians of New York

Monday, January 6, 2014

Get More NYC | "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"

I am fully aware that Bruce Springsteen's amazing jam, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" is referring to 10th Avenue in Belmar, a town on the Jersey Shore that Springsteen basically rules. After all, in the past few years, I've been to three Springsteen concerts and an awesome cover concert of the Boss. But even though I know it's not about New York's 10th Avenue, I can't help but think of my first NYC apartment, on 54th and 10th, whenever I hear it. Bruce is singing about the formation of his band on the streets of *his* 10th Avenue, but I always think of the formation of my New York City life on *my* 10th Avenue.

Don't these sound like lyrics about a girl who just moved to the city of her dreams?

"Seems like the whole world's walking pretty and you can't find the room to move. 
Well, everybody better move over, that's all!"

"I was standing in the jungle trying to take in all the heat that was given. 
The night is dark but the sidewalk's bright and lined with the light of the living!"

"And I'm all alone, I'm all alone...
And I'm on my own, I'm on my own...
and I can't go home..."

"...Bust this city in half..."

This song actually came to mind this week because it is SO FREAKIN' COLD OUTSIDE. I even finally closed my living room windows.

Here's an old-school live version for you. Stay warm out there. Don't get freezed out.

{YouTube link} <--- if viewing from a smartphone


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Get More NYC | "Humans of New York"

Too often on the streets of Manhattan you run into a stranger who you want to know more about. For example, the guy on the subway on New Year's after midnight who jokingly asked me if I could tell him what day it was since I was carrying a calendar that MK had won at the party. Or the man at my old laundry place who was the best but because of the language barrier, we only said a few words to each other each time I picked up my stuff. Or the man I've seen walking around several times with his cat perched comfortably on top of his head.

Enter the amazing blog, Humans of New York. Photographer Brandon Stanton takes beautiful pictures of people he meets on the streets, in parks, on the subway. He gets to know them a little and posts a touching or funny quote from their mini-interviews or a comment from him along with the photographs.

Stanton published his favorite Humans of New York posts in a book this fall {you can purchase it here or pick it up at Strand}. I was lucky enough to find a copy of the book delivered to my desk at work last week in an interoffice envelope. No note was given with the book, but I have an inkling as to who it was, although he has denied sending me the book and other mysterious deliveries over the last few months.

Here are some of my recent favorites (which I stole straight from the Humans of New York blog, to show you how wonderful it is):

"When I was 19, my girlfriend and I were going to study in Paris. Our boyfriends came to the docks to see us off. Right as we were getting on the ship, my friend's boyfriend said to her: 'If you go, I won't wait for you.' So she turned around and decided to stay. My fiance saw this and told me: 'I won't wait for you either.' I said: 'Don't!'"

"I want to be a ballerina."
"What's going to be the best part about being a ballerina?"

"Three thousand years ago I had a disagreement with Zeus about the Trojan War, and he's been harassing me ever since."
"You were alive three thousand years ago?"
"All of us were."

"How long have you known each other?"
"Carter Administration. You do the math."

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Brandon. Come find me. I want to be one of your humans.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I know it may seem like I'm perfect (kidding), but I actually have several things I'd like to work on in the new year.

Travel More. 

I had an amazing travel year in 2013 and was able to visit three cities plus many islands in Thailand, Hong Kong, and three cities in Italy. I took several cool day trips around New York and even gave Philadelphia a second shot after years of feeling "meh" about it. I'm very excited that MK and I will be visiting New Orleans, both for the first time, over the long January weekend. Katie and I will be taking a trip to Hawaii in the late spring. Some of the frousins may be heading to Ireland over the summer or early fall. I'm also hoping to take some short weekend trips to cities I've never seen (Chicago, Boston, Nashville?) as well as return to cities I've seen where I have good friends (Philadelphia, San Francisco?). I won't be planning them all yet though because my next resolution is:

Worry Less. 

More specifically, I'm only allowing myself to worry about things if they are within 90 days. I'm allowed to say that my sister and I will be going to Hawaii in May, but until February, I'm not allowing myself to stress out about getting flights or hotels or figuring out what to eat while we are there. I need to make this resolution because I am already worrying about (and complaining about to my friends) events that are as far out as next fall and that is just ridiculous. If I start to forget this one and start freaking out to you about something way too far in advance, call me out immediately please. It's funny that I want to worry less, considering my next resolution:

Do Things That Scare Me. 

In 2013, I learned that I am kind of scared of heights and was nervous while I rode elephants, took trapeze lessons, and jumped off a boat in the ocean waters of Southern Thailand. I'm hoping to find some more experiences that will help me get over this, perhaps while Katie and I are in Kauai, Hawaii this year. This resolution could also help me in my professional life in becoming more confident with public speaking. I could take some classes or throw it all to the wind and put my name in the hat for a Moth storytelling event. I've also thought about taking some screen- or sketch-writing classes because I have a ton of ideas. This also forays into my next resolution:

Be Creative. 

My guitar has been sitting out in my living room for a year and a half now and remains mostly unplayed, except for when I am pre-gaming or post-gaming with friends and decide to show off a little. Problem is, since I haven't played it in so long, I don't have much to show off. I've also recently added a beautiful banjo to the collection and I have no clue how to play it yet. Hopefully this will change this year. And as mentioned in my prior resolution, I also have interest in writing outside of this blog, and have for quite some time. I'll be writing for another blog coming soon and am also looking into these classes I mention above. I will create things this year.

I know that you are all perfect as well, but is there anything you're hoping to work on for this year?

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