Sunday, June 28, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: New York - Bronxville and NYC

Current Headphone Fillers: Sigur Ros,The Roots, Dustin O'Halloran, Ben Lee

Let's just start this post with a warning: I might ramble. A lot can happen in one week in NY.

To start off I am going to give a short account of my adventures on the way to Bronxville from Penna. Now, I am excellent with directions and maps. Growing up in a car, bored out of my mind taught me to read a lot of signs and amuse myself with the good old Rand McNally. (yes, i totally use X,Y grid to find towns) And my very dear T lent me two of his - and they have been put to more use than anticipated. So, when I got the helpful hint from a friend with an iDouche that there was a Shell gas station with diesel (LoLa's fuel of choice) on Route 1 in Easton NJ I got off of the current toll road and paid $5
. (Again, blow me, toll roads) I pulled over and checked out the map. Turns out this little town is a good 20 miles or so up the road. Needless to say it was the 'long, long way' to get to NY. Either way, it was nice to get off the big highways and go through lots of small towns and needless traffic lights. Note: Civil engineers don't believe in left hand turns in Jersey. You have to 'exit' to the right and loop around to go straight through the traffic light. Good thing I noted this, because my Shell station finally appeared on the horizon with something akin to a halo around it - on the left side of the northbound highway. Sigh. This New England newbie traveller did not know that all Jersey gas stations have an attendent by law, so I hop out of the car to fuel up. Long story short, I am the only person out of their car at the station. After topping her off I head to the restroom...and while this will not get anymore personal than that I would like to note that while Jersey might have excellent service at the pumps they do not believe in latches, locks, or disenfectant in regards to their bathrooms. I got very creative.

The remainder of my journey to Bronxville was quite uneventful. I figured that whatever I saved in tolls by driving on Route 1 was made up by the $8 it cost to cross the George Washington Bridge. Go figure.

I haven't seen another Georgia plate in hours. Florida, yes, but they don't count. They are like cockroaches. All over the place and impossible to get rid of.

Bronxville is full of family. Wine. Superb food. Loud voices. I spend two days there and then Wednesday I head to the city to visit with Elena and possibly catch up with other peoples. The train ride finds me lacking nothing but my cell phone, which was left on the bed in my rush out the door. Last minute craziness is routine in that family. Despite my lack of mobile communication I make it to 1745 Broadway just fine and then head out for the long walk to the MET after dropping off my suitcase. Central Park is quite a sight to see with all the tourists, locals, and winding paths. I decided to be brave and cut through...sort of. Map in hand and a general idea of my bearings I set out. A good 30 blocks later I made it! I paid for my cute little button, and headed for the cafeteria. After eating an overpriced, but delicious sammich I selected Sigur Ros as a soundtrack, and made my way to the modern galleries. Although I possess a mild appreciation for classical art, I have more interest in sculpture, modern, conceptual, abstract, and industrial design. Favorites were the greek sculpture hall, the rooftop sculpture garden, the lower floor of modern, the special exhibit: Model as Muse, and sitting on the front steps afterwards. Plethora of pictures are on facebook.

Three hours later I headed back to Rand
omhouse Publishing to pick up my cousin and suitcase. We headed out for her birthday/last day of work celebration. Good times and great beers. Topher ended up being able to meet me around 7 I got catch up with one of my longtime friends. We met before I went to college; we were kindred spirits right away. I haven't seen him in about 5 years - but it was just like before, comfortable. He is living in Brooklyn (which I am mildly jealous of) and doing what he loves - music and design. It is nice to reconnect with people who are happy in life. Adventurous. Seeking and not being afraid of new places and things.

That night I once again found a new place to rest my head. A tiny little loft bed in the basement spare room of Elena's new apt. It was cozy to say the least. But hey, it had a reading light!!!!

Thursday: Despite the excessive amount of rain we headed out early to pick up my cell phone from my very gracious uncle at Grand Central Station. Afterwards we found a nice hot breakfast, some coffee/tea and then walked to the Museum of Modern Art. was like heaven. I have never been to the MoMa and it
was pretty freaking awesome. While my company did not seem to connect with the sketching and conceptual art we were able to meander a bit more slowly through the photography, design, architecture, and printing/paper galleries. Some of the pieces were very moving, and I think I might have spent more time absorbing the art had I been flying solo. However, it was still a great experience and I feel subsequently more educated on certain concepts that I have seen evident in a friend's work. In fact, I was reminded of his on more than one occasion. It made me pause. And reflect. And remember.

The remaining tour of the city included a quick stop at the Palace Hotel where Gossip Girl is filmed, a cute little cupcake shop for some birthday dessert, and Rockafeller Center. Dinner that
night was courtesty of takeout mexican food from around the corner. Deliciousness. I headed down to Frim Fram around 9. Even though most of my family is appalled that I would be riding the subway after dark, I was far from hesitant about another adventure. Public transportation is still 'fun' for me. I had some good dances, and some not-so-experienced dances. The DJ'ing was good when it was the local DJ. I wasn't a fan of the guest. I met some Philly kids and even saw some southern faces (Christine!) Overall I felt my $8 was worth it, and left exceedingly sweaty and tired at 1am.

I headed back to Bro
nxville on Friday morning to grab a change of clothes, dinner, and the 7:22pm train back to the city with my cousin Coale. We met up with three of his college buddies and wandered down 8th to figure out how to get tipsy before heading to a party. We found a cheap sushi place that didn't card and drank terrible cold saki. Gross. The food was good, surprisingly, and they filled up on beer. Afterwards I introduced them to the genius of 20oz cokes and rum mix. It did the charm, and the boys were feeling good by the time we got to the Columbia frat house party. Ok, so I went to hang out with the boys because my Aunt was freaked out about 'going into the city at night', but here I am at midnight, with a bunch of 19-year-old boys at a freaking FRAT party in NYC. was surreal. Complete with the skanky sorority girls, two kegs, two beer pong tables, loud pop music, and popped collars (don't forget matching old man loafers) the party was a hit with my company. We stayed until 1:30 and then headed back to GCS to catch the 1:53am train home. 'Cause shit, we were not waiting until the 5:30.

The train ride home was epic. We finally found three seats together (Dan was staying the night with us) and got ready to chill for the
next 40 minutes. A girl walks onto the train with her friends...I didn't really notice her until Coale said nonchalantly "Nice tan lines". Yeah, like you can say that to an overgroomed suburbanite girl from NY and not get a response. A verbal battle ensues between them. She sits down. 10 minutes later her beefy (but short) male friends join her and she apparently tells them about how mean Coale was to her. They start yelling at Coale, he yells back, and even though my cousin is 19 he is 6'1" and built like a football player - because he is one. They don't back down though due to their numbers...or maybe drunken stupidity. Now, I am in no way going to get into a brawl on the 2am train to Bronxville. So, I try to calm Coale down; meanwhile Dan is next to me saying "Man, I would have your back but I am too drunk". Everyone on the train is either laughing nervously or annoyed as piss. Eventually they calm down. Some guy tries to speak Zen wisdom to my cousin, and I start talking about wanting a chicken biscuit in the best southern accent I can muster. It draws laugher and after the offending party sits down we settle in for the rest of the train ride. When we get off at B-ville we get a few more offensive remarks thrown in our direction, but luckily no fists or other objects. Good job Coale.

The rest of my visit was not worth spending your time reading. I ate more fabulous meals courtesy of my uncle, visited Whole Foods in White Plains, bought another pair of jeans (because I underpacked for the cold northeast) and watched some mindless tv. I had no idea that New York had to go to work, or that there was a reality show for the annoying guys that sell you OxiClean. The more tv I watch the less I regret my choice to remove it from my life =)

...and that was NY in the most condensed version I could muster. My highlights were: the museums, Frim Fram, navigating the subways by myself, seeing Topher, my cousins, and lots of walking.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: Penna

There is something reassuring about going home. The place where you came from. Your first mailing address. Your first friends across the street. Not that I have called Penna home in twenty odd years...but it still feels vaguely familiar every time I encounter the rolling farmland. See the weatherbeaten hex signs, drive down the tiny main streets, and hear 'ya ya'. These days I seem to be claiming the south as home...but for a nomadic creature such as myself, any roots are reassuring.

Spring Grove, a tiny Papermill town was my home, but I stayed with my childhood friend, Ben, in York. Friday night was very chill with us staying in and watching Kung Fu Panda - with which I was pleasently surprised. I actually laughed out loud. SKADoooSH! Saturday we got up early and headed to Sunnewald, an organic hippie health food store owned by one of my Mom's good friends. We actually lived there for a couple years before we made our final exodus from the state. It used to be a tiny little store with few gardens that my family lived at and worked on. Now, it is a thriving business with herbal walkabouts, a radio show, and even more acres of organic goodness. I picked up a few Kombuchas, some original trail/energy mix (it used to be named after my sister, Lydia), along with chips, salsa, and a present for my mother.

By the time Ben and I made it back to York, it was time to pack up and head for DC and my first MLS game. We of course, are rooting for DC United. Now, I am not a sports person by nature, but as I have collected friends I have formed some weak ties to certain teams. Carolina has my heart in college basketball, Red Sox for MLB, Caps in hockey, Appalachian State in college football, or Tennessee for better college football, and now I am all about some DC United soccer. After all, their main sponsor is VW, and I cannot think of a better reason to root for them. Oh yeah…and number 4…sigh…dreamy left D wearing my lucky number. Anyway, back on track. The four of us tailgated in a nearly desolate parking lot for about 3 hours before hitting the gift shop and purchasing all new gear. Go VW!! Ahhhh…I will never forget the blackened hot dog rejected by even the staunchest of DC crows. The game commenced and we had some fairly good seats – and by good I mean there were no giant heads blocking much of the field, and we were close enough to the fan clubs to feel the stadium shake when they started jumping. So yeah, it was a soccer game. The teams ran back and forth a lot, making me feel entirely un-athletic, while thousands of people screamed their heads off and flung beer (and streamers). Halftime was a different story as the fan clubs and a few hundred people entered the mezzanine area and commenced drumming, chanting, and creating a circle where they ‘worshiped’ a jersey. It was very tribal, earthy, and mosh-like. Heather and I decided to preserve our personal belongings and retreated to a higher level to observe the masses. Ben and Josh jumped into the fray, being the boys that they are. It was a sight to see. The game ended with a victory, 2-1. Woot!!! I must be good luck. As we were leaving the drummers came up to the mezzanine again and I begged Heather to let me watch. There were about 6 different drummers, plus a cowbell, tambourine, and bagpipes. I was really digging the beats and finally started to join in the chants with more gusto than when I was watching the game. The head of the fan club kinda knew Josh, and saw that I was ‘with’ him and his friends. He motioned me over and Josh was like “He wants to dance with you.” I was like “No way!!” but he grabbed my hand anyway and drew me into the circle of drumming and dancing. I had zero clue what to do in such a situation…so I began to samba like I was taught in Brazil. It seemed to do the trick because everyone started cheering. It is all a blur now, but basically I was dragged into the dance circle twice to celebrate the win. It was a loud and demanding rhythm; it took me back to dancing on dirt, the only white female on an island with no cars, surrounded by drums and smiling faces. I was in heaven.

New experience number 1 – Major League Soccer Game.

Sunday brought the Brown family together to celebrate the birthday of Jeff. A bluegrass band at an outdoor biker bar in Spring Grove rounded out my diverse weekend in Penn. It was really good to see all the boys again. We lived across the street from them. Adam and Ben are like my brothers and Jeff a dad/uncle figure. Dinner was good, the band was phenomenal and the jokes flew freely. The boys played some horseshoes (I threw a couple as well) and during the last set Jeff’s brother-in-law demanded a dance for a ridiculously fast song. Everyone turned my direction so I said, hey, whatever…and got up to dance some solo jazz in flip flops while my ‘partner’ threw down some admirable flat foot. A memorable experience with not so memorable pictures - they were deleted asap.

In reflection York was a much needed stop. A place to really solidify some of my hazy childhood memories, catch up with old friends, and get out of my usual rut of companions. I hope my next visit is sooner than in ten years.

Current Tunes: Ben Lee and Redheaded Blonde

Monday, June 15, 2009

In parenthesis

New Foods that I have eaten thus far:

~Falafel in DC - incredibly tasty. I will have to find where they sell such wonderfulness outside of our capitol.

~Empanada in DC - another smash hit. Pulled chicken, green olives, and potato. Oh yeah...and an egg.

~Fried Green Beans in York - interesting idea. Not bad at all.

~Crab Fries in Spring Grove - fries smothered in crab meat and mozzarella cheese. omg amazing.

Side Story that is not important at all but a fun memory.
"Do you own anything that is not lime green?"
Now, I had not noticed this phenomenon but apparently I tend to gravitate to owning green accessories. The list you ask?
Bath Towel
Facial Toner bottle
Facial Moisturizer bottle
Toothpaste Travel thingy
Shower Loofa
Bag to carry all bathroom shtuff
Cosmetic bag

This list was apparently long enough for my host in DC to make a comment.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: DC and it's Various Adventures

DC proved to be nearly as adventurous as I anticipated. Actually, I have decided to not anticipate much of anything this trip besides couch surfing and low budget food. It has made it much more enjoyable =)

So, to continue with where I left off...

The Whole Foods that takes up nearly a city block (conveniently located about four blocks from Andy's) had
the coolest thing I have every seen - Happy Hour from 5-7 Mon thru Fri. Now, for those of you who are soooo special and live in big cities, this might not be that amazing - but it was worthy of a note and picture for those of us in the unhealthy south with our measly little stores.

James stopped by on Wednesday around 4 and we headed downtown to see Artomatic, a month long exhibit held in different locations each year. Basically if you have a few bucks and some art you can put it up in this 9 story building. Visual, drama, music, sculpture. You name the medium, it was probably there. We explored about 4 stories of the exhibit, laughing histarically, running away as fast as we could, offering non-artist critique, and generally enjoying the art bends that it offered. My favorites? The Peeps (complete with Dexter peep), visual music, and the super hott mannequin. The ciomplete photo gallery is conveniently located on my fb account. After spending a good three hours and then navigating the Metro back to the hizzie on R st, James departed and I was left to my own devices for the rest of the evening. A jam was going on when I got home, so I ended up diving into my book (thanks Jo!) for the next couple hours while some great music was being made in the living room. Good times. The evening wrapped up with another trip to the Falafl hut.

Thursday involved a trip out to visit Megan on the Tree and Leaf Farm in Nowheresville VA. Not really, but it was a nice hour drive out into the rolling fields of Virginia farms. Note: toll roads kinda suck. I spent 10 bucks driving on about a 20 miles stretch. Boo. was great to get out of the city and knock a couple things off of her Christmas in July list. (I stopped by Whole Foods on the way out) I showed up during lunch and was served a huge salad and generous egg concotion that is only possible by Miss Adair herself. After being fed and cleaning up, we took a quick tour of the 8 acres. Lola has never off-roaded before, but after driving through mud and fields won't stop bragging. Megan rattled off so many veggie names I can't even begin to remember them all (plus I was busy missing the 2 foot deep potholes) but I appreciated the scale of organic food that was happily growing in the fields. Since the farm girl had to get back to work at 2pm, I took off for the city, spending more money on the toll road and reveling in the fact I once again avoided rush hour.

Side Adven
ture Story:
Andy is making his own Kombucha and we needed a giant glass jar. So we walked a lot on our epic search. I tried to not look completely lost as we crossed streets and he rapidly changed directions. Still not used to city foot travel. Anyway, we ended up buying a giant jar of pickles. I mean rediculously large jar of pickles. Bulk pickle jar. Giant freaking enormous jar that held a great deal of pickles. I think y
ou get the point. After filling three containers, eating three pickles apiece, a thorough scrubbing and a run through the dishwasher, we were good to go. Mission accomplished =)

For dinner I experienced another new food - Empanadas. Filled with pulled chicken, green olives, and potatoes it was a hit. Sticking with tradition we hit 80s night down in Adams Morgan, meeting up with James, Lily, Tanya and a couple other peoples. The bar was pretty dead, but we got some drinks and found a comfy couch to enjoy until our posse showed up. Once a couple drinks were down, and the dance floor started getting more feet on it I joined in the fun and danced all kind of rediculousness with glow sticks and strobe lights. The adventure didn't end until Andy and I finally got home around 3:30am after walking Beth home, riding the elevator to every floor, sucking helium out of massive balloons, reading the book of Zen thought, and discussing very deep things that I have zero recollection of. Tequila Sunrise is a new favorite.

Friday greeted us too early at 9am thanks to Andy's alarm that said he had to work regardless of the previous evenings fun. We walked down to Whole Foods for the magic of Kombucha to help get the weird not-hangover gone. I hit the hot bar for breakfast. Again.
I got on the road at about noon, giving a good bye hug, refusing another pickle, and waving to the new giant creepy Kombucha brew, and headed to York, Pa for my next stop.

DC? Check.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: Should have been 7 hours

My visit to Boone was complete with a visit to the Tech Dept, the gym at the Y and one more evening of hilarious dynamic duo action at Michelle's. Trai and Jacob stopped over and we fired up the grill for some surf and turf dinner. The night ended with the boys gigging for frogs at about midnight. They didn't catch any.

I departed Boone around 11am, armed with a Green Machine, Trilogy Kombucha,
bananas, pro-biotics, and a bottle of water. Fritz posed for a few pics as we headed down the mountain, and I waved goodbye to the high country one more time.

Virginia is a beautiful but cruel state. I took my ring off at the welcome center rest stop and forgot to put it back on after washing my hands...went back and it was gone for good. I was super
bummed about that and lost about an hr of my trip. But, life goes on and so does my trip. I just imagine that it is off on its own grand adventure now =)

I drove through some spectacular thunderstorms. The clouds were literally scattered with discernable edges to the patches of rain. Driving in and out of them was slightly surreal as I would look left and see sunlight, blue sky and puffy clouds and then in front of me would be a dark grey body of wet. Simply beautiful.

DC appeared on my horizon around 7:10 and I promptly learned that google map driving directions blow goats. Using my brain, one phone call to Andy, and a handy-dandy Rand McNally map (thanks T!!) I oriented myself and worked my way through traffic as a true southern (but irriated) driver and arrived at my host's apt around 7:30. Booya.

Jam Cellar was just a short walk away and I took off with my new shoes, water bottle, and iPod after a shower and quick snack. I thought I was so clever and hip walking down the sidewalk, but in all truth I forgot a spare shirt - that fact only discovered later as I was covered in sweat wishing I was more socially acceptable with a clean tee. Overall it was a fun night. The music was good - nice tempo variety - and I met a few leads that matched my style. I still feel as though my pulsing is out of touch with the northern scene - but whatever - I had a blast. Oh yeah...the wine, courtesy of my host, helped a lot =)

Since Andy had forgotten to eat dinner, he reminded the world of his hunger pangs about every 30 seconds during the dance. So, after everything was cleaned up we headed down to Adams Morgan to
get some fallofl. He nearly fell on the floor when I told him I had never had one and really didn't know what they were. But, he has never had or heard of a hushpuppy - so we are even. Oh my goodness. It was delicious.

A long walk got us home, and we promptly crashed after drinking an ungodly amount of water.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: Boone

I have said it before and I will say it again. There are few places in my life that feel so much like home as Boone. My desire to stay is not quite as strong as before, but there is something incredibly comforting about the mountains views, friendly sidewalks, and familiar faces.

I moved my few possesions with the gracious help of Joanna, Terrace, Nick and Alan and then hit the road at about 4p.m. Traffic was surprisingly light for a Friday evening. In true camel fashion I only stopped once on the 5hr drive, and rolled into town at about 8:45. While I won't go into all the details here are some of the highlights of my first days on the road. After all, lists are my favorite!!

~Driving up the mountain, looking over, and watching the sun set on top of the clouds is a humbling experience. The blue misty hills were quietly waiting for the spectacular display of pinks and orange to settle into a night lit only by a full moon and a few billion stars. No city lights up here.

~The Nth gallery had a fantastic show - Unportraits by an artist that I am unfamiliar with and therefore unable to recall the name of. However, all his works were no bigger than 4 x 6 inches and were unportraits of people. There was a quote beside each one giving the piece a title and frame of reference. A refreshing blend of visual and verbal art. However, the clientel was unfamiliar so we didn't stick around for long.

~Portofinos proved to be dependable in the 'running into almost everyone you know in town' and 'excellent beer for cheap' departments. The pool room was crowded, the band was mediocre, but the company was excellent. We closed it down at 2am before hitting Cookout and crashing at Michelle's.

~So I was sitting on a stool, enjoying my beer, feeling good, cracking up with some buddies from the tech dept and some random guy just starts talking to me. Asking me who I was here with. No one of coure was my reply. These are just some of my good friends and we are just hanging out. The conversation got pretty convoluted from there, but basically he tried to verbally mow me down. Comments/Questions like: "So, you didn't finish school?" "Well, my sister has been through what you have and she makes 65K a year" "It sounds like you need to just challenge yourself more, and work harder to get what you want" "I think you have a self esteem problem" "Oh, I am not hitting on you, because you would know if I were" spewed out of his mouth during the conversation. Now, sassy is one word that has been used to describe my temperment. I have worked very, very hard at being socially appropriate with my retorts and reactions to people who piss me off - or rub me the wrong way - but after a few beers, and the fact I was on vacation and having a damn good time with my friends, considerably shortened my fuse. I tried to have a decent conversation, and then when he just kept getting spiteful I just let it all out. You know, the stuff that you say in your head, (or what a badass chick in tight black spandex says in an action movie). Our back and forth went on for a few minutes and then I was finally like "You know what? How about this. I am having a great vacation and enjoying spending time with some good people. If you don't have anything else to say to me that isn't nice I am going to say goodbye and ignore you" It worked. He shook my hand told me his name and walked off.
I saw him leaving the bar later after briefly talking to two other girls. He was wearing an oversized black leather jacket and left alone. Probably the most bizarre interaction I have ever had. I think he either gets off on trying to cut girls down, or is overly religious and trying to "reach the misguided". Hopefully I won't run into him again. It might get messy.

~350 miles and only half a tank of gas. Lola is a champ.

I slept in until noon today. Chillin' downtown at Espresso News with a good book and my laptop. Michelle is going to meet up with me and we are going to hang out. No idea what is going to go down tonight but some people are supposed to call me and we will hit a bar or two I am sure.

Let's just say vacation is a nice feeling...