05
Jan 17

NYC Adventures: 2016 Holiday Edition

While last year I went out of town, this holiday season out-of-towners came to me, which meant I got to see some New York sights I’d never seen before, and a few I hadn’t visited in a while.

The United Nations

United Nations

[Photo by Paul VanDerWerf, CC BY 2.0]

I worked near the United Nations for 10 years but never went inside. Last week was my first time. My friend Motoko from Tokyo and her son wanted a tour, and Ellen, my buddy in Boston, was kind enough to arrange it and to, of course, join in on the fun.

You have to go through quite a bit of security before getting inside. No wonder they ask you to get there an hour before your tour time. You check in at one location, wait in line at the main location, then put your stuff through metal detectors and go through a full body scan, just like at the airport. It was so similar, some people were about to take their shoes off.

Once you get inside, it’s worth it. The lobby is beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures. That’s what I get for not having much memory on my phone.

The tour was interesting, but because I was sleep deprived, I didn’t retain much of it. What I do remember was the guide was credentialed up the wazoo. She spoke three languages (English, Japanese, and Spanish), had a master’s degree in international relations, and was fluent in English despite having come from Japan just two years ago.

She was also nice enough to translate for Motoko’s son, although that wouldn’t have happened if Motoko hadn’t noticed her Japanese name, or if Ellen hadn’t asked her to translate in the first place.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

I’ve been to the Grand Central Oyster Bar a couple of times before, but it’s been several years since my last visit.

The Oyster Bar, Grand Central Terminal, New York City

[Photo by Jazz Guy, CC BY 2.0]

That’s not my picture of the bar although we sat at the bar.

What I love about the place is that it’s a mixed crowd. You have tourists but you also have working stiffs who want to get away from their desks for 40 minutes and enjoy some delicious clam chowder.

Which is what I had. Tasty and filling and only $7.

The Met

Of course I’ve been to the Met a hundred times, but what I’d never seen before was a line that long. How long? It went out the door, down the stairs, and onto the sidewalk. It was a perfect storm of the early afternoon, the holidays and a chilly, steady rain.

Little do the hoi polloi know, there’s a semi-secret side entrance which is a million times less crowded. Another friend showed it to me and Ellen long ago, and it’s the only entrance I’ve used ever since.

Still, that didn’t keep the rest of the museum from being mobbed, especially the Impressionist wing. Our guests lasted half a dozen Monets, Degas, and Seurats before we took refuge in the cafeteria.

Peter Luger Steak House

A great thing about out-of-town visitors, besides the company of course, is that I end up doing things I never would have on my own. Such as dinner at Peter Luger.

If you want an old school New York experience and don’t mind spending a little dough, you’ll love Peter Luger. Perhaps its Brooklyn location has something to do with it, but I felt like everyone — the managers, the waiters, even the other diners — had walked straight out of some movie about NYC.

And the food was good too. We started with sliced tomatoes and onions, which is literally just that. What makes the dish is their sauce, similar to cocktail sauce but not tomato-y. We also got a single (massive) slab of bacon.

Unfortunately by the time our 16 ounce steaks came, I wasn’t that hungry, and could barely make a dent, although I had no problem finishing off our sides of creamed spinach and German fried potatoes, which were similar to hash browns.

It came out to about $80 per person including tax and tip, which may seem steep, but with all the leftovers and the experience itself, it was worth it.

Corner Cafe & Bakery

I’ve been wanting to try this place since I moved into my neighborhood little more than a year ago. New Year’s Eve morning, I finally did, and it didn’t disappoint.

I got the Southern breakfast.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

That’s three eggs, bacon, potatoes, a corn muffin, and fried green tomatoes with remoulade sauce. A delectable way to finish out 2016.

InterContinental Barclay Hotel

Something else I don’t usually do is go out on New Year’s Eve. To me NYE is basically SantaCon without the Santa suits. But this year I found myself out and about, and I have to admit, it was a nice change of pace.

After helping Motoko pick up some provisions for her feverish son, Ellen and I ended up spending a relaxing afternoon at Motoko’s beautiful hotel.

While we charged our phones at the bar, we each got an old fashioned.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

It was very well made, and I got sufficiently tipsy. Plus the bartender was very nice and didn’t make us feel rushed.

I’d definitely return to the InterContinental Barclay bar just to have a drink and hang out.

Times Square on New Year’s Eve

Our relaxing afternoon came to an end when we headed out to meet our friend Aki. She and her boyfriend had a party later and were staying at a hotel for the night. Unfortunately that hotel was right near Times Square.

Getting from Midtown East to Midtown West on New Year’s Eve was like trying to climb over the Berlin Wall. But climb over it we did, mostly due to Ellen’s persistence. Like Aki said, I was about to call it a night when Ellen finally found a cop who let us through the barricades.

The hotel itself was pretty relaxing. We ended up eating discounted happy hour snacks in the lounge instead of trying to find a restaurant. The food hit the spot. Wings, pita and hummus, quesadillas, and a pizza-like flatbread.

At about 8:30 I made Ellen leave. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in that part of town close to midnight. We walked Aki and her boyfriend partway to their party and grabbed a cab at Columbus Circle. By nine, we were in PJs and watching Orange Is the New Black, my kind of NYE. I was happy that Ellen was so accommodating.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

The next day we headed back to the west side and had our first lunch of 2017. Pure Thai Cookhouse was an Aki find. It was packed but didn’t seem touristy, an excellent combination.

I got the special, a beef dish in a mildly spicy curry paste with a fried egg.

A photo posted by actung9 (@actung9) on

A yummy start to the new year.

Here’s hoping that every day of 2017 is as delicious.


07
Dec 13

Catching up, the Thanksgiving edition

The rest of Thanksgiving weekend was super fun.

The dinner that my brother cooked was delicious: turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing with sausage, buttery mashed potatoes. I can’t even remember what I did that night. Probably worked on my novel a little and watched TV a lot.

Friday we all stuck around the house. None of us wanted to do Black Friday. I took a walk down to the shopping center and back — luckily no dog chased me this time — which was over 3.5 miles. The day before I worked out in the basement: running around the perimeter, squats, push-ups, burpees, jumping lunges, sit-ups, etc. I got pretty sweaty.

Oh yeah, I also spent a lot of time sorting through and packing up old books. I had SO MANY.

Saturday we had our family outing. We got lunch at this Chinese place that specializes in xiao long bao, or little juicy buns, and afterward we went to look at my parents’ new house.

Right now it’s just the foundation, but we could see what the other houses looked like, as well as the club house, which was huge. It has a small gym (though still bigger than my condo gym), a dining room, a little kitchen, a theater, and an indoor pool (there’s also an outdoor pool). Dad said he might actually go swimming.

I really like the idea of Mom and Dad living there. Right now Dad walks only on our tiny street. He used to do the three mile walk to the shopping center, but now he feels like it’s too dangerous for him. After they move, he’ll be able to walk all around the retirement complex, as well as on the trail behind the club house.

After that, we went shopping for a couple of hours. I got a little black jacket and some new jeans.

That night was my brother’s 20th high school reunion so he was off fairly early. I saw a couple of friends over the next couple of days, and then Monday morning my brother and I got coffee. We hadn’t had the chance to hang out one on one before then, and he was leaving that afternoon. It was nice catching up and chatting.

That afternoon, after he left, it hit me that I was leaving the next morning, and I still had work to do as well as packing and cleaning up. But I was stressed out only for a couple of hours before I got everything organized.

The next morning, although I was exhausted, getting to the airport went smoothly. Security however took a year. I thought I’d be tagged for TSA pre-check like on my way in, but I wasn’t. The line seemed like all old people. They were SO SLOW getting their stuff ready for the scanner.

By the time I got through, I had only half an hour before boarding, enough time to pee and buy a coffee and water. Luckily Mom gave me some food, including a roast pork bun, which I inhaled.

The flight was full but since it was Virgin, it didn’t feel as cramped. The lady next to me had B.O., but she was very nice. After we landed I kept running into her: at baggage claim, on the BART.

Oh yeah. When I first boarded, my seat mate, not the lady another guy, was in my seat arranging his shit. I let him I was waiting, and he said, “Just a minute,” and then stood there getting out his headphones. Meanwhile I’m blocking the aisle and there’s a whole line of people behind me.

I was like, seriously dude? You can’t move in and do that? I said, “There’s a whole line of people waiting,” and he very reluctantly let me in.

SERIOUSLY?

The lady behind me was like, “That’s very kind of you,” and these two older men across the aisle smiled at me like, “You go girl.”


28
Nov 13

A Thanksgiving Post

I’ve been at my parents’ since Sunday morning. My flight was good — in fact, it got in early, but since it was a red eye it felt interminable and as usual I couldn’t sleep much.

Getting to the train took longer since something was wrong with the shuttle, but I made it just in time. Actually, as I was running down the stairs with my suitcase, the door closed.

“Please wait!” I yelled, and I’m guessing the conductor heard me because the doors reopened.

At home I ate something, showered, then slept for about three hours. I could have slept more but I wanted to get on east coast time. Plus I had some work to do.

That night and the next day I was just at home. My brother was in town but he had gone into the city to hang out with friends. I went into the city that night after dinner and went straight to the YP’s, where we just chilled, watching Hunger Games again in anticipation of Catching Fire the next night, although we ended up talking over most of it.

I thought I’d have no problem sleeping that night, but it actually took me a long time, and then I was up early. Got probably just a few hours.

We went together to the YP’s office and worked all day, which was fun. For lunch we went with a couple of his coworkers to get “Indian burritos.” They were so good. His coworkers’ orders were taking a long time so we waited outside since some lady’s perfume was giving YP a migraine and I was about to pass out from the heat. We were standing there talking when suddenly I looked up and there was my brother!

“That’s my brother!” I said.

I had posted on FB where I was, and he happened to be in the area. Too funny!

After work, YP and I grabbed dinner at this cute place. The food was good — we both got the curry tofu — although the portions were pretty small.

By then it was raining and windy, but I still preferred to walk rather than take the subway. It wasn’t too long to the theater, about 20 minutes. His sister got there first and snagged us seats.

I kept picturing the theater jam-packed, so I thought it was hilarious when we walked in and it was his sister and one other dude. I guess people were traveling or staying in because of the weather.

We all agreed the movie was SO GOOD. Even better than the first one.

The weather was worse was when we left. We cut through a Whole Foods, where YP picked up a few things and I got a snack — salmon sushi — since I was starving after our meager meal.

Since it was almost 11 on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, people had very full carts AND there were hardly any registers. The couple in front of me drove me crazy. The man insisted on bagging first before swiping his card. Swipe then bag, idiot.

Back at the YP’s, I ate my sushi, he had a PBJ, and we watched The Mindy Project and Brooklyn 99. I had the herbal relaxant my acupuncturist suggested to help with my teeth grinding. During Agents of SHIELD, I promptly lost consciousness and will need to watch it again.

I crashed hard that night. Slept solidly for a good six hours.

Got up early to do some work and then went to meet the ES and SB at 10. We had a late breakfast/early lunch at Pret, and had fun chatting and catching up. Then ES and I caught a bus to the train station and, just in time, caught the 12:07. It was pretty crowded but we each got a seat. At first we weren’t together, but then very quickly her seatmate got up, and then we were. We chit chatted the whole time, and it made the ride go really fast.

That night ES, AY, and I met up for happy hour at this very nice, kinda kooky place. It’s in the middle of a sculpture garden and on the way there, there a lot of giant sculptures along the sides of the road.

We had drinks and a TON of food since the little plates were so cheap, just $2 to $5 each. We talked and talked and talked. Eventually we talked about stuff from 20 years ago, which we always do, but now it makes me feel kinda old. We were three women in our early 40s reminiscing about the 1990s. Good lord. But it was tons of fun.

We stayed until about 10, and I slept hard again.

Did some work this morning, and also managed to get in some revisions for the novel. Yay! The last time I worked on it was November 24, four days ago, and I think I probably barely did anything then.

I was going to write a blog post for work but I don’t know if I will. If I feel like it later, maybe. I need to work on my novel more, and hardly anyone else is working at my company. I had a problem this morning and everyone basically ignored me. *Shrug.*

Right now my brother is cooking Thanksgiving dinner. The novel calls but I also just want to watch a movie.


27
Apr 13

An East Coast Birthday

As expected I had a mostly great time on the east coast. I say mostly because my parents and I ended up spending all of Friday afternoon at the emergency room.

First off, let me say that everything turned out to be fine, but we only knew that after hours of waiting and tests.

That day we were up early to take my dad to the doctor for an exam. We expected to be done by lunchtime, and then I’d head into NYC around three so that I could meet up with YP in time to go to parkour class with him. Things didn’t go as expected.

My dad fainted during his exam. My mom and I were waiting in the car – the waiting room was crowded and stuffy – when we saw an ambulance and paramedics pull up to the doctor’s office.

“Who could that be for?” my mother wondered. We shrugged it off.

Several minutes later, a nurse came out.

“Is he done?” my mother asked.

That was when she told us he had passed out.

“What?!” my mother cried, jumping out of the car and scurrying with the nurse back to the office.

We found my dad sitting in the exam room, surrounded by paramedics. The doctor and one of the paramedics explained that it was probably a normal reaction, but that we should take him to the hospital to get checked out.

“I don’t want to go,” my dad said, but we convinced him otherwise. As they loaded him into the ambulance, he looked very pale and out of it. I was glad we were going.

My parents kept thinking we’d be in and out in an hour. I knew that wouldn’t be the case, but I didn’t expect it to take as long as it did. We were there until about six thirty.

Like I said, everything was fine, and it was a tremendous relief to learn that. Although waiting around for hours was annoying, everyone was super nice. The nurses, orderlies, doctor, everyone. And I was really glad I happened to be there. If I had heard about it afterward or during, I’d have felt so helpless and guilty.

It’s tough when your parents get old.

I ended up heading up to NYC after dinner and got to Brooklyn after 10 (I was still on west coast time so I wasn’t too tired). I was meeting YP at his sister’s. I walked into her apartment to find a group of people sitting in the dark. I thought they were watching a movie, but then YP snapped on the lights and everyone yelled, “Surprise!”

I was indeed surprised, especially since I recognized only two out of the five people there.

But it was such a nice gesture on YP’s part. He brought out a platter of cupcakes lit with candles and everyone sang. It was lovely.

Riding the subway to and from Brooklyn, I realized how much older the population is in my neighborhood in San Francisco. I’m no spring chicken, but the New York subway seemed full of youngish, cute and artsy men, while in SF I don’t see that as much. In my ‘hood, it’s all baseball-cap wearing douchebags, 100 year old Chinese men, aging hippies, or drunks/drug addicts.

The next day YP and I met AK, my writer/library school friend, at the Met. We saw several exhibits, including Photography and the American Civil War, which I found fascinating. And as tradition goes, I visited the Greek hall, namely a specific site.

perseus_rear

I saw the Buddhas too. I’m not a complete degenerate.

Afterward we walked around Central Park. The weather was very nice all weekend. A bit chilly and windy but sunny. Plus all the trees were in bloom.

centralpark

That night we met up again with YP’s sister and another friend, and saw Oblivion. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t good either. Mostly it was boring, and I fell asleep several times. Also, the whole time I kept thinking how much younger Tom Cruise’s love interests were. One I kept thinking was like his daughter because her coloring was similar to his.

The next day I met my college pal SB for lunch. On my way there, I saw a mother and daughter, who couldn’t have been more than eight, in matching fur vests. Ah, the Upper East Side. I got to see SB’s husband and daughter, too, briefly, before we headed out for a yummy Asian lunch.

I was meeting AK for coffee near Union Square and was planning on walking. SB walked with me most of the way before heading back.

Another strange sighting was that apparently the lobby of the main Pfizer building, where I used to work, is now a bank. I don’t know if the whole building is a bank now or just the lobby. Either way, weird!

AK and I had a very nice chat, and then I headed back to YP’s.

I was pretty pooped so we had a relaxed evening. A walk on the Highline (another NYC tradition for me) with this view of some very cool graffiti –

graffit_highline

– and an Indian dinner.

Another NYC tradition is that YP gets me hooked on a new TV show. Last time it was Revenge (which has gotten really stupid since), this time: Hannibal. It’s well-done, and I love Hugh Dancy (aka Mr. Claire Danes) and all the actors, but it does make me think, Goddamn, there are a lot of serial killers in that town. We also watched a French movie to get in the mood for our trip to Paris in a few weeks. Again, I fell asleep several times, but from what I saw it wasn’t very good. YP and I both thought Isabelle Adjani was wholly unconvincing as a diva-starlet.

The next day, Monday, I headed back to SF. Surprisingly the flight back, which is longer, felt shorter. I watched TV and slept. Across the aisle from me was an adorable toddler who kept grinning at me and saying, “Hiiiii!” I wanted to kidnap him.

By the way, on the food ordering system, I noticed the option to send a drink, snack, or meal to another seat. I thought it was for parents to buy drinks and meals for their kids. I see I’m going to do well in the singles world.


22
Nov 12

Thankful

Although it was for a bad reason, I had a very nice visit in New Jersey.

If you’re behind on the whole parents-saga, you can catch up here. The short version is that while on he was on vacation in Taiwan, my dad tripped, fell, and fractured his right pubis bone in three places. This means his mobility is pretty limited. I wanted to go see him and my mom right away, but there was the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to deal with, then winter storm Athena. Finally, last week, I was able to go.

Here are all the things I’m thankful for from that visit:

An 11 AM flight. I discovered it’s the best time to fly. You’re not getting up ridiculously early, or waiting around all day to go.

Economy plus for $60. “Economy plus” are seats with more leg room. I really had no choice: there were only middle seats left by the time I checked in, and one aisle in the very back row (which I’ve sat in before and which totally sucks, between the cart bumping into the seat, and people feeling perfectly fine leaning on your seat while they wait for the bathroom, and then pseudo-apologizing with, “Well, you’re right there,” as though you moved the entire row in front of them).

A working computer. I added a lot to my novel.

Free airplane TV. Helped pass the time quickly. I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was beautiful and sad, but not depressing.

Being near the front. Quick deboarding!

Having no checked luggage. Quick exit!

Working trains. I expected the trains to be a mess. My dad sent me an email saying I’d probably have to take one train to Rahway, then change for another. Turned out there were trains going directly to my town (as told to me by the very put out guy in the booth – sorry to disturb your sitting there doing nothing!). Even the 20 minute wait went quickly.

My mom’s food. This is one of the highlights of visits home. I inhaled delicious dumplings and many bowls of chicken soup with Chinese herbal medicine, which, I swear, cured my cold. My dad, the skeptical scientist, also said it seemed to be helping his leg.

My parents’ wireless internet. For a long time, they resisted, but a few years ago we managed to convince them to set it up.

Netflix and Hulu Plus. Hours of entertainment for me as my mom watched her Chinese and Korean shows on the main TV, and I was up at all hours from jet lag.

A workplace that makes it easy to work remotely. I spent much of my time at my parents’ working, which was enjoyable and kept me busy (ie, no boredom).

My parents let me help them with some household chores. Since I couldn’t do anything directly for my father, I was glad to be able to fix the ceiling light in the kitchen (even with my mom yelling at me the whole time I was on the ladder), change a ceiling light bulb in the living room, bring the recyclables out, unjam my dad’s printer, and some other random things my parents weren’t able to do.

My friends. Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to see a bunch of friends while I was there. One night I had dinner with a college chum whom I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. We went to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, my first time. It was very good and the decor was lovely.

Saturday I went into the city and saw my college roommate and former Upper East Side homegirl, SB, for a lovely, chatty breakfast; and former co-worker YP and library school classmate AK for a tour of the Brooklyn Museum.

Sunday I had coffee with high school friend AY, and during that time long-time bud ES texted that she was on her way home. Woot! ES and I had great time grabbing dessert that night in Princeton. Afterward we hung out in my room like we were still in high school, and I showed her my krav maga moves (totally at her request).

Good weather. While it was freezing at night, when I was in the city, it was sunny and not too cold, perfect for walking around.

A good night’s sleep. After a few restless nights, one of almost no sleep, and a busy day in NYC, I was finally able to sleep for a good long stretch Saturday night, and promptly got on east coast time.

My dad’s spare laptop. Unfortunately, my work computer went kaput.

A good memory. Also unfortunately, I hadn’t backed up the latest version of my novel, so everything I added on the plane ride and since then is probably kaput as well. But I had dumped some of it in a Google doc, and I think I remember the gist of the rest. Not word for word, obviously, but sometimes that’s better. It’s like revising.

A three PM flight. Again, I didn’t have to get up too early or rush out.

A thick book. I was worried that I’d be bored on my flight back because 1) my computer was busted, and 2) my TV didn’t work. For some reason, on this flight it wasn’t free, and I was willing to pay five bucks, but my TV couldn’t read my credit card. Luckily my book kept me pretty occupied.

Good headphones. I borrowed MB’s headphones, which while aren’t noise canceling, do a good job muffling outside noise. Luckily for me because across the aisle was a crying baby. He slept a lot, but he also screamed to hear himself scream and cried. As we deboarded, the lady who sat next to the baby complained to me in Chinese about it, which I thought was rude. I mean, it’s a baby. He can’t help it. It’s not like a bratty kid who should know better.

Time zones. Gained back three hours! Was in my apartment by 6:30 PM. Ate the food my mom had packed for me, and passed out by 9 PM.

Part of me feels like I wish I stayed at my parents’ for Thanksgiving, but another part is glad to be here. I love how the city clears out for a holiday.

Oh, and another thing I’m thankful for:

Electricity. Last night I came home to half the lights in our building out. I panicked, but discovered our lights worked. However, all the clocks and other things plugged into outlets didn’t work, so I thought some power surge had shorted out everything. I called the building manager, and he said power on half the block had been out all day, which sucks but made me feel better. It wasn’t just our building. I called the electric company, and got a recording that they were aware of the problem, and it would hopefully be fixed by 10 PM.

MB came home and further discovered that actually the outlets on one side of the apartment worked. He thought it was a blown fuse, but we didn’t know where the fuse box was. So we just grabbed some dinner, and took a walk to Union Square and back. Because some outlets worked, we were able to watch TV.

Then at 10 to 10, all the power came back on. For about five minutes. Then all the power went out. ALL. Fuck. Then a minute later, half the power came on again, the other half of our apartment. Ridiculous. Finally, everything came back on.

All of that means we weren’t able to get Thanksgiving stuff yesterday (because our fridge wasn’t working). But luckily Whole Foods is open today, and MB has volunteered to go on his own to get provisions, for which I am perhaps most thankful of all.


01
Jun 12

New York: Been There, Done That

In a recent post, I made a big to-do about blogging more regularly, but then I got really busy with work and went on vacation. Oh well.

MB was away on a business trip so I thought I’d take the opportunity to visit New York and New Jersey over the long Memorial Day weekend. Tickets were pretty cheap but that meant flying at 6 AM on Wednesday. The last time I traveled so early to New York, I didn’t sleep at all and felt like shit the whole day. But this time I slept like a rock for almost six hours on Tuesday since I hadn’t slept well on Monday, and so was fresh as a daisy for traveling on Wednesday.

My flight was good in that I had an aisle seat and a good book to read. But it also sucked because we were late taking off. We taxied for what felt like forever and then sat on the runway for what felt like forever. It wasn’t forever but felt like it because the captain made NO ANNOUNCEMENTS. Even if he had come on and said, “We’re not sure what’s going on,” everyone would have felt better. You hear that United? Have your captains make announcements even if they don’t know what’s going on.

Then before we landed, we circled New York for another 45 minutes. Luckily this time the captain did make an announcement. Something about the weather. My seatmate was a German woman who, while nice, kept looking to me to repeat the announcements the captain had made, and then would say incredulously, “Weather? What weather?” I don’t know lady! I didn’t make the announcement.

We ended up being 90 minutes late but that was okay because YP, whom I was staying with, wasn’t getting off work till later. When I finally got into the city, I picked up his keys and made myself at home by raiding his fridge and watching TV.

That night we grabbed dinner at this Latin place, which we both thought kind of sucked. I got a couple of tapas dishes: little chicken-avocado sandwiches, which had almost no flavor, and four measly shrimp for $12. After dinner, we walked out to the High Line, which is my new favorite New York activity, but by the time we got there, it was closed. D’oh! But we were more than happy to head back to YP’s, sit on our asses, and watch TV.

The next morning YP had to go to work so I hung out like a lazy bum, then went uptown to meet SB for lunch. By this time, it was pouring buckets. I thought I’d leave a half an hour early, catch a cab, and be there in 10 minutes. It took me an hour. I should have known: rain + noon + the Thursday before a three-day weekend + the most timid driver in the world = an infuriating travel experience.

Finally, at around 59th Street, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was basically a parking lot. I got out and started walking, and after a block, the traffic seemed to clear so I hopped in another cap since I still had nearly 20 blocks to go. Unfortunately it seemed as soon as I got in the cab, traffic stalled again, and after a few blocks, I ended up walking the whole way. Luckily SB still had time for us to have a nice leisurely lunch.

Afterward, I met YP at the Whitney to see their Biennial Exhibition.

Whitney Museum

Whitney Museum, from their permanent collection

It was crowded but actually not too bad. I always have a good time at the museum. My favorite installation was of this super creepy mannequin boy that breathed and blinked. For some reason, the blinking, which brushed against his long blond bangs, made him seem real, to the point that I had to peer closely to see if he was. (He wasn’t.) There was also the sound of an adult male whispering in what sounded like a German accent. I couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from, but had a feeling it was supposed to come from the bloody puppet the boy was holding, which upon occasion the boy would move, scaring the bejeezus out of me. It was fantastic.

By the time we left the museum, it had stopped raining so we walked across Central Park.

central park

Central Park is one of things I miss most about NYC.

That night we had a delicious risotto dinner downtown, and for dessert went to Big Gay Ice Cream in my old ‘hood and got a couple of Salty Pimps, “vanilla soft-serve sprinkled with salt and covered in dulce de leche and chocolate sauce.” Then we took our time walking back – more hanging out and watching TV, which I loved. The next day we got some brunch and hit the High Line again. This time we actually got to walk on it. It was rather crowded and getting hot, but I still had a good time.

the high line

high line billboard

emo ken doll

Then I was off to the ‘rents.

Overall that was nice, though I was tense the whole time that my mother would start harassing me about something or another. She didn’t but I could tell she was resisting. We did our usual eating and shopping. I tried watching Glee with my mom one night, thinking she’d love the singing and dancing, but she just kept talking over the show. Not even about the show but making conversation, which she doesn’t do when watching her Chinese or Korean stuff. Then she kept making comments like, “They’re dancers? But they’re so fat! Her mouth is so big! Her mouth is really big! They can all really sing! They’re like professionals!” Finally, I gave up and went to my room to watch the show on my own.

I was both sad and glad to leave them on Sunday.

My rest of the time in the city I hung out with my pals ES and AY. We went out to Brooklyn and walked all over, which was fun but it was so freaking hot, and I hadn’t brought the right clothes. I packed for a San Francisco summer, not New York. Anyway, we had a late lunch in Park Slope, walked out to DeKalb Market, which was closed by the time we got there but it was still neat to see, then out to Dumbo (which was awesome because it was by the water) where we had a lovely Italian dinner.

The next day we went to, guess where, the High Line! My third time in one long weekend, a record. And again, it was so damned hot. Like in the 90s I think. Although I had a wonderful time with my friends, I was really looking forward to heading back to San Francisco weather and my own apartment.

Not so fast! My flight was supposed to leave at 7:40 PM but then because of “weather” again (ie, thunderstorms) it was delayed to first 9:23, then 10:23. I went through the four stages of delayed flight grief: disbelief, almost crying, anger, and acceptance. Once I had accepted the delay, I was okay. I read, laughed at a toddler pushing his own stroller, went to the bathroom (which was a whole process because of my all my stuff), ate, wandered around, charged my phone, played Words with Friends, ate again. Then before you know it, we were finally boarding the fucking plane.

Unlike my flight out, this plane had little seat TVs. It was such a scam though: they showed previews of all these shows and channels, then after 10 minutes said, “Your free preview is almost over, shell out some cash to actually watch these shows.” Not those words exactly but you know what I mean.

And guess what? I paid the eight bucks. I knew I’d be too tired to read or write, and the idea of a six hour flight with nothing to do seemed unbearable. And you know what? I fell asleep after two shows. Oh well.

At least the flight felt fast. I’d watch some TV, fall asleep for a while, watch more TV, fall asleep again. All of a sudden we were getting ready to land. I fell asleep again, and then we were on the runway. Arrival time: two AM, three hours after schedule. But I was just so glad to be home, in cool jacket-necessary weather, that I didn’t care.

Because it was so late and because not just ours but all flights had been delayed, there were a lot of taxis waiting around, and then no traffic. I was home by 2:30, in bed by 3, and awake by 8 the next morning and off to work. But because I love job, I actually liked going, although by after lunch, I was pooping out.

I’m still thrilled to be back home, especially now that MB has returned from his trip. And although I miss all my east coast friends, I don’t know if could ever live in New York again. That fucking New York summer.

No mosquito bites though.


26
Oct 11

NYC, BlogHer Writers’ Conference, NJ

Behind in my blog posts as usual!

I had a great time in New York and at the BlogHer Writers’ Conference, despite some wicked insomnia and coming down with a cold.

The night before I left on Thursday, I just could not sleep, probably because I was anxious about making my 8:15 AM flight, and ended up getting about three hours. As I made my way to the taxi stand in front of a nearby hotel, the thought of taking a cab to the BART, then taking the BART to the airport, then getting on an air shuttle, just made me even more exhausted. I opted for a cab all the way to SFO, and because it was so early, didn’t hit any traffic and got there in plenty of time.

There seemed to be a lot of activity around security, but we got through the line very fast! It helped that the TSA agents were actually lively and alert, unlike other agents I’ve experienced. I had enough time to lounge over coffee and a bagel, but not too much time to feel bored.

I was excited to have an aisle seat, even if it was in the very last row, since I go to the bathroom A LOT. The problem was my seat was right next to the bathroom, which meant people were constantly waiting in line right next to me. Mostly they were okay, except for the lady who kept leaning her whole body against my seat, the stewardness who every time she pushed out the cart, SLAMMED it into my seat without apology, and an old guy who leaned his arm on my head.

I tapped him. “Excuse me,” I said. “Do you mind?”

“Sorry!” he said.

I thought that was the end of it, but after I closed my eyes (yes, after), he said to me, “You’re in a bad seat! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s bumped you.”

In that case, you don’t need to apologize at all!

The flight felt fast. Despite getting almost no sleep, I couldn’t sleep, and worked on my writing instead. Got quite a bit done! From the airport, I took the train into the city, then schlepped through Penn Station during, unfortunately, rush hour. (Never doing that again.) Grabbed a cab to YP’s place, changed clothes, inhaled some yummy cheese and crackers that he had so considerately set out, and then we were off to a concert at the Brooklyn Museum.


I had never heard of Somi (though that’s not saying much), but absolutely loved her. She was jazzy and soulful with an African tinge. Very relaxing and mellow. Xanax for the soul, YP calls her music. Afterward we had South African food. I had bobotie for the first time, and it was YUM! In fact, I could eat some right now.

Despite being so tired, I couldn’t sleep that night for the life of me, probably partly because of the time difference, being in a new place, and being a bit nervous about speaking the next day. I kept using the bathroom, and thought I’d wake YP for sure, especially when I knocked the remote control to the floor, but he slept like the dead. I finally drifted off around 5 AM, and got about four hours of sleep. Oy.

I wanted to go to the whole conference, but because of my sleep troubles, didn’t make it in till the lunchtime session. I chatted with the people at my table, jotted down a whole bunch of ideas for what to say during my panel, and ate some very tasty cheese ravioli. There were some agent mentoring sessions after lunch, but because I was a day late and a dollar short, I didn’t sign up in time, and they were full. Instead I took that opportunity to buy a sweater since the conference rooms were so cold.

Then finally it was my session!

I was pretty nervous even though there were three other people on my panel, and I was talking about stuff that I know. I’ve always had a fear of public speaking, made worse at my old job when I was often made to present on stuff I wasn’t too familiar with. I’ve presented many many times, and it never got easier. Out of a dozen presentations, there are probably two I’d say were successful, one because it was the second time in a row I was giving it (and I was distracted by food poisoning), the other because my piece was so short.

But of course the panel went fine! I talked about my stuff, answered some questions, and networked a little afterward. It was great fun and exposure, and I’d totally do it again.

Here’s the video but I think you have to pay for it.


I got back to YP’s place before he did. It was great to kick back and relax in front of the TV. When he returned, we headed out for dinner. I said I was in the mood for something cheesy, which quickly morphed into “Mediterranean.” We checked out a couple of places but they were pretty pricey. We opted for a Thai place we like instead. Having had nothing since my ravioli, I was starved and inhaled an entire platter of pad thai.

Afterward, we checked out the High Line, which I’ve never been to before. It was fun! I can see it being a great place to hang out in warm weather. Then, because I was so pooped, we headed back to YP’s place, had tea, and watched TV. Yay!

Thanks to YP, I now have a new TV addiction: Revenge. Damn it’s good! We watched two espisodes, and later that weekend at my parents’, I watched the rest on Hulu. I’m trying to get MB to catch up so that we can start watching it together.

That night I was so congested, I took a Benadryl and slept like a frigging rock.


The next morning was very leisurely for me although YP had busines to TCO. We grabbed some breakfast at Cafe Habana, then I headed back to pack and relax at YP’s while he ran off to run errands. Then it was time for me to go!

The 1 train was conveniently right nearby so I just hopped that up to Penn Station, which wasn’t too crazy. I even got a window seat on the train. Before I knew it, I was in NJ and at my parents, where I had my mother’s excellent chicken soup and dumplings for lunch, took a walk on the road behind their house, and did some work. Then dinner, many episodes of Revenge, and sleep sleep sleep!

The next day was pretty much the same thing except:

That damned dog.

Yes, I was taking a walk, minding my own business, when I heard a loud growl and turned to see a dog tearing across a yard, barreling straight at me.

“Whoa!” I cried, and just started running. There’s no way I can outrun this dog! I thought, and imagined it sinking its teeth into my ankle. But after I ran past the yard, I turned to see the dog trotting away, doo-doo-doo, like, Yay, I did my job!

Fuck you, dog. And your owner too.

I told my parents about it, and my dad said he experienced the same thing a couple of years ago, that the dog must belong to one of their friends, because usually there’s another dog who ignores him.

Either way, I was so freaked out, I took the long back, walking at least a mile out of my way. For most of the way, there was a sidewalk so that made thing easy. Only at the very end I had to walk through people’s front yards to avoid the road, and that was when ANOTHER dog growled and chased me.

Well, I didn’t actually see it. All I heard was the slap of a dog door and a growl, and then I ran.

Freaking A.

Anyway, aside from being chased by dogs, I had a relaxing time at my parents’ house. I managed to get some writing done, to catch up on everything I could possibly want to on Hulu (The New Girl has totally sucked me in), and ate some yummy food. And this time my mother didn’t bother me too much about getting married, just:

Mom: Did you guys talk again about getting married?
Me: No, because neither of us want to.

Two days and two nights were just enough at my parents’. I had a mid-afternoon flight on Monday which was very easy to get to, but felt like it took forever. It’s a mind fuck to see “Depart at 3:30” and “Arrive at 6:30.” With the time difference, the flight is six hours, but I kept thinking three.

MB met me at the airport, yay! We hopped the air shuttle, then the BART (so disgusting), and finally a cab. Then I was home home home!

I’m not travling again for a very long time.


26
Dec 10

Ch-ch-ch-changes

You may have noticed that I changed my blog template.  It’s been about a year so I decided it was time.  Plus it’s just fun.

This particular template has been available to me for a while, but I didn’t realize I could change the header.  I spent much of last night playing with different photos for the header and settled on the gorgeous one you seem above.  My friend YP took it and sent it as one of his holiday cards.  I know I should probably have a San Francisco photo since that’s where I live, but I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart.

I may do the same thing with my writing site (but with a different header), but I’m not sure yet.


02
Oct 10

The ex-friends who can’t get over me?

While I was working on my latest Frisky article, I wondered if I should I include the times I was on the other side, when I was the dumper instead of the dumpee.  In the end, I didn’t, but I’ve certainly thought about it, especially after seeing some of the comments from people who shared their stories about having dumped friends.


I’ve dumped friends twice, once much in the way that June dumped me – without explanation – the other time, after a falling out.

I hadn’t been friends with Person A for long.  I knew him from before, but we weren’t friends.  There were already some things I didn’t like about him before I dumped him.  He was incredibly manipulative of my time, and only wanted to do things that he wanted to do.  He’d get put out if I didn’t want to hang out with him for an entire day.

But the most annoying thing was that he tried to horn in on my writing.  At the time I was working on Song of the Stranger, my YA novel, which is set in Hokkaido, Japan.  Because Person A – who was white – had taken some Japanese classes and had been to Tokyo, he had a lot of suggestions about how I should write my book.  He was also a wannabe writer.  He dragged me to this Tokyo exhibit (although saying Hokkaido is like Tokyo is saying that Alaska is like NYC) and this lecture on women’s rights in Japan.

“I think you should include something about women’s rights in your book,” he told me.

Okay, one, it’s my book and not yours.  Two, it’s from the point of view of a 12-year old Japanese American girl.  Not really the place for a whole political discussion on women’s rights.

I was already sort of fed up with him when I heard that he talked shit about me behind my back, saying that he felt more qualified to write the book than I did.  That was really the last straw.  I mailed him back some books he lent me without a note, and just simply stopped talking to him.

I remember he wrote me a letter saying I owed him an explanation.  I felt I didn’t.  I felt like he should have known what he did.  But maybe he was as in the dark as I am about June.

As for Person B, he had already pissed me off by the time we had a falling out.  We had been friends since almost the beginning of college.  We were close, or so I thought.  When I came back after six months in China, he was one of the first friends I called, and our conversation went something like this:

    Me: Hey, Person B, it’s Angela!

    Person B (PB) [sounding bored]: Oh, hi, Angela.

    Me: I’m back from China!

    PB: Oh. Congratulations!

Congratulations? What a weird thing to say. Welcome back! sure. Yay! maybe. But congratulations?

Then what followed was an incredibly stilted conversation where he sounded totally bored and asked me nothing about my adventures.  He only brightened when he said, “You should meet my new girlfriend! We’re going to China in the fall and you have to give us recommendations!”

We arranged to meet for dinner.  I got there 10 minutes early, as I tend to do.  I waited outside thinking I’d see them come in.  It was drizzling on and off.  Those 10 minutes passed, then another 30.  I peeked inside, but it was so dark, I didn’t think PB and his girlfriend would be hiding in the recesses of the shadows.  I thought they’d be right by the door, or would have come out to find me.

Finally I called PB’s cell phone.

    Me: It’s Angela.

    PB [that some bored voice]: Oh, hi Angela.

    Me: Where are you guys?

    PB: In the restaurant.

    Me [shocked silence]: I’ve been waiting in the rain for 40 minutes.

    PB: Oh. Why’d you did that?

    Me [getting really mad]: I’ve been waiting out here for 40 minutes and you guys didn’t come out to check on me once.

    PB [still bored]: Oh. Sorry. Do you still want to have dinner?

    Me [flabbergasted at his bored, could-care-less tone]: No.

    PB [sounding shocked for a change]: No?

    Me: No. I could pretend that everything’s okay, but I’m upset.  So I’m going home.

    PB: So you’re just gonna go home?

    Me: Yes.

    PB [another moment of shocked silence]: Fine.

So I left.  I was really hoping he’d come after me, but he didn’t.  I was hoping he’d call or email, but he didn’t.

In that case, I thought it was pretty clear what happened.  I was pissed, and he obviously thought I had no right to be pissed.  He obviously felt our friendship wasn’t worth any sort of effort to make it right, even if I was being crazy.  And after hearing how bored he was whenever he talked to me, even after six months of my being out of the country, I concluded our friendship had been a sham.

You know what’s funny: June was one of the few people who was totally on my side regarding my falling out with PB.

Other friends thought I had overreacted, even if PB was in the wrong too. PB even claimed to one of my friends that he had come out to see if I was there, which was complete bullshit because I was there early.

“That cow!” June growled when I told her what happened. Calling someone a cow was her way of calling out someone who had no decency or manners.

Who knows, maybe in the end she thought I was a cow too. Or like one of the commenters on my Frisky piece said, some time passed with no contact, some more time passed, and then suddenly it was more than a year, and she was too embarrassed to get back in touch.

I will probably never know.


05
Mar 10

A break and gossip

Took a break from the grind yesterday by hanging out with a blogging pal.

We arranged to meet in the Mission for lunch.  Normally I’d have taken a cab, but when ES was here, she got me to “practice” taking public transportation and so now I feel more confident.

I needed to get to a BART station, the closest of which is Civic Center.  But I wanted to avoid that area.  I should have just walked to Powell, but like a dummy I walked all the way down Van Ness, thinking I’d hit Market.  I would have eventually, but way out of my way.

At the Powell BART station, I bit the bullet and put $20 on a card (which seems to be the only option when using your debit or credit card – have I mentioned SF public transit sucks?).  As I was finishing, a homeless guy appeared out of nowhere and asked me for money.

Hello, you don’t do that to a woman by herself with her purse open!  You spring up on her out of nowhere, of course she’s going to dart away like a quarterback with the ball and you’re a 300 pound line backer.  As I walked quickly away, he said, “You’re fast!”  That’s right, mofo, get away from me.

As I was riding the BART, I realized that I could take it out to Richmond the next time I get a hankering for good Chinese food.  A whole new world! Don’t you DARE close your eyes.

My friend and I met up on the 24th and Mission platform, and walked to Papalote Mexican Grill.  Apparently it was on Bobby Flay’s cooking show, and I suspect the prices have been jacked up.  The burrito, while tasty, was about $8, which is steep for the Mission, and my friend said her small bottle of water was $2.50.  That’s movie theater prices!

I got the chili verde burrito with pork and it hit the spot.  I was glad there didn’t seem to be any rice.  Too much rice in a burrito fills me up.

Afterward, we walked down 24th Street, stopping at Dynamo Donuts.  Unfortunately they were out of bacon donuts (yes, donuts with BACON), so I made do with spicy chocolate and lemon pistachio.  I had the chocolate one this morning, and I have to say it wasn’t that great.  I expected it to be much richer.  Maybe the lemon one will be better.

Eventually we made our way to Dolores Park, which I’d never been to before.  It was such a gorgeous day just to sit and hang out.  At one point, another homeless guy approached us and offered to sell us – what? a homemade bong?  I wasn’t sure as I had turned away, but apparently that’s what he said.  For the rest of our time there, he wandered around, bothering people.

It was great to get out and get some sun.  In fact, I think I’m both a little sun- and windburned.  Should really invest in a hat.


Today it’s back to work. Working on an essay with the theme of “family and friends,” due April 1. Want to send query letters to some agents for my memoir, four in San Francisco and a couple in New York. I pitched a couple of ideas to a magazine and am waiting to hear.

While doing some research on literary agents, I found this helpful list of “bad” agents, and one of them, Mark Sullivan Associates, was a place I briefly worked for in college! He’s on the list because, like other “thumbs down” agents, he charged up front fees. An agent really shouldn’t charge authors anything.

His reasoning, according to a discussion board, for charging fees is:

The book must be read carefully, and a written evaluation proving the agency’s attention and effort should accompany a contract or a rejection, in either case. We provide this.

You know who provided the written evaluation? Students like me.

He mostly hired graduate students, but he had no problem employing me, a mere sophomore. It was pretty thankless work. I’d have to read most of these giant manuscripts, and type up a page’s worth of evaluation. Needless to say, I didn’t do it for very long.

I remember the guy being kind of a jerk. He was one of those arrogant nerds, a know-it-all and full of himself. He had a Japanese girlfriend (from Japan) who I guess didn’t know any better.

So funny to see him on a worst agents list.