28
Jan 18

My first time to Taiwan!

I’ve decided to go to Taiwan for my birthday. How I came to that decision was that:

  • I wanted to do something special
  • I’ve never done a solo international trip before
  • I wanted to go to Asia
  • I wanted to go to an Asian country I had never been to before

I originally thought I’d go to a domestic city like Chicago. However, the hotels there seemed expensive, and since I’m not familiar with the different areas, I felt unsure of where I would stay. Iceland crossed my mind, but again: hella pricey.

Then my brain wandered to Tokyo. It’s been more than 10 years since the last time I went. The advantage of that is I’d stay in the same ryokan from last time, which looked like had barely raised their prices. Plus I have a high school friend there. The flights also weren’t bad — less than a grand. Tokyo it was then! I booked the tickets.

Later though, the idea of Taiwan crept into my mind. It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go to, and although my parents grew up there and many of my friends have been there, I still had yet to go. Out of curiosity, I checked the flights: they were really cheap. Like less than $800 cheap. Like the same price as my flight to L.A. over Christmas. Plus it was on EVA Airlines, which I’ve heard is good. That sold it for me. I canceled my Tokyo tickets and booked a round trip to Taipei.

Then I looked at hotels and saw several for under $80 a night (about the same as the one in Tokyo). I booked this one, which got rated “wonderful,” for $72 a night. Downside is that it’s a little bit outside of Taipei. However, the metro is right downstairs and in the same building, which is a mall.

When I told my parents about my plans, they were surprised and delighted. They’re always nervous when I go to Europe because they think I’ll get pick-pocketed or caught in a terrorist attack (as though it doesn’t happen in the U.S. regularly). They think of Taiwan as safe and, because they grew up there, a second home.

Taiwan here I come!


22
Jan 18

In which I sing karaoke in public for the first time

My parents really like singing karaoke. In fact, I think it saved their marriage. But it was never something I got into. Not that I haven’t been roped into it from time to time, like when my mom forced me to sing “Save the Best for Last” (it was at my parents’ house and no one else was around so it was actually kind of enjoyable) or when I was living in China and my cousin and her friends pushed into warbling “My Heart Will Go On,” which was a complete disaster because a) it’s Celine Dion, and b) I had never sung it before. My cousin and her friends listened in horrid disbelief, as though they had expected by my sheer American-ness that I should have been able to sing this difficult American song.

My close friends are not karaoke fiends, except, that is, for Yiannis. Recently he and his sister have been hosting karaoke nights at a downtown bar, and while I’ll often go to have a drink, cheer people on, and be generally social, I’ve never sung.

Until last Sunday.

For some reason I had gotten it in my craw that I should sing karaoke in public at least once. in my life It even became a sort of 2018 goal. After trying a bunch of songs, I found one that seemed to be in my range: Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2am).” I also thought, rather logically, that because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket that a rap song would up my alley. Hence, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.”

I practiced both songs a lot, having finally learned that practice makes perfect. Still I was nervous. I almost chickened out. But because it was Yiannis’s birthday, I powered through it.

My first song was “Breathe (2am),” luckily because people weren’t really paying attention. Although I knew the lyrics and rhythm (which took me a while to learn), I felt off. I think maybe the lyrics are not quite the right speed at that particular bar, but who knows? However, when I finished no one seemed to notice, which again was dandy by me.

It felt like such a huge accomplishment, not to mention a big relief, to have finally sung that I didn’t even feel a need to sing “Gold Digger.” But a little part of me wanted to. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe because it’s a great song. Either way, I found myself filling out a card and handing it to the bartender.

By the time my turn came up again, the place was much fuller, and when people saw what song I was doing, they seemed to get excited. Again, I felt off with the lyrics and totally screwed up a couple of verses, but surprisingly people seemed impressed. When I got verses correct, there was some cheering, and when I finished there was even more. A couple of guys were like, “That was incredible!” and “That was amazing!” Needless to say I was very, very surprised because I didn’t think I was very good compared to my practice sessions.

I had such an adrenaline rush afterward, I could barely pay attention to the conversation I was having with one of Yiannis’s friends. Then later, on the train, I couldn’t even pay attention to the podcast. I just kept reliving my “performance.”

But whether or not I’ll sing in public again is a whole other story.


30
Dec 17

A last-minute Christmas

A little bit at the last minute, I decided to spend Christmas with my brother and his wife. Partly because I wanted to see their new house and partly because the holiday is a bit boring with my parents (it’s not a big deal to them). In fact, they encouraged me to go. In that case, okay!

Of course I had a fun time. Here are some highlights.

The house is really nice. Spacious and light-filled. I loved having my own room and bathroom. I kept thinking, This is way too comfortable. I may never leave.

Here’s Looking at You is good but expensive. We went out with their friends one night at this hip and fancy place. The food was incredible, but it was pretty danged pricey. Then again, it was probably fitting for a special holiday dinner.

Bob Ross’s Art of Chill is hard to understand but fun as hell. They had a couple of friends over for a fittingly chill night. However, at first it took us FOREVER to understand how to play the game. But somehow something finally clicked, and once we started playing, it was tons of fun.

The Keepers was very disturbing. Yet I binge-watched almost the whole thing.

My brother’s turkey dinner was delicious. As were all the sides by him and my awesome sister-in-law.

Now to go on a diet until next Christmas.


18
Nov 17

Bat mitzvahs are even better with open bars

When I was a kid in New Jersey, I loved going to bat mitzvahs. I went to three (which is kind of a lot for a non-Jewish person) and enjoyed every one. The dressing up, the food, the music, and the goodie bag. Last weekend was no different —

— except that I’m an adult and there was an open bar. Score!


22
Oct 17

Spider-Man photoshoot and Cuban-Chinese food

Today was an active day with a Spider-Man photshoot, lots of food, and even more walking.

Spider-Man meets Spider Kid at Alexander and Bonin

I may have mentioned my friend Yiannis enjoys dressing up in his rabbit and Spider-Man costumes and getting me to take his picture in public places such as in front of the Eiffel Tower and, well, in front of the Eiffel Tower.

I’m always hella embarrassed to be walking in public with Yiannis-in-costume, and yet I still felt the need to tell him about an exhibit at Alexander and Bonin that included a Spider Kid.

Cider tasting, pickles, and Cuban Chinese

After the photoshoot, I met up with my friend Aki. We schlepped over to the Lower East Side to check out a cider tasting (unfortunately I don’t remember the place). It was incredibly crowded, to the point that we had to wait outside. However, the crowd turned out to be one group of about 10 girls. Once they left, it was much better. The cider was yummy.

Next we checked out The Pickle Guys

— and then headed uptown and got some drinks and appetizers at a Cuban-Chinese place called Calle Dao.

The place was super-cute. Since it was happy hour, ther drinks were just $8 (I got a sangria while Aki got a strong Brazilian rum drink) and bites for the same price. She chose the wings while I had the dumplings. While the wings were a good choice for $8 (there were seven), the dumplings were a rip-off. There were three, count ’em, THREE dumplings for almost $10. They were tasty, as were the wings, but still.

And yet I would probably go back.


08
Oct 17

Food, walking, more food

An unseasonably warm day in New York (hello, climate change!) often means my friend Aki comes into town, which is great because she always has fun ideas for where to go and, most of all, yummy food to eat.

Fried chicken, waffles, and matcha tea ice cream

First up was lunch at Root & Bone, a southern place on the Lower East Side. To avoid the long wait, we sat at the bar and ended up splitting half a fried chicken with waffles. SO GOOD.

Somehow afterward we had room for dessert. Aki discovered a matcha tea place nearby, which also had cookies and ice cream (unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it). I got a single of a black sesame and she got the matcha ice cream. They were both really good.

A schlep out to Brooklyn

We had tons of food to walk off so we ended up schlepping across the bridge into Brooklyn. We promptly stumbled into Domino Park at the foot of the old Domino Sugar factory. It was extremely hip. Here I am looking a bit disdainful at the hipness.

Suddenly we both really wanted sangria, which sent us on bit of a wild goose chase. Long story short, the place Aki found needed reservations, but we didn’t know until after the long walk there. Wah wah wah.

Since we were nearby and it was free, we ended up popping into BLDG 92. It was quite fun and interesting. We also used the bathroom and partook of their free water cooler in the lobby, guzzling a couple of cups of wonderfully ice cold water, which really hit the spot after so much walking on a warm and humid day.

Our final stop was dinner at an Italian place Aki found not too far away (again, can’t remember the name). Whatever it was called, it was a good choice. She had pizza while I had linguine with bolognese sauce. It was SO GOOD. I inhaled the entire thing along with some bread.

Back to the diet on Monday.


28
Sep 17

Barcelona 2017: Random fun

Sometimes the best fun when you’re traveling is the random, unplanned fun.

Tibidabo

On our first day, we saw from our apartment what looked like a castle on a hill. “That’s a church,” our host’s sister told us. “And an amusement park.”

Huh? At first I thought maybe her English was off, but of course she was right. Our apartment wasn’t far from the foot of Mount Tibidabo, home of Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor

— and an amusement park. Of course we had to visit.

Part of the fun was taking a funicular up the mountain (although the whole ride one woman decided to stand and face us, and on my other side, another woman kept getting up and looking anxiously around, for what I don’t know). The church itself was, well, a church. We didn’t go to the top since that was another five euros on top of the park admission. The view from the park itself was amazing enough:

In my old age, I’ve become scared of heights, but I still rode this fucking thing. I kept my eyes closed and hung on for dear life most of the time, but I still rode it. We also visited the haunted house, what they call Hotel Krueger, although it was nothing like a hotel. The line was hella long, and people would sometimes burst out screaming and running.

So was it scary? Kind of. It was more about the anticipation of someone jumping out at you (there was no physical contact, thank goodness). One guy in our group was like the canary in the coal mine: he’d jump or scream, and then we’d see the scary thing.

The only thing that really startled me was the little person. There were two oversized dolls, but it turned out one wasn’t a doll, and he casually jumped down from the shelf and started following us. Eek!

We also rode the log flume (the first drop wasn’t bad but the second one, I ended up hanging onto my friend for dear life) and the “Russian mountain” roller coaster (see more about the language of roller coasters). That was scary but fun.

Barcelona Aquarium

Not the biggest aquarium I’ve seen, but still a nice time. The highlight was definitely the penguin feeding and watching the penguins swim back and forth. At the same time I worried that they didn’t have a big enough pool to swim in.

Torre Glories

We kept seeing this phallic-shaped building from a distance and finally one day went to see it up close and personal.

Formerly known as Torre Agbar (Agbar is the name of the company that once owned it), it’s 38 stories high and was purchased by another company just this year and renamed after the nearby square. Its nicknames include “the suppository” and “penis-building.”

Beach

I didn’t go to the beach during our first visit so I felt compelled to do so this time around. While I’m not a fan of the sun — I basically turn into one big freckle — I had a lovely time.

It helped that we went to a gay nude beach. While they were plenty of in-the-buff dudes and a few heterosexual couples, there were no kids, which meant peace and quiet. I didn’t get naked but I did get in the water. Here’s evidence:

The Mediterranean is very salty. Who knew? (Lots of people probably.)

Besides getting a good dunk and reading, I also had an aperol spritz, which knocked me right out. I fell asleep for a good 20 minutes.

Gigantes y cabezudos

Our second weekend happened to fall on La Merce, a big annual festival honoring the Virgin of Grace, the patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona. One of the festival’s features are gigantes y cabezudos, which translates as “giants and bigheads.” Made of papier mache, a gigante is kind of a cross between a costume, a puppet, and your worst nightmare.

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We saw a couple in action on Las Ramblas, and after that I was obsessed. Just by chance one day we passed this place, which has a whole bunch of gigantes on display in their courtyard.

During the festival, we saw the gigantes dancing around again, and I visited the Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi, where the oldest ones are kept in a glass case. Unfortunately because of said case, it was hard to get a good picture.

Graffiti

Walking around, neither of us could resist taking pics of the great graffiti.

Here are some of my favorites:

Want more Barcelona? Check out my posts on museums and eats and drinks.


27
Sep 17

Barcelona 2017: Eats and drinks

Second only to museums when I travel is trying new things to eat and drink. Barcelona was no different.

La Taverna del Born

This place was special if only because it was near our apartment and the first place we ate. I was starving and ordered too much food: croquettes and patatas bravas. I also got the first of many cappuccinos:

Teresa Carles

My friend is a vegetarian and when he finds a veggie place likes, he tends to go back a lot. Hence, our two visits to Teresa Carles (which we went to on our first trip to Barcelona as well).

We went there for dinner on our first night. I got the pappardelle with red pesto and a glass of white wine:

So good.

For dessert my friend got some kind of cake. I didn’t really like it. The icing was not icing. But I guess you can’t have everything.

Our second visit we both got salads, Italian for him and goat cheese for me, and shared a bread basket.

I guess a salad was “healthier” because of all the vegetables, but the serving of goat cheese was, um, generous shall we say. It was also delicious.

Vegatalia

My friend was excited about trying this vegetarian place for the first time, but then it turned out to be one we ate at on our last visit. It was still good though. I got what they called “brunch,” a delightful assortment of different sweet and savory eats:

The only thing I didn’t like were the kiwi. They were incredibly sour.

Casa Lola Rambla

A random pick after a long day at the amusement park (more on that later). We both felt like paella, although I was a little worried that it would be a huge serving that I wouldn’t be able to finish. But the portion turned out to be perfect.

The rice was black instead of yellow and was infused with flavor. I only wished there had been more shrimp and other seafood. Of course paella wouldn’t be complete without some sangria.

Demasié

Another favorite haunt was this bakery on Carrer de la Princesa. Their specialty are these incredible-looking cinnamon rolls in a multitude of flavors.

Our first visit they had matcha and red velvet, which we found out later was a rare occurrence. My friend got a matcha and I got a red velvet. While the matcha was good — very matcha-y — the red velvet didn’t really taste like red velvet. It was just sweet. Maybe it would have been better with a cream cheese icing.

However, my friend was hooked and kept going back. (It helped that the guy working was cute and very nice.) He was hoping for matcha but they never had them again during our visit.

La Xocolateria

While my pal was addicted to Demasié rolls, my poison was chocolate croissants. I tried a few random places, and while they were all good, La Xocolateria, which was near where we stayed, took the cake.

I went one day and asked for my usual. Luckily the guy behind the counter spoke English and offered a hazelnut. At first I said no, but then thought twice and decided what the heck, I’ll try a hazelnut.

I thought it would be similar to the almond croissants from La Boulangerie, but no. When the guy said “hazelnut,” he meant Nutella. That’s right: a croissant oozing with Nutella. Cue angel chorus.

Nutella croissants are definitely not something I want to be eating all the time, but I was curious if any places in New York sell them. Epicerie Boulud seems to be the main one although I don’t know if I’ll go out of my way to get one from there.

Raco Hofmann

We had brunch one morning at this little cafe that’s part of a theater. I had a yummy ham and cheese croissant sandwich and a cappuccino.

Satan’s Coffee Corner

We hit this spot for brunch one morning mostly because we were intrigued by the name. Turns out the food is really good too, not to mention my cortado:

My friend and I ordered polar opposites in terms of healthiness: a kind quinoa porridge with fruit for him and sausages and biscuits in gravy for me. He did, however, eat one of my biscuits.

Dionisos

Sometimes takeout is just easier, and this Greek place was right up our alley. I got the lamb and beef burger patties with all the fixings: salad, sauces, pita. It was a lot of food for not a lot of euros (unfortunately I can’t remember how much it was). I also got a can of stuffed grape leaves.

Mercado de la Boqueria

We had heard from a few people that this market was a must-see, and indeed it is, even if just for the spectacle of it:

But while it was huge, it was kind of the same thing over and over. Meat, fruit and juices, tapas, seafood, again and again, with a few egg, dried fruit, empanda, and candy stalls sprinkled in. Still, it was fun to wander up and down the aisles.

In terms of eats, I got a little cone of chorizo, quail eggs, and patatas. Turned out it was mostly lettuce filling that cone. A bit of a rip off. However, the fresh fruit cup I also got was amazing.

Santa Caterina Market

I had read online that this market was similar to Boqueria, only smaller and less crazy. It was indeed smaller, but maybe because I went on a Saturday, still pretty crazy. I liked my food better: three oversized croquettes, chicken curry, gorgonzola and nuts, and goat cheese. I liked the chicken curry best, but I don’t know if that’s because it was the first one I ate and I was hungry.

Bar Marsella

This absinthe bar was recommended to my friend. It’s supposedly the oldest bar in Barcelona and was frequented by the likes of Hemingway, Picasso, and Gaudi. While you can tell the decor was once interesting, even beautiful — especially the chandeliers — now it’s pretty rundown. However, the absinthe was still effective.

What you get is half of the glass of the potent stuff, two sugarcubes, tiny forks, and a water bottle to share. We uncapped the bottle and poured the water over the sugarcubes before realizing a small hole was pierced in the cap and you were supposed to use it like a squeeze bottle.

I got pretty drunk. Like, I could barely walk in a straight line to the bathroom. Luckily we weren’t too far from our apartment.

Bun Bo Vietnam

We first saw this place when we stumbled upon this famous kissing mural:

Then on one of my solo wanderings, I stumbled upon it again and decided to give it a try. By then it was the last day of my trip and I was craving Asian food. I got the bun, or rice noodles, with chicken. It was good overall but the vegetables kind of sucked: wilted lettuce. I don’t get it because their produce is really good. I also got an aperol spritz and for dessert, tapioca pudding.

Which kind of looks like pasta with a red sauce, but I believe that’s cinnamon. It was tasty.

Porch snacks

While eating out was fun, having meals at home was also lovely. We’d sit on the porch, eat random things, drink the wine our kind hosts left us, and read or write postcards.

One night when I was on my own, I ended up having most of a pizza I had bought from the supermarket along with half a bottle of 10 euro rose. Ah, vacation.

Up next: random fun.


26
Sep 17

Barcelona 2017: Museums and culture

As you might know, every year for the past several years, I’ve had the chance to go to Europe. I thought it might not happen this year, but then I suddenly got a message from my friend about Barcelona.

I’ve been to Spain once, back in 2014 when we spent two weeks in Madrid and a couple of days in Barcelona. So I was excited to see what I had missed and to revisit some favorite places. And as with all my trips, some of those favorite places were the museums and other cultural spots.

La Sagrada Familia

During our last visit to Barcelona, we skipped La Sagrada Familia. We walked past it, but saw how long the line was and said forget it. Plus it was so frigging hot. This time we got the tickets even before we left.

In case you didn’t know, the Sagrada Familia is famous for its distinct Gaudi-esque style. Construction began in 1882 and is still going. It’s supposed to be complete by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

It was less crowded than I expected but still pretty crowded. We did a very quick walk through the church before going to the tower we had picked, the Tower of the Passion. Our other choice was the Tower of Nativity, but I read online the Passion one was slightly higher and perhaps gave a better view.

The view certainly didn’t suck:

After our time in the tower, we did an audio tour of the church itself.

I love how Gaudi incorporated his love of nature into his work.

Jewish Quarter and Ancient Synagogue

I loved visiting the Jewish Quarters of Paris and Prague so I thought I’d love Barcelona’s too. However, there wasn’t much to it, although we did get to see the oldest synagogue in Spain. It was teeny tiny because, back in the day, synagogues could only be as big as the city’s smallest church.

Museum of Design

We didn’t have plans to go to this museum, but it was in the vicinity of something else we wanted to see so we thought what the heck.

Because we hadn’t done research, we had no idea the David Bowie exhibit was there. I enjoyed it. Of course I loved all the different outfits, but I also liked learning about how he infused storytelling and his fascination with space in his songs. I mean, duh if you already know about Bowie, but I didn’t.

After I came home, I learned that the Bowie exhibit will be at the Brooklyn Museum early next year. My friend and I are so cutting edge.

Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona

Before we left I did some research on what exhibits would be open while we were there, and found this one on Bjork at the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB).

While I’m not familiar with her recent music, I’m still a Bjork fan. Back in college I was really into the Sugarcubes, specifically their Stick Around for Joy album. She was so incredible and devastating in Dancer in the Dark. Plus I love that she’s just an all-around nut.

I really liked the exhibit. Back in 2015, the MoMA had a form of it, which was widely panned. I didn’t go to it so I’m not sure how it was different, except, as The New York Times says, it included “ludicrously infantilizing and tedious” audio narration.

Thankfully there was none of that at the CCCB. The exhibit was divided into four parts. The first was a room playing her video for Black Lake on opposite walls and with surround sound. We were encouraged to walk around. I really liked the song, which seems to be about her split from the artist Matthew Barney. (Of course afterward I went down the rabbit hole of that relationship. He seems like a tool.)

The second part was a 360 degree virtual reality “experience” of Stonemilker. It was fun because she would disappear from view, you’d turn, and there she’d be.

The third part was VR again, but I couldn’t watch it. It was Mouth Mantra and it gave me motion sickness so I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

The fourth was also VR but Bjork was basically animated as a moth or fairy (I can’t remember the songs), and in that case seemed like she was really there. At one point I had no idea where she was. I looked down and she was at my feet. It was weird. Plus you had these gadgets where you could “draw” on what was basically her vagina. (Oh Bjork.)

The last part was just all of her videos. I watched one, Hunter, which was so weirdly charming. Those two words sum her up, I think.

Fundacio Joan Miro

We took a funicular up to Montjuïc (or “Jewish Mountain,” named for the remains of a medieval Jewish cemetery found there) to see this museum dedicated to Joan Miro. I enjoyed it since I enjoy most museums, but I can’t say I really “get” his work. The only photograph I took was off this TARDIS sculpture by a different artist.

We also visited the Montjuïc Castle, which wasn’t that impressive. But you kind of have to go if you’re there, and it’s only five euros.

To get back down, we took the cable car. That was pretty fun and not too scary.

National Catalonia Art Museum

This was my favorite museum the last time I visited, mostly because it was a very trippy experience. I had walked about five miles in 90 plus degree heat to get there and was delirious from thirst and hunger. Plus you have to go up what felt like three escalators just to get there, and once you do, it’s this incredible view of the city. In front of the building, there are all these waterfalls, and at the foot, the Magic Fountain.

This time was less trippy. The weather was cool, overcast, and raining off and on, and we didn’t have to walk very far to get there (we came from the cable cars from Montjuïc). Instead of a chocolate muffin with frosting inside, I got a croque monsieur, which kind of sucked, although I ate the whole thing.

I liked the art though. I love how the medieval section, with its church artifacts, feels like a church. This time I went through the modern art wing, which I thought I had missed last time, but it turns out it wasn’t open when I was there. My favorites were the art nouveau furniture and decor.

Gaudi Exhibition Center

This was the last museum I went to during my trip, and it was a spur of the moment decision. I really liked it, and not just because it provided A/C and peace and quiet on a hot and crowded day. It focused on what inspired Gaudi, and included an audio tour with price of admission. What I found most fascinating were the the 3D renderings of his models that were never built.

Next up: eats and drinks!


05
Aug 17

Mini vacay, the Boston edition

Sunset over Somerville.

A couple of friends and I were supposed to go on a “girls’ getaway” last weekend. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a reasonably priced place to stay so that plan got scrapped. But I still spent a few days with my bestie in Boston.

The Greek

I got an early start to the weekend by taking Friday off and going out Thursday night.

Another friend and I met up for drinks and apps at the Greek in Tribeca. It’s a little pricey but the cocktails and food are yummy. I was trying to choose a cocktail when the bartender suddenly took the menu from me and said, “I will make something for you.” Oh um okay. I thought he was going to custom-make something because he overheard my lamenting the fact that they no longer had their ouzo-based cocktail, but it was just a cucumber and gin one off the menu.

I mean, it was good, but not what I would have chosen. Although the garnishes, Mexican cucumbers which look exactly like watermelons, were so cute. For a nosh, I had the keftedes, Greek meatballs. Yum!

The movie we saw was Girls Trip. It was enjoyable. All of the actors were good, but Tiffany Haddish was ridiculously engaging and hilarious.

Boston Burger Company

I got into town about one on Friday, and was starving despite the plethora of snacks I had brought on the bus. I was craving a burger, and this place was right near the subway station where we met. I got the Killer Bee, which comes with a stack of BBQ sauce-covered onion rings:

I swear there was an actual burger under there.

We also shared some garlic parm fries. Really hit the spot.

Fuller Craft Museum

My friend told me how when her mom visited the previous weekend, she barely wanted to do anything. She just wanted to hang out, run errands, and help my friend organize and clean her condo. I was like #weekendgoals! and decided I wouldn’t pressure myself into doing a million “fun” activities.

We did just one: visit the Fuller Craft Museum.

I enjoyed their quilt exhibit, which was different interpretations of what’s called the Bull’s Eye pattern. I ran into a lady who remarked that while the quilts were beautiful, hardly anyone would have room to hang one on their walls.

“I guess you’re right,” I said. “But you could throw it on your bed.”

“You mean use it as a blanket?” the lady asked, seemingly flabbergasted by the idea.

“Well yes. They’re quilts.”

“No, they’re not.” She pointed to the adjoining room. “Those are quilts over there. These aren’t quilts.”

“Yes, they are. They’re part of the same exhibit.”

“Oh.” She looked around. “They would make beautiful quilts.”

Yes, because they’re literally quilts.

Anyway, I also liked their permanent collection as well as the Amber Cowan Re/Collection exhibit:

What she does is take vintage glass and glassworks, and either work them into new pieces or recreate and reinterpret them. The pieces were an interesting mix of whimsical, erotic, and borderline grotesque.

The only downsides to the museum were that I was hungry and freezing the whole time. I knew it was going to be cool but I didn’t realize how cool, and while I had long pants, I didn’t have a heavy enough jacket. I would have brought a Cliff Bar for a snack, but we assumed they’d have a cafe. A woman said they used to but not anymore.

IKEAn cuisine

Besides the museum, we mostly just shopped. Friday afternoon we hit two shoe stores (I bought two pairs of shoes), Old Navy (a cute top and dress), and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Saturday, we went to IKEA.

After two hours of starving at the museum, I was really happy to chow down on some Swedish meatballs.

I got mine with the sides that come with the veggie balls. The vegetables, green beans, were the same, but instead of mashed potatoes, I got a quinoa and farro mix. We also got dessert, this delicious chocolate and hazelnut cake.

Ah, Brockton, the home of exotic IKEAn cuisine.

Eating and drinking at home

In the continued theme of a chill weekend, we ate the rest of our meals at home. Friday night my friend made scallops in a cream sauce over pasta; Saturday morning we had a hearty brunch of scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and toast; and that night we had some random snacks after our late lunch at IKEA.

We also drank quite a bit of booze.

Absinthe

My friend was on purging spree and determined to get rid of a bunch of liquor, one of which was the absinthe she bought on our trip to Prague many years ago.

Following some instructions from the Internet, I divided the small bottle into two glasses and slowly added some sugar. You’re supposed to melt the sugar slowly over a slotted spoon, but of course we didn’t have that and made do with fast-melting sugar. I sprinkled it in very slowly and kept stirring. Still, it wasn’t dissolving.

After a while I gave up and took a sip. It was SO STRONG. Like burn-a-path-of-fire down my throat strong. I looked up what kind of mixers to use with absinthe and found other instructions that said to add water. Oops. I added a little, which lightened the taste (although it still had a kick) and finally dissolved the sugar.

The absinthe got us tipsy but we weren’t freaking out. It did feel different from other alcohol. The word that keeps coming to mind is a “waviness.” My friend kept saying she felt warm throughout her body. Later when I looked in the mirror, I saw that my eyes were SO RED. I don’t think my eyes get red from other alcohol.

Becherovka bitters and Kavalan whisky

The next night we tried this, another Prague purchase. I followed a Czech mule recipe, which includes ginger beer and lime. At first I put just one ounce of the bitters, but because their alcohol content is so low, the cocktail mostly tasted like ginger beer and lime. We added at least another ounce.

It was slightly stronger, but not by much. That’s when I decided to add the Taiwan whisky that I had brought.

I tried it straight first, and it was yummy. While my friend drank hers neat, I dumped mine in my cocktail. It wasn’t terrible but not fabulous either. Still, I drank most of it, and it did the trick.

Cherry rum and Dubliner liqueur

We also tried a couple of small bottles of liquor my friend had won in some contest. The first one, a cherry rum, smelled like cough syrup to me — and tasted EXACTLY like it. It was so disgusting and the aftertaste, even worse.

The other was a Dubliner liqueur with honeycomb liqueur. It was pretty good although too sweet for me, at least after all that ginger beer.

Chilling on the porch

My last night my friend and I just sat on her porch chatting, drinking, and eating.

It was so simple yet so much fun. Sometimes the simplest things are.