The Wild and Wily Ways of Two (!) Brunette Bombshells (....and Other Notable NYC Moments).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Apart from Joe seeing his friends from Brown, and me seeing my Salzburg friends, I also got to spend time with my good friend Blanton, and Ms. Meg Fee herself! 

I hadn’t seen Blanton in years, so it was great to reminisce.  Topics over dinner ranged from ‘the time I wore painted-on skinny jeans to Austin City Limits and sweated through them to the point that my legs were stained purplish-blue for over a month’ to ‘mutual frenemies and what they are and are not doing with their lives right now.’  He also taught me about selfie lighting (I learned a lot, I really did) and invited me to stop by Bloomingdale’s the following day, where he spends his days doing really cool things for Ralph Lauren (basically Joe’s dream job).

After Bloomingdale’s, Joe and I shopped around at CB2, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and – the grand finale – Suit Supply, where Joe considered buying 4 suits so seriously that I began to contemplate the earning potential of selling all my organs.

Luckily for me (and my organs), Joe exercised a healthy amount of willpower and left Suit Supply empty-handed, and our finances stayed in tact.  And I didn't have to worry about budgetary matters in Restoration or PB either, because our motives for shopping at those places had less to do with furniture shopping and more to do with furniture, shall we say, appropriating; after walking all day, the thought of collapsing onto a plush leather couch in an air-conditioned environment seemed so much more appealing than a rickety old park bench, outside in the humidity.  So we did that thing where you act like you’re interesting in buying the particular piece of furniture you’re occupying every time the store employees walk by.  “Joe, should we get this couch for your parents’ place in the Hamptons?  Or what about the house on Lake Como?  Wouldn’t it look so nice next to that cream-colored settee?”

No one in either of our families owns property in the Hamptons or on Lake Como (sadly), and I don’t know anything about a cream-colored settee.  I’m also not entirely sure I know what a settee is.

After it became glaringly obvious that we had claimed a certain $7,000 couch for the sole purpose of  enjoying what my friend Lindsay calls 'Lounge Time', Joe and I swiftly exited the store and parted ways for the remainder of the night to hang out separately with friends.

Enter Meg Fee.  I met her outside of her office so we could walk to dinner together, and my first impression was that I had never seen someone so beautiful in real life.  I’m telling you, her photos in blog and Insta form don’t quite do her justice because she is breathtakingly gorgeous, #nofilter and all.

Apart from my admiring Meg's beauty, we had some serious catching up to do!  Is it called 'catching up' when you've never met in real life but have exchanged blog comments, tweets, emails and texts intermittently for the past 5 or so years?  Either way, I had reserved no less than 6 hours of time with Meg because I knew we would use it, and use it we did.  We dined at Barrio Chino (get the guacamole!) and then headed to Hamilton's for dessert where I enjoyed a very large chocolate malt and she enjoyed something that I was too distracted by my malt to notice.  She didn’t even mind when I made loud and embarrassing slurping noises with my straw for 30 seconds so as to ensure that I’d really gotten my money’s worth on that malt, which, in my experience, has always been the true test of a good friendship.

After dessert, we couldn’t bear to part ways just yet, so we met up with Joe for a drink (fun fact: on the way there, Meg was ‘recognized’ by a fan on the subway), and plotted and schemed as to how we can go into business together, while Joe smiled and nodded politely, as all good husbands do.  She encouraged me to reactivate my blog URL -- begging me on behalf of her mother -- as I debated with her, "But I don't know....I feel like people are so mean on the internet in 2015."  And just as I'd expected, our six-hours-or-so flew by in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, it was time to bid her farewell and walk our separate ways home.

But after spending all that time with Meg, I still don’t know what I’m more flattered by; the fact that she wanted to hang out with me for six hours on end, or the fact that her mom loves my blog....?

A Night Out at Mess Hall in Harlem: a Salzburg Reunion of Sorts

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lindsay, Chris, and I all studied together in Salzburg, and saw each other frequently after we moved on from there; Lindsay and I both stuck around in Germany for a while even after our time in Salzburg was over (she was au-pairing for a German family in the little town of Rosenheim during my Fulbright years), and Chris moved to Barcelona after Salzburg, but then came back to Germany to spend my 24th birthday with me at Oktoberfest!  What’s great is that while none of us have lived in Europe in a few years, we still keep in touch pretty regularly.  I’m part of a group text with Lindsay and I feel like we talk pretty much every day.  And both Lindsay and Chris came to my wedding this past May – Lindsay was even a bridesmaid.  I guess this shouldn’t surprise me, because when you share the kind of unique experiences that we have shared, you feel like those friends just get you in a way that no one else does.  Joe and I talk a lot about shared experiences and how that can lay the foundation for a friendship that would not otherwise have formed – or one that may have formed but would not have otherwise stood the test of time but for those shared experiences.

One such shared experience – shared among Chris, Lindsay, myself, and others – was hosting a recurring visitor in Salzburg: my friend (who is now our friend) (I’m not being selfless, I just don’t really want to claim him as my own) JC.  JC and I met in the US during undergrad, and then he studied in Valencia when I was living in Salzburg.  I went to visit him in Spain, and then he came to visit me in Salzburg (he even celebrated Halloween there).... and then he just sort of kept popping back up in Salzburg.  If memory serves me, there was a fairly cheap Ryan Air flight from Barcelona to Salzburg at the time and JC had no problem booking it on a whim, and then letting me know after the fact (“Hey, I’m on my way to Salzburg, pick me up from the airport!”). 

In reality, I think this happened only once, but you will soon understand why it left the impact of a thousand visits.

During his second visit, we assigned him to Chris’s room (Chris lived alone on the second floor of the building; Caroline and I shared a room on the third) and thought all would be well until the first night, when we were awoken by a knock on our door around 2 AM.  He told us that Chris had sat up in bed, pointing and yelling across the room at him (in his sleep), and that he was “scared.”  For the life of me, I cannot remember where or how we obtained a mattress – for all I know, we could have dragged it up the stairs from Chris’ room and maybe I’ve just repressed that delirious memory – but we dragged this mattress into the floor of our room and told him to sleep there until the morning when ‘the Chris situation’ could be resolved.  Cut to 10 minutes later and JC had fallen sound asleep, snoring so loudly that Caroline and I were about to pull our hair out.  So, we dragged the twin mattress (with JC atop it) into the foyer of our room, the only problem being that the length of the mattress exceeded the length of the foyer when both foyer doors were closed.  And we couldn’t leave the doors open because the snoring was so loud that it would have kept us awake.  Thus, we shut JC into the foyer, with his mattress balanced between the two foyer doors in the shape of a banana.  All was well until 5 hours later when Caroline and I awoke to JC standing over our beds speaking in a decibel much too loud for the early hours of the morning. “Hey, girls – I’m hungry and we’re all out of Choco Balls.  Can you go to the store to get me some more Choco Balls?”  Choco Balls were a Euro cereal that JC had bought upon his arrival in Salzburg (and had somehow already consumed in their entirety).  Only after Caroline sat up in her bed and shouted, “Can you be quiet for once in your life?” did I send JC waaaaaay down the street to Hofer to get some Choco Balls.  I failed to mention to him that Merkur – the grocery store directly across from our dorm – also sold them.  I figured he could use the fresh air, and Caroline could enjoy a few extra minutes to herself.

A few days later, JC was supposed to take his return flight back to Valencia.  He had decided to just continue sleeping in the foyer of our room and Caroline was at her wit’s end with him.  Part of the problem was that we had to more or less crawl over his mattress to get into our bathroom, and completely move the mattress out of the foyer to get into our closet.  Anyhow, I promised Caroline he would be gone by the time we returned from our Mozart class.  So, off we went to class – Caroline already feeling relief that we’d soon have our room back to ourselves – after saying goodbye to JC and giving him specific instructions as to how to catch the bus to the airport.  Two hours later, when we were walking back from class, we turned the corner to our building and saw several of our friends at a pool party – not uncommon, as we had the most amazing pool at our dorm – and who should we see in the center of the group but JC himself, life of the party, with a Stiegl beer in hand.  I think Caroline’s response was something to the effect of “No, no, no, no, no, no – tell me I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing.”  JC’s reaction when he saw us was priceless: “Hey, guys!  My aunt bought me a later flight back so I could stay an extra few days, isn’t that great?”  I can’t be sure, but I want to say we moved his mattress out into the actual hallway for the rest of his visit.  But ever so reluctantly, he became somewhat of a fixture of our group in Salzburg, so much so that when we were all reunited at my wedding, Caroline, Lindsay, and Kayla were genuinely thrilled to see him.

But this is what I’m talking about – these are the kinds of shared experiences that lay the foundation for a lifelong friendship; once you survive the whirlwind that is the never-ending visit from JC, you can survive pretty much anything.  So it was par for the course when Lindsay, Chris, and myself were sitting at Mess Hall with Joe on our first night in New York, and in walks JC – a Philadelphian resident who had taken the train up for the night.  We didn’t have any Choco Balls to serve him, but he did enjoy a bowl of the cheese puffs.  And all was right with the world.

P.S. In the above photo, you may notice that JC is proudly holding a plastic Star Wars cup.  When Kaitlyn and I lived on Gray Street, we had a plastic Star Wars juice cup that JC declared his “token party cup.”  He would drink out of it any time he came over, and I brought it with me when I moved to Salzburg, knowing I would visit him and vice versa.  Sure enough, he drank out of the ‘token party cup’ during each of his visits and by the end, it was so badly stained with red wine and sangria that I ended up leaving it behind in Salzburg when I moved out.  I’ve never heard the end of it, either – he really misses that cup – so before Joe and I left for our trip, I found a similar cup at Target and bought it (for a total of 80 cents).  I figured we would see him in New York so I packed it in my purse and when I told him I had a surprise for him, he somehow instinctively knew it was a replacement Star Wars cup.  Maybe when Joe and I make it to Salzburg later this summer, I’ll find a box of Choco Balls to ship back home for him.... but I am anticipating spending all of my money on Happy Hippos, Ritter Sports, and Milka Bars, so I make ZERO promises.

Eating in Harlem

Friday, July 24, 2015

Since we stayed in Harlem, we mostly ate in Harlem, and therefore have a few recommendations to share, in chronological order of our time there. 

Dinner:  We started off night 1 eating at Harlem Tavern, a place Lindsay assured me we would love.  We met up with a few of Joe’s friends from Brown, and a few of my friends from undergrad/Salzburg, and sat on the outdoor patio.  I would now like to take a moment to recognize it was here, at Harlem Tavern on 2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd., where Joe and I consumed the greatest flatbread pizza OF ALL TIME.  I really wish I would have taken a picture of it, but we were so incredibly hungry that I don’t think any of our friends even caught a glimpse of that pizza before it was gone.  We also ordered (and devoured) the seafood gumbo, which was good, but fairly unremarkable.  If you go, PLEASE get the Bruschetta flatbread pizza.  And then order one to go, pack it up real nicely, and overnight it to me, wherever I may be.

Breakfast/brunch/lunch:  We ate a late breakfast (well, probably brunch) at Sylvana, which is by no means a breakfast/brunch establishment, so I’m sorry to mislead you.  But we shared a falafel platter and upon being handed said platter, I announced to no one in particular, “I have died and gone to heaven.”  It was really good, but it was not the best falafel I’ve ever had (meaning, it didn’t compare to La’s du Fallafel or Falafel King).  What I appreciated more was the very sensinble portion size, the great service, the overall ambiance, and the most interesting mix of Michael Jackson and Christina Aguilera that was playing while we ate!  I also thought I saw Serge Ibaka there, but was sadly mistaken.  This set the tone for later on in the day when I would think I saw Kevin Durant wearing a No Fear graphic tee in Central Park, only to realize it was a homeless man. :/  Anyhow, I actually enjoy eating falafel for breakfast, lunch or dinner, so a breakfast/brunch/lunch restaurant Sylvana’s shall henceforth be!  It's located just around the corner from Harlem Tavern at 300 W. 116th St.

Dessert:  I had to get a cookie from Levain, and was just so certain it would be the best cookie I had ever eaten in my life, 4 inches in height and all.  It was actually NOT the best cookie I have ever eaten in my life, and what’s more is that it wasn’t even that good?  What’s the big deal with Levain, New York?  Am I missing something?  I will say that we got the oatmeal raisin cookie and I’m told that was a grave mistake – that chocolate chip is the choice to make at Levain.  In any case, when Joe tried to feed the remaining pieces of the cookie to the ducks in Central Park later that day, I stopped him, shouting, “Joe!  That was a $4 cookie and those ducks will NOT appreciate it!”  Thus, I ate the rest of it – ungrateful little ducks be damned – but mostly just because I was in a whole lot of denial about having spent $4 on a cookie I didn’t even really like.  I don't recommend it, but if you want to see for yourself, it's at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd., just a few steps away from Harlem Tavern.

Drinks:  Slightly further down Frederick Douglass (2194) is the bar Mess Hall.  Mess Hall was so fun that we went there two nights in a row.  We stumbled upon the place somewhat fortuitously and I am so glad we did.  I love the vibe inside (combination of the lighting + the brick interior + the blank wall onto which a projector plays a different movie each night) but what I love more is they offer complimentary cheese puffs and trail mix with your drink orders.  I wondered, as I was stuffing my face with cheese puffs, why I was stuffing my face with cheese puffs when I would never eat this at home?  I think because traveling and walking and walking and traveling for hours upon hours can cause you to burn 1,000 calories in such a short amount of time and when you’re that hungry, you’ll eat anything, really.  I never actually drank anything at Mess Hall because both times we went I ordered water, so I guess this is a pretty useless recommendation, huh?  At least you know that (1) the service is great (2) the vibe is great (3) the cheese puffs and trail mix are free.

Next week, I shall talk about running into Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana in Manhattan!  That was neat.