It begins with Christmas.
Wonderful day with my family, then a great evening with my friends.
Pat and I decided to stay up until our flight, and we had both been awake since 11am Christmas.
My parents drive us to the airport and the flights delayed for a little bit. But we get to New York in an hour and a half, and guess what? The friends that we’re staying with (Lauren and Teddy) ended up sleeping in. So we’re sitting at the airport for like an hour and a half before they finally wake up and drive over to pick us up.
We get to their place, which is a cute, yet messy, one bedroom apartment with two dogs.
We wake up at 7pm. And we chill for a little while, but then Lauren takes us down to Times Square.
One word: electrifying.
It’s so bright, and so commercial, but it has this eery beauty. The way it was described to me is that, “even at night, it always feels like daytime.”
We went out to eat at this cute little restaurant called West Bank, and we actually ended up seeing two actors. Ones we couldn’t remember, but I guess one of them was in The Office for an episode.
Went back up to Harlem (where Lauren’s apartment is) and bought groceries… and they have banana snapple out here. What?
Then came back to her apartment and chilled out. Teddy, Lauren, Pat, and I talked for a little while and then watched The Ring. Ended up going to sleep at 4am.
Day 1 was a success.
Pat and I took the train to Central Park and walked around for a while, trying to find the John Lennon Imagine plaque. While we were there, we found this old… army base, perhaps? There was a path that led uphill and there were all sorts of boulders and rocks, and at the top was a square, rock-cut wall with an open ceiling and barred windows and a barred door.
I would have really loved to break into it, but there was a padlock on there, and I’m sure if it were open, people would be spraying graffiti all over the place.
We continued walking and felt the vastness of Central Park. There are 3 ponds, one huge, and two mediocre-sized. The view of the city was beautiful (though, looking back, this view was nothing compared to that of when we were crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge).
After navigating for about 45 minutes, and finding a really cool castle (that Pat was able to walk through the first time he came to New York with his mom and brother; it was too late to walk through it)
We found strawberry fields and then the plaque itself. I played the Beatles as we walked through strawberry fields.
From there, we went to find the spot where Lennon was shot. It was hard to find it, because there’s no plaque marking the spot. But on our GPS, it said we were at the spot, so we went around the corner and I went up to the doorman and as soon as I started asking a question, he told me, “Yeah, this unfortunately was the place where Mr. Lennon was shot. Right over there,” and he pointed to a spot. I didn’t take a picture, because that’s kind of eery and almost idiotic. Flash photography for the sake of fame-suckling.
We took the subway to west village (which was probably one of my favorite spots so far, other than Times Square) and went down to Carrie Bradshaw’s stoop and even though I wasn’t supposed to (said a sign), I got a picture smoking a cigarette and sitting on the stoop.
From there, we went to Windsor, which was a sports bar/local diner. I got a BBQ burger and shared BBQ pizza with pat. Fit the environment, I guess.
We went to see Lauren perform in a James Brown cover band at Zinc bar and it was really pretty groovy and the dude (Black Velvet was his name – because he’s “black and velvety”) and he had some pretty scandalous gyrating dance moves. But it was a lot of fun. It was really cool to see Lauren in her natural environment, though I was a little bummed out because there was a trumpet player next to her and another sax player, and the trumpet kind of drowned out the sax. But it was a “very New York,” as Pat says constantly on this trip.
After the first set, pat and I were heading out to go, because a barista came up to us and said if we wanted to stay for the second set, we had to pay an additional $10. I couldn’t help but feeling that she was trying to hustle us, but it was also starting to get really crowded and all I had ordered was a water. So I was going out to say goodbye to Lauren and how awesome she was. A homeless dude started yelling gibberish at some strangers that wouldn’t give him a dollar/cigarette, and he got louder and louder in just a manner of seconds. I’m pretty good at tuning shit like that out, so I didn’t really NOTICE it until he started picking up trash off the sidewalk and literally throwing it at these people. Then he ran right through Lauren and Teddy, pushing them backwards a few steps. The cops were there instantly (how could they have been there so quick when the commotion lasted only a matter of seconds?) and chased after him but didn’t end up reprimanding him because he didn’t actually assault anybody (though he did throw a lot of shit at people, so…)
When they came back, they asked, “Did he assault anybody?”
Lauren was like, “Yeah!” and the cop rephrased, “Did he punch anybody?”
“Then why did you say yea?!” Rude.
Alex was going to take a cab uptown, and Lauren asked if we wanted to go with him, but Pat had said he wanted to get dessert, so we decided to do that instead.
We got some dessert (brownie and apple pie) and then decided to continue to look around. One of the spots I wanted to hit was Stonewall, because that’s basically when fighting-for-your-gay-rights began. Luckily, we were in the area. It was weird, because it’s still a bar that people go to.
And then on the walk to the subway, there was this cool guy.
It started out with the Guggenheim. We took the subway to central park again, and walked down to the Museum Mile. I knew the Guggenheim as soon as I saw it; realizing later that it was Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, but only knowing in the moment that it looked, for some reason, familiar.
There were 5 different exhibits throughout the multiple levels of the Guggenheim. The last one, and the one that you see all around you while walking up the spiral, was from Christopher Wool, that was known for his enamel work on aluminum. His artwork says menacing things like “You made me” and “Fool,” and “Fuck em Fuck em If they can’t take a joke.” There was one that really spoke to me, and it was a series of words on different canvases, with things like “Assassin,” “Pessimist” “Terrorist” and another one I really loved was “I went to the psychiatrist, he said tell me everything and I did and now he’s doing my act.”
There were some other artists that were pretty decent… one that I really didn’t care for because it was simply a collection of collages. Collages are fine, but it looked like something a 10 year old could do. There were maybe three that I really liked, though, and they were some of my favorites in the exhibit. They were titled something like “Personages #2” “#3” or something like that. Very dark images, but lovely.
There was also a photograph that was in the woods, and a dress was on a tree, with branches going through the arm and neck holes, and it was just this really eery feeling. I had goosebumps, looking at it, provoking the idea of rape and lost innocence.
We went through all of the exhibits and then we were trying to get out, but we got lost, and found these really artsy chairs and a whole section sort of devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright and the blueprint of the Guggenheim.
Afterwards, we debated what we were going to do next, and one of my things was trying to see where Gaga had been and such… so we decided to go to her restaurant, Joanne Trattoria. She bought it for her father to run, and it’s named after her aunt who had passed at a young age. We were going to eat there, until we read the reviews and there was apparently a rat infestation and the food was “mediocre at best.” So I decided to just take a picture instead.
We walked around the outskirts of Central Park for a while, and we found the ABC station, and then went out to eat at this place called Wine & Roses (which doesn’t quite deserve a picture, though I do wish I had taken one of the Twiggy poster that was hanging from the brick wall). The place was quaint, cute, and a classy, yet casual feel to it. But when I ordered Italian Meatballs, part of me suspected I would be getting some pasta along with it. Nope. Just six pong-sized balls. Needless to say, I left there less than full.
We made our way to Chelsea, to see the equivalent of Boystown (or at least one of the New York equivalents), and also Hotel Chelsea, which was home to many stars such as Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen, Janis Joplin supposedly, and like many, many, many more.
It was closed for construction, which is a shame because they’re supposed to have really beautiful artwork in there.
We stopped to smoke on some steps, and were heckled by a homeless man for (no joke) 20 minutes. Pat was listening to him and talking to him, and Pat’s such a good guy, but I just don’t really have patience for homeless people. I know, their situation is unfortunate, but after having lived among them for a moment when in San Francisco, I don’t really have sympathy any more.
We made our way to the Lower East Side, and found where Lady Gaga used to live, when she moved to the city on her own.
It was weird to see it, but beautiful. A blue door – my favorite color. It’s just interesting to see all these places that have history, or where artists have previously lived. To know, “they probably stood exactly where I’m standing at some point.”
As we made our way toward the Williamsburg bridge, I saw a black suburban driving over there and had to fight the urge to follow it, in hopes that it could be her.
But instead, we saw this shop.
Satanism at its finest.
We walked to the Williamsburg bridge, and
1.) I didn’t realize how long of a walk it would be, but
2.) I didn’t realize how beautiful it would be.
There was graffiti everywhere. You couldn’t take even one step without seeing it. And when you got to the peak of the bridge, it was breathtaking. The city engulfs you. I wish I could take a picture, but even if I had, it wouldn’t have done the city justice. Lights everywhere. Life, electricity.
Some of my favorite graffiti work.
Pat got some pizza and we took the subway home. Talked to Lauren and Teddy when we got back, and then went to sleep.
Today, we’re going to get Lauren’s piercings (her present for letting us stay with her,) and we’ll see what else. It’s raining.
Sunday, the day of rest.
Except for Teddy.
I initially woke up at 1, because that’s when we were all planning on waking up… so I took a shower, and guess what? Pat was still asleep. So I started working on the Day 3 blog, and Lauren woke up at some point and was talking with me, and that woke Pat up.
But she said she wanted to lay down for a little bit, so Pat and I did the same. And then we woke up at 5, when Teddy got home, but then Teddy needed to nap, so everyone laid down again. And we slept until 7.30ish.
We hung around for a bit while Teddy got ready, and then drove down to Jin.
Teddy and Lauren told me about this green apple soda that was supposed to be really delicious, and so I got that as well as a bowl of Shio ramen (chicken broth).
Looking back in hindsight, the peach soda that Lauren got was way more delicious.
This ramen is, as Lauren describes, unimaginable. You say “banana,” you know that it tastes like in your head. For this, nope.
It’s weird, because I watched this movie called The Ramen Girl when I was on a Brittany Murphy kick (she’s basically my go-to actress when I’m bummed out); in this movie she learns how to cook ramen authentically from a ramen master. And literally, this is what this ramen was. The ramen master cooked it for us. Or like some white dudes behind the counter, actually. Pat and Teddy say the main dude is Japanese, though. So I am apparently not a credible source.
Following, we went to Addiction Tattoo over in St. Marks which is in the East Village.
Lauren got some lovely piercings.
When that was done, we drove over to Battery Park and saw the Statue of Liberty, and while it was dark, it was still really neat to see in person. Far away, but at least it was lit up and I could see the features and get a terrible picture.
We drove back up to Harlem and Pat and I went to go get stamps for some postcards he bought to send to friends and family back home.
But to my surprise, there was a Checkers on the corner – which we actually used to have over in Downers Grove, but they got rid of it when I was really young. They have delicious fries, and I wish my dad was here so that we could go there together.
Pat bought some stamps and then we went back to Lauren’s place and now we chillin’ like villains.
We definitely did not sleep in early today, which was pretty nice ’cause we actually were able to do things.
We all woke up and hung around the house for a bit, then Teddy drove us downtown to this joint called Five Napkins for burgers… and they were super good. I got a bacon burger with avocado and some fries.
Lauren wasn’t feeling good after this, and we were initially supposed to go to Ground Zero together today, but she wanted to go home, so she and Teddy went back to the apartment and Pat and I decided to take advantage of it and use the day to go see a play.
We went down to Times Square and it was fucking packed. I dunno if it’s just because its almost New Years and people are all hyped up, or if it’s just always that way, but the traffic was crawling. We waited in line for cheap tickets for like 30 minutes, and ended up getting tickets to see A Night with Janis Joplin.
This sign actually says the name of the show, but you can’t see it because the backlight was too bright? I dunno. And Pat’s face is really cute.
Also, these lights –vvv
On our way back, we saw this dude making those outerspace/city spray paint things. Pretty cool to see in person, especially since it’s done so quickly and looks really, really neat. I feel like it’s kind of cheating art, but if you’re making a quick $20-$40, why not do it? Art is art.
Now we’re back at Lauren’s apartment and I dunno if we’re gonna be doing anything else tonight.
We had initially planned to go ice skating today, but it was really cold and the central park skating rink was only open until 2.30pm and it was already 1 by the time we woke up.
We wanted to go to Rockefeller Center to skate, but it’s $27 to skate and $12 for the skates… and that’s ridiculous; at central park, it’s $12 to skate and $8 for skates.
So, instead, Teddy, Pat, and I headed over to SoHo, Greenwich Village, and Chelsea.
It was really neat to go to SoHo, if only to see the actual stores to the brands we carry at my work (Macy’s). Ralph Lauren, Lucky Brand, Kenneth Cole. We went to True Religion, as well.
$175 for a Ralph Lauren dress shirt is crazy. $150 for a tie is crazy, too.
We went over to Greenwich Village, but stopped at Joe’s for our first official ‘slice.’
Pretty decent slices, man.
And apparently there was a scene in Spider-Man at this joint, or maybe Peter Parker just makes reference to working there? As a delivery boy.
As we walked to our thrift shop destination, we found this:
We planned to see 5 different thrift stores. 2 of them were closed for the night (I was really bummed out about Buffalo Exchange because I REALLY wanted to go there… and they had just closed when we got there. So we’re heading back tomorrow.)
One thrift store was really basic, and not really worth going to in my opinion.. or maybe we just went at a bad time, ’cause you can almost always find really cool gems in those places. I wasn’t impressed, though.
Two of the places we went to were really cool, though. One of them was called Star Struck, at which they had some neat vests, and all sorts of leather jackets – from bomber to biker. There was this one in particular that I liked, but its worn to shit. I kind of like it, though.
Teddy, by chance, found this super awesome pair of bell bottoms for like $22, which is a steal for a groovy pair of flares.
We headed over to Family Jewels vintage and this one absolutely impressed me. Total 50s clothes (especially for women), some of my friends would go NUTS over this kind of stuff. They had some really cool elephant bells, too, but they were too small. There was this one pair of blue corduroys that I loved, but when I put them on, they weren’t tight enough at the thighs. But I guess in the 70s, they were kind of baggy all over the place… and I could have altered them, but I just didn’t want to pay $49 for a pair of pants that I wasn’t completely in love with.
I wanted to take a picture of the two women that worked here, a redhead with matching red lipstick, and an asian girl with her hair done up totally pin-up style.
I was a complete weirdo and asked them if I could take a picture of them, but not before prefacing that I’m blogging an experience… but they were like, “I dunno if we’re really in the mood for pictures…” and the other girl was all, “Yea.. I’m sorry, I’ve just been having a really shitty day and don’t feel like posing.”
We came back to Lauren’s apartment and took a nap for a little while, then woke up around 10 to head over to Lauren’s gig.
Here’s Lauren prepping before we left:
We all woke up and got ready at a fast pace and took one group photo before leaving. Albeit blurry, it’s the four of us together.
We drove over to 2nd avenue to this little joint called Infirmary. Lauren got Pat, Teddy, and I in as guests… but the cover for the night was initially supposed to be $90, so it was amazing that she was able to pull that off.
We hung out for a little bit while Lauren got situated and they served us sliced up pita bread and some absolutely delicious hummus. It was unlimited drinks, too, so we all just drank non-alcoholic beverages. Yay, sobriety! Sprite all the way!
Anyway, we went outside for a cigarette, and this chick was out there and we started talking and she asked us why we decided to spend New Year’s Eve here. We explained our friend was going to be playing the sax, and she asked us if we were from Brooklyn, which was pretty awesome. I told Teddy and Lauren, and Teddy told me I definitely look like I belong in Brooklyn with my style.
We went inside and watched the ball drop on a projector screen, and then the fun began. There were some break dancers doing their shit on the floor, and then one of the co-owners of the bar got up on the bar counter and Lauren got up there with her and started playing sax while the co-owner danced.
It’s always a treat to watch Lauren play sax, especially since I’ve been seeing her perform here and there since junior high. And to see her actually out in the world, performing gigs, it’s amazing. She’s making her mark in this big world.
Then there was a girl pole dancing! Love it. Funny that she was better than majority of the strippers when I went to a strip club not too recently… She had some moves.
And then everyone was just dancing the night away.
Now we’re back at Lauren’s apartment, chilling in the apartment for the rest of the first few hours of the New Year.
The Kiss of Death.
New Year’s Eve Repercussions.
I kissed Lauren (who has been sick for a few days since I’ve been here), and I ended up waking up 3 separate times New Year’s Day to vomit. First was kind of terrible, second was a little bit worse and more projectile, and the third was bile and absolutely the most painful.
I was extremely weak during the day. We were supposed to go to Ground Zero, and go ice skating, and go to Buffalo Exchange, but I just couldn’t get up and out of bed, I felt so terrible. So eventually, we did get up and we went to this joint called Bareburger for burgers. I didn’t feel like eating anything and Pat had made me some tomato soup so that’s basically all I ate. At Bareburger, I munched on some of Pat’s fries and ate a chicken tender, but that’s it.
We went back to Lauren’s and I took a nap, then woke up around 1am and watched two episodes of Freaks & Geeks with Pat, then went back to sleep.
It’s our last day and we finally got to Ground Zero. It was extremely frigid out, and it didn’t help that I lost my glove the day before, or that we were waiting in a looooong line.. and that I was on hold for 40 minutes trying to see what the deal was with our flight. Apparently it was cancelled, and because everyone else was calling about the same thing, it took a while to actually be able to talk to a rep.
So needless to say, frostbite was trying to creep up on me by the time we actually got to the memorial.
I don’t think I have the same reaction to the memorial as those who grew up in New York, but it was still a very ominous feeling. There used to be two huge towers, and all that remains are two holes in the ground.
One of them, a waterfall, one of them, much more still. Just water leaking into a smaller hole.
So many people lost.
Teddy was telling us that his brother-in-law worked there at the time, and he was in the 2nd tower, but he was able to get out in time because he took the stairs even though they were told not to leave the building.
It was a strange feeling, to be standing at this place where there was so much heartache, loss, pain. All that news coverage, and we were standing before the remains. Though, I left there with a glimmer of hope – because the community turned such a negative thing into something positive. Far from a place to celebrate, it’s a place to remember, to ponder, and to mourn.
On the way back, we saw Wall Street.
Grabbed some Checkers (because who knows how long it’ll be before I eat that again!) and withdrew some money for the cab ride to the airport.
I’m really glad we’re going home. I miss my dogs, I miss my family, I miss my bed.
My New Year’s Resolution:
To hone my craft, and to really take time to focus on me.
To get more involved in recovery and to stay strong in my sobriety.
(It was also going to be to stop smoking, but I don’t think I’m ready for that big of a step.)
Goodbye, 310 w 140th Street.
Thank you so much to Lauren and Teddy, you guys really, really helped us out, showed us the ropes, took us to some awesome places, and made us feel welcome.
Well, remember how out flight got cancelled? So we had a 7.30 flight and that was the first terrible thing. We were on the phone with American Airlines, on hold, for 45 minutes, and then we got our flight changed to 6.30. Whoohoo! So we get to the airport around 4.30 and then we’re sitting around..and then it’s delayed until 7. And then 8. It’s almost 8 and it says boarding time is in 17 minutes… Counting down… 7 minutes.
And then back up to 14. And then down. And then back up. And 4 minutes left (yes!) and then lady on the intercom goes: The plane has just touched down. It’s making a u-turn on the runway… …and pulling into the Dallas airport. Just like that. The flight attendants gave us a number to call, to reschedule, and said the first flight was at 9am. We call, and we’ve been booked for 8.25pm. What. And there’s no earlier flights available for us. So we’re at the food court at this point and we’re trying to decide what to do. Go to Lauren’s? Is that okay? I tell her the deal and she’s completely fine with it (or so she seemed.) She told us to take a cab back, from the airport, one in the line. But I didn’t see a line and we were walking outside and I saw a cabbie so I flagged him down.
We got in and decided to do a flat rate and it ended up being $60. He hustled us, because it was only $30 going there. I told Lauren via text and she called me and told me that cabbies will overcharge you and do anything to get an extra dollar and if he won’t let us get out bags out without tipping him (which we shouldn’t do since we were being overcharged superbly) then to make sure we got his car number because that’s illegal. Anyway, frustrated and exhausted, we’re back at Lauren’s.
We hang out and Lauren and Teddy go to get food and Pat tries to sleep while I read up on some of Amanda Palmer’s blogs while listening to her music. Haven’t really done that before, but she inspired me to really /make/ art. Put it all out there, because we have to. We, as artists, have an obligation to put it out there. Whether the critics hate it or love it, it doesn’t matter. As long as it provokes some/thing/ from some/one/. Lauren and Teddy get back and they FaceTime Lauren’s mom and sister and I hang out with them while they make pasta. We hang out in Lauren’s room until 3.30 and then go to sleep.
Today, we woke up around 2. Or I did. I took a shower and we decided to go over to Jacob’s Restaurant which is a buffet-style tiny diner where your food is charged by the weight. We hung out there and ate, then pat and I went to go but money on our metro cards for the bus tickets.
Went back to Lauren’s, (which really it was a good thing that our flight got cancelled the night before, because pat left his glasses) and grabbed our stuff and then said our goodbyes and headed out. They’ve been so wonderful to us, and they made it clear we’re welcome back any time.
They’ve been such good hosts and it really felt like we could actually make it a living arrangement it we had a 3 bedroom apartment. Pipe dreams. Before getting on the bus, we realized we needed to take two buses to get to La Guardia, so we had to make a pit stop at a 99cent store to make change for some dollar bills. Got on the buses, and this was the way we were supposed to go. We were meant to have a 9th day in New York.
The bus was crowded, but we needed to leave the city seeing the skyline lit up at night. Not cloudy during the day, like yesterday. We got to the airport and there was no line for boarding passes, no line for security. We’re here, sitting down at the airport, waiting for our flight, which is ON TIME.
I love New York, and I know I’ll be back. But for now; back home to my wonderful parents, my goofy dogs, my little job and the remaining two quarters of school. New York is my future, but not just yet. Thank you for everything, Lauren, Teddy, and Pat.
You guys have all been so incredibly amazing. I love you.