Category Archives: i'm old

New Year, Old World

As I experience more and more years of being, um, alive, I’ve learned three important lessons:

1.)     There isn’t a magic age where people figure things out: everyone is generally clueless for the vast majority of life;

2.)     Stick to one kind of alcohol per night; and

3.)     The time between August and Christmas is 10x faster than any other period of the year

You guys, really . . . is this the next stage of old age? No more prolonged anticipation periods? Am I going through anticipation menopause? No more anticipatory cramps? No more moodiness? Because it wasn’t that long ago when, if I had something exciting coming up on the horizon, the time would s l o w l y  d r a g  b y  f o r  w h a t  s e e m e d  l i k e  f o r e v e r .  .  .

Now, everything happens in the blinkofaneye and it’s really disturbing me.

For example, I’m going on another trip, a relatively big trip, in 13 DAYS and it’s coming up so quickly that I don’t even know how to feel about it. I haven’t even had time to brag about it!

For those of you who don’t know, my sister has been living in Berlin since May. She’s in an au pair program, taking care of two little boys, and living with a German family. I don’t know why my family is being infiltrated by all things German, but it’s starting to get a little ridiculous. Thank god my brother doesn’t like white girls or else I’d be calling the History Channel. I think they’d be interested in a conspiracy theory about Germans weaseling their way into American families by seducing their most promising youth.

Oh, right, I’m not a youth.

Or very promising.

Aaaaaaanyway, when my sister moved to Germany, it was always my intention to go visit her at some point during her year there, but again, time has passed in a blink and half of her year has already passed.

Luckily, my parents must be part of this conspiracy and had the great idea to send me and my brother to Berlin for New Years’ as our Christmas presents. So perfect and amazing and so, so generous! Great parents to the rescue yet again!

Somehow (these things tend to happen in my family), this little rink-a-dink snowball of a sibling trip to Berlin has rolled into an 8-person, multi-country, multi-city, multi-currency gigantic snowman of a trip that can only be described as nothing less than a Euro-Extravaganza! Final headcount is me, my sister Brighid, my brother Conor, John, my cousins Katie and Colleen, Brighid’s best friend Cheyenne, and Brighid’s German boyfriend (see! it’s happening!) Erik.

I mean, why would 3 people meet in Berlin? That is so ridiculously boring. It’s much more fun to have 8 people travel from Budapest to Vienna to Prague and then to Berlin to ring in 2012 at a pace that would disturb Usain Bolt. Duh.

And if you can believe it, we actually have everything pretty much under control and at a low cost. All hotels/hostels are booked (including one slumber party night of all 8 of us in one dorm room), buses and trains are booked (well, mostly – anyone know the cheapest bus or train from Vienna to Prague?), and fun stuff to do and food to consume has been thoroughly researched. We’re going to be stuffing ourselves full of currywurst, goulash, schnitzel, glühwein, beer, and trdlo!

Haha, trdlo.

Traveling with a group as large as this is really challenging – I think especially when you all know each other. It’s hard to make sure that everyone is included and no one feels like they’re compromising their (especially in this instance) precious time by doing things that they don’t want to do. I don’t really know the best way to go about it, but I’m thinking that it’s probably good for everyone to be up front about what they want to do and feel free to split up into groups or go off alone, and then have a meeting point . . . whether it’s a meal or drinks or just hanging out in the hotel.

But, as we all know, when you travel, shit happens. Hotel reservations get lost or end up costing more, buses are cancelled, you miss a flight, you get freaking pink eye or the bubonic plague – you name it. I guess the best thing that you can do is to be prepared but remember that plans don’t normally work out the way you, uh, you know . . . planned.

But enough with the Greek chorus!

I just can’t believe that I’m going on a trip with this group of people! I can’t believe that I’m going to visit my sister who lives in Germany! There are so many crazy parts to this crazy trip that I can’t even really wrap my head around it, and as I said, it’s seemed to have happened so quickly that I can barely believe it’s real. Christmas time in Central Europe! With a very good selection of some of my favorite people on Earth! Unbelievable. When will it seem real?

Oh, probably when I contract some bizarre gum infection in Budapest.

That’s when I will be par for the course and shit will get totally real.

Can’t wait!

Christmas Market in Prague

28: #5, #6

Well, this is only very slightly overdue, but over my birthday weekend (10/10) John surprised me with an awesome gift that allowed me to check off half of the 5th item on my Life List AND a ¼ of the 6th! What a guy.

You may have noticed a trend of me writing “John surprised me”, and you’re probably getting super bored by it, and maybe you’re wondering if I’m still surprised by all of this surprising.

Well, sort of.

See, my birthday happened to land on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend, and we had been talking about going to Salem, MA around Halloween, so I had a hunch that we’d probably go then, and I was right.

BUT, I never suspected that he’d also want to drive all the way to Acadia in Maine! I was totally floored and so happy.

I was not so happy when he urged me to rush home from work at 5:30 one recent evening, and instead of the flowers or elaborate dessert I thought would be waiting for me, I found a locked, dark apartment.

SURPRISE!

I guess he tries to keep me on my toes.

Anyway, so on that Friday evening, John and I shipped up to Boston and stayed downtown for the night thanks to my mom, Queen of Marriott Rewards. The next morning we picked up our rental car and headed over to Concord, home of Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne so that I could cross off the MA portion of #5 on my Life List.

And really? Someone should study that coordinate. The air just felt smarter and more transcendenty. I was most interested in visiting Orchard House, home to Alcott and the setting for her most famous work and one of my personal favorites, Little Women. My grandma gave a copy to me when I was pretty young, and it was the first “classic” I read on my own. I loved reading about girls who, even though they were living over a hundred years before me, were genuinely relatable, which is why the book was so popular when it was published, and continues to be today.

To see the inside of the house you have to take a tour, and even though our ancient tour guide was a little repetitive and slow, it was still worth it. So many things that belonged to the Alcott family have been preserved and restored, so it looks very much the way it did when the family (on which the book is based) lived there. Really fascinating to hear how intertwined the lives of the famous philosophers and writers of the day were, which is obvious in their work, but in Concord, MA, the evidence is geographical.

Afterwards, we stopped at another literary hot spot, Walden Pond. The weather was unseasonably warm, so families and their cars were out in droves which made things probably slightly less peaceful than, say, when Thoreau was hanging out  . . . but it’s so beautiful that you can understand how one would be inspired there.

From there we headed to Salem to check out their Halloween festivities. We picked a good weekend, because it was the day of the Annual Zombie Walk. Salem takes their spooky Witch Hunt history very seriously and so this is a great time to visit an already really cool city. My cousin and his husband live there and, being the good citizens that they are, fully partake in all of the festivities! It was a total coincidence that we ran into them at the festival! The ghost of Tituba must have been working some magic. We were having so much fun that we really wanted to stick around, but we had a long drive to Maine ahead of us, so we left that evening . . . you know, after I had my tarot cards read. She didn’t mention anything about brain tumors or lottery winnings or George Clooney, so I don’t really remember what she said.

Boring future read, off to Maine we drove, figuring we’d find a place to stay on the way. I mean, it’s Maine, right? Who goes to Maine? Like 40 people live in Maine – why would anyone possibly need to go there? I began calling hotels on the road to find that this is not the case. EVERYTHING was sold out. Did you know that Maine’s slogan is “Vacationland”?? No? Well it is! And apparently EVERYBODY knows that but us. We couldn’t stay at a Motel 6 if we paid them. Even a creepy roadside knock-off, Motel 5, was totally booked. We were beginning to think that we’d have to sleep in the car when finally we got the very last room at the Lakeside Motel in Winthrop which was totally creepy and obviously haunted by angry deer-hunting ghosts. Very surprisingly, we weren’t killed or haunted or eaten alive by bed bugs, so all in all it was a good night. We survived! Onward to Acadia, 1/4 of #5 on the Life List!

sign outside of the fabulous Lakeside Motel

The weather was gorgeous the next day, and after my big outdoor adventure out west, I was really excited to have another National Park experience. I had my tennis shoes and sporty looking pants on, and this adorable Lululemon hoodie, which I wore even though it was too hot because, hello, it’s outdoorsy and cute and so am I, damn you.

The foliage was just beginning to change, the clear blue water was sparkling in the warm October sun, I looked like an outdoorsy Californian who knows what she’s doing and it was a birthday surprise: what could be better?

The park. The park could have been better.

I mean, ok, yes, it was beautiful, but it was east coast beautiful, meaning pretty, but not impressive; awkwardly good looking, like Anne Hathaway, but not staggeringly mountainous, like Courtney Stodden.

Look, I just went to Utah. It would be like going to Paris and then, a few months later, going to whatever city the “Paris of Alabama” is.

Ok, just kidding, it’s not that bad. At all. It’s gorgeous and the foliage really was just starting to turn and the colors were radiant and the water really was unbelievably clear and sparkling, and we did have a great time there. I think I was just expecting the kind of overwhelming wow factor I got at other National Parks. I mean, I’m like a super experienced outdoors woman, so I really wanted to be challenged with a strenuous hike that my outfit was clearly meant to handle. This is a different kind of park.

ok, fine, it is beautiful!

Fall or summer is probably the best time to go . . . which I guess is why we had to stay at the Lakeside Motel. Make reservations!

The park is right outside of Bar Harbor, which is a darling, typical New England coast resort town, full of pubs, lobster restaurants, Victorian-style houses, and t-shirt shops. We rewarded ourselves for all of the driving that John did with delicious lobster rolls, blueberry ice cream, and Allagash. Luckily found a hotel in Portland that night, which is a weird, but cool, but not really, city. It sort of reminds me of the hipster sections of Baltimore, but also sort of like Alexandria, VA, with a population of rebellious suburbanites whose suburb was an hour outside of the city and not on a Subway line.

Make sense?

But it was cool, and I’m sure that with more time and more exploration I would have really liked it, however it was an early night because we (meaning John) had to drive all the way back to Boston in the morning . . .

But not without stopping in Kennebunkport!

We really don’t like to relax.

Anyway, it was a totally packed three days, but that’s how we like to do things and that’s how we get things done.

Seeing as I’ve only completed 10% of my still incomplete list, I think we might have to move a little faster.

Number 13: Go to Paris with John & Picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg

 

I love Paris. I’ve always loved Paris. You know that song I Love Paris? I could have written it and maybe even have done a better job than Cole Porter. In fact, I love Paris so much that I loved it before I ever even went there – it was love before first sight. That’s how much I love Paris.

But then, who doesn’t love Paris?

Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. There’s really no contest. And I’m saying that without having been to all of the cities in the world, so you know it must be true. Its dense beauty is just overwhelming, like humidity or a huge, dripping willow tree. It hangs heavily on your being, drenching you in butter, Chanel No. 5, and all of the other things that make life special.

So much imagery sparked my appreciation for and deep-seated desire to visit this city from an early age . . .


 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . but unlike so many things that are built up beyond reality, Paris did not disappoint when I visited for the first time. I fell in love with the style, the innate romance, and the Parisian appreciation for beauty and history. Oh, and the food and wine aren’t half bad either.

 

If you love Paris or have the feeling that you will love Paris, I get the impression that it’s the sort of place that you want to visit with someone special or like-minded. It’s too wonderful to waste on someone who won’t get it. John had never been to Paris before, so I’ve really wanted to experience the city with him. I knew he’d get it. Unfortunately, it just didn’t seem like it would be in our travel plans for the near future since I had been there relatively recently, but he surprised me.

 

I’m not big on my birthday. I don’t want a party, I don’t want a lot of attention, and I really don’t want you to get me a gift. It’s not really the age thing, it just hasn’t been in my personality since age 11. My last birthday, however, happened to be 10-10-10, and since that was something unique I wanted to do something special. Obviously this trip counted a million times over and I couldn’t believe we’d be making our way through Europe on the big day.

 

So on 10-8-10 we had made our way into France from Spain, to Avignon, to attend our friends’ wedding on 10-9-10. It was in a gorgeous cathedral built in the late 1300s within the really cool, picturesque, artsy walled city. Their reception lasted well into the wee hours, and it was a fantastic way to ease into 10-10-10. Not only do we love celebrating with these friends, but they also served a traditional Provençale meal that was one of the best I’ve ever had: lamb, endless cheese, brûléed foie gras, some of the best wine I’ve ever tasted, just to name a few highlights, and all until well past 3 AM when we left the party early and headed back to our secret garden of a B&B, La Violette.

I won’t go into all of the details because it makes me look really horrible and we really don’t need to discuss anything that makes me sound less than awesome . . . but I said some things to John on our way to the hotel that could have been taken in a slightly, ahem, bitchy context were you someone as obviously sensitive and insecure as he. I mean, surely it couldn’t have been me and we don’t need to go into any of it, but the point is, it was 3:30 AM on 10-10-10 and I had single-handedly already ruined my birthday. Shocker.

We were both mad, and I said in what I’m certain was a snippy, clipped “Jesse Eisenberg does Mark Zuckerberg” tone, “so, where are we going tomorrow? Nice? St. Tropez? It’s going to rain all day so it doesn’t really matter”, and I probably threw in an eye-roll for good measure. John sighed, exasperated, and asked me why I have to ruin everything all the time or something like that, and let me in on his secret: we were taking the high-speed train to Paris at 7AM where, unlike Provence, the weather would be sunny and warm, so I’d better shut up and go to sleep.

And then I cried. And apologized for being the worst person in the world. And went to sleep.

 

I am the worst person in the world.

 

It’s very rare that I’ve been somewhere that John hasn’t, so I relished in playing tour guide as best as I could. When we got into the city I knew exactly where we should go, and so we headed straight for the Louvre, walked around the courtyard and then down to the Seine where we had a little breakfast underneath the Pont Royal. From there we walked to Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, down Boulevard Saint-Germain to the St-Germain-des-Prés, Invalides, the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars, the Trocadéro, the Champs-Elysées, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, Les Halles, and all the way back to the Rue de Rivoli and the Louvre. We had no real destination, no place to go, just took our time and wandered the whole day in perfect 70 degree, sunny weather.

So, ok, we didn’t technically picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg, but we drank champagne on the waterfront of the Seine and split a crepe on the Champs-Elysées, so I think it counts. Once again, there is wiggle room.

As usual, I didn’t deserve it at all, but it truly was the best birthday present of all time and a thousand times life-list worthy.


I love Paris in the springtime.
I love Paris in the fall.
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles.
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.
I love Paris every moment,
Every moment of the year.
I love Paris, why oh why do I love Paris?
Because my love is here.

 

I Enjoyed Being a Girl

 

I turned 26 in October, and so far the only change seems to be that this is the year people stop saying, “oh but you’re so young!” I am, of course, speaking from a woman’s perspective; for men that age is probably around 76, so . . . continue with that beer bong, sir.

I’m currently in a fairly typical situation for young urban adults, which is living in sin with my boyfriend of nearly five years. I guess it’s only natural (though, in my opinion, highly rude) for family, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, flight attendants, waiters, shoe salesmen, musicians, coworkers, dog-walkers, snow-shovelers, politicians, and Neil Diamond to all ask “so when are you getting married?”

I used to answer this question with a sing-song, “ohhhh, I don’t know! Someday!” and the response would almost always be something like, “oh, but you’re so young, you don’t have to rush into anything!” and so I would go on, merrily skipping my child-like self through a happy, golden field of wildflowers. Now, at 26, I mostly get looks of concern, particularly from older women, who shake their heads and think, “what a poor, sad little idiot living with that man who obviously doesn’t really love her! Such a shame! But why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, hahaha, right?” and all sorts of really idiotic things that people who think they’re better than you say.  

I’d be lying if I said that this doesn’t bother me. It does . . . but usually only for a minute or so. I’ll lower my head and shift in my seat and think that, ok, maybe I have been doing the wrong thing, maybe there is something wrong with our relationship, maybe we really do need to make things official. But then I remember how lucky I am to have found someone like John – my adventure partner, and how much I, we have to look forward to in life, the institution of marriage not necessarily being the most exciting of those things. In all honesty, if someone said, “you can have an all expenses paid trip to _____ OR get married”, I’d take the trip without a doubt.

I don’t think of marriage as a goal or a step; I already have a great guy, the best guy in my life and we dream about where we’ll go next, where we’ll live next, what we’ll do next, together. We’re already committed to one another and enjoy each other more than most people I know, so what does marriage mean for us? A wedding? A nice party celebrating finding each other is something I’m looking forward to, but it’s not THE thing to look forward to for us and, well, it will happen when it happens.

I like this life, and I know that I really wouldn’t want it any other way (well, except for that millionaire way, that I’d take), but that doesn’t mean that the grass doesn’t sometimes look greener on the other side. I often think about people I went to school with who are married and already have a kid or kids or one on the way. It seems so simple, like they’ve got a GPS as opposed to my directionless wandering.

There’s a song I love called “I Wanna Get Married” by Nellie McKay:

 I wanna get married, yes I need a spouse
I wanna “Leave it to Beaver”-ish golden retriever and a little white house.
I wanna get married, I need to cook meals
I wanna pack cute little lunches for my Brady Bunches then read Danielle Steele . . .
 
. . . I’ll stay home cleaning the dishes and keeping your wishes all warm
I wanna get married, that’s why I was born.

 

The first time I heard it I thought it was really funny satire, completely tongue-in-cheek. I later read an interview with Nellie McKay and she said that actually no, it was in earnest, that sometimes she does wish that she could go back to the days when her life could be that simple, nothing she expected of herself but to be a great wife and mother, concrete direction, no questions asked. When I listened to it with that perspective, it was sort of shocking, uncomfortable, and much more subversive than a played-out knock at housewives. Is this semblance of backlash something Betty Friedan predicted?

I guess I’m writing this because it’s a new-ish phenomenon that women my age in today’s world are facing and yet I don’t really hear many people talking about it very much. Sure, I’ve discussed it with friends, but not in necessarily a brutally honest way. When one of us talks about wanting babies or the desire to get married, we get embarrassed, like we’re ashamed of being “that girl” who wants those sappy, cliché things. Yet, these are biological (and still, to an extent, social) urges, so why should we feel any less of a smart, grounded, sophisticated woman for wanting them?

The thing is, we now have SO MANY OTHER CHOICES and SO MANY of those choices are SO tempting. You can have a fabulous career, follow your passions, travel the world, date a bunch of different men or none at all; we have the ability to do it all, but sometimes too many choices are just that: TOO MUCH. It’s like that Dr. Suess book where the cheerful Whos tell you that “you can go in any direction you choose!” No! No, god damn you! Just tell me which path to go down, you rhyming bastard! I don’t have time for these games! I have a biological clock and a face getting more lined by the day!

Or it’s like the menu at the Cheesecake Factory; you’re sitting there flipping through their 800 page menu, taking a million years deciding what you want because everything sounds SOOOO GOOOOD.

That’s the crisis today’s women are facing: Cheesecake Factory-syndrome. Obviously things could be worse, but sometimes I wish I only had to decide between grape and strawberry jelly.

There’s only one problem: I LIKE RASPBERRY!!!!!

The cycle continues.

Anyone else out there ever feel this way? Speak up, ladies!

Nine nine nine nine, nine nine nine nine, hey hey hey, GOODBYE.

 

Aww, wasn’t that cute?

I wrote this big, long post yesterday in Word all about how I’m in this reflective and therefore BAD mood, and when I came back to my computer . . . it was gone. Window closed, no auto-recovery. Poof. I mean, really, how does that even happen?

But I guess it’s symbolic of just how effed-up (sorry Mom! But “eff” is not a bad word) 2009 has been. You work and work and think maybe you’ve accomplished something, maybe things are close to being done, and . . . poof. START ALL OVER AGAIN, ASSHOLE!

Ok that is a bad word, but come on . . . if any year deserves on it’s THIS YEAR.

All right all right, I’m being slightly dramatic BUT NOT REALLY. Well, I mean, I guess we have our health, a roof over our heads, food, Barack Obama is our president, George Bush is not, we moved to New York, we went to the Caribbean, we went to Las Vegas and California, John finished business school, my aunt Joanie is healthy, my cousin Kelly had a baby, my dad got a new job, I got to go to a lot of amazing concerts . . .

BUT OTHER THAN THAT, EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS YEAR SUCKS.

. . . and now that that’s done, I am all (tentative) positivity for 2010!

Things HAVE to shape up, right? No, I guess they don’t, but let’s hope. Having a positive attitude obviously doesn’t mean that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things won’t happen to you, but it does affect how you handle them. So I’m leaving my wounded, negative, beaten attitude behind in ’09 and am excited for this new year. Ten is my lucky number afterall, and this year my birthday will 10/10/10! If that’s not a good omen, what is?

So many horribly sad, awful things happened this decade; even now I’m really only just starting to realize how much September 11th affected so many circumstances of my adulthood. I’m so ready to do what I can to make 2010 great and put this last one behind. I became an adult this crazy, messed up decade, and while it was an extraordinarily difficult one to do so, it is what it is, and I hope that I’m stronger for it.

But now it’s time to celebrate!

A DJ created this video/audio mashup of the top 25 Billboard singles of 2009, and it’s interesting how so many of the songs focus on the word “down”. Here they’re twisted a bit to make a song about picking yourself up. I guess because of my reflective, gloomy mood this made me tear up a bit the first time I saw it, but it’s a nice, uplifting way to commemorate the year.  Miley and all.

I hope that everyone has a great New Year’s Eve (even though there is way too much pressure to have fun, and personally, people telling me what to do pretty much makes me want to do the opposite) and an even better 2010. I hope you all are able to get that negative ’09 energy out now and start TEN! with a refreshed sense of peace and adventure.

See you next year!

Grow Old Along With Me, The Best is Yet To Be

This past Saturday was my 26th birthday and my first birthday as a New Yorker. A Saturday birthday is always nice for obvious reasons, but one that falls on a three day weekend is an extra-special, controversial perk. Thank you, Christopher Columbus. John and I are very good at weekends; we feel incredibly guilty lazing around on a nice day and so we always try to make the most of it. Because of this, a “birthday” Saturday probably doesn’t differ much from any other given Saturday, not to mention the world revolves around me (well, at least this house does) it’s hard to think of much more that could possibly be done to celebrate, but John managed to shake things up a bit.

The morning started with flowers, and instead of our usual fancy weekend breakfast of lé Honey Bunches of Oats, we went to a soccer pub near our apartment to watch Germany play Russia in a World Cup qualifier. I love watching soccer, especially when it’s related to the World Cup, so this was a fun way to start the day. It probably seems that I have adopted the German team as my own, and maybe even soccer itself, because of German John. This is partially true, because I would not have a reason to cheer for them without him, but I think I definitely get into the games more than he does. Unlike Germans, I am very easily excitable and therefore an excellent fan. Plus, they’re just a likable team because they’re remarkably polite, sportsman-like players who aren’t drama queens. Plus, hello, reason 1, reason 2, reason 3, reason 4, reason 5. Who knew German guys were so hot? Did they ever teach you that in high school? Me neither. Oh well, take heed ladies. The game started at 11am, so we had brunch at the pub ($12 got us entrées and two drinks each!) and watched Germany beat Russia 1-0, qualifying for South Africa in 2010. There may or may not have been talk of us qualifying to go there as well . . .

We came home where I got my second gift of the day (flowers being #1) – tickets to see Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway! We haven’t been to a Broadway show since we’ve moved here and I’ve been dying to go. I’m so excited to see this one as I love the big musical revival productions where I know all the words, and I’m sure it will be a really fun show to see. With my incessant “Put on a Happy Face” renditions, John is already regretting this gift.

Next off, we headed to SoHo to go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex. I have the apparent good fortune to have been born the day after John Lennon, and in his honor the museum (which is normally $25) was free! There’s currently a special exhibit called “John Lennon: The New York City Years” that I’ve been meaning to get to. I feel like I have a cosmic connection to John Lennon. He’s one of those artists that I just “get” and feel like his music really speaks to a person with my kind of sensibility and brain. I don’t know how I feel about astrology, but it’s sort of a weird coincidence that so many artists that I love and admire and “get” happen to be fellow Libras. Hmm. Anyway, enough of my kookiness, the museum was great! I can’t imagine what the real deal is like in Cleveland! As you start the self-guided audio tour they show a “history of rock ‘n roll” film and I am a huge sucker for a good montage. I loved it. The John Lennon exhibit was interesting and nicely done. His solo career is obviously my favorite of all The Beatles, and he wrote some of his best songs right here in New York. In a few videos he talked about his love for Central Park and the all of the distinct neighborhoods here, and it just made me so happy to hear someone I admire so much talk so lovingly about the city I am living in and have dreamt of living in for so long – and on my birthday! It sort of felt like an affirmation that this is where I’m supposed to be, and it sounds like he had a similar experience when he moved here. It was the perfect way to spend the day.

As we were walking to the subway to head back uptown, we decided to pay a quick visit to Rice to Riches. So conveniently located right by the station, how could we resist? This meant that the first birthday dessert was mascarpone rice pudding with dried cherries. Mmm.

Before we headed to dinner, John gave me yet another gift – a “gift certificate” for a pet! We’re still deciding whether or not we’re staying in this current apartment, so as soon as we get that straightened out we’ll be the proud parents of a dog or cat (probably a cat as we’re too busy/unpredictable for puppy-wrangling at the moment), but I can’t wait to head over to the ASPCA and adopt a sweet friend! We already have a ton of ideas for names.

Finally we headed to dinner on the Lower East Side at my favorite restaurant _______. I love this place and I don’t want anyone to know about it because I don’t want everyone to go there because I already like the people who go there so I’m not going to tell you what it is!

Oh wait. No one reads my blog.

Ok, so John took me to my favorite restaurant, Via Della Pace, on the LES. The first time we went here there was some sort of party going on and the Italian bartender/owner/manager was completely out of control – it was hilarious. He was up on the bar, passing out limoncello, and everyone was singing. The majority of the crowd was legit Italian, and the cozy, sophisticated atmosphere made me feel like I was living la vita bella in Roma. The same guy is there every weekend, playing a muted, subtitled Fellini movie and manning the playlist of Hotel Costes-sounding or Italian rap tunes with his personal iPod. It’s just a blast. We had never eaten there and were pleasantly surprised by how delicious the food was and how reasonable the prices were. We started with a bruscetta with prosciutto, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan and an appetizer of bresaola, gorgonzola cheese, pears, and honey. Unreal. I had a baked rigatoni dish and John had the salmon and we happily skipped back and forth between Pinot Noir and a Sangiovese, and ended with my birthday cake of apple strudel and ice cream. It was a great gift to spend the evening at one of our “special” places in our new city.

We came home, watched my favorite movie Charade, and I got one more gift: a certificate to get SCUBA certified! This is a great gift in itself, but it also means that soon we will have to go on a trip or else the gift is totally pointless, and I don’t think John wants that resting on his shoulders. DO YOU, JOHN? So perhaps next year we’ll be heading to South Africa for the World Cup, a safari, AND a dive trip! Ahem.

So I apologize that this was very longwinded, but we managed to squeeze a lot into the 10th and I don’t want to forget any of it. It was a great day, and even though I’m totally freaked out that I’m already 26, I think it’s going to be a great year.

I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain, Plus Back Pain

Whew! Things are starting to finally come together around here. John and I were just looking through some pictures we took to document our move process yesterday. I took one of him standing inside the empty Budget truck down in DC and the optimistic glimmer in his eye proves that we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was so, so, SO much work, we will never move without professional movers again, and it’s finally, blissfully starting to wind down.

John is the king of to-do lists, and for this I am extremely grateful as if it were just me moving on my own, half of my clothes would still be in boxes and the other half would be strewn over a chair. Not only are our clothes completely out of boxes, but the books are on shelves, the pictures are hung, and the walls are painted! It’s as if we actually live here or something. Who knew?

I guess this is also due in part to the fact that for our first three weeks in Manhattan it rained. Not, you know, a mere drizzle either. I mean rain rain. Amazonian rainforest rain, Indian monsoon rain. Inescapable, endless, buckets full of rain. For weeks. THREE WEEKS! Do you hear what I’m telling you?! It was awful! And it’s not like we were being chicken – not even an umbrella can save you from this kind of torrential downpour. So while we were stuck inside we actually organized and unpacked and spruced the place up.

Luckily the rain cleared up for the 4th. While this day isn’t necessarily one of great interest to either of us, we ended up watching the show from our friends’ place . . . which just so happens to be on the 32ndfloor and has an amazing view of the Hudson River. Suddenly it became very interesting! The view was pretty spectacular and the show lasted 26 minutes. Hudson apparently ain’t no one minute man. For example . . .

So finally the weather has remained lovely and bizarrely cool. I don’t think this is normal, but it hasn’t hit beyond 80 in weeks. In fact, today the high was 70; very odd, but nice . . . or so I’ve been told, because for the entire week I’ve been laid up in bed with some sort of back issue. Evidently I’m old because something happened and I could barely move for days. Nothing seemed to relieve the pain and so naturally this meant, “ahh, back is to spine is to brain is to tumor is to I’m dying” complete with hand to forehead swooning. The only reason why I think I may survive this is that I started feeling better and could actually walk yesterday. Today I actually left the house, so that’s something. Still in a bit of pain, but I’m getting there. So pathetic. John even painted the entire living room by himself on Monday!! Who does that?! It looks great, though. Pictures next time . . .

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