January 28, 2008


I know it's a grainy and far away photo, but this is what it's like to fly into home after being away for a day and a half. The skyline of New York is this warm welcoming cluster of high rises and the sky can't come close to dipping down and touching the tops of the buildings. From this vantage point we're minutes from touch down, believe it or not. LaGuardia is a few minutes from this photo. Oh, it was so good to get home Sunday.*Saturday morning we woke up between 3 and 4 to shower and throw last minute toiletries together for the Cinci trip to see Paul and Karen. Need I point out that between 3 and 4 a.m. for people over 30 is next to impossible. At least, it is for this pairing of over-30's. But, seeing as we had gone to bed a little after 9, we weren't really in that bad of shape - but landing in Covington, Kentucky (on time - we thank you, Delta), picking up our rental car which included smiling dutifully at the cheery Kentucky native behind the rental car desk and enduring her Kentucky drawal and inquiries about whether we needed a map, driving to Main Street under the overcast sky and finding Rima's Diner for breakfast - good ole Midwest grease-soaked comfort food breakfast (hi, lbs.) and navigating to the hotel, all of that wiped out us. And so we skipped the ceremony in Cincinnati. We had talked about the prospect of that on and off, and I wavered on the matter - who wants people showing up just for the reception and not for the beauty that is the tying of the knot?? - but the amount of exhaustion we felt would have definitely yielded an early turn-in if we did not nap. So we napped and rose and went to lunch and the Cock and Bull on Main Street, returned to the hotel (enter a fleeting moment where Craig almost drove into oncoming traffic seeing as Covington and Cincinnati alike are mazes of one-way streets, which puzzled Craig, the Big City Driver that he claims to be...) (luckily Kristin's shouting and pointing saved the day) and tidied up for the reception. It turned out that Rima's Diner was located diagonally from the Madison where the reception took place later that night. No one ever said Covington doesn't have small town qualities! Really, it was a nice time. Karen looked gorgeous and Paul was a nice groom. The oddities of living everywhere play a big role in what a small town the USA is. In other words, a year and a half ago I stood up in my best friend Jen's wedding and her husband's cousin sat in the congregation reading my bio written in their program which mentioned my company and how I move around. Turns out that that cousin of Jen's husband is tight with Paul (the groom this weekend.) So Dave (the cousin) called up Paul back when and said, Hey, do you happen to work with a girl named Kristin...? and Paul, meanwhile, had just started working at my job. Connections were made and sure enough, my best friend Jen married Pete, the cousin of Dave who was an usher this weekend at Paul's wedding. It may not seem so stilted but the fact that Paul is from Wisconsin, Jen is from Illinois, Craig and I are from different parts of Indiana, and it sounds like Pete and Dave are from Ohio - well, that creates a pretty interesting connection of one Midwest state to the next. To make it all the more interesting, in the morning (which came far too soon, of course) we dropped off our rental car alongside Paul and Karen as they dropped of theirs and we all shuttled together to the airport (they were headed out to their honeymoon in Mexico.) Really, what are the odds?*I won't go into flying out of Cinci (Covington), how desolate it was, and how quiet it made the Midwest seem to me. I felt a real sense of solitude being back on Midwest soil. Of course, weather plays into it (how overcast it was) and if a New Yorker were to ask me about my home ground I would jump to the Midwest's defense in an absolute heartbeat. Good people are grown in the Midwest. But it is very much the same, all of it. Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan...aside from quirky corners, the majority all blurs as one place. Maybe that's where the feeling of unity plays in. But when we got home, I felt so happy. The trash on the streets, the stick of the apartment lock, the honking of horns, the pungent curry in the apartment corridor, the storefronts' neon Giants signage for the upcoming Superbowl, the chaos of the 2nd Avenue Subway Line...it all felt so normal and comforting compared to the lonesome travel of a freight train across a no-named bridge that we could see from our hotel room. I guess it all comes down to what a person likes the best: the quiet, or the trouble of sound and bustle.*Tonight I was supposed to cook but we ate at Nina's instead. We had a Monday night date. I ate lasagna with no pasta - the layers were eggplant, goat cheese and parm and sauce. We ate tons of sauteed spinach, mixed greens and then we were given free dessert by the staff at Nina's (as always) so we ordered crepes filled with the gooey-ist caramel delight ever. And on the side was a dollop of puffy whip cream. The whole experience was heaven on a spoon.*Now, to bed, to work tomorrow for more of the same. It's a great thing our extracurricular lives can be so stimulating and adventurous.

January 25, 2008


It's 8 o'clock on a Friday night, which would normally find me squirming with excitement for tomorrow's adventures. This one, however, finds me a little less eager, seeing as we senselessly booked our flights to Cinci for 6.05 a.m. out of LaGuardia. That means at 3-something before the sun rises, we rise. These are things for which not to be excited on a Saturday morning near the end of January! But it will be fine. We're packed, and I'm waiting on my thickly coated chili-garlic shrimps to arrive from Wu Liang Ye, our favorite and only Sichuan delivery place in the UES. After that, an early bedtime is inevitable.*So, last night we left work, jumped on the F train at 74th Street and traveled the distance down to 2nd Avenue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Sharon was reading at her book's release party at a Bulgarian bar called Menahata on Ludlow, but beforehand, Craig and I took her suggestion and ducked into Panna II (see above photo) for Indian cuisine. We've definitely become intrigued patrons of Indian fare more recently, but we've got Baluchi around the corner, which is a New York City chain (who knows, maybe beyond NYC even) so what you get is what you get. But Panna II boasts best in its description of its food and decor (see above photo of woven webs of Christmas chili pepper lights hung from a low ceiling) and so we gave it a shot. Oh, it really was quite good. It's BYOB, and that was our first BYOB experience. We found a wine store around the corner before finding Panna II, bought a bottle of wine and what do you know? BYOB is kind of a treat for restaurant lovers who like a wine or beer with their meal, because it's sans the mark-up if you bring it in yourself! Then you can go a little crazy with your meal and order apps in advance of eating your main course! The food was good - tikka masala (sp?) remains my favorite, and the naan bread there was divine, just so warm and toasted crisp only at its curves and delicious overall, dipped in spicy green chile sauce or eaten as a standalone delicious bread bite. The thing I missed was the cool cucumber raita yogurt dip, which we usually get from Baluchi no matter what we order. I'm not sure why we didn't get it at Panna II. After our fun adventure there, we headed to Menahata. It was going to be probably a 10 minute walk to get there, but a subway ride would take us out of our way, so we braved it and man, did we brave it. It felt like negative degrees out there, with East River winds, I swear, slapping my cheeks, even though we weren't on the river, to speak. A co-worker described a bar in the neighborhood once to Craig, and we came upon it and happily ducked in for a Windmer (?) beer, which I actually liked better than Hogaarten (sp??) (I can spell many, many a word but not beer names, evidently) and in fact, the place was quite cool - the Piano Lounge?...after one beer, we headed to hear Sharon read. Menahata was easy enough to locate once we were on Ludlow. And her reading was fantastic, of course! She is ablaze with personality, she brims with intellect and beauty that shines from the inside all the way out. Craig dug her a lot, which overjoyed me, of course! We spoke a bit to her husband, who is an illustrator. We saw my old classmates Naturi and Tony and hung out with them a while, too. It was a really nice New York night - can't complain. Even our cab ride home was a ride, so to speak. The cabbie was a self-proclaimed comedian named Louie the Loser! He cracked some jokes and lessened the length of the ride from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side substantially. And then we crashed and worked early this morning, of course.*Enter the green pants.
Last weekend when we were at Macy's and Lord & Taylor I found these great green pants. They were hanging on a rack titled "SALE" so it isn't like I shelled out full price for these (many if not most people I know and love wouldn't think me too smart if they knew the original tag and its suggested retail price and that I'd paid that whole amount for these - after all, they are green pants.) I fell immediately in love with these, and truthfully, I'm not a great shopper and nothing calls out to me when I'm in stores. I shop hastily, grabbing items that will look hopefully okay on me but who cares really, right? I just want to come across tidy and respectable. But these green pants, the only ones of their kind on the "SALE" rack, seriously spoke full length conversations to me. KB, come on, how many times do you get to wear such a great bright green, and on pants, to boot? Trying them on was like the same experience a car lover has when sliding into the seat of a hot rod - no kidding! So I bought them on a whim. And to date, I've been too nervous to wear the green pants. In part, that might be because my loving boyfriend has said the following with regard to these pants: "Are those sweat pants?" (spoken with disdain at the counter as I purchased them), "Where are you going to wear those? Around the apartment?", and finally, his first uttered simile that at least I've ever memorized for record's sake, "You're going to look like a lime ready to jump into a bottle of Corona!"So, tomorrow, and I can barely wait to climb into bed and dream of green-panted legs dancing, I'm wearing them to Cinci! That's right - KB in the airport in bright striking green pants. Of course, I'm changing into a dress for the wedding.*

January 23, 2008


Before I begin this post, I want to clarify that I am not wholly emotionally equipped to handle loss of human life. I'm obviously not alone in my inability to confront the issue, but I am so fortunate to date, thus far, that my and Craig's immediate families and much of extended remain alive and well and we have each other, as well. I've yet to lose a friend to death and I realize time will come someday where I must face this coping issue (or lack thereof) that I tend to have, but for now, I thank my good fortune for everyone that continues to be in my life. So, of course this is my lead in for the whole tragedy of yesterday, the untimely and surprising death of young young actor Heath Ledger. I found out about it moments before I left work, and maybe this hit a little bit closer to home for me because, well, he was found dead in his SoHo apartment, a handful of subway stops away from where we live, and right on a very street where we've walked countless times on a lazy Saturday or Sunday or even on a week night in search of a place to eat. Craig thinks maybe I'm even more overwhelmed because Heath wasn't living in a far off place like LA, rather he was right here in our town. I consider other factors to play a role in my uneasiness, such as his age (28) or the fact that he was only one of an elite group of actually talented rising male stars (his shining performance in Brokeback Mountain even aside), or the fact that he left behind a recently-split relationship with the young mother of his only child, or the fact that his family is from Australia and undoubtedly is remorseful for the time they never got to have with him after his rise to American stardom. Throw into it the fact that he has commented in recent interviews how disturbing it was to play the Joker in the unreleased Batman movie (looking dark in a sinister fashion as in that of the previous Christian Bale Batman flick), or how he couldn't sleep and even prescription sleeping pills weren't aiding sleep. We go through life doing all of this stuff, this work, panicking, worrying, eating poorly during times of mad stress, lashing out at loved ones, feeling generally unwell and obviously these things yield a result. For him, it was this. He has never been a big target of the press - he's been one of those low key guys that shows up in a film and is a delightful surprise. He's never been on the in-and-out-of-rehab list, or the arrested-for-being-a-generally-stupid-rich-celebrity list. Hollywood is stunned right now, rightfully so. And so an unfortunate thing like this makes you stop to think. Plus, I considered him an artist more than others in his industry (it takes a different kind than the manufactured variety we so often see) (borrowing the word "manufactured" from one of his interviews from a few years back, that being something he didn't want to be), and this is such a tragic event for people sharing the stage in his industry. I can't boast to be his biggest fan, but I do feel sad for the loss - for people my age, for people who loved him and knew him to be a good soul.

With that, I transition to cooking, because it continues to be the highlight of my work weeks and resolves my woes. Monday night I was feeling particularly curious as to what I could find in the way of low Weight Watchers points, yet totally filling and mostly healthy. I arrived at a Mushroom Lasagna recipe which received 5 stars from reviewers on Cooking Light's site. Craig and I are both pretty big fans of mushrooms, I believe. It's been an evolving love that we share since we joined forces and started eating together regularly back when. I don't know if either of us cared much for them before. Nevertheless, the lasagna also features a layer of spinach, milk, flour, parmesan cheese and oregano, along with a layer of the delicious blend of cremini and button mushrooms, parsely, garlic and leek as posted above. The end result was terrific (with a layer of parm ontop and melted fontina) and rang in at a low total of 5 points for one large slice! It's amazing how one can cut points by omitting meat! Then last night I swung by Food Emporium at 86th and 2nd and grabbed a variety of vegetables: red pepper, green pepper, carrot, onion, portobella mushrooms - and simmered a garden bolognese sauce, using fat-free marinara. For some reason, this came out tasting primarily too spicy (which we typically love) with an undertone of Too Much Celery (I forgot to note on my list of acquired vegs.) I served it ontop of whole wheat bowties (cute) with fresh shredded Romano cheese (wonderful flavor but a harder cheese so better for us) but the whole thing was less than desirable, really. And now I've got a fridge full of single servings of this dish and really I'm uncertain that we'll want leftovers of this at work - but alas, we might be stuck with it Friday. Tomorrow night is Sharon's poetry book release in the Lower East Side and we're dining at a fun looking Indian place that she recommended nearby beforehand. I'm excited for Craig to meet Sharon. I've spent a year with her and they've never met! She's terrific.*Tonight is my attempt at a homemade pesto made with milk-soaked white bread, basil leaves, walnuts, Romano, olive oil and garlic. It's going to be an interesting concoction. The pesto will be tossed with whole wheat penne. I'm serving it with steamed cauliflower - for some reason, that just seems right. And see, to post about food has already lifted my spirits. I've come to the raw conclusion that cooking soothes my soul. It's just a shot as to whether the eating of it will match!*This weekend, we're off to Paul and Karen's wedding in Cinci. It will be nice to step foot on Midwest soil. We've never been to Cinci together, so we're conquering another town. Did I mention Craig is taking me to Burlington, Vermont for my 31st this year? He has been researching it like crazy and is so thrilled to go. Alison and Scott have been twice recently and love it there. So we're excited. That's something to look forward to about turning 31! And aside, I think 31 is a very attractive age. It's like the gateway into adulthood. Or something like that.*

January 19, 2008


It's Saturday morning and our weekend is fairly mapped out. Not to worry - there are plenty of isolated hours for us to have to ourselves in the apartment keeping warm, doing chores and what not. Last night we toyed with eating out, however after Craig turned his nose up at my invitation to sushi (I know we just had it not long ago and it was soon, too soon to make a return trip for raw fish!) and not only did he flat-out refuse, but he made up some nonsense about Ooki smelling like a dirty fish tank! So instead of eating out I cooked at home. First of all, I must once again point out the small town that is New York City. Thursday night after work there were service alerts for our regular commute so we detoured at 74th Street in Queens and took an E. I will, on occasion, do this, but I by no means have a favored car on the E train as we do on the 4, 5 and 7 lines that we consistently ride. We got on the E and I took a seat next to a young guy about our age reading, of all things, Jaws (yes, the killer shark Jaws). It was a tattered copy and I glanced at the guy and he had blue earplugs in, for some reason - so that's two oddities - reading Jaws and wearing blue earplugs. So, yesterday we once again detoured on the E, because the E takes us to the 6 Local train and Craig was going to take it to 96th to stop at Blockbuster and I was going to travel to either Food Emporium or C-town in search of mangoes. Half-hidden behind another man, Craig noticed another set of hands holding a tattered copy of Jaws. Craig said, "Did we see that same guy yesterday or is that guy also reading Jaws?" The other man was standing at a position where I could not see the reader's head's ears' possible plugs. Of course, as all things go on the trains, people shuffle about and things change, and sure enough, the man standing moved and there they were - the blue earplugs! That means two days in a row we saw the same guy on a train we rarely ride, same car. This City is small!*So, I found an interesting recipe on Cooking Light's site whose ingredients seemed more like a science experiment to me than cooking. I find that that is what keeps me from being bored in the kitchen, when a recipe tends to be more art/science than a basic ground beef tomato sauce on spaghetti, etc. The title of the recipe is Curried Chicken Penne with Mango Chutney (or something to that effect). Chutney! Homemade chutney! I don't even like fruit stuff. The chutney is comprised of diced mango, chopped onion, brown sugar, black pepper, lime juice, salt, ginger, curry powder and water and the chicken is cut into small bites and sauteed with garlic then simmered in lite coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, salt and sugar (I'm potentially forgetting stray ingredients) with broccoli florets - crazy! I know I'm not at the level of cooking where gourmet is an adjective I'd toss around, but I do much appreciate probing Cooking Light for their curiously more adventurous fare. And Craig came over to me last night while I was cooking, and he said the sweetest thing about how he's grateful that I try new things and am unafraid (all the while I was making homemade chutney - look at me go!) The final dish was everything combined mixed up with whole wheat penne. It was really pretty fantastic - spicy, not at all sweetened by the mango and the amount of sugar, and for Weight Watchers, one serving is a low tally of 4 points! And a serving is 1 cup and 1/3rd! not the usual 1 cup of pasta. We were both pretty pleased so this recipe will now step into the rotation for a weekend night (prep time is pretty lengthy, dicing 2 mangoes and measuring everything out) but it's one that I may get better at with practice, much like my roasted red pepper sauce for chicken or my spicy chicken cakes with horse radish aioli - all much thanks to Cooking Light for finding its way into my kitchen and giving me all the more reason to monitor what we eat.*Now it's off to Lord & Taylor and Macy's. Bagels first. Happy January-random weekend, New York.

January 17, 2008


It's hard to tell in this photograph but New York City did get a little bit of snow today! It didn't really fall until we left work, at which point there was a blend of varying precipitation types - rain, sleet, snowish stuff. But by the time we traveled into Manhattan and Craig sent me right to Uptown Cafe to wait while he ran to our street, grabbed his laundry, dropped it at the apartment and came to meet me, snow flurries were flying. In fact, the hostess at Uptown seated me in a corner deep into the restaurant, and even with my pathetic eyesight I could still see the snow turning circles in the window by the street. Craig met me and we ate dinner - I selected a grilled salmon dish which was alright - the "Mediterranean Salsa" was ice cold and consisted of pureed tomatoes and olives and some whole olive bits - the steamed vegetables were alright - but the salmon itself was on target, and Craig ordered pork chops in an apple glaze, which makes me shudder even to think, although he did enjoy it enough to finish the whole plate of it. The atmosphere at Uptown is okay, too, although tonight I felt like we are too old for it. We're young, but we're in need of quiet, dim, intimate places that invite conversation - not loud, dish-clanking, cocktail-serving trend-setting settings in which we feel out of place. Nonetheless, one of my bosses' cousins owns the place, and we keep meaning to grab "the Dennis discount." So far we haven't done so. I bet next time if we did, we might be treated specifically well.*It's late, and I told myself tonight wouldn't be a night to extend beyond 10. We stayed awake until midnight + last night (embarrassing) watching our recorded Tuesday night of American Idol, and we were laughing so hard we were practically punching each other. It's an ugly American guilty pleasure, watching that show, but it turns real life into clouds of dust while watching - at least you get a taste of weird America, weirder than what you think you might do all day. We still have Wednesday night's episode to watch sometime later this week, but I can guarantee, we will have to schedule the viewing of it. Friday (tomorrow! TGIF!!) we come home and I will cook something light (thank heavens - I'm gaining weight right back as if I'm not even thinking, which is awful, because I swear I'm being cautious) and we will watch something mindless and go to bed early. Saturday morning I have some gift cards to knock out - some at Macy's and at Lord & Taylor (what the heck am I going to buy at either one...sheesh...) and Craig wants to swing by Men's Warehouse (sp??) to have a coat tailored for Paul and Karen's wedding next weekend in Cinci. Saturday night we're going to eat Korean (if Jeff agrees) and see a late show at Joe's Pub, and Sunday we're going to clean/relax/and go see little Langston and his parents in the evening. The days just chalk themselves off if you're not careful. And it's rough for me, because I like to be quiet and still and just look at Craig - admire who he is - but when we're on the go we have fun, too.**Time to go find some sleep!

January 15, 2008


I had this picture stashed in my camera and was saving it for a quick post about our new friends Michelle and Al and hanging out with them last Saturday. We met them in SoHo around 7 and stopped for a drink at the Cub Room, where Craig and I have eaten a pretty decent lunch before. Michelle and I drank wine and Craig and Al drank beer and we caught up after our returns from Mexico. Michelle has two children (Al is stepdad and hockey coach to the boy, Ben) and they were able to drop them with family and travel from Jersey into Manhattan to meet us. After a drink, we walked to Dos Caminos at West Broadway. Our reservations were shifted from a floating table in the middle of the dining room to a booth, which we all preferred anyway, and we ordered their feature homemade guacamole, which yes, was very good. I've had notably as good guac at Taco Taco right here on 2nd Ave, but that's okay - Dos Caminos did a nice job. Their Sangria was pretty stand-up as Sangria goes, too. We ate our entrees and had fun conversation and then following dinner, Michelle and Al had been encouraged by a friend of theirs to go to Ferrara in Little Italy (very nearby). Evidently a mother of one of the boys who plays on Ben's hockey team, coached by Al, is part-owner or is related to the owner of Ferrara, and Ferrara has been around since the late 1800's with renowned espresso (the first? ever??) and desserts. So, we went because Michelle and Al felt strongly that we couldn't turn down such an invite, and wow, were we glad we did go (see above photograph for details). We were herded in front of a long line of people waiting to get into Ferrara near midnight, seated immediately and served the coffees and desserts we ordered promptly. Then Al tried to obligatorily pay at the end of our Ferrara experience, and our waiter told us, "Management has taken care of you." Nice!! So it was not only fun and delicious, but also free! We thanked Michelle and Al profusely for their kindness. Then we managed to crash a birthday party at a bar across the street, which is another story for another time. I just wanted to make it clear yet again that living in New York is a constant unfolding of events, whether it's free dessert and coffee at Ferrara or a dinner on a client at Giando on the Water in Brooklyn, which we're going to schedule for February 2nd, the evening following an afternoon performance of SYREN, my friend's wife's modern dance company based here in New York. Perhaps I should insert here that we're going to Joe's Pub with Lauren's boyfriend next Saturday night for a show, after eating Korean at St. Mark's Place, and that the next weekend we are headed to Cinci to see our old co-worker and good friend Wojo get married...oh, and wait, this Sunday, my friend Jen from college is traveling to NYC and bringing her new baby Langston and we will see them at an Embassy Suites on the West Side for a couple of hours. And there are a lot of new social events scheduled for January and February, and while we completely love staying home and being quiet, we also love the thrill of the social activity that seems to arise steadily. I'm excited to spend time with people we love in 08. I'm excited to see 08 unfold and become one of the best years we've ever had.*

January 14, 2008


It's growing late on a Monday and I've got too much happening in the next half an hour to post long, but I did want to explain commuting in New York, as if I haven't already. Our mornings consist of running around the apartment between 5-something and 6.30 and then we hit the street, this time of year bundled in ample amounts of clothing and coats and boots and gloves and in the summer just praying we don't sweat too much en route to the train. The subway station, regardless of time of year, is several layers of heat. You can feel the different layers beginning on your face and suffocating all the way down to your toes. It's especially uncomfortable when you're in your already-several-tiered layers of clothing during these brutal winter months. If a train isn't parked waiting for you, which is a rarity anyway, and there are commuters milling about looking uncomfortable in their layers of clothing and the layers of subway station heat, it's fairly much a given that no train has been to the station in a while and when one does plan to arrive, it will be stuffed to the absolute gills with uneasy riders. So, that's morning. I could go on to describe hurrying through 42nd Street down the stairs and as fast as we can along the 7 train platform so that we make it to the second to the first car headed Main Street Flushing-bound, or I could mention the New York commuters who think stopping to dial their cell phone in an open threshhold where only four people can fit through and are anxious to get to their destination is okay, or there are those who try to dive out of the train ahead of you at Grand Central likely knowing full well every single person surrounding them is also getting off at Grand Central. But what I really want to mention here, given the fact that I had big plans of leaving work at 5 (and executed said plan) and stopping for groceries to make Craig a Cooking Light fried rice recipe, is that I reached 59th Street with little delay, catching a happily accidental 7-express train for several stretches leaving Flushing, and quickly enough catching a W at Queensboro Plaza, and then...59th Street. I headed down the stairs to the Express track where the 4/5 have next stop at 86th Street, our stop. There sat a train waiting, doors open. On your way down a flight of subway stairs, you can hear a train groaning if it's sitting there. I could hear that a train awaited its next departure as I thundered down the stairs astride all the other anxious commuters. And then there is this disappointing lull in life as you see the sea of heads bobbing around the platform - something is the matter - people aren't stuffing into the train for a quick depart. No, there was an "incident" earlier at the 86th Street Station and therefore all Uptown Express Trains are running at slow/no speeds. Or so the gargled overhead announcement sort of helps you to realize. I performed the whole obligatory Get on the Train and Hope Today's Your Lucky Day, and five - ten minutes in realized I was on the fast track to no place, so I got off with the rest of the swarms and climbed the upward escalator to get to the 6 Local train. I was about 2/3rds of the way up on the escalator when the weight of several hundred people must have jarred the thing - after all, it is just a huge conveying belt likely incapable of emotionally and physically carrying the weight of that many angry commuters - because it lurched to a halt, and commuters were driven forward at the force. Screams and pushing ensued. I was scared enough from the blunt shove of escalator to human as it was - I didn't take kindly to those prone to freaking out as they shoved and shouted! Luckily, the 6 platform was a mess of New York therefore the escalator had little room to dump its panic and we all cushioned each other in one way or the next. I waited for 3 trains before I finally caught a 4th 6 Local. And I hurried to the grocery which didn't have a fraction of what I needed to make chicken/shrimp fried rice. I found my miserable way home and Craig had already arrived, having missed a majority of the chaos, and I sent him off to C-Town for the remaining ingredients Key Food didn't have. And wouldn't you know, my dinner was terrific, after all the mess I put myself through just to get home tonight.*Craig is watching 3.10 to Yuma and I'm going to work on a story for Sharon and head to bed. What a night. What times being in New York City that will just not be forgotten.

January 12, 2008


Our weekend is here - TGI the weekend. After another rough week at work, our first full work week since December 21st!, we struggled to get to Friday. We decided on the train yesterday morning that we were going to get out of the apartment and embrace New York this morning. Last night was chill out night with KB-cooked chicken with roasted red pepper sauce, creamy parm orzo and broccoli and higher-quality-than-usual red wine and movies. Craig slept through part II. of the first movie and I missed the second movie altogether!, but that didn't bother me much as it was the Bourne something or other and while I can get into those if I last through the first 10 minutes, I don't feel as though life will stop if I miss any of Jason Bourne's (is that even his name??) misadventures. This morning I was out of bed before 9 and woke Craig not long after so we could get our "early start". By 10, we were walking down 2nd Avenue in search of a place for breakfast. We had discussed a place called Vynl at 78th but weren't completely sold on it (I thought maybe Big Daddy's, a new diner further north, might suffice, until we saw that it didn't open until 11) but wound up at Vynl anyway and would you look at that!, we were seated at the Prince circa 1984 table as shown above. The food and coffee were alright but more fun than that was the rock'n'roll atmosphere, and there are 2 other locations of Vynl in Manhattan, one on the West Side and one, what do you know, in Hell's Kitchen, which we speculated might be the original location.*After breakfast we headed west on 78th to 5th Avenue. We elected today a
perfect Central Park Stroll Day because the weather is milder than typical for January 12 (Happy Birthday to my Dad, by the way!!) and we were bundled enough to keep warm in the shade of the buildings en route to the Park. We entered the Park at 77th and wandered south, borrowing 731 Lexington (a newer NYC landmark skyscraper) as our indication of our location in the Park, but also really just meandering and snapping photos for the other blog site (to be updated eventually this weekend after our Saturday night with Michelle and Al.) We walked the Mall, which we've never done before and which we fantasized covered in a thick veil of snow for a Christmas card picture someday, and we rounded the southern tip of the Park where Wollman Rink is located (unfortunately, no one was skating because the zamboni was ice cleaning).
We continued to walk west and head north along the perimeter of the Park, snapping photos for memories and holding hands and taking great pleasure in the fact that Central Park is virtually our back yard. We detoured a bit on the west side to see Strawberry Fields, which I haven't seen in years, not since a trip years ago to New York with Craig when we first fell in love with all things New York (and I will say this much: I had no internal New York compass back then, and since I have one now, the actual location of Strawberry Fields versus what I imagined - so to speak - its location to be when I had no idea where I was ever when in New York, is drastically different!!!)
It's neat to stand at this memorial regardless of your adoration level of the Beatles or John Lennon. There's a distinct experience of love for humanity that one feels in the spirit of their music, standing here where a guy sprinkles rose petals and mumbles about peace and sways a little to the 60's music playing from a nearby boombox. The memorial is always re-decorated with flowers, cards, peace symbols, small guitars as seen above - it's a pretty cool thing to see when you're in New York, regardless of music connection one may or may not have.*After this, we headed east again in the direction of home, stopping for some roasted nuts and a water. I scheduled an appointment to clean up my eyebrows on 86th Street so Craig helped me kill some time at an interesting old coffee shop between 2nd and 1st on 86th. We had vanilla lattes and then I went to my appointment and now we're home, resting for our evening plans. We're meeting Michelle and Al, our friends we met in Mexico, for dinner at Dos Caminos at West Broadway and Houston Street. It's funny that I arranged to meet them at a Mexican restaurant, since we met in Mexico!, but Craig and I have been meaning to go to Dos Caminos for a while now. They are operated or owned by the B.R. Guest corporate entity which boasts many eateries in the City, but regardless of "chain" status, we've heard Dos Caminos has excellent guacamole. I bet they serve a mean margarita, too. After that, we will hit a couple of bars. Other friends of ours might meet us out also.*I love living in this City, if I haven't made it abundantly clear already, time after time, word after word. Living here is like living in a million different places all at once - it's like meeting a dozen new people every time you turn around, it's like learning an ounce more about yourself every time you step foot in another direction. Times like today where we walk and take it all in are important. Some people might take this thing for granted, living here, but I never want to do that, not if we are here for 1 more year or here for the rest of our lives. New York City is amazing, abundant, admirable and important. Living here is so...right.
Here's to more New York for Craig and me and for everyone else who gets to have it too!**

January 08, 2008


I spotted this photo op a couple of weekends ago on our Tour de SoHo New Year's Day. I told Craig my mom would love it - it's a fur coat store with a bunch of Barbies coated in their own furs as the window display! How glamorous! Fun! Only in New York City, or maybe in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere that likes Barbie Dolls.*I'm really writing just to unwind from the day. It was another wildly busy workday, with so many things happening at full tilt one right after the next that I just want to sit here and not think about it for maybe one hour. Craig and I traveled home together on the train and ducked into Ooki Sushi on 3rd Ave for dinner. We ordered a summer roll appetizer, spicy tuna roll, a Midnight Express roll and a Big Daddy roll. Ooki Sushi is my favorite sushi place in our neighborhood. It's warm, dim and relaxing and the sushi is pretty and delicious. I love sushi, love wasabi, and love the experience of it. The only problem really was the rowdy threesome next to us, and since restaurants in Manhattan typically seat between 20 and 50 only, sitting next to a rowdy threesome is like sitting with them. The married couple are business entrepreneurs (annoying to hear them boast about themselves) and the single lady with them was wasted on sake and throwing her arms all around. It sort of sucked the conversation out of Craig and me but we still managed to slide a few sentences across the table to one another and laugh on our way out at their lunacy. It's not like we've never been rowdy before. Just not on your average Tuesday.*I believe this week will cruise by quickly. Friday I will cook a warm dinner at home and we will either watch movies or Lost on DVD. Saturday I suspect I will finally get some writing done, after all the distractions and interruptions, but Saturday night we are meeting with Michelle and Al of Mexico (of Jersey, but who we met in Mexico!) for dinner in SoHo (hi, Michelle and Al!) That will be fun to see them out of our swim-up bar universe! And Sunday will be quiet. I love a quiet Sunday.*This past weekend we ventured over to Hell's Kitchen. We feverishly rotate what neighborhood we'd like to live in next, but right now the target is Hell's Kitchen. How cool is that to say? "Hi, I live in Minnesota, where do you live?" "Hell's Kitchen in New York City." Yeah! Yeah! Only problem I really foresee is that it is expensive. We're not talking Upper East Side Manhattan expensive (which is), we're talking, "I'm totally made of money, I live in Hell's Kitchen" expensive. It's probably out of the question. But a girl can dream, right?? Walking through the neighborhood there was nice. It's quiet - in the W. 40's and 50's between 8th, 9th and 10th avenues and seemingly much more of a community than our neighborhood, which is more like a giant frat party with some delivery guys on bicycles and a combo of ugly terrier dogs and the 2nd Avenue Subway Line construction. Oh, I shouldn't be a brat about my corner of Manhattan, because I do love it with a fierce passion. I just wouldn't mind experiencing another piece of the puzzle, and Hell's Kitchen seems like a fine place to spend time.*It's a little after 9 and that means time to fade to bed. I can't believe how quickly the days go by. I'm glad Craig's part of the project will carry us beyond the December 08 chronology of the project and on into mid 09. I'd gladly continue to brave the commute until late 09 or early 2010, whatever might keep us in New York, whatever might sway us to stay urbanites.*

January 06, 2008


Warning: film spoilers straight ahead for Juno. Do not proceed if you've not seen and plan to see the movie.

Last week was rough. I mean, come on, we spent 11 days out of the office and then returned for a 3-day work week, much of which consisted of responding to emails, voicemails, inboxes, and filling outboxes...how traumatic. But Thursday night we decided to go to the theater at 85th and 1st and see Juno. I am a huge proponent of Apple Movie Trailers - on any given weekend afternoon, if I'm unable to write a word, unable to post an entry, unable to concentrate on anything in general, I will surf the Apple Movie Trailers and find potential movie options for Craig and me for months to come. Gosh, it's especially entertaining now, whatwith the 22" beauty of a monitor! But I digress. Not long ago, I happened upon the trailer for Juno. I actually called Craig into the computer room to force him to watch the trailer (unless I'm confusing it with another trailer??) and his response? "Looks brutal." Or maybe we saw it on tv or in front of another movie as a preview and that was his reaction. Either way, he fairly well understood up front that it would be something I'd want to see immediately. So, we headed to Choux, our favorite new coffeeshop on 1st, only to find it was closed (closed!) on Thursday night around 6.30, wound up instead at the sold out competitor (Starbucks), swallowed some latte and wandered to the theater. I was feeling pretty excited - it's a film written by a woman and has gotten nothing but outstanding reviews, so I really wanted to see it. Oh! It was so amazing. It won both of our hearts, mine and Craig's alike. It was funny, sweet, poignant, smart, clever, frank and nothing near the dark comedy I expected; instead, it was heartfelt, uplifting and hilarious! If I had to criticize, the first 10 minutes are a little forced. There is cryptic teen language and an awkward overall intro - aside from the cute teen guzzling an oversized plastic monster Sunny D, soon enough which you learn is because she's trying to overhydrate herself for a few pregnancy tests at a local mini mart. The opening credits, consisting of a part-animated version of the teen girl walking through the streets of her small town to get to the mini mart, stopping every so often to drain more Sunny D, last a little long. But once the film really begins and gets to the heart of introducing each character, a limited cast of all likeable characters, you're completely drawn in. Even the blonde best friend, who might tend toward the popular crowd but still finds her happiest moments with her offbeat pregnant best friend, is to love. Michael Cera plays an impressive high school geek with nothing but adoring qualities. He reminds me exactly of the love I shared with my best friend from high school for Brian Krakow. And the father and the step-mom become lifelike parents right away. There are small details that are not to be missed, such as the hamburger phone in Juno's room, and the fact that her real mom sends her a cactus each year. Some details are over the top, like the "chair" and the obsession with music that Jason Bateman's character shares with Juno. Speaking of Jason Bateman, his character coupled with Jennifer Garner is absolutely a believable pairing, from the fact of her need to monopolize the decor of their house all the way to the nonchalant eyes he convincingly tosses her way in the first several scenes and throughout. Their desire to have a child is constantly one-sided, and it would take naive doe-eyed innocence like Garner's to just miss Bateman's coolness.*I could walk through scene by scene but really the thing that fulfilled the film for me is that Juno gives up the kid. It would be an unrealistic fairy tale if she were to keep it, and it would wreck the beauty of the movie. But she doesn't keep it - in fact, she doesn't see it. She simply walks it around for 9 months elaborating sarcastically on the intricacies of life and its let downs, all the while wistfully carrying a crush on her high school sweetheart Michael Cera, and at some point she encounters a reality check via Jason Bateman's and Jennifer Garner's "grown up" characters. She's enlightened a couple of times, grows closer to her step-mom and her dad plays the fatherly hero. Throughout the movie there is so much love. It reads as such a smart journey. I'm so glad to have seen it and we'll buy it on DVD right away when released - I was overjoyed at how much Craig liked it, too. More than me, after the fact, he kept saying what a great film it is. We were hooked! Hopefully Juno makes it far along enough a path to win awards. It deserves to.*

January 01, 2008


Happy New Year! The inevitable has arrived: our last day off before it's back to the grind. While I feel well rested and ready to throw myself back in head first, I'm also regretting the many pages I did not write while in flight, by the pool, here at home...and now I've procrastinated myself into a corner with only hours remaining to work on that dreadful story. No matter - I figure I will mix things up a little by posting more about Mexico, and about our recent few days, and in between I am preparing "snacks" for Craig while he bellies up to football today. We've so far had a lot of vividly-colored vegetables (healthy) and a spicy pork sausage dip (not the healthiest), but I will balance that out by making a new baked spinach parmesan dish later. We're not really eating a meal today, rather just grazing. Fine by me!*So, the above captured photo of Mexican food away from the resort might be one reason why the past four days have been a painful recovery attempt for my stomach. Thankfully, I think I'm quite back to normal. But the food there, moreso away from the resort than at it, was pretty good (at the time, at least.) We ate out a couple of times - one meal shown above at Tobasco Beach, where Craig was sorely disappointed to find out we had just missed breakfast - and another time at Pancho's downtown. We found Pancho's through our friend Al's ability to speak Spanish very well to the taxi driver (Al is a new friend who lives with his wife Michelle in Jersey, and Al is from Spain, so his Spanish, needless to say, far and away exceeds Craig's and my abilities to say "uno mas," "gracias," "no gracias," and "muy bien"). Al, who was accompanying us to Cabo with his lovely wife, requested that the taxi driver deliver us to a very authentic Mexican eaterie, and Pancho's was second to the first place he tried to take us, where lines of people waited out the door. All dining outside of the resort was good, however the buffet within the resort really got to Craig. I snapped a quick photo of the butter sculpture at the buffet shown here, and trotted it back to
the table to show Craig, who replied, "Maybe they should work less on butter sculptures and more on the food itself." Too true. But it's an all-inclusive resort - food isn't their top priority, I suppose.*Music was another thing that left me a little empty. We're both self-appointed music snobs, and while I guess we could have listened to our iPods by the pools, that would indeed take away from the overall social atmosphere. Therefore we were subjected to early morning Mexican music medleys, which I didn't mind because they were appropriate and festive, followed by Christmas songs of varying degrees of excellence, topped with American pop that neither of us really go for ever, and mixes were rounded out with that Four Non Blondes song called "What's Up" which must have blasted from the speakers at the pool at a minimum of every five songs. What's up is right. But really, again, we weren't there for the music, or for the food. We were there for the sunshine, and the beach, and the Pacific, and to get away. Added bonuses included but were not limited to...
large crustaceans...
and the mystery cot. Every other day in Cabo we left the "Do Not Disturb" sign hanging on the door to let the staff know that they need not enter and clean each day (that would have been wasteful and quite unnecessary as Craig and I were hardly ever in the room, much less are we dirty humans.) However, on the last night, the night we spent out late dancing at Cabo Wabo with the whole group of friends we'd made, the night we wound up talking to Al and Michelle at the resort Sport Bar until young hours of the morning, we entered our room and discovered the above shown cot. Craig and I looked to the cot, looked to one another, looked around at the otherwise unkempt room (we had left the "Do Not Disturb" sign our last day) and Craig said, "Did we come into the wrong room?" I stared at the cot like it was going to grow teeth and attack us and I said, "We didn't order that..." but it was easy to quickly laugh off such a very bizarre incident after such a luxurious and enjoyable trip. Craig won't let me post any of the above shown photos on our page, including the mystery cot!, therefore I took the liberty to post them here. We have many, many, many more, too many to share because they become redundant (repeat of our London trip circa January 2007) but for now, that's Mexico in a nutshell. Fun, relaxing, hilarious at times, and downright memorable.*Meanwhile today marks the 4th New Year's Day I've spent with Craig as his doting roommate. These past 4 days home have been wonderful. We spent a lot of time just staying home and recovering, cleaning the apartment, unpacking, eating bagels, eating at Yura, taking it generally easy...then yesterday, New Year's Eve, we headed out to a neighborhood that hugs SoHo, in the vicinity of West 4th, and wandered the streets enjoying the mild skies and brisk day. We ducked into the SoHo Room, a nice cozy bar, then happened upon an awesome bar at W. 3rd and Sullivan Street, my favorite in the City so far no kidding! called Shade (or, The Shade Bar). They serve crepes (jokes could be heard at neighboring tables about the "little tiny pancakes" reference from Talladega Nights!) but I guess Craig and I stupidly assumed crepes to be desserts filled with gooey chocolate or heavy cream and powdered with sugar, but no, were we mistaken...the waiter came over and informed us that the lunch special was any item off the menu, crepe, salad, sandwich, soup, plus one 10-oz. draft beer, for $9. Of course, intrigued at the idea of eating crepes, we scanned the menu to find that crepes can be filled with anything! Anything! And we could even request multi-grain crepes as an alternative to the greasy unhealthy regular ones! (As if I have any previous experience with crepes to know what they're really like!) So Craig ordered roasted red pepper, mozzarella and ham and I ordered brie, ham and roasted garlic. Oh, they were yum! And where we sat, near the kitchen, smelled amazing. And through the heavy velvet curtains leading to the kitchen Craig noticed that crepes can be purchased from the street through a window! It's such a totally cozy warm inviting place, and the crepes' filling options had us both positive we will return again and again. In fact, there was discussion, and has been ongoing, that we should move into some other Manhattan neighborhood (not knocking ours, of course, because I love it for what it's worth) like maybe the one where we hung out yesterday. Maybe Manhattan is authentic Manhattan whatever corner you find yourself in, but in bars like that, where we sat breathing in the warm scent of crepes, where we listened to mellow Bob Dylan from soft speakers overhead (real Bob Dylan - positively 4th street old school Bob Dylan, the stuff I wouldn't know where to find if I tried! - I said, "Craig, where do I get this Bob Dylan??" the kind where it's mostly harmonica and a few guitar chords and breathy lyrics not sung in iambic pentameter but in a haphazard old school Bob Dylan kind of way - the kind you can't really hum in your head later because it's not catchy)...and tin pan ceilings and exposed brick and mismatched throw pillows in the windows...the place seats 20 maybe...anyway, I fell in love with it. I told Craig it felt like the kind of place where I could sit with a notebook and no one would look twice at a girl with a notebook daydreaming out the window.*Moving on, we also had a beer at a totally weird bar called The Slaughtered Lamb (going in we had English pub-feel hopes and coming out we were just perplexed at the Wolf-Eats-Flesh theme throughout!) and we finished the day at Vol de Nuit, which at one time, my friend Lauren explained to me, was called Belgian Bar. It's lit red and serves such Belgian beers as Leffe and Chimay and Delirium Tremens. Craig called Kara and wished her a happy new year and then we headed back home to rest for our continuation of a Belgium New Year theme. We had reservations at B. Cafe at 75th and 2nd, where we ate mussels for his 31st birthday earlier this year. The dinner was a pre-fixed 5-course meal, with champagne toast, hors d'hoeurves of cubed pickled beets, cubed cheese and olives, a smooth potato soup with truffles and chives (our fave of the meal), lobster cocktail, a lemon sorbet dunked in a shot of vodka (Craig said, "to cleanse the palate??") and our main course of angus prime rib - mine with bernaise and his with red wine - and finished off with a chocolate-on-chocolate log draped in silky chocolate sauce (Weight Watchers would gladly dock me 1,000 points for dessert alone!) Near the end of dinner we were feeling a little rushed. We had so much fun eating like that but we had decided to head to a party at our friend Sharon's on the Upper West Side, and by dessert and coffee time, it was nearing 11. We had no idea what the cab scenario would bring, and while we weren't traveling too far (Sharon is at W. 100th) we wanted plenty of time to get there, pour a drink, greet our friends that we knew (Lauren, Jeff, Amanda, Megan, Shavonne, Sharon) and meet those we did not already know, and yet ring in 08. It all worked out just fine, and in fact we were glad we went to the party - everyone raved about our tans (which are on the road to fade but that's ok! It's fun to be tan briefly!) and the brand new 100th anniversary ball was dropped as scheduled and Times Square on tv looked like a mess but it's so fun being near for it! and we wound up staying at the party until 4-something, before catching a cab with Lauren and Jeff to head to the East Side before they continued on to Long Island City. Shew. It's been nice, this whole thing, this whole time off. Craig is more relaxed right now than ever, and it contributes a really sweet sentiment to his personality. It isn't that he doesn't try to accommodate always, but when he's happy, it glows on him, the same as for anyone. And I like to be around any Craig any which way, but relaxed Craig is particularly an enjoyable one! I have promised him, and he has promised me, an absolutely amazing 2008. We're closing in on a lot of things. It's nice - it feels good to accomplish.*Happy New Year! Hope for the best.