Friday, September 28, 2007

New Blog!

I have a new blog:
Please continue to read my new adventures!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Goodbye to New York…and to my old life

The time has come for me to say goodbye to New York City - my home for the past 3 months. Although it was a short stint, it was long enough for me to explore the city the way I wanted to. Living in the cutest little apartment in a historic lower east side neighborhood next to Chinatown and Little Italy, I found myself a charming local coffee shop at 88 Orchard where I’d spend hours reading or writing my blog while sipping on chai. I tried out countless amazing restaurants, enjoyed Sunday brunches, attended a fashion show, concerts, and various events, visited museums, saw a couple Broadway shows, learned how to salsa and how to walk at lightning speed (or you'll get trampled by the stampede of Manhattanites), reconnected with old friends and met new ones. Although New York was never on the top of my list of cities to live in, it was a pleasant surprise that turned out to be a fantastic way to spend my spring. The only thing I didn't get to do was perfect my New York accent for Benny my Aussie pal: GIT DA FOCK OUT DA HEEYA!

Just over a year ago, I never would have imagined my life the way it has turned out. This past May, May 8th to be exact, marked what would have been my 3rd wedding anniversary. I was once married to someone I’ve been with since I was a child – well, I had just turned legal when we first met. Although it was not happily ever after, my marriage was not a mistake by any means. It was more like a practice or starter marriage. When you have dated someone for half your life, you become so comfortable in the relationship that you don’t dare question whether it really is right for you (or at least you don’t verbalize it even to yourself.) So you live through your 20’s unsure of who you are and what you want. And the next thing you know, you are walking down the aisle marrying who you thought or wanted desperately to be the love of your life. It took moving to the other side of the world (Tokyo last year) to give me the courage to face the truth and do something about it. The truth was: no matter how much we loved each other and what a great husband he might have been, we weren't right for each other. Staying true to my zodiac horse sign, I was born a free spirit where the world is my home. I needed to be set free from my 2500 sq. ft. cage in the zoo of suburbia. And along the way, I was also setting him free – allowing him to devote his love to someone else to settle down with who can provide the life and family he so desires, someone else who truly deserves his love, someone else who is not me.

The day I took off my wedding band, platinum entwined with diamond pave rose gold, and gingerly placed on his dresser, I felt as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. This sense of newfound freedom – that I could now live the life I’ve always wanted to live but was too afraid to even dream of before – I would never trade for all the Dior shoes in Manhattan. And since then, I’ve quit my job in Tokyo, happily added to the statistics of the other 50% of marriages, fell in love with someone who may have seemed too different from me but turned out to be perfect for me, lived a month in India where drug experimenting was not optional but required, learned how to cross country ski and almost skied right into a half frozen stream at 4 in the morning, did a road trip from Tahoe to Utah to Colorado, and snagged a short-term contract in NYC.

I feel like I’ve crammed and lived a lifetime in the past year and it’s only just begun. Now I'm off to spend the rest of the summer in Colorado where my boyfriend lives. Our only agenda is to go fishing, rafting, hiking, biking, and camping. Yea camping... I’m sure my friends who’ve known me for years must be asking incredulously, “Are you for real?” YES I AM. We're renting llamas for a 6-day camping trip on the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Being with Justin, a real mountain boy, brings out a whole new side of me that may have always been there but suppressed for way too long. Being with someone who shows me there’s so much more to life than Gucci bags and a luxury brownstone in suburban MD allows me to finally live. After the summer ends, we plan to spend the rest of the year living in Southeast Asia where the most beautiful women were once men.

This is where I sign off and retire my blog. But I will be back with my next adventure. So long and GIT DA FOCK OUT DA HEEYA!

Pictures: 1-2: My Neighborhood. 3: Barbie dollhouse in Times Square Toys R Us. 4: My Karaoke Goodbye Party. 5: Justin and me in India.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Fray Disaster

My friend Kevin had tickets to the Fray concert and wanted to treat me for my birthday. As much as I was looking forward to the show (even though I only know their one song "How to Save a Life" but hey, a free show's a free show), what a disaster it turned out to be! I left work early to catch the train to meet him at Grand Central so we can go to Queens together to his friend's house where he parks his car. I should have known it was going to be a bad night when all the trains going uptown to the Bronx were shut down for 45 minutes due to blackouts caused by thunderstorms. Due to other delays, it took us another hour to get to Queens. After picking up two of Kevin's friends, we drove for about an hour to the Nikon Jones Beach Theater on Long Island. The venue was beautiful with outdoor seating right by the water and packed with screaming 15-year-olds all decked out in Abercrombie or Hollister (and the occasional high school lacrosse sweatshirts). That also explains why it was a dry venue - NO ALCOHOL!!!

It started sprinkling when the opening act (Go) was performing but then it started pouring cats and dogs midway through their act. We were not allowed to use umbrellas while the band was performing so after sitting there in the rain for 15 minutes, we decided to walk back to the entrance area which is covered. Then it started thundering with strong winds blowing but they refused to cancel the show. After 45 minutes of standing and waiting for the rain to subside with no end in sight, we decided to call it quits and walked back to our car in the heavy rain. As we ran to the car, our feet were completely soaked in 5-inch water, swimming in puddles of water in my ballet flats. But what happens after we got to our car? The rain stopped. So after another 15 minutes, we decided to go back to the stadium. Guess what happens as soon as we made it back to our seats? It started pouring again! We just couldn't win! This time we accidentally left our umbrellas in the car so we had to use trash bags they were passing out as ponchos. Again we waited for the rain to clear up but after 20 minutes of rain and thunder and wind and girls screaming, we decided one last time to join the mass exodus out of the stadium. Again. We finally made it to our car completely drenched and after about 30 minutes of driving, we realized we were driving the wrong way. Honestly it couldn't have ended any other way don't you think?

The next day Kevin found out they canceled the show after all and was rescheduled for 7/3. Unfortunately I would not be in NYC by then so I mailed Kevin back his ticket so he can take another friend to the show. So much for my free concert...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Posing Not Nude

Joe, my friend at work I’ve become close with, told me about an art project his boyfriend Jarod is currently working on: sketching the set of 22 tarot cards. My ears perked up when he asked if I’d like to pose for one of the tarot cards, as he and Cindy have already done so (with Joe as the Joker and Cindy as the Priestess.) I even volunteered to pose topless if necessary for artistic purposes. (Ok ok I knew my boobs will never look this way again when I’m 50 and they’re sagging.)

We met on a Sunday early afternoon, and after Joe treated us to brunch at a 50’s diner, we walked over to the studio in Soho. Jarod decided against the Empress card he originally envisioned for me. Instead, I’d pose as the Lust/Strength card as depicted by Beauty and the Beast. I’d play the Beauty (shut up!) and the kitschy goat devil necklace they found in Chinatown would play the Beast. I stripped down to next to nothing in my pink frilly Victoria’s Secret lingerie (sponsored by my bridal shower 3 years ago which I’ve finally put to good use.) The always accommodating Joe even provided a DVD player and two DVD’s for me to choose – Madonna’s Girly Tour and a teeny bopper horror movie Jeepers Creepers.

As I lied on the couch in a very comfortable position, after about 20 minutes or so, I wanted to die. No matter what position you’re in, if you have to hold still for a long stretch of time, your body cannot help but tremble and wish to move just even half a millimeter. I turned out to be not so good of a model as I must have moved a thousand times. Every time Jarod looked down at his sketch to draw me, I quickly moved just a little bit to give my muscles a tiny break from the torture. Of course Joe had to call me out and yelled, “Stop moving Evan! You’re as bad as me!” In the end, my self-imposed two-hour long torture was definitely well worth the lovely drawing Jarod was able to miraculously achieve for his art project.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Broadway Shows

No visit to Manhattan is complete unless you see a Broadway show or two. I will never forget my first, Phantom of the Opera. Not only did it capture my heart ten years ago, it mesmerized me so much that it turned me into a fan of all musicals and plays. Now that I'm here again, I saw Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County's Spelling Bee and here are my reviews:

Avenue Q: This musical is like a light-hearted Rent with raunchy humor where the main characters are puppets. Set in NYC on fictitious Avenue Q, it's a good storyline and especially fitting for us twentysomethings trying to find ourselves while struggling to pay the bills. With songs like "Everyone's a little bit racist," it sheds light on racial stereotypes and touches upon other contemporary topics like homophobia and one-night stands with sarcastic humor and shocking vulgarity (naked puppets having sex on stage) - just the way I like it. When they sang "I wish I could go back to college," we almost had a tear in our eyes because the song truly captured our post graduation sentiments working in the real world. Here are some sample lyrics: "I wish I could go back to college. Life was so simple back then. What would I give to go back and live in a dorm with a meal plan again...I wanna go back to my room and find a message in dry-erase pen on the door!...I wish I could just drop a class...Or get into a play...Or change my major...Or fuck my T.A..." Doesn't that just tug at your heartstrings? On that note, I give it a two furry thumbs up.

Spelling Bee: With cracks on Scooter Libby and Pres. Bush and songs about erections, this laugh-til-your-stomach-hurts spelling bee should be rated PG-13. At the beginning of the "competition," the host calls out by name 4 members of the audience to be contestants. (Sidenote: My friend Andrea was one of the chosen ones when she saw the show a couple years ago. How fab!) You are not only the audience of a Broadway show, but you also become the audience of a spelling bee competition where you get to see inside those little geeks' minds as they take turns asking for a definition or word origin before spelling each word. You also get Darrell Hammond from SNL as a surprising part of the cast who, not surprisingly, has some of the funniest lines on the show. A two thumbs U-P!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Misses in the City

Although I've enjoyed just about every restaurant or social outing I've been to in the past couple months, there have been a few misses. Two weekends ago my friend Shesha visited from DC, and when you have a guest for the entire weekend, you have to cater to their whims - even when it's going to some bar to watch the Sopranos finale - a show neither one of us follows. Yep, Shesha thought it'd be a great idea to find a bar showing the finale like they do sporting events. So after dinner, we wandered over to Little Italy - and surprise surprise - found a bar where the Sopranos shot some restaurant scenes and was showing the finale for a mere 20 bucks. 20 bucks! Despite my violent protest, Shesha made me pay the $20 entrance fee to go in to the bar AND it was too crowded for both of us to have seats (which we had to carry the chairs into the bar ourselves). So she sat the first half of the show and when my legs got too tired from standing for 45 minutes, I made her give me her seat. On top of that nonsense, the show ended with a blank screen which everyone thought was a glitch in the cablebox. Funny thing is I canceled my HBO/Cinemax package after my first month here because I wasn't home enough to justify paying the $20 additional fee (oh the irony!)

Then this past weekend my other friends were visiting from DC. And although I was sick with a fever and had swollen lymph nodes on my neck, Sylvia called me a hypochondriac and made me come out to Buddakhan (9th Ave. and 16th St.) for dinner at 11:45. Again, catering to my out of town friends, I dragged myself out of bed against my better judgment. Although it was great catching up with Sylvia, Kyung and Nathan, the restaurant itself was nothing to write home about. The decor was exquisite but the food was nothing more than a glorified P.F. Chang's (which as we know is just glorified Chinese food - but at least we're actually full when we leave Pak Foo's. Yea I'm totally making up what P.F. stands for but it sounds about right.) Like anything in the city, portions are inversely related to price. When you have to pay $44 for peking duck (which you can get in Chinatown for $8), you are still left hungry and could easily go for pizza after your three-course meal.

Speaking of misses, my fever still hasn't gone away so I missed work (which as a contractor is very expensive to do) as well as my salsa lesson last night. I had tickets to see Erasure and Cyndi Lauper which I also missed. Being sick SUCKS in so many ways!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

80's Baby!!!

For those of us who spent our formative years in the 80’s, New Wave was unmistakably the heart of our musical identity as a generation. We grew up in an era that brought us the birth of MTV when it actually played music videos rather than an array of trashy reality shows that are in constant rotation today. When I heard that the tribute bands of Depeche Mode and The Cure will be playing at the Canal Room (W. Broadway on Canal) on Wednesday night, I was so excited to relive the 80’s New Wave Rave with my friend Kevin – also a big fan of aforementioned bands and 80’s music.

Unfortunately Kevin had a work charity function to attend and wasn’t able to make it until 9. Since the show started at 8, I didn’t want to go alone or miss the first hour so I decided to skip the event and moped around in my PJs instead watching the season finale of One Tree Hill. At 9:15 Kevin called and said “I’m here and they haven’t even started yet. Get your ass out of your PJ’s and come now!” I’ve never changed so fast and was in a cab and at the lounge in 10 minutes.
Blasphemous Rumours (Depeche Mode’s tribute band) was the opening act and had only performed one song by the time I got there. They sounded a lot like the real band and completed their look with nut-hugging costumes. The middle age chubby lead singer (I snagged a pic with him) even did the signature spin while playing People are People. After countless familiar songs, they ended their act with the band’s popular Just Can't Get Enough and Enjoy the Silence which the crowd went wild for.

The Cured (obviously tribute to The Cure) came on stage and looked every bit the part. They got The Cure DOWN with the crazy hair, pale skin, black eyeliner, and smudged lipstick. They opened with a dead-on rendition of Just Like Heaven - the lead singer even had all the mannerisms of Robert Smith. We were front row and center singing and dancing along to Friday I’m in Love, Lullaby (which I thought was from The Crow soundtrack but later found out it was Burn which they did not play), Love Song, and many more I can’t remember (sorry I’m not a true Cure fan like the guy next to me who knew every word to every song). When they ended their show with The Forest, a song I did not know, I was severely disappointed they did not play Pictures of You which everyone also kept screaming for. As predicted, they got back on stage and performed my favorite Cure song. Kev and I left soon after with feelings of euphoria and nostalgia, wishing it was 1987 all over again. I got in the cab and sadly returned home to 2007.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tokyo Flashback: Canyoning...Thrilling Adventure or Suicide Attempt?

Before living in Tokyo, canyoning, like sky diving, was not something I'd consider a must do before I die. I'd never even heard of it but later found out that canyoning is like rafting; instead of everyone floating on a raft, it involves walking and swimming through fast streams, navigating through canyons and jumping off waterfalls. During one of our last weekends together before everyone headed back to their home country, my friends in Tokyo wanted to do something thrilling and this was their answer. Since my notion of a physical challenge used to be wrestling girls at a Neiman Marcus Last Call ("That Gucci bag is mine, skinny white bitch!"), the idea of canyoning did not thrill me at all. I gave it a go anyway and to my surprise, I was really glad I went through with it…and survived to tell about it.

The ten of us had to meet in the lobby of our apartment building at 8am to catch the 2-hour-long train to Minakami for our full-day canyoning tour. I almost didn’t make it as I was out the night before until 5am. When we finally arrived, we were greeted by our tour guide – an overly excited stocky white guy from New Zealand in his late 30’s with long blond dreads and sun damaged skin who speaks fluent Japanese with a New Zealand accent. After we squeezed into our wetsuits, our tour guide led us through an hour of canyons and freezing cold streams before approaching our very first jump…off a 20-feet waterfall. No joke – 20 feet and no baby waterfalls to ease us in!!! That’s almost as tall as a 3-story building – which I know may not sound so intimidating but imagine looking down a steep waterfall and realizing that seconds later you’ll be free falling and potentially plunging to your death. I was scared sh*tless but volunteered to jump second right after my friend Tommy since I wanted to get my death over with as quickly as possible. With my eyes open and my nose held shut, I took the plunge. It was one of the most, if not THE most, amazing and thrilling experiences I’ve ever had. After a few hours and more terrifying waterfall jumps, the adventure finally ended. Would I do it again? HELL NO!!! But I would highly recommend it to anyone to try it once in their lifetime.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Adidas Event

My friend Prudence asked if I wanted to work at the 2007 Adidas Urban Collection event - a roadshow held around the country that made its NYC stop last Thursday. Our pay? An Adidas T-shirt and a pair of Adidas shoes (to wear at the event) plus $100. Not bad for a night of telling people they are not on the list and sneaking in free drinks. But after promising my services from 7 to midnight after a full day of work (my day job), I realized clocking in 15 hours in one day isn't really my cup of tea. But the day before the event, Adidas decided they had budget cuts and couldn't hire me for the night after all. Well god damn it! It's one thing for ME to not want to work at the event, but it's another for THEM to tell me I can't.

My severance pay was a spot on the tres exclusive guest list (no fewer than 600) and I got to bring Karen who was visiting from Maryland. The event was held at the Adidas flagship store in Soho where I spotted Prudence running around with her Adidas T-shirt and shoes (unlike me, she did not get laid off from her one-night job). There wasn't really anything too exciting going on - no fashion show, no speakers, no cake - just free drinks. It was like going to a happy hour after work at a really busy Adidas store. Karen and I were lit by 7:30 after just 2 drinks. I guess filling up your cup with pink vodka infused with caffeine with just a splash of OJ will do that to ya. There was also a semi-celebrity spotting (model wannabe from America's Next Top Model - she wasn't even the winner). Although I did not get my T-shirt and shoes, I did walk away with free drinks and a party gift (a black and pink Adidas knapsack).

Monday, June 4, 2007

Please Hold...

So I'm going to have to take a break from blogging this week because it is my go-live week at work (I have to train users how to use the damn system). Not to mention my first day of salsa class starts tonight AND my friends are visiting from Aus and DC. But I will be back next week! In the meantime, enjoy the following photos...The first picture is from Brooklyn (I can't take credit for that picture but isn't it hilarious?) The others are proofs from the photographer at my sister's wedding (which by the way, I'm breaking all kinds of copyright laws for your viewing pleasure.) And don't mind the juxtaposition of the Shit picture with my sister's wedding pics - it's not intentional at all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Zagat two...

Continued from previous post:

6. Katz’s Deli (Houston and Ludlow ): Yes – it’s the same famous deli in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan showcased her talent to fake an orgasm and the old lady next to her told the waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.” The pastrami on rye is well worth the jaw-dropping $14 they charge for a sandwich because it is hands down the best pastrami I’ve ever tasted and humongous enough for two. Get a side of sweet potato knish and a refreshing Cel-Ray (celery soda) to complete your meal. Don't let the burly guys behind the counter intimidate you - just don't lose your ticket before you pay on your way out.

7. Congee Village (Allen and Delancey): I chink you can’t go wong with the best Chinese food in town – scrumptious and cheap! (Hey only I can say that because I’m Chinese.) Try their silken tofu with mushroom and rice clay pot, steamed fish with ginger and scallions, and dow mew (Chinese spinach) stir fried with garlic - definitely not your kung pow chicken or shrimp fried rice. And if you're feeling a little adventurous, order the various frog dishes (like the deep fried frog with pepper and garlic) - it's actually very tasty.

8. Kunjip (32nd and Broadway in K-town): Mouthwatering Korean BBQ and spicy bibimbop are a must at this busy restaurant which is always a good sign. (Bibimbop is rice in a stone pot with fried egg and ground beef – make sure you mix it up really well with their red house sauce.) My only warning is your clothes will stink of Korean BBQ for days!

9. Asia de Cuba (Morgans Hotel on Madison Ave): As the name suggests, this trendy restaurant fuses Asian with Cuban cuisines. A teensy bit on the tres cher side (I’d have to sell an organ or two to be a regular patron there), but the uber hip crowd and the uber stylish décor where the bathroom door magically transforms from transparent to translucent when you shut it are enough for me to break my piggy bank for one more visit.

10. Beard Papa’s (Broadway and 8th): No list of mine would be complete without something sweet which I purposely saved for last. I was first lured by the sweet smell of cream puffs at the Beard Papa’s in Hawaii. Then I devoured the green tea and the pumpkin variety in Tokyo. When I kept passing by their location in Midtown, I just couldn’t resist. I would gladly give up my firstborn for a lifetime supply of their fondant au chocolate and royal milk tea cream puffs. The royal milk tea flavor is only available on Thursdays, but you can still get the original Vanilla any day of the week.

So here it is. Check out my recommendations for yourself and let me know if you disagree with my taste (I will pretend to give a sh*t.) The best part is you don’t ever have to repeat a restaurant in Manhattan so I can continue to expand my list. I wish I had compiled something similar while I was in Tokyo. Unfortunately, if you were to ask me for any good recommendations for your next trip there, I wouldn’t be able to remember anything to save my life…or my firstborn that I’m planning to give up for cream puffs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Zagat who?

Among the many things New York City is known for, great restaurants definitely top the list. I'm not a food critic by any means, but my lack of culinary skills and plain laziness have caused me to venture and dine out quite a bit (or maybe just within the comforts of my surrounding neighborhoods). I know when it comes to food, I'm like that guy who'll hit on anything that resembles a girl and has a pulse, because I'll eat anything that resembles food and has an aroma. Although I don’t have much of a discerning taste or a refined palette, I have compiled a list of my top ten (in no particular order):

1. Jin Sushi (Broome and Orchard): I know I’ve become a bit of a sushi snob, but delish does not begin to do Jin justice, especially for the reasonable prices. I highly recommend the Tuna Amazing roll, Spicy Lobster roll, and the Kamikaze roll. It can give Tomoe Sushi in the West Village where Madonna apparently frequents a run for its money. I need a moment…can’t believe I’m disagreeing with my idol and role model.

2. Joe's Shanghai (Pell and Bowery in Chinatown): You must order the xiao lung bao (or "soup dumplings" as white people call it) with scallion pancakes and drunken chicken (steamed chicken soaked in rice wine). Then when you're done with lunch, walk down on Bowery street and get the little egg cakes from the street vendor for dessert (they're like waffle batter in the shape of miniature eggs.)

3. Craftbar (Broadway between 19th and 20th): This is the less pricey stepchild of Craft but just as heavenly (not that I’ve ever been to Craft but I’m certain of its heavenliness.) We commenced our dinner with a Pecorino cheese fondue with honey and hazelnuts for appetizer, then the scallop with onions for entrée, and the brown sugar cake with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. The portions are a bit on the paltry side, but then again, we’re not in Chinatown anymore, Toto.

4. Momofuku Noodle Bar (First Ave and 10th): At $14 a bowl, it is a bit pricey for ramen but the perfect combination of Berkshire pork and savory noodle and broth can almost pass for authentic ramen in Tokyo (which is unlike any ramen you’ll ever taste at only $4 a bowl.) You should also get a side of steamed buns with shitake and the spicy crawfish (which I was too cheap to order but was salivating and green with food envy when my finger-licking neighbor was wolfing them down. Bastards...)

5. La Palapa (St. Marks and First Ave in East Village): I'm not a fan of Mexican food at all, but this place is excellent. Every entree we had was yummy tasty, and margaritas come in a myriad of fruit flavors which is very easy to get drunk on. For dessert, their sweet corn ice cream parfait with macadamia nuts is to die for.

Ok I’m tired and really hungry from reminiscing about all that food so I will wipe the drool off my mouth and continue with my list soon.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Way or the Subway

New York City's subway system is pretty convenient although dirty as hell. You really can get anywhere without having a car. The subway map is also easy to read and decipher on your own. Of course I miss the immaculate cleanliness and sophisticated technology of Tokyo's subway system, but at least now I can understand when the conductor announces the next stop or that we need to get off the train (since you know, it's in English and not Japanese.)

The smell of these subway stations is a whole other story: quite foul and yet distinct from each other. One station has the stench of 5-day-old urine, another smells like you're stuck in the same stall as a homeless guy with diarrhea. Then of course there's the rats. I'm not talking about the cute little mice dressing Cinderella singing "Cinderelly Cinderelly night and day it's Cinderelly..." I'm talking about the blackish gray nauseating vile vermin that crawl up and down NYC subway tracks. I even saw one on the staircase munching on popcorn at the Times Square station right before I was meeting friends for dinner (very appetizing). But once in a while - after throwing up a lung - something magical happens and it smells like honey roasted nuts. Just so happens, there was a nut stand right outside that station.

Then once you're inside the station or train, it's like opening a box of cracker jacks - you never know what you're gonna get. No matter what time of day, there's never a shortage of entertainment: dancers with their own breakdance competitions, singers performing melancholy songs like "My Heart Will Go On," and musicians playing anything from light-hearted Calypso to heart-wrenching Chinese pipa. There are also merchants selling random knick knacks, a homeless guy pretending to be a conductor and telling everyone to "Step away from the door" (which has been witnessed by people on numerous occasions but I have yet to see him in action), or just plain crazies walking up and down the train yelling obscenities. Can't wait to see what other cracker jack "prizes" I'll get to experience on the subway for the rest of my time here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

No Picnic at the Park

This past weekend we had a little picnic in Central Park. I know it’s so cliché but we had to take advantage of the perfect weather. 70-degrees with a balmy breeze and not a cloud in the sky, the weather was idyllic for having an outdoor lunch as our only agenda on a lazy Saturday afternoon. To prepare for the picnic, we packed homemade Portobello mushroom sandwiches (with tomato and basil in balsamic vinegar on wheat challah), side of artichoke, wine and cheese, and a lemon green tea cookie for dessert in a grocery bag substituting as our picnic basket. With no extra sheets or blankets to spare, I brought along three old pillowcases I found in the apartment.

When we arrived at Central Park, we found the perfect spot to lay down our makeshift blanket: singing hippies to the left, college kids playing Frisbee to the right, and a girl with fake boobs in front. We started with a wine and cheese party but quickly realized how small the 3 pillowcases were for the two of us to sit on. We then ripped them up to double the size of our “blanket.” Besides feeling like we were homeless, it worked like a charm. Who needs dignity anyway when you are already drinking wine out of a mini paper cup (you know – those little Dixie cups for brushing your teeth and making jello shots)? We finished our first bottle of wine so fast that we had to get a second bottle after 40 minutes.

We spent the next four hours people watching, eating/drinking, reading, napping in the sun, and waiting in line for the bathroom. Justin even got picked up by a drunk girl while he was in the bathroom line (I’m so proud!) Nothin’ like getting a good wine buzz (and getting hit on for some) in Central Park. We ended our perfect day with a great Mexican dinner with friends at La Palapa and capped off our night at a hookah lounge with a belly dancer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Run Forrest Run!

Jogging in 65-degree clear blue sky weather is just what I needed to unwind after a long day at work. In fact I jogged every day last week along the East River Park. But I was a bit offended when I met up with Ben for sushi and he was flabbergasted that I went for a jog. He didn't think I did anything remotely active. I mean, seriously, did you think I was naturally blessed with this body? OK maybe "blessed" is a bit of a stretch - the only thing I was ever blessed with was flab over my six-pack abs (I KNOW my six-pack is there somewhere.)

As much as I enjoy my jog, the only annoying thing about running by yourself in NYC is the gawking. Nothing to be flattered about, the gawkers can be divided into 2 categories: 1) Chinese men older than my dad who stare at you up and down as you run past them (if my dad ever did that to other girls I'd throw up on him) and 2) high school punks who say "hey momma" (eew you are young enough to be my kids if I were a delinquent teenage mom which your mom probably is and if I had a son like you I'd run myself right off the Williamsburg Bridge.)

OK I guess I, too, have done my fair share of gawking. But how can you not when you run past a human stick figure with the best rack money can buy - double D spilling out of that skin tight sports bra which made me turn around to pick up my jaw off the ground...or that hot I-banker (I know for a fact he works on Wall Street by the crimson Harvard tank top he was sporting that showed off his muscles which glistened and bounced with every step)...or that middle-age Monica Lewinsky look-alike with a full blown camel toe - no make that moose knuckle (Hey lady, the 80's called and wants its spandex back)...or that quintessential New York corporate guy - flabby, fifty, and pasty -"jogging" slightly faster than grandma on a leisurely stroll, with a cell phone in one hand and a Dunkin Donuts iced mochalatta in the other (buddy - you might as well give up now and just staple your stomach before you get gout)...

Being directionally challenged, I decided to follow this cute blonde running with her iPod. She looked like she knew where she was going, and I could tell Weight Watchers was really working for her. 15 more lbs to go and she can pass for a poor man's Jessica Simpson (post Nick Lachey divorce but pre lip collagen injection). I ended my 50-minute jog with a lemon icing cupcake from Babycakes right around the corner from my apartment. After that long jog, I WILL have my cupcake and eat it too!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Shall We Dance

Last week I dragged my manwhore to an open house at the Chelsea Dance Studio where they offer free introductory ballroom dancing lessons. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to take a dance class as my only other dance experience was taking ballet at the tender age of 5 but quit after one year – turned out I wasn’t very graceful. Since I don’t have enough rhythm to do hip hop (not even when my blood alcohol content is through the roof), my next best bet is ballroom dancing. And who wouldn’t be inspired watching Heather Mills (or flinching every time you think her leg is going to fly right out of her body attacking the audience), Steve Sanders from 90210, and Billy Ray’s Achy Breaky Heart shaking their booty on Dancing With the Stars?

When we arrived at the studio (after downing a couple drinks to “loosen up”), we almost had a private lesson when we thought we were the only couple there. But another couple sauntered in late and joined us, or really just held us back. They were a bit slow in learning their steps – never mind the guy was legally blind with a guide dog. Come on people, keep up! She said “lead with your left foot”…LEFT damnit! We learned a few basic steps in the Waltz (not my first choice but the short bus couple picked that one and of course we did way better), Swing and Mambo in the span of 40 minutes. We did pretty well if I may say so myself. Who knew I was semi-coordinated? When the lesson was over, I signed up for two different classes starting in June. TWO hour-long classes meeting once a week!!! One class is Salsa and the other is Merengue/Rumba for beginners. I’m waiting for JLo or Antonio Banderas to walk through the door any minute now to give us lessons…(if you don’t get the reference, you HAVE to rent Shall We Dance and Take the Lead.)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Plus One in Pittsburgh

This past weekend I was a "plus one" at a wedding in Pittsburgh (aka Steeler Nation / City of Bridges). It was my first time being a plus one AND my first time visiting the city (not sure why else I would), but Pittsburgh was definitely a pleasant surprise. It's got a breathtaking skyline - especially at night when you gaze across the Allegheny River (or Ohio River - not sure which one I was gazing at). Its many "gold" (more like a rusty yellow) bridges are also a pretty sight in the daytime. And of course it's home to the Steelers - 5-time super bowl champions (like I give a sh*t except everyone I met managed to mention that as part of their self introduction.) It even has its own "language" called Pittsburghese. That's definitely high on my list of must-learn languages - right after Pig Latin.

We visited the Warhol museum which was pretty interesting - even for a non-museum lover like myself. We ate yummy corned beef and fried egg sandwiches stacked way high with french fries and coleslaw inside the sandwiches. We drove to the countryside where I picked asparagus and mint from the garden and fed grass to horses. The fresh clean air did give me a bit of a headache since I'm not really used to that sort of thing.

The wedding itself was your typical Catholic ceremony two hours long with 400 guests. And since the bridal party consisted of 28 bridesmaids and groomsmen, yea 28, the procession itself took an hour. I managed to squeeze in a cat nap at church - I figured being Asian, no one would be able to tell if I'm awake or asleep. I've also never seen such a racially diverse crowd - it was like attending a UN summit with countless shades of WHITE congregated in one room. Just a tad out of place being the only Asian girl there. Furthermore, my date must have abandoned me a thousand times to get drinks and smoke outside with his buddies. Does he not know how shy I am with a paralyzing fear of socializing with strangers? It seems no matter what season it is, I always have this strong urge to stick his skis up his ass. To his credit, we did dance to a couple songs and he even took me out for ice cream the next night. Oh wait - I was too full from dinner so I ended up watching him eat his Peanut Butter Puddles waffle cone ice cream instead (though he was generous enough to let me have 5 and a half bites.) But all in all, it was a good time. My weekend in Sh*tsburgh, I mean Pittsburgh, ended with a 4am wakeup call to catch a 6am flight back to JFK and made it to work by 9:30.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cherry Brooklyn

Disappointed that I was not in Tokyo this month to enjoy the hanami (cherry blossom viewing), I was determined to catch a glimpse of my second favorite flower (orchids are number one) at the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in Prospect Park this past Sunday. Already annoyed by the $8 admission fee (would have been FREE in Japan) to enter an overcrowded park, I was even more disappointed by the pathetic cluster of four cherry blossom trees they call a garden - half of which weren't even in full bloom. The park even attempted to sell "authentic" Japanese food: bento boxes and plates of chicken drumsticks and noodles for $12 a pop. Yea nice try - except they were actually sold out. The only highlight was running into my coworker who was fenced in eating ice cream (not allowed to step into the "garden" with food. Riiiiight.)
Adding salt to injury, my friends in Tokyo emailed me about how especially beautiful the sakura (cherry blossom) was this year and how I missed out on picnicing (with REAL Japanese bento boxes sans chicken drumsticks for a mere 500 yen) under the mesmerizing sky of pink snowflakes.

Picture: This is how sakura is done in Japan (I guess it's really not fair to compare the two as the Brooklyn Botanical Garden doesn't even hold a candle to the Tidal Basin in DC.) See - that could have been ME eating in that picture - I'm definitely crying on the inside.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tokyo Flashback: Trick or Treat!

Halloween is definitely my all-time favorite holiday! Granted it’s really just an excuse to wear the most outrageous and/or slutty costumes pretending to be something we’re not. But isn’t that reason enough for anyone? Every Halloween I spend an inordinate amount of time in search of the perfect costume and a fabulous party to attend. And last year – my first Halloween in Tokyo – was no different. Dressed as Minnie Mouse, I along with my friends and hundreds of foreigners living in Japan, train-jacked the Yamanote line leaving from the Shinjuku station at 9:07 pm (car # 10). Apparently every Halloween crazy "geijings" (foreigners) – decked out in costumes with alcohol in hand – take over the train for a few hours. Only days before Halloween do we find out on the Internet about the time and car # for such an event.

As we walked through the busy streets of Tokyo, every Japanese we passed by giggled and some even pointed and screamed out “Minnie-chan!Kawaii!!” (translation: "Minnie Mouse! So cute!" - yea that's me - Minnie was a real hit!) And tons of fellow costumed Halloweeners requested to take pictures with us. We felt like celebrities. Since words cannot do justice the chaotic bedlam that took place on the Halloween train, check out video clips on You Tube.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My apartment

Going to the chapel and we’re…

Gonna get maaaaaried…No – not me! It was my little sister who got married at the chapel of love this past weekend. I know…what was she thinking? Just kidding. I left New York at 7 in the morning on Friday for Maryland and as soon as I arrived I was on full maid of honor mode running around like a headless chicken. After the rehearsal and dinner, my cousins Angie, Aileen, my sister and I went back to my sister’s new house for a slumber party to finish last minute tasks and stayed up until 2 am. Although we woke up at 6, we were already late for our first task of the big day – tea ceremony at my parents’ house. Unfortunately, my sister and I got pulled over for going 60 on a 35. Panic set in and almost brought my sister to tears. When we explained to the cop that it was her wedding day, he said, “Speeding bride, huh?” and asked for proof. Of course she wasn’t wearing her big white dress, but luckily she had in her purse an application for a marriage license. Nonetheless he went back to his car with her driver’s license. When he returned, he delivered more bad news to my sister that her license had been suspended. Holy shit! Could anything else go wrong? Then the cop gave a cheesy chuckle saying “Just kidding!” and let us go without even a warning. Wow he's hilarious - he should consider quitting his day job. Getting pulled over, however, was still a doozy compared to the rest of the hectic day.

During the ceremony, I listened to the entire sermon without falling asleep (though my feet were a different story) and even cried a little on the inside when they were tearing up (I’m not heartless – I’m just not the crying type.) The wedding ceremony and taking pictures in DC actually went off without a hitch, although the reception was a bit chaotic. I also drank a little too much in the limo and should definitely have not had that mojito right before my maid of honor toast. But I did OK and even managed to entertain the guests (over 400!) with embarrassing stories of my sister. As much as I wanted to get drunk and dance all night with the bride and groom and their little friends, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion as I finished my last MOH duties and was home in bed by 1 am. The next day our cousins and I (all 12 of us) met up for pho for lunch to say goodbye and to send Mark and Mayan off then we all went our separate ways home. I love family weddings for this very reason – getting together with all our cousins since we hardly ever get to all be in the same town (oh and to celebrate eternal love and commitment and all that crap.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving In!

So I moved in two weekends ago (thanks to Cindy's help) and have stayed in my new apartment for over a week now. Like a new relationship, everything always appears to be perfect at the beginning. But once you’ve settled in, you start discovering little things about the place like the toilet water is constantly running or it’s such an old building that it makes a lot of little noises that you get scared to sleep alone at night now that you’re no longer in the same bed as Cindy (who makes absolutely NO noise when she sleeps as if you're sleeping next to a dead person). Or your neighbor below you practices violin at 11 at night. Or your next door neighbor makes it a point to slam the door every time he comes home – OK I get it - you’re an angry New Yorker and the whole world’s against you but do you have to take it out on your door and my ears?

Like a new relationship, you also learn to adjust to your new environment. Kinda like closing your eyes to ignore all that body hair (or throwing up when you open your eyes.) Or when he lets out a silent fart but it’s your nose that delivers the news so you have to smack him before running away to avoid the smell. Or you learn that he’s obsessed with a certain winter sport and even when you travel 3,000 miles to visit him, he’ll drop you like 5-day-old sushi for any powder day and makes you want to shove all ten pairs of his precious skis up his skinny little ass. You know, the usual…but I’m just speaking hypothetically of course.

Once I get my DSL/cable set up tomorrow, I will post pictures of my new apartment!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Business Like Shoe Business

Whenever I live in a city where driving is not an option, I always wear comfortable shoes to hike to work (black Chucks for me and gray Nikes for Cindy) and then we change into our heels once we get in the office. I do this for two reasons: 1) not wanting to get blisters on my feet and 2) not wanting to ruin my heels.

I really feel at home because this seems to be common practice in 75% of the women here in NYC. However, Japanese women do the exact opposite. They wear their 4-inch hooker high heels/CFM boots walking all over the city but once they get to work, they change into these hideous orthopedic slippers. I really don't get it. They even wear heels while hiking or going to parks. While Japanese women often looked at me (and all my American friends who did the same) with such obvious disdain after taking a glimpse at our flip flops mismatched with our work clothes, in the end they're the ones with painful bunions - which is also why podiatry is such big business in Japan.