Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

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Always The Best Man, Never The Groom

First I must say, this title is misleading. One of my best friends is often a best man, but I seriously doubt he’s itching to be a groom. I just picked this title because I thought it might catch your attention.

I wrote a post about six months ago about one of my best friend’s and his best man speech at our friend’s wedding. This coming fall, there is another wedding.

He was also my best man at my wedding.

The good news is that after this wedding, he’s out of best friends. I got married in 2012, the second one in 2013, now this last one in 2014. He will probably be the best man for his big brother whenever he marries, but then he’s done.

I have admit, I’m kind of jealous. The last wedding I was in besides my own was when I was a flower girl back in 1992.

I had 10 people standing up with me at my wedding. One of the guy’s has since married, and one of the guys has since divorced. All of the women are still unmarried.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any rush for my friends to get married, nor am I in any rush to pay hundreds of dollars for someone else’s big day. But still, it would be fun to get all dolled up and bake a penis-shaped cake for one of my girls, not at the same time of course.

Instead, I live vicariously through my friend. I do get a kick out of planning out his best man speeches with him.

Because his two other best friends chose fall dates for their weddings, we get to make the speech planning and all-year thing.

It reminds me of when we worked together on projects in college and I love it.

We have hours-long debates about the correct balance of emotional vs. funny. We pick out which are the best stories to tell. Then we hem and haw about the order of the speech (is chronological always best?).

His speech at my wedding was lovely. People didn’t really pay attention because everyone got notifications on their smart phones that Whitney Houston had just died. But he covered all the main points I’d want: 1) good luck Easy in dealing with her “strong” personality, 2) A crazy story or two from back in the day that is embarrassing for her, but also kind of sweet, and 3) a good joke that feels like an inside joke but makes everyone laugh.

As I already said in my previous post, he did a great job with his other best friend’s wedding last fall.

This time, his job is a bit more difficult. The basis of his friendship with this friend is because they were on the same line of a fraternity.

Sidenote: this fraternity throws the best part ever, but Easy and I aren’t going to the party this year because Florida. We’re black and we’d prefer to stay alive. Florida is feeling a little murder-y right now for folks of color you know?

Anyway, because their friendship started in the secrecy of pledging a fraternity, there’s a whole bunch of stuff he can’t say during the speech. They pledged almost ten years ago though, so there is plenty to say about their friendship since that time.

This one is going to be a bit more difficult than the last two though. Easy and I spent a a good amount of time with my friend when Easy lived down in St. Louis. And he never talked to his other friend on the phone without also talking to wife too.

But my friend doesn’t really know this couple too well as a couple. He was down in Texas visiting them last weekend, so hopefully he stored up some great stories for this speech.

My friend is a best man veteran though, so he’ll make it work. And because none of my girls are headed towards marriage any time soon, I’ll continue to live vicariously through him.

At the wedding last fall, I was hanging with the bride’s friends the day before the wedding. It was fun, but I didn’t know anyone that well, so there was a limit on how much fun I could have.

This fall, things will be better. The groom has decided he wants a co-ed bachelor party. It won’t be like mine, which was combined with all of my friends and Easy’s friends (his idea, not mine, but still so much fun). It will be more like, all his friends, male and female, are going to his party.

It’s a really cool concept, I think. It felt a bit like being sent to the kid’s table when I have to go hang out with the women even though I’m only friends with the men.

This fall, I’ll be at the big kids table (or strip club), then watching the finale of a great trio of best man speeches. Should be fun, don’t you think?

Hindered And Helped By The Internet

HINDERED

Stupid internet with it’s tickets-only-available-online stupidity. In my last post, I spoke of how I was excited to go to the next event for BBQ Films.The husband and I were going to get dressed up in our 1950s best (or the only outfit we have that would make a fair approximation), and go see Back to the Future next weekend.

But… all the tickets are sold out online. There isn’t anywhere to physically go pickup tickets. I hate that!

When our mothers came to town and we went to go see Motown the Musical, buying tickets online was frustrating (and expensive), so I just went to the box office and a real live human person helped me find the perfect seats.

This isn’t an option for BBQ Films, which is understandable as all of their events are funded by tickets sales and sponsors.But still, I had no recourse once I saw the tickets were sold out online.

HELPED

A couple of Google searches later found the Twitter account for BBQ Films. They said they might have some tickets available on Thursday, but we’d have to join the mailing list and implied Twitter stalking would help.

So now I know what i’m doing Thursday.

HINDERED

I’m trying to be a good Wine School Pupil. I joined up wholeheartedly. But then… I couldn’t find any of the wines. After striking out at my favorite wine shop, I took to the internet.

All of my usual places to purchase alcohol online failed me. I just knew Binny’s Beverage Depot would have what I need. They always have what I need. But not this time.

I was starting to get discouraged. Comments on the Bordeaux NY Times article were starting, and I really felt some kind of way about the people commenting who drank substitute wines. I didn’t want to be a substitute wine drinker, but unless my wine guy called me back saying he found it, I was screwed.

HELPED

Then it occurred to me, I hadn’t asked Google for help. Well, I had asked, but I was asking the wrong questions.

Googling online wine shops was how I went about it at first. When I got wise, I went straight to Google Shopping. They have this crazy index of pretty much everything available for sale online.

So I Googled each of the three  wines listed in the article. Immediately, I was directed to a couple of different wine shops. Because I’m a nice lady, I’ll tell you where I found it.

Premier Wine & Spirits is a specialty shop with four different websites, and three brick & mortar locations in NY State. This is my first time ordering from them, so who knows if it will work?

I do shop online quite a bit though, and I’ve never had any issues getting alcohol delivered. I ordered a bottle of the Château Bernadotte Haut-Médoc 2009 last night, so I’ll let you know how long it takes to get here and what shape it’s in when it arrives.

I chose this bottle because it was the cheapest of the three, but they are getting over on shipping costs. The wine itself was only $34 including tax, but went up to $49.15 with standard shipping. Good thing I didn’t want it overnight, I would pay double for the wine.

I hope next month’s Wine School choices are more readily available.

Can I just say those people take identification seriously? Based on all the information I had to enter to prove I was me and to purchase the wine, I was feeling suspicious. But a check online on Webutation and a look to see if anyone identified the website with scams (they didn’t) made me feel pretty good. At least I’ll know the culprit if my identity is stolen over this. Knock on wood.

Easy and I agree that we will try the recipe for Skirt Steak with roasted whole plantains with the wine. I’m pretty excited about that.

HINDERED

I had a very indecisive 20 year old visiting this past weekend for her Spring Break. I wanted to show her NYC in all its beauty, but that proved difficult. She’s not a fan of art, sports, museums, history, eating when you’re not hungry, spending a bunch of money, theater, or overspending on shopping.

Unfortunately, that also meant no going to the Biennial exhibit at the Whitney. But hopefully one of my new maybe-friends in NYC will go with me.

She arrived in the middle of the week, so by the time Saturday rolled around, she was shopped out. Easy and I forced her to go with us to a Latin restaurant and to a jazz club, so I at least wanted to have her do something she’d be guaranteed to enjoy on her last day with us.

If you missed that list of things she was against (at age 20!), you know I had my work cut out for me.

Suffice it to say we spent hours at Central Park while she tried to figure out what she wanted to do. I could’ve offered up Chelsea Piers, but I really didn’t want to take her bowling. Then I thought about High Line, but we were already at a park, so heading to another one just seemed wrong.

Hopping on the internet for what do to in NYC ideas when you’ve ruled out food, drinks, arts, sports, history, theater, museums, and shopping is just painful.

HELPED

We ended up on the Staten Island Ferry so she could get pictures of part of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. While we were waiting on the ferry, she mentions that she’s going through ice cream withdrawal.

I remind her that I said, “this is New York City. Anything you want to do, try, eat, drink, whatever, it can be done here. Anything in the world, literally, anything. Just pick something, and we’ll go find the best version of it New York has to offer.”

I said that hours before she mentioned the ice cream.

But at least we had a goal. Searching online for great ice cream in New York is super focused and wonderfully easy. Between Google, Yelp, yellowpages.com, and Zagat, we found a lot of great ice cream options.

Because she waited 6 hours to finally decide on a New York adventure, most of the places were closing for the night. But seeking out great gelato, egg creams, frozen yogurt, and ice cream in New York at places only open after midnight is it’s own mini adventure.

We ended up going on a food truck search for Wafels and Dinges. They weren’t hard to find. The truck was parked in the West Village, so after that we got a slice at Joe’s Pizza and then popsicles at Popbar.

For an improptu food tour, it was quite successful. Wafels and Dinges has been voted some of the best food truck food in the country, and it was so delicious, I didn’t even care that I froze while eating ice cream outdoors.

I would have kicked myself had I let my girl leave town without trying a slice of classic NYC-style pizza. She eats super slow, but she finished her slice exactly as I finished mine. In the 20 years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen such a thing.

And the blood orange popSorbetto was so freaking delicious. I took it home and shared it with Easy because it was that cold outside that it didn’t melt in the 40 minutes it took us to get from the Village to Bed-Stuy. I am looking forward to trying the frozen hot chocolate some Saturday after the soup kitchen once it’s really warm outside.

All of that delicious food was made possible because of a simple online search and hopping from place to place based on what Google told me was nearby.

So sometimes online sucks. But I have to admit for every problem I encounter, the internet usually has a solution if I’m patient enough to reword my Google searches.

Image via popbar

Image via Yelp

I Live In NYC And It’s About Time I Started Acting Like It

I was thinking about my previous adventure day about a month and a half ago. Since that time, I really haven’t done much besides work and volunteer.

Because I love my job and I love my volunteer work, I don’t feel like I’m living some sort of hopeless life or anything. But since I decided I was going to Wine School, it occurred to me I’ve been missing out on a lot.

I mean, come on, I live in NYC. There are always cool and interesting things happening here that just don’t happen in other places. There’s so much going on and it is sometimes overwhelming, but if you can narrow your focus, you can find a whole world of possibility even in that narrow subject area.

I want more activities to engage in. I love good food and good drink (but I can’t afford the expensive stuff). I love going to museums and exhibits. And I love movies and live music.

Just from those narrow (ish) interests of mine, I can find a lot to do. I’ve got the Amazon local vouchers for rock climbing and kickboxing, which I swear I’m going to use really soon. I swear.

I went to a couple of restaurants for NYC Restaurant Week, so I got to try some food I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.

And since finally paying attention to all the amazing things I can find to do in the New York Times, there are a few upcoming events I really want to check out.

I’m going to try to go see the Whitney Biennial this weekend at the Whitney Museum of American Art. There is this photograph exhibit by this transgender couple I really want to check out. And also, this place just looks so cool, right?

Image via the Whitney Museum

And then there’s this group called BBQ Films that do popup movie screenings. Popup movie screenings is something I didn’t even know was a thing before New York. That definitely counts as one of those NYC things I’ve been missing out on that aren’t even activity options in other places.

Their last event involved renting out a place in Williambsurg that was like Shredder’s lair and hiring skateboarders and showing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Their next film showing is next weekend and they’re showing Back to the Future at a gymnasium in NoLIta setup like a fake prom. Check out their website for more information.

I think if I could pay more attention, I could probably find something fun like this to do every weekend. Especially now that Spring is about break for real. There will be more things like this every weekend. I’m still sad I missed the vegetarian food festival while I was in Chicago for that wedding, but no more!

I am deciding to fully embrace a narrow portion of what NYC has to offer.

He he. That sentence makes me laugh. But seriously, only a crazy person would try to embrace everything NYC has to offer. A crazy, rich, unemployed person who only needs to sleep 2 hours a night.

I fully accept that for now I’m leaving out sports, outdoors-y stuff, politics, boating, fashion, business, and education. So I’m leaving out a lot, but I’m hoping I’ll branch out organically as I dig more into the things I’m naturally interested in.

Now that I’m all set to get out of the winter doldrums, I’m finally going to embrace more of this city.

Oh, and one of the lovely people who I’ve met that I hope will become one of my NYC friends hit me up. She just got back in town from a vacation, so hopefully we’ll catch up and do drinks or lunch or something soon.

Someone remind me to take pictures so I’ll have visual aids to future blog posts.

Wine School?? Hell Yeah, Challenge Accepted

Did you ever have that moment where you’re reading something on Wikipedia and you look up 7 hours later wondering how you got from Batman comic books to a historical exploration of homosexuality in Greece to the population demographics of African countries in 1900s to Reese Witherspoon’s filmography?

I know it is not just me.

This type of thing happens to me more than I’d care to admit. And it is not just Wikipedia. It happens when I Google something and then jump from website to website reading randomly connected articles all linking to one another. Last night, I was berating myself for somehow missing that Fred Armisen and Elisabeth Moss have divorced and they met when Jon Hamm hosted SNL. How did I miss that?

Anyway, this type of internet browsing happens to me often enough where I’m officially frustrated that I don’t have a wonderfully pithy catchphrase to describe it.

Last night my browsing took me to the New York Times online. It started where it always does, at the Opinion pages. Then The Gun Report. By the way, ten people got shot in Chicago on Monday. The first day over 50 degrees. Really, Chicago?!

After hopping from article to article, somehow I ended up trying to decide if I would beg Easy to try a new recipe for polenta or quinoa. My gut says polenta because he’s weird about texture, but somehow that sent me to a string of articles about which wines to pair with which meals.

Then I had that moment, where I’m all like, “my people!”

Then I mentioned this concept to a co-worker and she called it pretentious.

Then I was sad. She didn’t mean it as an official insult, just as an observation, but still.

Then I remembered I don’t really care what people think, which is why I don’t mind that even writing this blog post is furthering me being labelled by my entire family of in-laws as bourgie (is that how you spell the hood way of saying bourgeois? I never knew for sure).

Anyway, back to my point.

The man recommended champagne as the perfect wine pairing to fried chicken. I think I just met my best friend y’all. Eric Asimov used to write in Chicago, now he writes in New York. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss all the wonderful things he has to say.

I’ll forgive myself for not seeing the man before today. It’s like the nerdy guy in high school that no one noticed was hot the whole time until he returns for Thanksgiving break freshman year of college.

Yesterday was the perfect day to notice Mr. Asimov because today he started Wine School.

Here’s how it will work: Each month I will pick a type of wine we will explore together. I will suggest three representative examples of that wine, and if you want to join me, I hope you will be able to find at least one of those bottles. If they are not at your wine shop, which is always frustrating, consider asking your merchant to find them, searching for them in other wine stores or ordering them online. You have time to hunt them down.

I was in when he told me to get out my corkscrew. Just reading pas articles of his about wine pairings let me know I have so much to learn. Right now, I’m all Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In every single article of his I read, there were at least three wines mentioned I didn’t even know existed.

So, I’m getting out my corkscrew and signing up for wine school. I’m so excited!

The first wine type is Bordeax. It just so happens that I have a bottle of white Bordeax at home. My favorite wine shop in the West Village recommended it to me the last time I was in retail therapy mode. But I’m going to stick with his list of recommendations.

His best suggestion for wine school? This is not wine tasting, it’s wine drinking. Wine tasting is how professionals learn a lot about a variety of wines quickly. But he wants his pupils to learn about the wine and really dive in, get to know the wines, drink the entire bottle over more than one meal, if you can.

If all school were like this, I’d have 5 degrees.

Here are the three wines Eric Asimov wants me to try one or two of:

CHÂTEAU BERNADOTTE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $32 (Sherry-Lehmann Selections/Le Reine Importing, New York)
CHÂTEAU CANTEMERLE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $53 (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York)
CHÂTEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $62 (Frederick Wildman & Sons)

I wish they cost less money, but advanced education is hardly ever cheap. Eric Asimov says there’s no need to buy all three wines. Just pick one, pair it with simply prepared lamb or beef, and don’t forget to take notes.

Like I said, challenge accepted.

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