Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “friends

Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

I thought I’d have a funny story to tell for my first consistent blog post in months. My girl is in town with her cousin for her birthday. They’d never been to New York before, so she wanted to visit.

I know her  through some degrees of separation. My best friend joined a fraternity in college. Her husband is one of his line brothers. The first time we all hung out is when he brought a very pregnant her to their fraternity’s annual party called The Champagne Sip (don’t worry she didn’t drink).

We did have a laugh-filled night at The Waffle House though after the party. And they cemented themselves as the favorite couple I’d met through my best friend. Over the years, we’ve had some good times though we don’t see each other nearly often enough.

This couple now has three children, all of whom call my best friend godfather. There have been many gift-help-picking-out moments over the years, which always result in something fun & educational… and maybe noisy.

But I didn’t see my girl last night. She arrived to her hotel in Times Square yesterday and we planned to meet for drinks at my favorite bar in Times Square, Havana Central.

But then I started hearing about everything happening in Paris, every terrible detail as it arrived in a push notification to my phone from CNN.

I said a prayer for the people of Paris, and decided I wasn’t going out.

Since Chris and I moved to New York, I’ve been more aware of what it means when a major city gets attacked,

I know Chicago is a major city, so is L.A., and a few others. But when I worry about American cities, my first two thoughts go to D.C. and NYC.

Whenever there is a concern for the safety of major cities, my first thought is to stay in/immediately head to Brooklyn. Manhattan is where I spend a bunch of my time, but I live in Brooklyn.

I don’t know if I was overreacting, I just know that I live in New York now.

The world kept turning, people kept coming together in Paris to deal with a tragedy, and I went home last night.

At the time I’m posting this, ISIS has claimed responsibilities for the attacks in Paris last night, Belgium has already begun to make arrests, and Paris is still treating the over 300 people who got injured.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what’s happened, to just continue with a normal day knowing that so much has changed for so many people.

But I’m going to try because that’s what we do, right? We say a prayer, put something supportive on social media, donate some money to a fund, then… keep it moving.

It never seems like enough, but I don’t know what else to do. There’s power in prayer, I do know that.

I’m going to go see my friend today. In Times Square. They say it’s safe. I hope they’re right. I’m definitely going to pray some more before I go.


Don’t Even Ask How Busy I’ve Been

I haven’t posted in a very long time. It’s because I’ve been busy. There’s just so much happening in my life right now, most of it fantastic, that it’s hard to find the time to get to a computer, organize my thoughts, make them somewhat readable, and get them posted.

Let’s just take it one post at a time as see if I can manage to turn myself back into something of a blogger.

So here’s what I’ve been up to.

I work a lot now, like all the time. I basically have every other Sunday off. but it works out because it’s for a good reason. With the work, plus tuition reimbursement at my job, I’m hoping I can pay for grad school outright and now have to take out any additional loans. The loans from med school are killing me.

The other thing that’s taken up a lot of my time is planning. The husband and I have a plan. It’s a three-ish year plan and it goes a little something like this:

2015-I start grad school, he does a live recording for his second album, we start saving like we’re serious. 2016-he finishes grad school, we put out his second album. 2017- not much happens except more saving, some investing, and more school for me. 2018- I finish grad school, hopefully move up in management, we buy a home.

These are big plans that require a lot of things to go right, but it’s a great plan. If we get all of this done, we’ll have pretty much everything we thought we’d want for ourselves by age 35.

You may notice I didn’t mention children. I’ll put it this way, neither of us have said we’re ready or interested in having kids now. If we change our minds, they’ll fit their way into the plan. If not, well… we’re not not trying, so we’ll see.

In the mean time, we’ve been dealing with birthdays, turning 30 and all that. When the husband and I turned 30 last year, things went well and our people did good for us. So we want to make sure we do the same. I’m not saying any more than that for now.

In my free time, I’ve been hanging out in Harlem, which is crazy because I do not love Harlem. But a friend of mine invited me out to this poetry set (which I also do not love), and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’m all for cultural integration and all of that, but I have to admit, it’s nice to go to Harlem and spend time somewhere where it’s almost nothing but people who look, talk, and act like me. The fact that it’s erotic poetry almost makes it more bearable. Sometimes, I even imagine contributing, but I just can’t do poetry. It’s so not my thing anymore. Maybe a short story? Eh, we’ll see. I’m not the type to seek out spousal approval, but I feel like this might need to go through the proper channels first.

Other than the poetry set, I’ll have dinner or grab a drink or go to see some live music with friends. For a while, I didn’t think I’d make any real friends here in New York. But I’m glad I was wrong. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, who are doing the most amazing things with their lives.

I’ve met musicians, of course, and they are killing. So many talented folks. I just need to have a scene for me in the movie they make about one of these people’s lives one day. Hopefully that scene will be me making dinner for the guys in the Groid Collective or the guys in SkipTone. Or one of our crazy house parties.

My other friends are all interesting too. There’s an actor, a lady who works for a law firm and manages a band at night, a lady who does framing professionally for galleries and museums and is an artist at night, a guy who works exclusively with craft microbrewery beer, a chef, and a couple of entrepreneurs. They’re work stories are just so fascinating. And don’t even get me started on their backgrounds like where their from, what they’re families are like, etc.

I have made it super official that I’m a New Yorker now. I finally went and got my driver’s license switched over. I love the picture, and it was less painless than I thought it would be. Life is a lot easier if you have a passport. The worst part was waiting for them to mail my ID to me. In Illinois, you just sit in a plastic chair for 15 minutes while they make it for you.

But this is not Illinois. Terrible, awful, worst-I’ve-ever-encountered customer service aside, there’s no place better than New York.

Okay, one post down, let’s see if I can manage to write anything else at all this month. Wish me luck!


So About This Bucket List

I mentioned this bucket list about a year ago. My friends and I had grand plans to get all this cool stuff done before our 30th birthdays. Well, I’m happy to report I got most of it done. I did a post about the first things I did, but now I’m just going to do a round-up of everything.

That’s what happens when you miss 100+ days of blogging. You gotta summarize.

Just to remind you, my best friend and I made a list of different categories. Each of us then had to choose something within that category and attempt to complete it by our 30th birthdays (give or take as everyone didn’t have a full year to make it happen).

Let’s just say that out of the 10 or so people who liked the idea, not many people actually worked on crossing items off their list.

But a few of us really tried. My best friend did the most, she even completed her task of skydviving! Her mom, who is amazing, scheduled it and went with her.

This is what I came up with when we first settled on the idea. The left column holds the categories, and the right column are my chosen activities. Each thing I chose had to be approved by someone else doing the bucket list.

“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love
Dating Five unique dates with husband
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships
Hobby/Lessons Horseback riding lessons
Physical Appearance Tattoo
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B
Wildcard

I did make some changes over the year. Since I didn’t choose a wildcard, I decided to use my nose piercing to count as that one. It felt quite wild and spontaneous when I did it, plus it was something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. I decided on a whim to get it done while a friend was visiting from out of town.

I also changed the hobby. I changed from horseback riding lessons to Wine School. Following along with the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and learning a lot about an existing passion (wine), made sense for a good replacement because I simply didn’t have the funds or time to pursue horseback riding right now.

That being said, here’s how I did on the updated categories:

Category Activity Completion
“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club Binge watched all of Season 11. The girls were in Miami. I didn’t enjoy it. At least I confirmed for myself that I really don’t like that type of reality show. ANTM and DWTS, plus a smidge of Chopped and Iron Chef is all I need.
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love Tofu just wasn’t gonna happen. I really tried. But a great suggestion from an online friend led me to chocolate soy milk. I genuinely enjoyed it and it’s currently the only store bought chocolate milk I like to drink.
Dating Five unique dates with husband I had so many rules for this one, I was setup for failure! The date couldn’t include one of Chris’s gigs, couldn’t be a group date, and couldn’t happen at home. We only did one date that was outside of those three categories. Life gets busy and all that… Major Fail.
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar This one I did. When some friends came to town to celebrate a med school graduation, I went out with them. We danced all night, and some of my dancing included a table top at a bar. Good times.
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships Done and done. I’ve made more than 2 friends. I think if I’m being honest, there are 3 total friendships I made that I would continue to pursue even if I (or they) moved away from NYC tomorrow. I had such a hard time making friends when I first moved here, so I’m glad this one worked out.
Hobby/Lessons Wine School I’m months behind, but I’ve done every month up until July. And I have all the bottle up until November, just waiting to try them. This counts as a win for me!
Physical Appearance Tattoo I got the tattoo. I watched the World Cup final, literally watching the second tick away. Probably the tiniest tattoo ever, but I love it so much!
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping Nope. Didn’t even schedule it. Still a punk. I need to get my life.
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B Nope. I even took off a weekend from work to make it happen. But travel costs, and pricing, and trying to find the perfect place on airbnb. Excuses, excuses.
Wildcard Pierce Something Other Than your Ears Yes sir! Because I kinda rolled this one in at the end, it counts! I got my nose pierced. It’s almost healed, and I’m currently shopping for a great nose ring.
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This is my favorite new friend here. Corey is a musician, he plays trombone, and he’s amazing!

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These are a good number of my NYC friends and co-workers. This is the surprise 30th birthday party Chris threw me.

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This is the almost-finished glass of chocolate soy milk when I first tried it. Trader Joe’s is the only brand I’ve tried. It’s so yummy!

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The is the best shot I have of me dancing on a table top. There were about 4 of us crammed onto this not very strong table, but we made it work. The girl was shocked that I wanted pictures, which is why she’s making that face. Too bad the random stranger I enlisted to take the photo wasn’t a better cameraman.

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Me right after my nose ring piercing. Hopefully you can see it well. I didn’t get great shots of it that night. Too much darkness, too much alcohol.

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And the tattoo, last but not least. Libra scales on my ring finger. Love it so much!

 

So I didn’t finish them all, but 7 out of 10 ain’t bad.

There’s good news here. My friend and I decided to extend the list until the end of the year. I don’t know that I’ll get to Maine, but I can at least try to finish the dates with Chris and maybe, maybe, think about possibly looking into the chance of seeking out a schedule for bungee jumping.

At that point, I’ll have 9 out of 10. Not all accomplished by my 30th birthday, but damn close.

We were also talking about doing this again next year. Fewer categories of course. We were just far too ambitious this time around.

We haven’t decided on the categories yet, but they will definitely have the same intention of pushing us outside of our comfort levels.

The only category we’ve decided on so far is “Creative Project”. That’s a working title for now. But the idea is to take something we like to do, and to commit to taking it to the next level creatively.

For me that would be continuing with the video posts. I’ve made more test videos, but I don’t like them enough to post them. I need to just get over myself and go with it. I don’t really have issues with avoiding attention or anything like that. But I do have some hesitancy when it comes to public attention, especially seeking out public attention. But I’m trying to get over that, and I think the video blogs will help.

I had some other ideas for other categories. I was thinking something like “Grown-Up Skill Building”. The idea of this category is to learn something that a fully functioning adult should know, but perhaps you don’t. For me, that might be learning to change my own oil or something. It’s not a very exciting category, so it probably won’t make the cut.

Another idea was to try on someone else’s hobby. I don’t have a title for that yet, but it would be something like picking an interesting friend, finding out their favorite hobby, and then trying it out with them or alone.

And one more is to focus on health/fitness. Really pushing ourselves into something fitness-related that’s outside our normal bounds. For me that might be like committing to do some sort of workout 5 days a week. For my friend, maybe training for a bike marathon maybe?

These are all just ideas. We have another month and a half to sort it out. But I’m loving this bucket list idea because it gives you focus for the year. Having specific fun-or-self-improving-or-meaningful goals gives you a sense of purpose. At least it feels that way to me.

Wish me luck on getting those dates planned an executed. Did I mention Chris is heading to Poland in two days? The life of a musician’s wife.


May’s Wine School: Sancerre

Hey y’all!

I know I’m extra late here, but due to being super busy and having such a difficult time even finding the recommended wine for Wine School, I didn’t even try the May wine until the middle of August.

And I took 100+ days off from blogging, but I’m finally posting this now.

Instead of going to all these different local wine shops (because who has time for that?), I just used Google shopping and finally found the exact bottle I wanted from a wine shop in California.

Eric Asimov chose some pretty hard to find wines. May came and went and I still couldn’t find the wine in New York, you know, cause I looked so hard. So I was back to the store in California.

Here’s the catch, the store doesn’t ship to New York State or Illinois. But luckily, my best friend lives in St. Louis, and they do ship to Missouri. I called him and begged him to let me send the wine to him. He agreed because he’s the best.

All he had to do was ship it to me once it arrived. By this time, it was mid-June. My friend who works for UPS gave me advice on the best way to get this bottle to New York from Missouri. It involves a bit of don’t ask, don’t tell of the is-this-alcohol-let’s-not-discuss-it variety. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go as planned.

Luckily, my friend came to visit NYC in August. He packed my wine in his suitcase and hand-delivered the bottles. Yes, I said bottles.

 

Sancerre and June's bottle of Riesling

Sancerre and June’s bottle of Riesling

I went through all of this just to try this wine, but it makes for a good story I guess. The silver lining is that they also had June’s wine: Riesling, which is pictured above with the Sancerre. Don’t even get me started on how much I love Riesling, and how I’ve been moving toward drier Rieslings recently anyway, which is exactly the type chosen for Wine School.

Even better than the hand delivered wine was the fun weekend my best friend and I had while he was here. We took what had to be our 37th selfie, and I feel like I’m getting pretty good at taking them.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

I usually start with cutting my face out. But I get it right on the 2nd or 3rd try.

So how did I feel about Sancerre? Well… ever since I began my love affair with Bordeaux, I haven’t loved white wine nearly as much as I used to. But the wine wasn’t bad. it’s made from sauvignon blanc grapes, but apparently it’s different from sauvignon blanc wine.

We were encouraged to respond emotionally to the wine rather than “hyper-rational”, so that’s what I tried to do. In hindsight, I don’t remember loving the wine and I wasn’t fantasizing about what meals go great with it. But I liked it.

The taste of it reminded me of mud pies. Well, not mud pies exactly. Did you ever make a mud pie as a child? I did, but not out of mud. My “mud pies” were made from sand in the sandbox at the park near my childhood best friend’s apartment. I may or may not have taken a bite just to see how powerful my imagination was. My imagination was not powerful enough to make a sandy mud pie taste like anything but sandbox.

Moving on.

I did check a couple of times to see if there was sand in the bottom of my glass, like maybe some micro pieces of the cork got in somehow. Something about Sancerre reminded me of that time in my childhood.

I ended up drinking the Sancerre along with a pretty interesting meal. I had a friend over for a girl’s night in dinner. I made homemade shrimp alfredo with spinach fettuccine, roasted zucchini, roasted yellow squash, roasted asparagus, collard greens and roasted chicken. I love salads, but when it’s time to cook for a guest, no light meals. I refuse.

Don't let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

Don’t let all the veggies fool you. This was not a light meal!

While I’m thinking about emotional responses to the wine, I remember feeling peppy. It wasn’t a long lingering bubble bath kind of wine. It was a 90s pop music sing-a-long kind of wine. On top of a flavorful meal, the wine combatted the feelings of wanting to curl into a sleepy little ball. We watched The First Wives Club while we ate, and I feel like Sancerre made me just a touch wittier with my talking during the movie commentary.

Overall, I didn’t love it enough to put the wine in the regular rotation. But I would probably jump at the opportunity to enjoy a wine flight at a bar or restaurant that included Sancerre.

Image via Amazon

 

Obviously, I’m super far behind, but I’ll try and catch up to November. Here are the upcoming wines.
June: Riesling
July: Zinfandel
August: Chablis
September: Chianti
October: Champagne
November: Rioja

It’s like he knew my birthday month is October and wanted to celebrate!

I’ve already tried June’s wine, I just have to post what I wrote about it. After that I have five more. Five new wine choices in just a few weeks is my goal. Wish me luck to actually find those selections though!