Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is the Greatest and Best Pi in the World: Tribute.

My Gra and my Pi met when my mom and Aunt Lisa were young girls. They had been used to it being just the three girls living together, so when Pi and Gra got married and suddenly there was a man in the house, they weren't too keen on the idea of having more discipline in their lives. Pi worked his way into their hearts soon enough, though, by his HILARIOUS, cynical sense of humor and heart the size of Andre the Giant's (without the health issues).

So when I was born, Pi had been a part of the family for over a decade. I've never known any different than having him as my grandpa. And, because my parents have been divorced since I was five and Pi and Gra have always lived only a couple miles away from us, he's been my "dad" as well.

Let me tell you some things about this man. He is 6'4" and has a white, curly afro. He is beautiful. We call him our unflavored sno cone. Any time we need to find him among lots of people, all we have to do is look at the tops of everyone's heads. He is, to quote Waldo Aloysius Johnston III, "A rare rose in a garden of weeds."

As I stated previously, he is very cynical. He is impatient, sarcastic, generous, brilliant, witty, kind, and gentle. It's possible when you're Pi. He loves children and animals.
He would (and does) bend over backward for anyone, whether it's a beloved family member or a stranger. He is adored by all who know him, particularly me. I even speak Old English to him because it just seems appropriate.

If you haven't met him, you need to. But I will give you this comparison: ever seen the Steve Martin version of "Father of the Bride?" Yeah, that's him. Up and down and all the way around. Completely. I was proud to be on his arm and to dance with him on MY wedding day.

He has never, ever failed to be there for me (or ANYONE who needs him). The most wonderful thing of all is that he won't take credit for any of it. He rolls his eyes and says, "Ohhh, come on" and acts like it's no big deal at all. But it's the biggest deal in the world. I don't even want to know where my life would have gone if he hadn't been in it. He's my (and so many others') Pi.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York, Baby! - Part Two

All right, everyone, this post continues and wraps up my time in New York.

The next day (Sunday), Mary and I went to the beach. We hopped on a train at Penn Station and rode about an hour to Long Island. It was a short walk to the beach, and a beautiful day!

Lovely houses!

Mi hermano!


"Soy tu hermano, tu mejor amigo para siempre"

Serious jumps have I. Well, actually, only this one. None of my other jumping pics top this air.

After the beach, we embarked on an adventure that was accidental - but not "yay" accidental like I like. We had gotten a menu for this place that served a burger with barbecue and hot sauce. Now, a little bit of background info: when I am in New York, I don't eat as much. This is due to A) being so obsessed with all there is to see and do that my mind is not on eating (this is a great thing but it shows me how much I think about eating when I'm at home); B) having only a certain amount of money to spend and wanting to spend as little as possible on food so that it can go toward DOING more things; C) getting hot while expending energy walking everywhere and therefore really only desiring something cold to drink instead of a hot meal to eat.

HOWEVER...when I read about this burger, I NEEDED it. It sounded SO delicious (and by this time I'd been in New York for a couple of days and not eaten much "real" food) that I was determined to get one before we left. I put the address into my phone, got the route, and we started walking.

In completely the wrong direction.

The little blue dot that was "us" on my iPhone (yes, my phone has a Marauder's Map - what up) was right at the "end destination" marker, but the place, the name of which I've since forgotten, wasn't anywhere to be found. I checked the address and my phone had decided to guide us along WEST Park Avenue instead of EAST Park Avenue. Blah. Happily, there was a diner right there so we ate there instead. But I am sure that my barbecue/hot sauce burger would have satisifed way more than the burger with way too much lettuce and too many tomatoes.

So. After we ate, we had to run so quickly that I was 80% convinced I was going to pass out in order to catch the train. We barely made it and as soon as I'd gasped my way back into full consciousness, I lost it again. We both fell asleep on the ride home.

After much-needed showers and some R&R, we decided to try out the Carnegie Deli. Mary had never eaten there but really wanted to go, and I'm always up for anything I've heard of in New York (and many things I haven't). How could I go wrong with a place Adam Sandler has sung about? Unfortunately, I was about to get my answer.

This place is evil. It lures you in with its "WORLD'S BEST" sign and nonsensically good reputation. However, everything on the menu is absurdly priced and although they won't take credit cards (WHO doesn't take credit cards?! In NEW YORK?!), they have a required minimum of $12.50 per person. Now, that's not hard to make, given that a SANDWICH costs 23 DOLLARS, but I had only budgeted one "nice" (i.e. over $20) meal into my trip and I sure as heck wasn't going to waste it on a sandwich that would require me to undergo a third jaw surgery. They must pack like 4 lbs of meat onto those things - I would've puked later anyway.

We decided to get cheesecake for dinner. We'd heard that their cheesecake was the best in the world and we were already there, so why not? However, we also had to get chocolate shakes in order to make the minimum check.

Le pout.

Le sigh.

The service was terrible. Our waiter didn't say ONE single thing to us that wasn't absolutely crucial communication. It was like one of those dumb team-building exercises without the bonding. The servers allowed dishes to crash so loudly into the sink every two minutes that you'd think they were getting paid based on how many people jumped out of their seats. However, one good thing came out of this trip.

Oh. My. Gosh. It was the best thing in the entire world. I consider it an innocent piece of goodness and wonderfulness trapped in a world of evil. I would gladly be the gallant knight that returned to rescue it again and again....only in a to-go box from now on. (The pickles were wretched.)

Really, I hate to complain, but it gets worse. By the end of the meal, the waiter's rude behavior was so unbelievable to us that we had decided not to tip. (I am a HUGE tipper. I believe in over-tipping, and tipping decently even if the service wasn't the best. So allow this to tell you, if I have been heretofore ineffective in doing so, how awful this experience was.) I had enough change to combine with Mary's cash to make the amount on the check. So we pooled our money and headed off to pay in the front of the restaurant like we'd been instructed. Guess what happened next?

The waiter RAN up to us and said, "Tip. You need to leave a tip for the service."

I said, "...What?"

He must have thought I didn't understand him, so he wrote the word "TIP" on the back of his notepad. I was utterly confounded.

Luckily, my sister's street smarts are the yin to my doe-eyed yang, so she quickly said, "We need to get change up front, then we'll come back and leave the tip." This convinced the waiter and he went off to probably break some china in the sink.

We went to the front, paid, and TOTALLY left. Ha. Showed him. I hope. I still kind of felt bad, as this was a new and scary experience for me. But not really. But a little.

ANYWAY. We went to a supermarket so I could get yogurt for the next couple of mornings, and Mary got a slice of pizza at a hole in the wall on the way back to her place. We gave ourselves pedicures and watched a movie, then made an early night of it.

The next day, Mary went to her gym in the morning so I roamed about as I pleased. I spent some time in Whole Foods in Union Square with an iced coffee and my special New York Moleskine that Ryan got for me. I did a little bit of journaling about what we'd done so far, all while enjoying the view.

Afterward, Mary and I met up and had another picnic in Central Park (hey, I only get so many chances!).

Afterward, we took some sweet pictures.

That night, we met our "cousin" (her grandpa and my Pi are brothers) Emily at Serendipity III! After the Carnegie Deli, I was SO glad to go to a well-known place in New York that I loved as much as I had hoped I would. It was so CUTE! And the food was delicious.

Los hermanos!

The menu was HUGE - not that it had a ridiculous selection, but it was literally HUGE.

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate! So delicious!

This was the sandwich I had. It had turkey, sprouts, Fuji apples, and Brie. Delicious!

Blurry us!

After dinner, we went upstairs to take a picture of the fireplace shown in the movie. We're tourists like that. Well, I am at least.
(Check out Mary in the corner of the photo. She was fed up with how many pictures I was taking.)

Early Tuesday morning, I boarded a train to Princeton to meet a dear friend's baby boy. He is so, so cute and SWEET! It was great to see all of them.

After that, I went back to the city and met up with Mary again. We spent the afternoon shopping. At Macy's they had really cool, old wooden escalators.

We met up with Gabe again for dinner. We went to an awesome Thai place called Room Service.

Mirrors on the ceiling. Cool!

This is my yummy Chicken Pad Thai. Yes, I take dumb food pictures. I am, indeed, one of those.

After dinner, we got cupcakes and went over to Gabe's apartment to watch a scary movie! I think I amused them with my screaming and shouted predictions ("HE'S UNDER THE BED!") Luckily they had both seen it before so I didn't ruin anything for them.

Anyway, the next day it was time to leave. Mary had to go to work so I hung out at her apartment and packed, then was off to the airport.

I had a great time! It is definitely tons of fun to see all the typical sights, but I also really enjoyed just walking around and doing whatever. Thanks, Bruther, for hosting me!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New York, Baby! - Part One

Last week I returned from my fourth trip to New York. Now, the first three times I went were all very touristy trips. The first trip was just for a weekend with my sister so that she could interview for a Dolce & Gabbana internship. The second and third times were in the summer, when she HAD the internship and I went with Josey and her family, then my husband. Both of those summer trips were spent running around with our New York Passes, cramming in as much sightseeing as we possibly could.

In January of 2008, when I was doing my sister's hair for her interview, neither of us dreamed that she would be LIVING in the Big Apple the next year. This trip was the first time I made hardly any specific plans. I stayed with Mary in her apartment in Hell's Kitchen (LOVE that area!) and she took some time off work so we could just walk around and do as we pleased.

We museum'd. We shopped. We ate. We went to the beach. We picnic(k?)ed in Central Park. We even hit a "garage sale" that took up a whole street! I got lots of cuteness there. We hung out with Gabe, who is Josey's brother and one of the sweetest, most fun, and most hilarious people ever. Mary and I often have actual discussions about how we pity people who don't have someone like him in their lives.

Let the pics begin.

We went to a restaurant on 53rd and 9th called Mangia e Bevi. If you're in NY, I recommend this place for yummy Italian food that is decently priced. They even give out tambourines to each table for people to (bang?) along to "That's Amore!" Very fun and unexpected. But beware if it's someone's birthday. That's all I'm sayin'.

Mary enthusiastically awaits the subway.

T Kettle on St. Marks has the BEST watermelon slushes. They consist of nothing but watermelon and ice. They are healthy and AMAZING!

Much cuteness.

Thumbs-up for T Kettle.

16 Handles, also somewhere in the East Village but I forgot where, has unique flavors of frozen yogurt that you can combine and then top with their awesome variety of toppings (like fruit, nuts, candy bars and even Cinnamon Toast Crunch). Pay by the ounce.


We went to Europa Cafe for breakfast. Mary teased me, saying it's too touristy. Maybe it is. But I love it.

This is the garage sale! I saw a sign for it so we walked down after breakfast. The day was gorgeous and we found so many awesome things there! Like:

I'm working on making over my living room into a fresh green and yellow look. So I had to have these candlesticks! $5 for the pair.

Genuine Matryoshka dolls from Russia. Look how teeny teeny tiny the smallest one is! $6.

So I love "kitschy" things for my kitchen. I love vintage knickknacks. This sweet little milk jug was $5.

I love cameos, so when Mary spotted this necklace I had to have it. She found a gorgeous black one and got it for herself, so now we have sort-of-matching cameo necklaces and a fun memory behind them! They were $5 each.

The lady who was selling this carpet bag purse told us it was from the 40s or 50s. She wanted $10 for it. Mary spotted that it couldn't be that old because of the type of stitch used. She dated it around the 70s. The lady must have spotted Mary checking it out suspiciously, so she dropped the price to $8. Ha. I don't care when it's from, I just think it's cute!

I got some more things at the garage sale, but I can't post them because they're gifts ;)

So ANYWAY. Back to the photos from the trip.

My cute sister :)

So, this is definitely Mary's ROOF.

Central Park!
Bethesda Fountain

We saw this wedding couple a few times throughout the park! The bride's dress was light pink!


Magnolia Bakery has the BEST cupcakes! I know I've said that before so I won't expound now.

She'd never been before and LOVED it!

I heart NY...
Union Square

Watermelon margaritas at an outdoor bar called Blockheads! So summery and perfect.



Well, that's all I'll burden you with in this post. Beware four more days' worth of pictures....