The World Is Sound

IMG_0625The Rubin Museum of Art brings the East to the West. The Himalayan art makes a strong impact in scrolls and statues. In addition to the visual, audio was the focus in The World Is Sound, an exhibit that offers chants, instruments, artistic snippets of sound, and a ceiling to floor soundtrack from the first floor to the top and back down. Really, sound is everywhere all the time, and in this exhibit, it’s electric.

Normally, I skip elevators, but since I was starting on the top floor and working my way down, I took it. The elevators played interviews with artists about sound. This is how all-encompassing this exhibit is.

IMG_0626The curators want everyone to experience sound with your entire body through all five senses, so some art appeared next to signs that read Touch To Hear, and you could hear the vibration of a chant that went along with a piece of art. I like museums that encourage touching stuff. I also like museums that don’t allow you to touch stuff so that I can try to touch stuff and feel a bit of a rebel when I pull it off.

I found the Om Room that plays recordings of people chanting om. I sat and hummed and listened. I went back a second time before leaving the museum because it was really neat and relaxing.

Next to that was a video that showed graphics of space and molecules and talked about sound vibrations. It was stunning with a vibrant gold statue of a bodhisattva next to it. A bodhisattva is someone reaching toward enlightenment who helps others do the same, one step down from being a Buddha, one who has attained enlightenment. See how much you can learn in one trip to the museum?

There was a bank of headphones to listen to short compositions of sound and song. I like almost all of them. While I usually refrain from putting on public headphones, these were necessary for the full experience and did not seem germy at all. The descriptions of the compositions were also artistic.

Then came my favorite thing in the whole exhibit aside from the Om Room. I did this twice. They had a recording of someone reading the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead. To experience the reading, there was a bench, and you lay yourself down on the bench to listen. Some people were sitting. I laid down. Then I went back and laid down again because I like laying down in places, especially in NYC (see: Yoga In Times Square and that trip to the Whitney where after you lie down you find out you’ve been temperature recorded). I want to find that recording because I would lie down and listen to it every day.

After taking in the permanents and other exhibits on the other floors, all the while listening to the sounds coming from the center of the museums spiral staircase, I headed back to Penn. On my way, I found the key to the city.

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A Panel Acceptance!

Poets Rita Banerjee, Christina M. Rau, Marlena Chertock, and Alex DiFrancesco will be featured in the panel “Fantasy As Reality: Activism and Catharsis Through Speculative Writing” at the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Split This Rock: Poems of Provocation & Witness will take place from April 19-21, 2018 in Washington, D.C. You can read more […]

via Split this Rock 2018 Poetry Festival Panel feat. Rita Banerjee, Christina M. Rau, Marlena Chertock, and Alex DiFrancesco Announced! — Rita Banerjee

My Last Mug Cake

Some people bake in their free time. I’m not talking about a career (here’s to you, Southpaw Sweets–keep on doing what you’re doing). I’m talking about a hobby. Like they’ll find themselves in a moment of “what should I do now?” and they decide, “I should go to the kitchen, mix and measure things, put the mixture into a hot oven, and create something edible.” It doesn’t even have to be for a reason. If you haven’t guessed, I’m not one of those people.

I don’t mind cooking. I’ve always tried recipes that are on the simple side if  they seem healthy and yummy. I’ve even created mt own dishes a time or two. Twice, I made stuffed shells–once for a dinner party and once for a family holiday. I don’t hate the kitchen, but I don’t find myself in there when I’m thinking about how to spend some fun time.

Twice I’ve used a deep fryer. Once was during Christmas time when I volunteered to make the frittamiste, and it took all day, and I’ll never do it again. The other time was when I attempted to make fried Oreos, and they came out okay, but never again because no one needs to make fried Oreos. That’s what fairgrounds are for.

I surprised myself when I decided to find a recipe that would be kind of like a dessert but also kind of healthy. I’ve been doing a modified Whole 30 because my body is too acidic/pitta/inflamed since the Physical Therapy Tore My Labrum incident (by the way, I’m 100% sure both are torn. One is diagnosed, but both have the same symptoms, so thanks Bob who couldn’t remember which knee he was working on. I’m really enjoying the limp). Plus, since I haven’t been able to work out the past two months the way I’m used to working out — high impact aerobics and kickboxing balanced with weight toning and yoga / yogalates / PiYo–I have to seriously curb my eating. The Great Cellulite Invasion 2017 has already begun, accompanied by The Incredibly Stretching Stretch Marks. I like to eat healthy, and the Whole 30 recipes I have are delicious and filling. Still, I like to have a snack every now and then, and a handful of nuts goes only so far.

Onto the interwebs! I found an easy recipe for a mug cake that uses coconut flour and vanilla extract. It’s paleo but not exactly Whole 30 because of the extract. Still, close enough. It’s not like I’m going to eat a mug cake every hour on the hour. I had most of the ingredients. I knew it might be a bit dry because I didn’t have coconut milk, but I had all the other wet ingredients, so I went into baking mode.

The best thing about mug cake is that it bakes in the microwave. I got a large mug, mixed the dry ingredients, whisked in the wet ingredients, and put it in the microwave. It smelled good as it baked. The microwave beeped. I took it out. It was cake like but also crumbly.

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No raw egg in sight means it’s edible. So I started eating it. As expected, it was dry. It was also kind of bland but sometimes also a hint of salty. And sometimes a hint of coconut but grainy coconut.

Then my mouth started burning. I’m not talking about temperature. I’m talking about, like, you know when you scrape the top of your mouth with scratchy toast and then drink orange juice? Or, like, when you rinse your mouth with peroxide and you feel that chemical sensation? Yeah, so that, but only like also almost dying and for the rest of the day on the sides of my tongue, all around my gums, the roof of my mouth, and into my throat. Basically, I thought I’d poisoned myself. I threw out the cake.

This lasted until bedtime. The next morning, the ordeal had subsided. Also having subsided is my thinking that a handful of nuts will go only so far.

Wave Walk, or To Complete A List

S likes to finish lists. I like to find public art. La Mer’s Wave Walk seemed to be essential to live our lives happily. A way to promote the UN’s focus on clean oceans, La Mer Blue Heart Ocean Fund teamed up with Project O to find celebrities to create pieces of artwork about the ocean. Most are circular waves. A few are surf boards. La Mer posted an interactive map on their website to boast these sculptures.

Fact: This interactive map is the worst map. No matter when or how you open it, it always starts on the sculpture in the Bronx in Yankee Stadium. When you click on it, it sometimes goes to where you want it to go, but mostly, it does whatever it feels like doing.

Fact: The waves are numbered in a way that seems random. I’m guessing they are numbered by how they were commissioned, and then they were placed across the city. However, the placement and the numbers don’t line up, so like #1 is near #45.

Fact: One of the waves listed is not the wave that exists. The lobby of the James Hotel has a fabulous sculpture, but it’s not the one listed on the site.

So the goal to see all the waves also became a project I’m very fond of: map making. I stepped away from using maps for a while–I used to use them in creative writing and literature classes but because the Google and the Flickr change how their map tech works often, I stopped because relearning and reteaching how to make a map takes too much time. Now, however, it was me, the Google, S’s neat organized list of wave sculptures, and a dream.

I saw my first wave by accident. When Eddie and I waited for the right bagels at JFK, I found one. It’s past security, which means public art in this case is open to all those who might have a plane ticket and are flying out of Terminal 4. Finding it was a delight, though.

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Only a few days later, S found some on her own at Albee Square.

Then came our first jaunt out into the wild together. First stop, Sugartarium at Unix Gallery. This has nothing to do with waves and everything to do with her love of sweets and my love of free things to do.

Next stop? Well, that’s when we were using the terrible interactive map that barely works on a desktop computer let alone a cell phone. So we zig zagged through the city and found some near the Flatiron, Brookfield Place, the Oculus, FIT, Wall Street, and Whole Foods on Greenwich. It took hours of confused subway rides and turned around street crossing.

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Near the Flatiron, basically hidden next to a large truck. Also, we couldn’t find the subway downtown after seeing this one so we crossed the same street maybe five times.

At Brookfield. Walked in, out, around, down the promenade, and then across the patio. It’s clearly inside but not on the side where we were inside.

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Down on Wall Street, we made a friend. (The wave is actually outside of the front of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian).

We walked by the Oculus and then back by it again. We went inside because S said I should see inside. Then we went outside. Then we looked at the picture on the interactive map and saw that they were actually inside. The address didn’t say that.

Oh sweet magnificent Whole Foods. They had a sign explaining the entire Wave Walk and Project 0 as well as where to find the wave.

The next week, we embarked on Day 2 armed with a better list of our own, a better map of our own, and pure moxie. Day 2 was about 100 degrees.  Thank you, summer, for arriving on the very day we’d be running around from north to south. First stop, Harlem.

It’s 125 under the tressle and not the address they give, but close.

Into the lobby of Sotheby’s where this surf board doesn’t look like the photo on the map.

We then made our way to the UN. We walked uphill and downhill and across streets and back across. We looked at the map. We looked through fences and gates. Finally, S climbed the stairs and peeked inside beyond security to find that they were actually inside the complex.

The security guard told us to simply go across the street and get a pass. It would take five minutes tops. Then we could get inside to see them. Ohhh. Okay. We went across the street, and S went inside while I waited outside as per the guard’s instructions. She came back out holding a blue paper bracelet and said, You wear the wristband, and I get this. She indicated the sticker on her shirt. Hahahahhahahahaaaa.

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We went back across the street and the guard smiled and welcomed us through. Security was quick. The waves were right there along with the other permanent sculptures. Also, there’s a ghost in one of these photos.

As aforementioned, the sun blazed, I sweated a lot, and so the memory of where we went and how we got there drifts fuzzily in my head. At one point, we got on a subway car that was not air conditioned, but we got to sit for a while. A balanced trade. So here are some waves we saw, possibly not in the order we saw them, but since the official map is terrible, this is still better.

Three waves along Madison.

Inside Vivienne Westwood

This one is called Mushball. It’s on either Madison or 3rd. It’s a blur. If it’s on Madison, then one of the ones above listed at Madison is on 3rd. This is very helpful, I know.

The one listed at 611 5th Ave is actually inside Saks. Why not just say “inside Saks?”

We did the hotels together: The James and then Crosby. As indicated before, the one in the lobby of the James is not listed, and the one listed on the map as the one in the lobby is not apparent anywhere in real life. The guys at The James Hotel were really helpful in simply offering up how to see the other two without our asking.

Three at The James Hotel

One at Crosby Hotel

There was also this one outside of the American Folk Art Museum.

Six at the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning.

Drenched, thirsty, starving, we headed to Cooper Square at some point. Along the way, I bought some fruit and a protein bar that had chocolate because I was craving both along with a third or fourth bottle of water. We sat in Cooper Square while I ate. The sun had started to set, so it was around only 90 degrees at this point.

S found a 7-11 to get a Coke slurpie. I saw a Vivi’s and got a bubble tea. Oh sweet mercy of air conditioning and ice cold drinks. We also saw some typical NYC scenes along the way.

The Tide Is High wave is listed at The Kimmel Center NYU. We found the Kimmel Center. We walked around the Kimmel Center. I suggested we go into the park across from the Kimmel Center, but the map on the phone told us we were going the wrong way. We went into the Kimmel Center. I sat on the stairs of the Kimmel Center as S climbed them to look around. One of the guards spoke to her about the waves and he was like, I’ll show you. She beckoned me, and I climbed up after her. He took us up the escalator and indicated, It’s through there.

We walked down a hall and entered a room and there it stood. It wasn’t a special wave or THE wave we were looking for. However, something felt magical about it. Maybe because I was about to pass out from heat exhaustion. Maybe because it didn’t have a rope around it as most of the indoor ones do. Maybe because it’s orange and I like orange. Maybe because in the fading light, it glimmered. Again, that could be the onset of dehydration, but still. Magnificent.

We thanked the guard, who had seen quite a few on his own, and called it a day. We’d spent about ten hours searching for waves in NYC summer heat. It was time to pack it in for  now.

As a follow up, S got to see more in Brooklyn, on Roosevelt Island, and in other parts of Manhattan. The outliers are the ones in Yankee Stadium and Staten Island. The list may not have all checks by the time the sculptures come down, but it was an honest and determined effort to finish it.

I realize it’s for a bigger cause. However. The next time anyone wants to set up statues across NYC, call us. We’ll make a map and checklist and maybe we’ll offer prizes. Okay, we’re not offering prizes, but we can make a list and a map. It’s really simple. See?

Remember Zumba and Personal Space?

I texted my mom, “I’m going to Zumba with S.” She answered, “Personal space!” She’s never done Zumba, yet she knows of the woes of sweaty strangers touching. It’s pretty much why I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back to Zumba; also, it’s now $5 instead of $4, which seems to be a big leap. Anyway, I’ve thought about going to the Tuesday night class with a different instructor, but there’s not guarantee that instructor won’t be touchy or maybe even more touchy.

S’s Zumba class is taught by a non-touchy instructor, so I headed out, excited. Not exciting was the two hour traffic jam on the Belt which lead me to having to quickly parallel park. I am not a parallel parker, so doing it quickly is not even a notion usually. However, three tries and I was in! Then I was rushing to the class where S met me. As I filled out the “It’s okay if I die from this I won’t sue you” paperwork, S filled up her water bottle and informed me that we’d missed only the warmup. I was like, “My walk from the car was my warmup.” She was like, “Mine too.”

We wound up on the side of the room S doesn’t really like, but there was space there. Personal space. Sweet lovely personal space. Even in a crowded room, I basked in the no-touching zone.

And then we were in it. Jumping, sliding, dipping, shaking. For the past three weeks, I’ve done none of this kind of thing. I wanted to change up my workout completely, so I bought the PiYO workout (and did not pay that ridiculous price of over $70 for it). Those workouts are little to no impact from 18 to 36 minutes. After the shorter routines, I go on the elliptical. There has been no dancing or aerobics. Jumping back into Zumba made me realize how much I miss the dancing aerobics. (So much so that the next day after PiYO, I did a Just Dance workout).

I caught onto most of the choreography by watching the instructor and then by watching S.  Whatever I couldn’t catch onto, I made up. That’s allowed as long as you don’t screw up the people around you, and since I had all this personal space, I wasn’t screwing anyone up. Plus, a lot of people in the class were about a beat behind, so making it your own seemed to be a common occurrence.

Sweating profusely, I asked S what time the class ended. We had about a half hour left. However, that half hour went really quickly.  After a few more salsas and stretches, we were done. S flushed pink and I, of course, dripped.

We got iced teas! Oooh, a nice post-Zumba refresher!

So now I’m thinking I should try the local five-dollar-Zumba one more time. I can do it at home, for sure, but sometimes, getting out into a class makes it even better.

 

I Don’t Know Why I Thought The MoMA Wouldn’t Be Crowded

The Friday before Easter, I was like, Hey, let me hop on a train and go into the city to see art because I feel like ending my Spring Break on a leisurely relaxing jaunt. I was even able to drive my car to the station and park instead of walking there like I did on my last (sweaty) museum adventure. I got in enough walking through the museum, though it was more like being pushed along with throngs of people than actual walking.

The Travel Zoo discount pass I had instructed me to go to the counter for entry. Easy enough. I walked into the MoMA. I had thought that there would be a lonely counter waiting for me to walk up to it for entry. I don’t know why my mind creates such ideas.

First off, there are many counters. Secondly, there are also many lines. Thirdly, there were many, many, many people. Wall to wall people. People everywhere.  I found a line for special ticketing and showed my printout and a woman told me to go ahead and get on that line, which was shorter than the others, which made me happy.

I’m pretty good with crowds. I’m used to being jostled because people don’t look down. On this line, however, I was clearly on it, standing there, taking up existence in space. The woman behind me did not seem to care about that. There was some bumping. A bit of elbowing. Some more hovering. I kept standing and breathing and telling myself I was not being annoyed. Then she hit me in the head with her museum map. This annoyed me. I turned around and looked at her. She looked at me. I turned back around, satisfied that this eye contact would solve the issue.

The map hit my head again. I turned around again and gave her my “quit it” face, which is a pretty powerful face if you ask any of my students or strangers who have annoyed me like this before. It didn’t seem to phase her. So naturally, I did the very adult thing of putting my hand on my hip and jutting out my elbow to create space, and also so that when she bumped me again, she’d get a pointy jolt. She continued to bump and hit me in the head.

This is the point when I thought to myself, I am about to get into the first fist fight of my life. And I don’t think I was joking to myself. I was literally thinking about how she was taller than I was and how I wouldn’t cause much damage. I also thought about how people don’t get into fights in museums. Then I thought that I could be arrested if I got into a fight, which is when I really stopped thinking about punching her. Yes, that’s the reason I didn’t get into a fist fight at the MoMA. And then I was called to the counter and allowed entry. She’s so lucky.

I went to the top and worked my way down, meaning I did what everyone else did, and it was crazytown. I knew I was done looking at a piece of art when the people around me were also done because we all moved together, being pushed and pushing each other from room to room. This was a different kind of pushing from the waiting-in-line pushing. This was more like a flow of artistic mesmerization.

The non-permanent exhibitions were Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. That exhibit came with a warning before walking in that not everything there was suitable for all ages. The first thing I saw was a photo of a penis, so, agreed. Unless you’re European. This one does not have a visible unit.

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The Hug, New York City, 1980 — this reminded me of a Vettriano painting.

Nearby was Teiji Furuhashi’s Lovers: a dark room with a motion-sensor projector in the middle that projected silhouettes of naked men wandering from and to nowhere.

In non-nakedness, there was How Should We Live?, an exhibition that felt like a fancy showroom in IKEA. This is not an insult.

Dust Gathering was another, though I didn’t really know what it was about other than there was a helicopter floating from the ceiling.

I spent most of my time moving through rooms and rooms and rooms of permanent exhibits, or what I think were permanent but I’m not sure.  I just kept moving through rooms.

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Paul Chan: The Body Of Oh Marys — because anything with writing on it draws my attention

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Barnett Newman: Vir Heroicus Sublimis — because I think it’s pretty neat that someone can paint the same color across a canvas that size evenly

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This isn’t the artwork, but I loved it. It’s a shadow of Aleksandr Rodchenko’s Spatial Construction #12.

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Shirana Shahbazi: Composition 40-2011

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Giorgio de Chirico’s The Serenity of the Scholar — because I’m a scholar, right?

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I don’t know what this was. I was amusing myself because of the reflection.

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This is Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. I’ve always loved this painting for obvious reasons until I actually read what it was about–this lady has polio and is movement impaired. It’s less whimsy, more tragic.

At one turn, there was a huge mob, bigger than the other normal mobbing from room to room. Then I realized why.

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This is Starry Night.

Oh, I also got admonished by a security guard who asked me to step back from a Dali painting. Heh heh. Where was he when I almost decked that woman on line?

I stood in the sun for a while when I got back down to the ground floor.

Then I decided that the museum itself was art.

I headed home just in time to miss the non-running-train catastrophe at Penn Station, which meant I got to have a leisurely train ride home with a seat all to myself.

A Panel, Some Readings, & A Presentation For NPM 17

Every day is poetry day for a poet, but April is National Poetry Month for everyone, so I’ve been going out into the world for poetic reasons. The Oceanside Public Library asked me to be on a panel for How To Put Your Poetry Collection Together. It morphed into a discussion about publishing poetry collections rather than organizing poems, but we hit upon a lot of different important points.

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My face says, “I’m sleepy” but my hands say, “I’m holding this pen.” Which I later broke.

A really neat thing was that one of my former students was there, asking questions, being intrigued. He came up to me afterwards while someone else was talking to me (and asking to buy my book! and I hadn’t even been hocking them!), so I was like, Don’t go anywhere I know you, and he was like, Oh you remember. I remembered him but not his name, and that’s okay because he was my student more than a few years ago, so many names have passed my desk (and failed, ha!. okay, not funny, but true) since then. We chatted about poetry and then he told the guy who bought my book that he liked my class because I made them do different things that they wouldn’t normally do. Aww, sweet!

The next night, I was off to Long Island City for a reading at The Local for Boundless Tales. Yeah, that’s right. This old lady went out two nights in a row. Eddie and I drove in early, got a parking space right across the street from the venue — that never happens ever– and then walked in larger concentric circles until finding an Italian restaurant and agreeing to split a personal pizza which was one of the best personal pizzas we’d ever had. A server came to clear our plates, and then he took the remaining slices of our pizza, and we never saw them again. We didn’t say we wanted them, but he also didn’t ask if we wanted them. He simply asked if we were finished, and since we were, we said yes. Lesson Learned.

We walked back more directly to The Local which we found easily. The inside is kind of funky. Silhouettes on the walls. Pennies on the floor. There weren’t chairs. Rather, there were these large rolling cushion things to sit on. It was a great place for poetry.

The host kindly asked if I would like to change the order of readers since I was set to read first and my brother hadn’t arrived yet. We changed it up since it was just a handful of us there anyway and very informal. These are my favorite kinds of readings. No pressure. A few folks. There were also people coming in and out, standing to listen for a while and then leaving and then coming back. There was a bar, and the place is a hostel, so lots of people were around.

My brother arrived in time for my reading. He’d taken the 7 train and then walked. I swear, he can get anywhere via any subway. Meanwhile, Eddie and I walk in circles to find things that are two blocks away. Anyway, the reading ran the gamut of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry about all sorts of things. When it was my turn

I did my usual dog and pony show with astronaut ice cream and space stickers. At the end, the host was like, The giveaway is a fun idea. I was like, yeah, I’ve learned that at any age, people love stickers. It’s a fact, y’all.

The next week, I read as part of the faculty sabbatical reading at work for our Lit, Live! series. My poetry workshop class was there, a captive audience, but I think they enjoyed it. The next day, I discussed my sabbatical of writing poetry for the Women’s Faculty Association, sandwiched between a talk about chemistry that flew over my head and a talk about total well-being given by a chiropractor. In my experience, chiropractors are the most intense motivated people alive, and this presentation proved it. When I went to Faculty Development Day the next day, someone who had attended the WFA presentations told me she enjoyed my talk. Aw, shucks. I thought my talk went not so great because I’d forgotten to click on stuff during the presentation. Apparently, my bubbly personality makes for a strong presentation no matter what’s happening as proven by the guy at the presentation who told me I was not only informative but entertaining. I refrained from handing out stickers and astro ice cream at that presentation (though I did hand them out at the sabbatical reading, and one of my colleagues said that the prizes are unexpected, which makes for an interesting twist at a reading).

I do have to be careful. I feel like I’m walking a fine line between kitschy and sideshow. Like, if I ever show up to a reading in an actual space suit, do not let me read until I change. Then again, with these two on my team, we could take a show on the road.

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Still Shaking

Tea and coffee and honey and knives and cookies and Geico and more tea. That’s what you find at the Coffee & Tea Festival. First stop, Queens to pick up B. Fun Fact: Queens a week after a snow storm looks like Queens the day after a snow storm. Narrow roads, no parking, me and my nonsense of direction even with a GPS all made for an interesting venture. Fun Fact: Siri wanted me to go the wrong way down a One Way and then wanted me to make a U-Turn by going on a highway. I did neither and still found B

Second stop, Brooklyn to meet SD and have tea and coffee. Fun Fact: Brooklyn a week after a snow storm looks like Brooklyn the day after a snow storm. After making wider and wider circles around blocks, we found a parking space in which I wedged my car and asked B to climb over the driver side to get out.

We’d made it to the mecca of free samples concerning hot beverages. The first thing we grabbed: free water enhanced with electrolytes. The second thing we grabbed: chicken with a spicy rub. Neither of these had anything to do with coffee or tea, but what a way to start!

Then came Kombucha and some tea and some coffee. Then came the lemonade coffee drink thing that sounds incredibly scary and tastes fantastically refreshing. Yes, these are the risks you take when you have free samples staring you in the face.

Tom's Lemon Coffee business card

I talked to pretty much every table, tasting anything that they offered. At one point, I had a small plastic cup of flavored sugar granules in my hand. That’s when I thought, Hey, maybe it’s better to think before snacking. I mean, in what world does one carry around a cup of sugar and eat it? I suppose in the world of free samples for all.

Whenever I caught sight of SD, she’d found a new snack. Once I also saw her talking to a man wielding a knife, and he let her demonstrate her new knowledge of how to use said knife to me.

Every time I saw some coffee, I called over B, which once ended with her having a tiny very strong espresso. I didn’t have any espresso, but I did have maybe every other kind of coffee you could have.

I also tasted almost every tea available. Then I tasted some kind of pumpkin seed milk. That’s probably where one should draw the line. I did not. I had more things, signed up for things, tasted some sort of hot sauce that clearly had no place being at festival for coffee and tea, and then I bought some very cute tea from a company called Oh You TEAse because their table was like being at a tea party. Oh, and the tea is yummy.

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We called it a day after we’d exhausted every turn and aisle including navigating around the Geico table that was giving away gekkos and sunglasses. Again, why were they there?

So, like, I drink green tea every day. I don’t drink coffee often, nor do I indulge in caffeine much. That means, by the time I got to the car, I was wondering if I could find a coffee shop for a bathroom break because I was  not walking back seven blocks to go. Eh, no biggie, it could wait.

Except that it couldn’t and I was like, B, I usually don’t do things like this, but I’ve gotta make a pit stop. And so I found a gas station that had a bathroom “outside around to the left.” It was a perfectly acceptable alternative to going in my pants.

When I got home, I was all shaky and hyped up on sugar and caffeine. I looked up how to counterbalance caffeine. Vitamin C and water. So I had some clementines and drank maybe a gallon of water. By that night, I was almost back to baseline.

Since then, I’ve been having my green tea in the morning and then trying a sample tea in the afternoon, and I’ll keep doing that until all the teas are gone. Which means I’ll have to go back for more when the festival returns. Or I could just find and buy it, but what fun is that?

Petting Penguins

Things I’m big on: free stuff, going to new places. Things I’m not to big on: animals. However, in, like, sixth grade, I made a penguin out of clay. It got smashed along with several other clay animals, and we were allowed to make them over. The smasher, to my knowledge, was never found. Since then, I’ve had a penguin affinity. Although I’m not big on animals, penguins are okay.

That brings us to the weekend of a lot of stuff.

Stuff 1: Travel Marketplace. Hosted by AAA at Hofstra, it’s two floors of free pens, bags, candy, chocolate, note pads, key chains, and stickers. This year, I also got a chip bag clip, and I spun a wheel to win a luggage tag. The best part, aside from learning that Hershey Park has a zoo–yeah, that’s right, a zoo–and aside from learning that you should get the hopper pass in case it rains if you go to Universal Studios, is that we got Moonpies from the good folks over at the Tennessee table.

Also, Eddie and I learned that we still don’t look all that old. We got to a table where two people who looked like they could be our children asked if we’d heard of their tours. I said I’d heard of the name. They were like, we specialize in trips for people in their twenties, and they went to go on but our laughing brought that to a short halt. We called over our two friends who are still in their twenties (And who could also pass for our children) to hear the rest of their pitch.

If you want to go to Scotland, there’s a tour company that offers two versions of a Game of Thrones tour. While I would very much like to see Scotland as a country unattached to a television show, I would also very much like to wear a cloak and shoot an arrow at something.

We booked no trips but did manage to work up an appetite despite the Moonpies and Hershey kisses, so we went to Sonic.

Stuff #2: Sonic. There’s a new Sonic near the mall by us and you have to wait on a very long line no matter if you’re taking out or sitting in a stall in your car and I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo which seemed like it would be the healthiest choice–still gross but healthier than anything else–and I took one bite and then threw the rest out. I think I have an aversion to fast food these days. Clearly, I’m not against junk (see “Moonpies” above), but Sonic food really isn’t great. It’s the drinks that makes them Sonic. Everyone else enjoyed their shakes and chili cheese fries. My unsweetened iced tea tasted delightful.

Stuff #3: The Long Island Aquarium. It’s been in existence for 17 years and this was my first time visiting. The one in Coney Island is closer, I think, and really, I’m not an aquarium kind of gal. Fish. Great.

My mind changed a bit when I saw the thingies–stingrays? is that what they are?–coming up out of the water to eat what people were feeding them. For $3, you, too, can feed them. It was fascinating but also a bit disturbing. The faces of these things are really weird.

We went outside to see the sea lion show. Outside was about 2 degrees. We lasted about eleven minutes when I leaned into Eddie and said, I need to go inside like right now. When we got inside, our friends had followed. Pretty much no one wanted to freeze to see a sea lion jump.

We saw sharks, an octopus, a lot of fish of all different kinds, and turtles. We also saw monkeys. I don’t know why they are at the aquarium.

Then we went to pet some penguins. A small group of us were brought to a room near the penguin exhibit, which was closed because it was too cold for even the penguins to be outside, and we sat in a circle while two penguins toddled around us. They nipped at boots and scarves. They crapped and then walked through it a bunch of times. The pecked at doors and windows. They followed around the keeper whenever she walked from one side of the room to the other.

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The keeper picked one up and let us pet the penguin. Then later on, we pet the other penguin. Then we got to take pictures with the penguins.

One of these two people who had arrived late sat looking as if he were going to be sick, and then kept clearing the steam from the windows so people outside could see in. Then he asked someone to take a video instead of a picture. I thought to myself, why in the heck do you need a video of sitting on a bench? Then he didn’t sit. He knelt down and proposed. The people outside knew it was going to happen, so they weren’t trying to see the penguins, really. They’d been trying to watch for the proposal.

The girl said Yes. I’d been holding my breath because it seemed she was going to say No, and I was fighting off tears of potential embarrassment for this guy. Phew.

Stuff#4: Witnessing proposals and penguins can work up an appetite so we went to and Irish-type pub called Diggers Ales & Eats. It was good. Okay, I got a salad, but still, it was a delicious salad.

Sign for Diggers Soup of the day Whiskey

Stuff #5: Eddie’s mentioned a few times this pretzel place that supposedly has the best pretzels on Long Island, Knot Of This World (get it?). From the pub, we went to Huntington to find them. Funny thing: every weekend in March is up for a St. Patrick’s Day parade even if it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. So we found ourselves at the winding-down of Huntington’s Irish celebration. Having just come from an Irish pub, we fit in, of course, except that we were not drunk or wearing green. We parked up a hill and walk in the freezing cold all the way down the main street. We found the pretzel place that had its door open so that the guy outside could yell in to bring out more pretzels to the table he had set up on the sidewalk. Why, sir, must the door stay open?

Aside from remaining frozen indoors, we delighted in very large pretzels. I want to go back with someone who has a palate for exotic tastes so I can split a flavored pretzel, like one with spinach and cheese or one with cinnamon or one with Nutella. These may not seem exotic, but to Eddie, they are because they do not fall into the main food group he likes, Bland. We split a regular pretzel. It was warm and delicious.

Five Stuffs is a lot for one weekend. We did stuff. We stuffed our faces. And I did this final stuff that probably made my weekend. Because it’s the little things.

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Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend

I think I’m a Dorothy. Long before choosing among Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte in NYC, there were Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose in Miami. Donning breezy, colorful, layered frocks, they reveled in cheesecake and lasagna while picturing Sicily and bemoaning/loving the men in their lives. Dorothy was tall, and I’m not, but she was a teacher, which I am. It’s either her or Sophia, who is short, so maybe that’s me, too.

Why a show about four older ladies living together in Miami would appeal to girls around 7 and 8 years old, I don’t know, but it did. Every episode of The Golden Girls, especially in syndication, played on screen in my living room. Then as a teen, I’d watch again. Now as an adult, I don’t watch as often, but there’s something about it that makes me leave it on.

Upon hearing there would be a restaurant dedicated to Blanche and The Golden Girls in NYC, S and I made it THE thing we’d do once it was open. Then it opened. And we did our thing: Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend.

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Getting there proved a comedy of travel. Amazingly, we were able to text each other when one or the other was on the subway. However, those texts were delayed, so when she was getting on one train car, I was ge01043646469b843fa45ff54ad832367558a6cec7e7tting on another car. On a different train. On a different line. Whoopsie. Train after train, stop after stop, we told each other where we were, but by the time we’d receive the messages, we’d be in different places. We finally met up when I got out at 59th. As we waited for the next train to take uptown together, I got a sweet treat: a butter Kit Kat.

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We made it to 187th and walked in the wrong direction for a while before heading in the right direction and missing it again. FYI: there’s a huge scaffolding in front of Rue La Rue. Before seeing the cafe, we saw something that seems serendipitous. I mean, come on: it’s spelled wrong, but that’s totally a sign. Sophia! Right next to Rue! It had to be a sign. Literally and figuratively (see what I did there?).

When we went inside, we realized just how small it is, but we were 01080949b0c41da71e636879678f53f30de70a6b9efortunate that the film crew there from Inside Edition (or one of those shows) was packing up and we got their table. They’d been there to sing Happy Birthday because it would have been Rue McClanahan’s birthday, which is what this sign says beneath the window glare. We sat and then looked across the room at the ceiling to counter chalkboard menu next to the door. We’d have to go up to the counter on the other side of the room to order. It wasn’t the easiest way to choose what to eat, especially since we couldn’t find a menu online (but I did find a menu for some place in California that came up every time I looked up this place). I overheard the owner say that the menu would be changing based on Rue’s recipe book, so that  might be why they have no menus to hand out. I decided on a curry chicken sandwich and S chose grilled cheese. She went to order and I took pictures, most of them with glare, and made a friend who had been there two hours, gawking at everything. He suggested I get the Betty White Cake along with a piece of cheesecake, which is what he did. Then I took a photo of him and the owner in front of the weird bathroom door, which is the only thing in the place that’s really not Golden Girl themed and is more NYC weird themed.S

S came back with a #3, saying they’d bring the food to us. Then she checked out the weird bathroom, reporting that the butt and an arm were on the inside. That made sense. Here’s the front side:0197f10e3d0cad44ccbe34559ac5c93779ab1eba5c

The01c0401cd8076de8bf02b7b09e71924934585a9ac9n we waited. We watched episodes of The Golden Girls that play on a loop, commercial-free. We watched everyone getting their food and enjoying their food. We wished we had our food. We chatted some more, took more pics, S went on FB live, and then we waited more. The owner came over and chatted with us about the grilled cheese, which he’d told S at the counter when she ordered and then me right then that it had two kinds of cheeses, one expensive and one cheap, to represent each time in Rue’s life. Then he said he’d check on our food.

Then S went up to the counter about ten minutes later to check on our order. They had lost it somehow. My chicken sandwich was sitting somewhere and the grilled cheese was no where to be found, and our meal ticket had no number on it so basically we had #3 on our table for no reason. Then a few minutes later (we’d watched over an episode and a half of TGG by this point, so it was over a half hour), a runner came with my sandwich and said that he’d be right back with the grilled cheese.

He wasn’t right back. I wouldn’t eat until S got her food, but she insisted I eat, so I had a pickle. Then the guys next to us were like, You didn’t get your food yet!? One of them was like, Well, I’m concerned about it at least. Helpful in that fellowship kind of way but  not in that the-food-is-coming way. I at some chips, and S wouldn’t have any. Then she went to the counter and asked simply for biscuits and strawberry butter–her first choice–and they gave her that on the house along with #6.

So she had two inedible numbers and I had a sandwhich. I ate. She got her biscuits! Then she ate! Then the runner came by and she said she no longer wanted the grilled cheese and he almost gasped, You want to leave!? And she was like, no, I’m just not hungry for it anymore. (Another episode of TGG has passed by at this point, so that’s over 40 minutes). He said he’d pack it for her to go, and when he came back with it and a bag, he apologized profusely, saying that since the kitchen staff couldn’t handle a sandwich, they might have to find new staff.

The problem here was that, since she’d already paid, she had to get her sandwich or they would have to give her the money back, but she had no receipt and they’d lost whatever they were supposed to have on their side. The owner couldn’t even figure out what had happened, but he did ask if one of us had ordered a tuna melt. What the?

So we didn’t get the Betty White Cake or cheesecake because who knows how long we’d have to wait for that or if they’d bring out nachos instead. We DID, however, hop on over to the Golden Girls phone.

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Long cord and palm fronds, of course

In all, the experience of being there and taking in the nostalgia was fantastic. The food service, for us, not so great. However, everyone around us got their food and had no issues.

To make up for the food debacle, we headed to Bryan Park’s Winter Village so she could get fried pickles. They didn’t have them. She decided to simply get fries, and the booth that had been open five minutes before when we first walked by was now closed. S was having an unlucky food day for sure. I felt a little guilty since I’d started off with that amazing Kit Kat and then got everything I’d ordered (very late, and it’d been sitting around, but still I got it).

We checked out a cute store across from the park and didn’t find the shirt S wanted (because, you know), but we did find some cute things: ceramic VW trays, UFO bread that’s fun because it’s called UFO, and a scratch-off poster of 100 books to read (I’ve read like 30something of them).

Project #ThankYouForBeingAFriend was mostly a success. I spent a day with my “longest” friend, and even when we’re hungry, we’re having a good time.

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We took this picture 5 times until we decided this one would do.