Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday weekend

I had such a busy weekend that Monday felt like a Saturday.

On the real Saturday, I met a couple of friends at the MoMA. I never thought I would say this about a modern art museum, but I think I will have to go back. You can't see everything in one afternoon, and I've just found out I missed a lot of stuff I would know about from my art history course, including Dali's
Persistence of Time, and Oppenheim's Fur Cup.

On the top floor was a special Dali and surrealist film exhibition, so five sections were showing screenings of:

Un Chien Andalou - the famously weird one where the cow's eye is sliced open, the ants crawl out of a man's hand, or the man hauls two priests (Dali and Bunuel) attached to two pianos with two bloody dead donkeys inside. Seriously. The music gets a bit stuck in your head too, and like any of Dali's paintings, it leaves you feeling unsettled.

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l'Age d'Or - a longer film by Dali and Bunuel, slightly erotically charged, and with a plot.


Spellbound - a Dali/Hitchcock collaboration starring Ingrid Bergman and a young Gregory Peck. One of the backdrops was on display, along with Dali's sketches for scenes.


And Destino, a short from the Disney studios chock full of iconic Dali imagery. Imagine, back then Walt Disney was so cutting edge that Dali chose him to bring his works to life:


After the museum closed and we were ushered out, we had dinner at a Thai place. I had never tasted plum wine before, but it was delicious. The color of tea, it tasted like sherry and pecans.


On the way down to Times Square later on:

Walked into the NBC store for some quiet during a phone conversation

Public concourse on the ground floor of the Rockefeller Center (GE Building).

A really nice staircase and floor. This (like the Empire State Building) was one of the large public works projects enacted during the Great Depression to give men jobs. In my opinion, it was the last time things were made to last forever - they really knew how to build 'em back then. Black granite and brass everywhere, and great murals too.

And that's not the end of Saturday:

After dinner, I parted with Dan and Laura, and met Chris in Times Square to see
Dark Knight. It was sold out again, so we got tickets for The Stepbrothers, which was good for a wicked laugh. The theater was so full at 10pm that we had to sit on the second row and gape upwards.

When we left near midnight, people were still going in for more shows and the streets were full of people of every description. This is indeed the city that never sleeps.


On Sunday, I met friends in the East Village for brunch at a little Ukrainian spot called Odessa. There was the original little cafe with tiny booths and red bar stools, which is where we met. The newer and larger restaurant next door was packed, but we opted for authenticity.

The East Village is just as you would imagine: tree-lined streets of character brownstones including little old Catholic missions behind ivy covered walls, lively little walk-down basement shops (which I am sure appeared in
You've Got Mail) offering vegan food, tattoo parlors, vintage clothing, etc. I saw a few punks but I guess being right next to NYU, more numerous were young intellectual types who wear hats, glasses, waistcoats with t-shirts, and sit and read poetry on doorsteps or under trees. They exist!

Anyway, at Odessa I enjoyed the Chef's Special as my intro to a hearty Yiddish breakfast: a sweet cheese blintz, four assorted pierogies, and a potato pancake, served with a side of sour cream and apple sauce. You also get a choice of coffee or tea (I chose the latter), plus a mimosa, screwdriver or bloody mary. I chose the mimosa. The staff look Mexican and are very polite and careful, and when you say "thank you" they say, "my pleasure".

After that satisfying
lunch or even early dinner we walked around the farmer's market in the park across the road. Pretty soon a storm blew in so we legged it to the subway four blocks away and made it in time, but I stood outside taking in the wind which nearly knocked me backwards, but boy was it fresh! While waiting to cross the road it was blowing so hard there was dust sandblasting the back of my legs.

Then the sky came down and I spotted a Kmart-Sears so ran across to buy a hand drill because Chris had suggested that before he starts work on Monday he would like to help me assemble my bed which has been sitting in its lovely flat pack IKEA boxes for the past month. And I keep complaining about it. My friends are the BEST.

Because of the cooler weather, roomie wanted to cook some fresh fish she had bought. Pollock, the new cod. Americans are much more familiar with pollock, which comes out of the Alaskan waters. I've noticed some fish n chip shops in London are trying to phase it in during the critical cod shortage.

So, while Chris and I did the building - which according to the instructions needed 3 people after all and we could have done with 4 - roomie helped when needed and the rest of the time prepared dinner.

The pollock was grilled with olive oil and black pepper, and topped with an Italian salsa of diced tomato, chopped garlic, basil, and black pepper. Very yummy. We also had a spinach and rocket (arugula) salad with feta cheese, avocado, and papaya dressing.

No carbs, but we were satisfied and felt better for eating such healthy fare.

So all in all, a wonderful weekend. I am happy :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Interviewsday [ADDENDUM]

I went for an interview this morning at a dentist's office. I can say it went well judging by how excited I felt when I walked out of there. Suffice to say, it will allow me to exercise all my skills and learn more, where formerly I was frustrated at not being able to use enough of them.

Fingers crossed everyone!


I didn't tell you about my wild karaoke weekend, did I? Well, on Friday, one of my old uni friends (Chris) from Houston moved up to NYC, and on Friday we went to a housewarming party put on by one of his friends from the MBA program they've just finished. A lot of them are moving up here at the moment. After we'd eaten and mingled, and most of them went home after 11pm, about 7 of us walked down to Korean Town for green tea ice cream and karaoke. Two of the group did a Madonna number, but mostly we sat and watched the surreal proceedings. Before we left around 2am, I joined C and his friend singing the Beatles (Obladi Oblada). For the second time in my life, I sang karaoke and it was fun :)

I left my sunglasses at Lisa's place that night, so we arranged to meet for a movie yesterday evening. Lisa couldn't make it, so it was just Chris and me, and
Dark Knight was sold out so we saw H*llboy II (don't feel like showing up on Google), which was acceptable viewing since it would be full of weird creatures from the minds of the creators of Pan's Labyrinth. Afterwards, we walked to her place 7 blocks away, and on the way passed this behemoth, the United States Post Office - and at 10.30 pm it was open, probably for the use of the automated machines.

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds", commonly but mistakenly thought of as the USPS creed, it is really only the inscription above the NYC Post Office. It is derived from a passage in the
Histories of Herodotus (5th century AD), in reference to the couriers of ancient Persia.

****[ADDENDUM] I have found out that this post office was opened in 1914 and then doubled in size in 1934. It takes up 2 city blocks and 1.5 million sq. ft. of space! It is home to 2,500 employees. It is indeed open 24/7. The lobby retains the vista of the exterior colonnades with Corinthian columns. The building is surrounded by a dry moat, giving light and air to the basement levels.

In 2005, the USPS sold the Farley Building to the Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation to develop it into the new Penn Station, its original designation. However, the USPS will still retain 250,000 sq. ft. and 900 employees in the facility.****

Today after the interview, I went to Steve & Barry's, a unique store in the Manhattan Mall, where everything costs $8.68 or less. Not kidding! Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams both design their own lines exclusively for S&B. When I moved here, obviously I didn't pack old clothes for knocking about at home or in the park, so this is the next best thing...

Six items for the price of one or two at a regular department store? Wow.

It rained this afternoon, and because the weather has been so hot, it feels like a sauna outside. I came out for a breath of air but didn't find much out here!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Week condensed

Here is one week condensed into one day, what a concept!

1) An addictive breakfast of spicy scrambled egg (with chipotle powder, sriracha sauce, lots of cheese) in a Thomas Sahara wrap, topped with ketchup.

2) Wandered into Payless Shoe Source, where if all else fails you can pick up something for a bargain, and they're now in the middle of the big summer sale. These beaded white patent leather flats are by Brazilian designer Abaete for Payless, original price £39.95 and, yep, you guessed it, I got these for $19.95. My Steve Madden-wearing roomie loves them ;)

3) In SoHo for a haircut at the wonderful Aveda, where it always smells like rosemary and you get a complimentary hand massage and herbal tea. Hair is an expensive thing to have.

There are many warehouses on cobbled streets in this small shopping/gallery district. I spotted many familiar European names: Karen Millen, L'Occitane en Provence (with its own restaurant!), Benetton, Ben Sherman, Pepe Jeans, and so on.

Immediately after snapping this, on the steps of a quaint cafe, I struck up a conversation with a couple from London - he's been here a year, she's been here a couple of months. And they love it.

4) Back home in Bay Ridge, I pass a fire station in the dwindling light.

4) It's dark out, and I am home, all sweaty, but happy. I love my Ralph Lauren t-shirts and my Yankees baseball cap ;)
Honestly, though, even in Texas I rarely wore caps or even hats...but it's actually a good idea if you're on a field trip - not in the city, of course. They dress up out there.

Today in NYC it's as hot as Texas: 94F (33C). In a little while I am setting off for a housewarming party in Chelsea for some former business school classmates of my friend Chris, who moved up from Houston yesterday.

Foot update: It's been nearly a week since it's been out of sorts. I re-injured it the day before yesterday running up the stairs from a giant spider just when it was improving, but it feels as though it will be better tomorrow...I hope.

Job update: Monday I am meeting someone at an allied health career college to find out about their programs. That's right. As usual, I am attempting another field change. Pharmacy tech? Veterinary tech? Dental assistant? We shall see....there is MUCH growth in the health care and medical research sector here and I would hate to miss out on it. Remember, I started out in biology and my first job was in a lab. I enjoyed it and found it fulfilling, so why did I leave? To follow a pipe dream, an idealistic whim, thinking I could earn money on a hobby.

Although the arts are huge out here, there is not much money in it. I dread being pigeonholed into finance again. And at this point I seek stability rather than pipe dreams. As an adult, you learn that life revolves around paying the rent. I want to be in a field that will not suffer during future economic downturns.

I am here for a new life, after all!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunset Ramble

I went for a walk yesterday evening, despite having a sore foot, I know not why. I walked 30 blocks up the length of Shore Road Park overlooking the Upper New York Harbor. Then I returned home on the subway. Needless to say, I am home nursing said foot and my knee hurts, and I feel quite decrepit...

View to the south of Verrazano Narrows Bridge and part of Staten Island

View to the north towards Manhattan

One of the cargo ships moored for the night in the harbor

View of Manhattan

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Watermelon Soup

A few days ago, roomie and I made watermelon soup after all. It was weird at first and I wasn't sure I'd want it again. I am no watermelon or soup lover (though I'll eat either if proffered), and cold soups make me squeamish. But by the second day - as with any soup - the flavours had settled in and it was delicious! Now it will haunt me until I eat it again - a culinary highlight of summer 2008. I hope you will give it a try, it's really easy to make.

Watermelon Soup, courtesy of Self.com

For 8 servings:

6 lb yellow or red seedless watermelon, diced (9 cups)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp sugar (I used brown)
1 tsp chopped ginger (or more if you like)
1 cup lightly sweet white wine (such as Riesling)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 tsp crumbled feta

Combine 1 cup of the watermelon with mint and sugar in a bowl. Set aside as reserve.

Blend remaining 8 cups watermelon, ginger, wine and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Let sit 1/2 hour.

Strain soup. Divide among 8 bowls. Top each with reserved watermelon and crumbled feta. (Personally I just crumbled as much as I wanted on it, the saltiness is a wonderful complement to the fresh sweetness of the soup).


(As we ate I joked that we could have skipped the feta, added vodka, and made watermelon cocktails...)

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Long Holiday Weekend

Well, here I am again. I've been trying to blog for days now, but wi-fi is not set up in this apartment so I've been borrowing someone's from nearby, which means it's intermittent. I could use the shared desktop computer with cable internet, but I need my phonecam/laptop Bluetooth connection. I love Bluetooth, yes I do.

So, let's get started!


We were supposed to go on an historic walk through the Revolutionary sites of downtown New York (centered around the old Wall Street area), but having stayed up until 5am comparing travel photos and artsy shots, it was after noon by the time I got out of bed.

If you don't leave the house early, it becomes harder to get out after a certain hour of the afternoon has passed, but I made it. Roomie and I are dangerous, both being only children and therefore sharing a few similar weaknesses. I went to the South Street Seaport to see the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks, visible from most parts of the city. There were three barges along the East River and many public viewing points.

The explosions were so powerful that when one went off, the shockwave caused my clothing to move, although they didn't sound as loud as you would imagine. There were new displays that floated on the water, but I didn't see them because I wasn't at the front. I did see the new ones that changed color in mid-air.

The first set (0.45)

If you can't see the video, here are a couple of photos:

After this, I couldn't keep the raindrops off the lens and it went blurry when the camera decided to focus on the droplets rather than the fireworks.



In the evening, I went on a long walk in the cool following the afternoon rain.

The sun really does go down right there, at the end of the bridge. And most of the sound you hear ahead of the traffic is the waves lapping against the rocks below me.



Roomie took me to her fave French cafe a few blocks away for brunch. Sunday Brunch at small cafes is a hugely popular tradition out here, and it may be difficult to stay home next Sunday. I had a Croque Monsieur, and wow it was so yummy I didn't want it to end; came with a mesclun salad sprinkled with vinaigrette and fresh black pepper. The brunch menu for $16.95 includes a hot and cold beverage, a main, and a dessert. For a few dollars more you can add a morning cocktail! (Maybe next time.) My dessert was a pear, almond and pistachio tart. The portions were perfect and we were full up. I was both bemused and encouraged to see two teens, a boy and a girl about 15 years of age, come in to the cafe and order escargots swimming in garlic butter with a sliced baguette for sopping it up, and ooh it smelled good.

Full stomachs called for a walk around the neighborhood. It is difficult to imagine this is Brooklyn, much less within the New York City limits. Roomie says it is "very Long Island".

Here is one example of New England colonial in a street of varied but stately architectural styles, all raised quite high over the sidewalk.

But the famed local gem by far is this place built in 1916 and nicknamed the Gingerbread House. I could not choose just one shot to show you!

Roomie's parents had brought a giant watermelon for just the two of us...! So we knuckled down and decided to cut into it. One shelf of the entire refrigerator is dedicated to its storage and I suggested making watermelon soup to get rid of some of it.

Afterwards, I was in the bathroom when I heard a shout and a stool fall. I emerged to see roomie standing on a chair pointing at a hideous looking centipede in the middle of the kitchen floor. She said, "I threw a chair at it and it's still alive!" My normally logical and sanguine roommate has a weakness after all.

Now, I thought I was scared of bugs, but I guess my years of exposure to the giant tropical critters along the Gulf of Mexico have inured me somewhat, though I admit that I did scream once when he nearly got away from me. I covered him with a glass vase, stuffed stiff cardboard underneath, tipped him into the vase, drowned him with kitchen cleaner, and flushed him down the toilet.

After we'd calmed down, we went for another walk.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Touristy week

I have sunburn!

Roomie came home from work after lunch so we packed a picnic and went to Shore Park by the bridge (you've all seen pics in last post) and had a fun game of badminton.

Apologies for not blogging as much as I'd like. My photos are on my laptop, my wi-fi reception is intermittent, and I don't really want to blog on the shared computer because, well, it's not portable!



I bought a four poster bed at IKEA two weekends ago. The mattress and storage base were in the store so I acquired them for delivery. The four poster frame was somewhere in New Jersey, so they kept the other two pieces in order to marry the three and make one delivery a few days later. A week and a half later, my delivery comes - without bed frame.

The walk to Pier 11 takes you along Wall Street.
Clockwise L to R:
Federal Hall is where George Washington was sworn in as the first president of the United States of America in April 1789.
View of Trinity Church at the top end of Wall Street.
Trinity upshot.
The New York Stock Exchange at night.

The free IKEA ferry uses a couple of NY Water Taxis



Last week I accompanied my old friend from Houston on his quest to find an apartment in the area. If I'd had more time to find a place I would have looked at Jersey City too. We saw 13 apartments. No matter how many you see, there is always the ONE that stands out, and that is the one he took the very next day.

They build those luxury apartments really well in Jersey City, and the views over the water of Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty are amazing. There are some charming historic streets, but there is a lot of development going on and yet it is a very pristine area full of wide streets, benches and flowerbeds. Not only are there fancy new towerblocks, but the new rowhouses (terraces) are being built in the traditional style with great variations between each one, all charming. The area around the old power station will become a trendy arts district in the next 2 or The PATH train (that stops first at World Trade Center) is large, clean, and fast. It only takes 2 minutes to cross into Jersey, and 10 minutes max to get to Pavonia/Newport.

Clockwise L to R:
The old power station will be the center of a new arts district currently under development.
Downtown Manhattan at the end of the pier at Jersey City.
A view from one of the luxury condo towers.
Two towers going up.



Tuesday was a welcome break so Chris could negotiate for his new apartment and I could pay attention to mine, and meet with my friend Denise.

Denise suggested a trendy young Thai place, and then we made the discovery of the season:

Max Brenner's chocolate factory, and the delightful hug mugs



Chris and I met up twice more that week and did touristy things.

Wednesday: Landmark Tour of Buildings - Empire State, Chrysler, and GE (Rockefeller)

I lost the best artsy photos, and I don't know how!

A passageway in Grand Central Station

A late art deco building on 6th Avenue

An exterior wall of the Chrysler Building

A doorway surrounded by an art deco Zodiac frieze



Thursday: Day at the Museum (of Natural History)

Teddy Roosevelt was a governor of New York

The Art Horses are here already! Jazzy one.

Mechanical one

The main hall of the museum

The Planetarium where we watched When Planets Collide



Friday, I had a preliminary interview for a part time job at a furniture gallery (haven't heard back yet for the second round), and met my cousin for dinner at a lovely Italian place near Union Square called Buona Sera.

And I got a nifty new phone, the flattest I've ever seen. Though this one takes photos and plays music, I am keeping my Sony Ericsson for the 3.2MP camera and MP3 player with silicone earbuds.