Category Archives: Personal story

Mornings in Manhattan

” ‘So many people,’ she thinks, ‘each one with their own story, each following their own singular line of fate.’ ” 

– Blood and Beauty

In my suburban desert opinion, all big cities are the same.  Tall buildings, heavy population, and an endless jumble of concrete streets to negotiate.  I visit such places wanting to be surprised and delighted which usually works out well.  It makes my life seem so small in comparison, but I suppose seeing what’s out there and picking up ideas on the way is a form of growth.  I prepared myself for dense masses rushing to and fro on every street, but luckily it being a weekend I experienced a very slow version of the city.

Central Park (Upper East Side)
This was probably the highlight of my trip.  It is a free destination and nature always appeals to me so long as it’s tamed rather than wild and potentially dangerous. Countless films such as Home Alone 2, Enchanted, and You’ve Got Mail featured scenes from this sheltered green sanctuary.  I couldn’t imagine it in the fall or winter but I’m sure it’s all lovely no matter what the season.  The zoo area is especially charming with its brick exteriors that suit the surrounding trees.  My cousin said the reason we don’t see brick buildings in the West Coast is due to our earthquakes which would crumble them apart.

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Guggenheim Museum
I’ve been wanting to see this place for years.  My heart lifted seeing the iconic white building as I was walking alongside Central Park.  The spiral is closed, they told me when I made my way in.  They were working on renovations so for a reduced rate one could walk in to see a portion of their exhibits.

Before that day I didn’t give much thought to how the works at placed, just figured someone hangs it and makes sure it’s level.  But I see now it is actually a big production with angle specialists, photographers, and other directors who double check placement and other expert details to ensure the right positioning.  They had plenty of modern art such as Kandinskys and Picassos which didn’t disappoint.

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Bloomingdale’s
Fancy shops, whoop de doo.  Straight to the 7th floor where they I found a dessert and smoothie restaurant called 40 Carrots.  After miles of walking the cool tartness was good to my soul.

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Dean and Deluca
In a rush to get some last minute souvenirs I rushed down to this infamous gourmet shop.  They have a deli with all kinds of vegan offerings and a other hoity toity selections for those that are into that kind of thing.

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My bag of pretty gifts in tow, I made my way to JFK (traffic is gold, my female cabbie said) and had an easy go for the return flight. I’ll miss the selection of gluten free items and being driven around like a celebrity. I’m grateful to have had this chance to spend time with the family, and that no one was injured, plus I unexpectedly hit everything on my list (not an easy task, my stay being only 36 hours, effectively making this almost a layover trip).

During my time here I reveled in clear skies and overcast weather, the same dry and chilly gloom I’m used to in dearest California. It only started drizzling when my plane was taking off.  Don’t cry for me, New York.  I’m coming home.

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Side note: Jet Blue is aces!  Compared to my first flight, where I was given a single serving of cranapple mix since cranberry is unavailable or offensive, I got 2 beverage services (with entire cans of straight cranberry juice), a bag of chips, and a hot towel!  They also have a “marketplace” where you help yourself to more snacks.

– My cousin likes to cut the plastic 6 pack rings to save the ocean (awwww)
– Natives are polite and service is courteous, same as back home (weekends only?)
– I did not encounter any classic NY accents, maybe it’s just from older generations


A Taste of New York

If there’s one thing you can’t fault this city for, it’s food. Their extensive variety puts even the abundant SoCal selections to shame. Not only that, but it’s practically a gluten free paradise which thrilled me to no end.  About every corner in Manhattan you can find Halal carts, but only a few of them actually are worth visiting, according to my guide.  That didn’t stop me from sniffing the grilled kabobs like a curious hound when hiking through the city.

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Shake Shack (DoBro)
My first official meal in the city and frankly the best one.  There are multiple locations but I headed to the one near the apartment. There was hardly a line at 11:30 when they’ve just opened but I knew later in the day a sea of customers would descend.  It’s a nondescript building, very clean and modern looking with black and green motif.
I didn’t expect much after hearing everyone rave about its greatness, but my philosophy is that when you have a name you should make it count.  Therefore, the shakes should knock my socks off.  They feature frozen custard (their own recipe made daily on the premises) and use it as a base to their shakes; I chose the flavor of the week which was red velvet.  The problem I have with shakes and dessert in general is the excessive amount of sugar, but here they’re light on sweetness, smooth and rich in flavor at the same time.  My verdict?  Instant love with this blissful concoction that took me to the moon and back.  I would only make the cup slightly more artistic since it is their signature item and for what you pay, should be a visual marvel, not a humble minimum.
Their other items were pretty great I have to admit.  Even if I prefer skinny fries their crinkle cut ones were definitely crunchy and cooked to perfection.  Their patty is made from Angus beef, seasoned with a crispy charred exterior.  I didn’t have a lot of the bun because of my intolerance but they’re toasted of the standard diner variety.
I feel like a traitor to my state preferring it over In-N-Out but I can’t fight this feeling anymore, I’m so gone for them. I would say though that it’s hardly comparable since they’re probably more than triple the price of my local legend.  Yes, I will be back to partake in your shakes, and since one recently opened up on my coastline, it will be soon.

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Il Buco (SoHo)
Our birthday celebration took us to this authentic Italian spot in the ever so hipsterlicious neighborhood where you may find all the artsy Ho Hey bohemian type shops and population.  The homey atmosphere and European waiters took me back to Venice.  Our server explained the menu changes daily depending on what the chef found at the market that morning.  Also there are no changes allowed since the ingredients are chosen to harmonize in a particular way.  I liked that control freak aspect, it makes sense in a non corporate setting.  I wished I could partake of all the fresh handmade pasta but alas.
Side note: they don’t carry soda (!)

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NoGlu (Manhattan)
A Parisienne chef crossed the ocean to bring America the gift of an entirely gluten free bakery.  With bakeries I learned there’s a tricky aspect I call game of timing.  If you walk in first thing when they open, which is what I did, they don’t have everything on their menu ready since the baker works on making things fresh throughout the day.  Should you try to visit later on, you risk missing out on popular items that will sell out as soon as they’re available.  I was dying to try their chocolate tart but since it was too early, settled for other items instead.

Brioche: incorrectly named muffins (brioche is supposed to be a rich fluffy yeast bread), I loved the blackberry ones, the dough was slightly sweet and the almonds on top were a nice touch; the chocolate one was dry and tasteless

Blackberry tart: berries were fine, a vanilla bean base and a dry gritty crust was not very pleasant, I think they should go for a traditional pate sucree which would be more tender

It was a priority for me to visit this shop but next time I’ll skip it and explore the 20 other bakeries on the same street that offer gluten free items.

Side note: Is it just me or are places opening later and later, like why would bakeries open anytime after 8am? All customers want to eat their bread before they go to work or school, do they not want to wake up for more profit?  Makes no sense!!!! <end rant>

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Pio Bagel (DoBro)
Somehow I forgot that New York is famous for their bagels (I knew about the pizza, but missed my chance, grr).  This building is across the street from where I was staying and I didn’t consider going in until I saw a sign saying they carry gluten free ones.  Hold the phone!  The morning of my departure, I stopped in first thing. I appreciate these kinds of places since they’re tasked with feeding people on the way to work, in a sense, fueling America one morning at a time.
I went with the classic bagel with cream cheese.  And guess what, it tasted like the normal chewy bagel, unbelievable.  I took another one in sandwich form so I could later devour it on the plane.  I noticed they were generous with their meat and wrapped the whole thing twice with butcher paper – now that’s quality. I long to have one again, bagels will haunt my dreams for a while.

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made with love and sorcery

 


Straight Into Brooklyn

Go to New York City, they said.
It’ll be fun, they said.

On a sad gray Friday the 13th I drove to LAX and stood in the nauseating security line before boarding a plane.

Destination: New York City to see my cousin for his birthday.

After determining an engine problem my flight 415 deplaned and took over another aircraft originally destined for Las Vegas (sorry folks, but it only takes an hour, the casinos will still be there).  They were very organized and efficient in transferring us so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, ie canceling the flight altogether.

Close to landing, I looked out the window and was in awe of the glittering splendor of gold and silver lights strewn over expanses of homes and rivers.  “Welcome to New York,” said the flight attendant, which made me laugh.

I found myself alone at JFK 3am EST where a line of cab drivers heckled the arrivals exit hungry for passengers.  I was told to take the New Golden Horse Car Service, a Chinese company to fetch her royal highness for a better fee than a standard taxi.  I called and someone picked me up to head over to DoBro (downtown Brooklyn), up 34 floors and made it to the apartment to be greeted by the resident dog Koa, a noble character with more dignity than I could hope to possess.

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After an intense hugging session with Koa, I crashed on the couch next to the NYC skyline
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My work schedule trained me to wake before the dawn.  I could easily see everything from this window that looks upon the Manhattan skyline (Chrysler, Empire State Building, Freedom, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.) but I guess it’s time to go meet the famed metropolis up close.

Waiting for everyone else in my family to rise, I went out with my cousin to walk Koa, going through this swanky entrance on Bridge Street

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Then we made our way to the Myrtle Promenade

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After a yummy lunch, we were off to the screechy lurchy subway!


Edsession

This will be a dull year for me as Ed Sheeran decided to rest and stay off social media.  Being a celebrity is a lot of noise and a lot more nonsense, so I would understand avoiding the public eye, but withdrawing from such a glorious product is somewhat depressing.  However, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the break will make the reunion that much sweeter when he returns this fall.

Been listening to his old works from the 5 albums he released before he got mainstream (‘Lately’ is a sick tune you need to check out). As per usual thinking of him since really, he is a spectacular human being.

Disagreements
1) True love isn’t blind.  I have to acknowledge that his hedonistic views on life aren’t compatible with mine.  His liberal philosophies are none too wise, but everyone has room for improvement, eh?
2) He also does his best to be nice to all his fans because the way celebrities treat people create lasting impressions.  He claims anyone should be able to turn off aggression or negative feelings when meeting crowds.  It’s only been a few years of stardom my dear, wait for a decade and see where you land, because paparazzi and fans can be unbelievably rude and annoying!
3) I appreciate the looping and unique energy of his faster songs, therefore I’m not into Thinking Out Loud or Photograph.  Brilliantly written lyrics, yet the music and style were kind of lame compared to his other works.  The music videos, on the other hand, are stunning works of art!
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The + girl
Most people would love to be immortalized in a song or movie, but if it’s based on intimate moments, might be strange.  I wonder what she’s like, the one that inspired all the words and am thankful for her existence because without her, we wouldn’t have the honest experiences of love that he shared with the world.
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Ed-volution
Seeing him develop and step up his gear over time is so gratifying, life is good when you get to upgrade.

Self haircut →  salon most likely
Ratty guitars → custom ‘X’ guitar sets
Homeless → Tennessee mansion
Random picks → custom ‘X’ picks
Store loop pedal → custom model
Acoustic scene → large screens
Of course, he always adds on his tattoos, for better or worse.
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Concert style
Loop boss puts it down, the twists and turns and extensions of his songs are nothing like what you hear on the radio.  He wrenches your heart as you get lost in his ballads then forces adrenaline when he rocks out to his fast beats.  The way he handles the timing by himself onstage is incredible, working like a maniac the whole time.  And the way he grasps the mic and pours out his feelings, you just feel jealous of the mic.
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Award shows
He’s off when he wins, maybe a little antagonistic and condescending saying that such ceremonies are all decided upon by big wigs that dictate trends without knowing what talent, skill, or sacrifice mean, but we all knew it’s politics and show.  Much to the delight of Sheerios all over da world, our darling just won his first Grammy!  Cue sighs and tears of joy.
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Fantasies
– Ed Sheeran appearing on my birthday and singing to me
– Touching his hair and making him laugh
– Chaining him in my basement so he can only write and sing for me when I demand it
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Happy birthday, my ginga ninja! You shine and make me thankful to be alive!

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Christmas in LA

A trip to Los Angeles involves a ton of driving and walking, something to which I’m disinclined.  Once a year, I guess I can handle it.

Pershing Square
The main reason for our visit was to have a go on the ice rink. They have a tiny one so they sell tickets at hour slots. They get really busy in the afternoons so like any attraction, best to go in as early as possible. I especially liked the beginner props, kids were having a blast with those.

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After lunch at the historic Engine Co 28 (meatloaf) we headed down 5th street so I could check out the grand public library.

Central Library
A rather imposing building built in 1872. They have a little park and upscale dining in Cafe Pinot. I spent an hour reading The One and Only Ivan, a simple and sorrowful story of a silverback gorilla and other animals whose fates lie in the hands of unpredictable humans.
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City National Plaza, all decked out across the street, I see ya.  Next time I will explore and partake of your restaurants.

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Last Bookstore
Every hipster bookworm’s dream! Known for their Labyrinth displays upstairs in the fantasy section. They also sell rare books and vinyl records.

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Making my way downtown surprisingly reminded me of Paris with it’s tall buildings and riffraff people. Urban cities are definitely amazing but I can only appreciate them in small doses.

Sunset, time to check out of our overpriced parking garage. So long, until we meet again, DTLA!

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Conversation Snobbery

Chitter chatter, don’t matter/
yidder, yidder, yadder/

It don’t matter to me

– Move On

You can judge a person by their cover; appearances give a glimpse of their priorities. You can also judge on content; they’re made obvious by the use of speech.  We are and should be defined by what we say, as it reveals our natures (falling in line with our actions).  However, people don’t seem to realize something when they are carelessly throwing out phrases and topics like a wasteful steward:

Words should be used with commitment and meaning behind them.

Why small talk is common I’ll never know. Ask me a vague question, like “How are you?” and “Are you ok?” Overload and meltdown is imminent. The first thing I think is “So cliche…but what do I say?!” There are dozens of reactions floating through my mind in the space of a second. If reasonably composed I can respond in a lucid fashion the satisfactorily standard “fine” and feel exhausted. I wonder what are they trying to get at with this empty noise? Most likely nothing, they just care enough to get some updates on your well being. But as they can observe I stand here in relatively sound mind and body. I can’t make heads or tails of it, why is it considered appropriate to probe about my emotional state when I don’t even contemplate it? Don’t get me started on those who collect information on everyone and use it for their own purposes without regard to privacy.

Safe button topics:
– What did you do yesterday?
– Watch any movies lately?
– Which Taylor Swift’s songs are the best/worst?
– Are manners important anymore?
– If you could choose, what 3 things would you bring on remote island?
– Would you rather…

I was never properly trained to share outside significant points of interest. It’s infinitely preferable to listen to someone before I can contribute. I pick and choose my company on many points, presenting a decent stream of critically examined thoughts is one of them. Lame vernacular is disgusting and fills me with irritation. I hear the following dreadful comments/queries and wish to leave the room while silently remarking on how dumb it all sounds:

When someone’s name comes up
Say hi to them for me
Why, is your phone broken?

Reunions
How’s life?
Nice when there’s soda and I’m away from people

Moving/ Traveling
We’ll visit you
Eh, not likely

Past event
How was it?
Everything is awesome.

Trendy establishment
We should totally go there and soon!
Is that a promise or are you just exercising your tongue?

First time meeting
So what do you do?
Stalk Ed Sheeran online, karaoke events, binge read and watch…oh, you meant my
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Any given time
What do you think?
Yes, no, maybe so, nothing.

I know, I’m a monstruous biddy who should be left socializing with plants. But yeah, sick of all the talk when nothing is actually being said. I only recognize and respect people who go into the deep and direct (appropriately). Cut the pleasantries and thoughtless open-ended questions. Be more specific and tell me something that counts. I’m not saying we need to behave as if our words are to be printed and rated for wit but at least give an ounce of effort to spare us mindless drivel and its consequences. It gives me shudders that we have right to speak and write freely but reduce its potential relying mainly on emoticons, animal stickers, and gifs.

Extremely dysfunctional introverts like myself are weird and unfriendly. We tend to ponder and evaluate before we answer if at all. Having to get a dialogue going is accurately likened to physically working out. That’s why we are fine with silence. We can sit in a room with people left to observe and process what is happening. If we must speak, let it be for something productive. This is not to say we model the best behavior. We need to bend and meet our obtuse extravert counterparts halfway as they go on and on stating the obvious. I think explaining to each other and changing our approaches slightly will benefit us both immensely.

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4 Conflict Styles

During conflicts with people I’m close to, I typically
(mentally check those that apply) 

1. __ keep feelings about the disagreement to myself
2. __ bend to other person’s wishes
3. __ pursue my side of the issue
4. __ try working to satisfy both expectations

1. __ run from discussion of the topic
2. __ give in to others’ desires
3. __ take control so decision goes in my favor
4. __ exchange info to solve problem together

1. __ stay away from the issue
2. __ go along with others’ suggestions
3. __ try to convince the other person I’m right
4. __ bring all concerns out in open to resolve issue

1. __ try not to be involved in unpleasant exchange
2. __ pretend to agree just to satisfy expectations
3. __ accuse other person of wrongdoing
4. __ investigate issue to find acceptable solution

So tally up which number you checked the most, or tied.

Here are the results:
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1) Turtle
Good: Keep calm, let it go
Bad: Denial and running away

 

 

 

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2) Teddy bear
Good: Harmony and peace, everyone
Bad: Doormat tendencies

 

 

 

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3) Shark
Good: Let’s deal with it
Bad: My way or the highway, loser!

 

 

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4) Owl
Good: Respect and problem solving
Bad: Takes time

 

 

 

How’d you guys do?  I learned I’m a shark/turtle.  That means I’m a fiery control freak hiding inside a frozen shell of insecurity. Complex mess!

Our parents’ styles influence us
We grow up learning from observing our authority figures (and culture).   Which may or may not be a good thing.  Sometimes we need to realize unhealthy patterns and break through them, which takes a lot of observation and practice.

There is a time and place for each of these styles
Not every person or scenario calls for owl-like teamwork. We need to think about our response modes based on the other party’s maturity level.  It’s a matter of picking and choosing what hills to die on, so to speak.

We need to learn from others that complement us
People who are owls can learn from those who are turtles if the situation calls for it.  Teddy bears can learn from sharks how to be more honest in their opinions.  And so on, we all can benefit from differences throughout our community.

Conflicts can be used for good
If you’re like me, you see confrontation as too much drama.  I mean yeah, it’s boring if we agree on everything all the time but if a personal discussion about preferences start, I head for the door.  However, a relationship won’t evolve if one or both people constantly eat their feelings and back down.  I hear that respect goes a long way in solving conflicts, not that I tend to go that route often.

There are many factors that go into conflicts and they require wisdom and experience.  You can throw in the Myer-Briggs views to unravel causation and the level of selfishness as well as fear when it comes to our patterns.  Being reasonably open about issues in a loving manner is essential for success in life, otherwise we would be trapped in a cycle of resentment and mistrust.  In conclusion, the ideal is understanding and communication.  After all, that is what Christ models for us in His obedience that centers on the eternal outcome.

*dedicated to Ang*