A Country Mouse visits A City Mouse

I spent Fourth of July weekend up in the family ranch back in Colorado to attend my cousin Dan’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding – very small, just close friends and family. Hay bales and planks were involved, camping gear and a double-wide trailer newly installed. From a city boy’s view, it was a hicks-ville but from a mountaineer’s eye, it was just pretty. Totally enjoyed it, and totally worth the hundred some dollars to fly from NY.
But aside from the holiday weekend and family wedding, my brother Saul also turned sixteen earlier this March. I have a long standing promise to each of my siblings that in the summer after they turn sixteen, I’ll fly them out to NY and spend a week with me in the city. To my youngest sister Bella who’s turning two this year – we have yet to talk and I have yet to make the same promise. This can be a possible loop hole when you turn sixteen.
We flew the same day to NY – my boyfriend Andy and I in one flight, and Saul on a separate flight. I tried to get the same flight but no seats were available. When we checked in, I made sure I spoke with the airline agent (and I did one of those I-just-glanced-at-your-name-tag-I-WILL-mention-your-name-if-shit-goes-down moves) to let them know that my brother was flying by himself. He had a connecting flight in Atlanta, and that was the only time he would be totally by himself. I’m not saying he’s not bright, he can read signs and all, but the kid is from the mountains – Atlanta airport is huge compared to Colorado Springs Airport’s twelve gates.
I arrived in LaGuardia around 7pm and let Andy go home while I stayed to wait for my brother’s delayed flight. He did not land until 11:30pm and we did not get to my apartment until half past midnight.
As any tourist in NY should do, first thing we did was go to Liberty Island. It’s a very historic site. It’s where Magneto used Rogue to power a machine that would turn the leaders of the United Nations into mutants. We spent most of the time following a group of young French girls and their chaperone. I bet Saul was thinking I wasn’t aware of what he was doing – I am very aware. He thinks he’s so slick.

We were trying to take a picture of the couple making out by the railing across from us.

We also went to The Natural History Museum. He took some pretty cool pictures of the dioramas, and of me posing next to dinosaurs. My Lady Gaga impressions were very useful – raise your paws up, little monsters. Since we were already in the area, we headed to Central Park and checked out Strawberry Field – when CDs first came out, I remember my Dad bringing compilation CDs and we would listen to The Beatles over and over all day.

We had dinner at Vynl which was in Chelsea. I’ve never seen my brother so uncomfortable! We were surrounded by rather outlandish gay guys, and it’s just something he’s never seen before. At one point, when I was going to the restroom, he actually said “don’t leave me by myself.” Poor kid. So I left him by himself and he wasn’t devoured by gay men. That was a teachable moment.
We hit the art museums in one day. We started at the Museum of Modern Art and showed him the three paintings that made me move to NY. We followed MoMA with the Guggenheim. I think he was more interested with the architecture than the art works inside. Though there was one work that got us both perplexed – a room covered in $100,000-worth of one dollar bills. A few blocks down was The Metropolitan Museum of Art and stayed in line for almost an hour to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit.

On our way to the Met, we saw this being sold on the street - reminded me of Grandma!

My good friend Ryan wanted to take Saul to the Bronx Zoo. I’ve actually been there only once before, and it was with Ryan as well. The zoo was fun, but nothing compared to the commute to the Bronx. It was a weekend so there were some train issues. At one point, we had to take a shuttle bus, and there was a crazy guy in the bus. I could feel Saul’s heart beating like a drum. The crazy had no shoes, and he kept yelling at everyone. I didn’t mind because I’m used to it, but when crazy guy put his hands in his pants, that was when I grabbed my brother by his hand because I would want to know where he is when I start defending him from a pervert with my free arm doing jabbing motions despite the lack of a shiv.

If they are undiscovered - how do they know it's forty for every one?

We went to the wax museum in Times Square – it was pricey to get in, but after seeing what’s inside, I decided it was totally worth. I’ll even add it to my list of where to bring tourists. The wax models were amazing as it is, but they also had a 15-minute 4D experience of the movie Happy Feet. You basically watch a 3D movie but you also “feel” what was going on in the movie. We got sprayed with water, poked on the back, saw bubbles. It was stupidly fun and I will do it again.

Saul with Jennifer Lopez. I told him to squeeze her ass, he wouldn't.

Was telling Woody Allen my idea for his next movie.

The last thing we did during his stay was go to the Empire State Building. I typically do that first when I take visitors out to show the city and what to see and expect but I figured I shake things up a bit. I’d like to think he was impressed by the city, and I felt proud showing him MY city.
He told me he wanted to come back, and he asked how much the plane tickets were so he can find a job and save up for a trip. It’s cute, but I don’t know if he’ll actually go through with it. We talked about our sister Angel who is next in line for the sixteenth-birthday-gift, and how I’m not going to let her travel the same way he did. I asked him if he can maybe drive her to Denver, that way, she won’t have a connecting flight and just fly direct from Colorado to New York. When Saul got back in Colorado, my sister called me and there was panic in her voice: “Saul told me you won’t let me fly by myself and that he’s coming with me when I come visit you. IS THAT TRUE?!” After calming her down, she asked me what we can do in New York. She wants to start planning for our trip. Three years premature.

CVS: A Food Porn Love Affair

A little over a month ago, Andy and I met with the happiest couple I know, Steven and Yeli. We met up for shrimp tacos in a wine bar down Broome called Ten Bells but the bar changed chefs and they don’t offer the dish anymore. We drowned our sorrows with their house wine, and ate olives, cheeses and empanadas. Conversation was mainly about food, because they were doing this binge-eating situation that I’m assuming they read from Tim Ferris’ book The 4-Hour Body. We also talked about how much we all love traveling to nearby cities like Philadelphia and Washington DC. We left the bar hardly tipsy and had cupcakes from Baby Cakes which was just across the street from the bar. We all had a cupcake and shared one cookie ice cream sandwich. We then started to walk down Chinatown to walk off the food and wine, while talking about good bad movies. I honestly can’t remember who said it, but someone mentioned crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m pretty sure that at this point, it was past 10:30 at night, and no one thought NO was the logical answer so everyone started walking towards the bridge. It was actually a lovely night, weather-wise. Halfway over the East River, IHOP was mentioned. We high-tailed it to IHOP, which was open 24 hours. The amount of food we ate was bordering immoral – different syrups, chicken and steaks, waffles and pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausages. We actually walked it off again by crossing the bridge a second time. And when we got to the City Hall, we shared a biscuit-sized strawberry shortcake.

From Chinatown to IHOP in Brooklyn

From Chinatown to IHOP in Brooklyn

This one-night of eating, talking and walking was a prelude to last weekend’s shenanigans.
The four of went to Washington DC for basically a food-tour. We met up Friday afternoon at the Megabus stop on 9th Avenue and got to the nation’s capital around 8pm. We went straight to the hotel on M street and decided we wanted to eat (surprise). We looked online for a burger joint since it seemed it was the four of us were craving for. We found a placed called Funxion that served amazing burgers. To top it, it’s one of those healthy places that uses organic ingredients and yet their menu is not high-priced. We shared a plate of chips and guacamole – the chips by the way were pita cut in triangles then toasted.
Interestingly enough, after having the meal, all we talked about was getting snacks as we walked back to the hotel. We passed by a CVS and that’s when the monster awoke. Steven decided we needed a cart to buy snacks. We grabbed an Entenmann’s cake. Which goes well with Eddy’s vanilla ice cream. And Utz barbeque chips. With watermelon Twizzlers on the side. And peanut-butter pretzels. With chocolate-covered almonds. Plus assorted flavors of Gummi Lifesavers. And I swear, I’m missing some more from this list. It was like everything you wanted when you were twelve but was told No. Andy said “We are disgusting” to which Yeli was quick to reply “I think it’s beautiful.” And you know what – it really was.

A small family of four can survive on this food for three days.

We got up fairly early the following day and went to a coffee shop to have coffee, apple fritters, a breakfast sandwich and oatmeal. The plan was to do yoga. I know. And I’m going to tell you what I told Yeli (who happen to be a yoga instructor – check out her website and tell her I sent you): I can’t exactly say it was fun, but I’m glad we went. Half a block after stepping out of the yoga studio, there was a Wholefoods giving away sausage samples. It was Have a Sausage Day. We talked about what to eat on our way back to the hotel, and we were shortly distracted by an art gallery along the way and decided to go in to fulfill our art appreciation quota for the day. Quick change in the hotel and we started walking towards the Ford Theater. Across from where Lincoln was shot was the best waffle place on earth. I now associate Lincoln’s assassination with food. We ordered country fried steaks slathered with white gravy, pork chops that tasted like a mix of adobo and teriyaki, western omelets, and the best waffles I’ve ever had. They were very thin, and had small square pockets which are not the typical waffles I often see in diners. After our meal, we stepped out to find a barbeque street fair. The whole fair was fenced which I thought was weird until we realized that the Safeway-sponsored event is not free. We decided that we are not going to pay the $12 fee to walk in and BUY more barbeque. We were glad to pay for the food inside, but not to get in. We walked away with our noses up high and had pina-colada-flavored smoothies and went to The National Aquarium.

Steven showing an alligator who's the boss.

The aquarium was fairly a small space and we finished early, and our minds were set on Ben’s Chili up on U street. It was a long walk coming from D, so we stopped at a Pot Belly for a sub sandwich because why not? Ben’s Chili is a pretty joint, even the President goes there. We had chili dogs with chili fries and shakes.

Chili in general is unforgiving to your asshole.

We carried our bloated selves back to the hotel but we had to make two stops: at Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury for a block of maple fudge, and the same CVS we visited the night before to get, um, reinforcements.

Bacon. That is all.

We had an early bus ride from DC on Sunday, so we didn’t have time to pass by any diner. Also, I realized that only NY would have diners open for business on ungodly hours. As a bonus, we did find a hooker on the street. Well, we don’t know if she was but here’s the picture: bright blue underwear, fuck-me Lucite heels, bright blue eye shadow that matches her underwear, it was not even seven in the morning, and she was pacing back and forth on an intersection. Draw your own conclusions, but as for me, she’s a hard-working hooker who thought maybe she can pull (zing!) one more customer but the sun beat her to it.
We didn’t go straight home – we stopped at DC and met a couple of Steven’s and Yeli’s friends. They took us to Lorenzo’s pizza, and let me tell, those are HUGE pizzas they have over there. We ordered one large pie, but they had to use two boxes. A slice can cover my face, and I have a rather wide face. We took our boxes to the river front and ate our slices while listening to P90X stories. It’s rather refreshing gorging on a pizza slice that can feed a small family of mice while others are talking about exercising like Navy SEALs about to assassinate the founder of al-Qaeda. After finishing the boxes, next stop was Fat Tuesday’s for some Philly cheesesteaks. We visited the Mutter Museum which showcases a roster of physical/medical abnormalities and saw an engorged colon that can contain two and a half buckets of shit. The sign from God did not escape us. So we went back to South Street to buy more Philly cheesesteaks for the ride home.
We got back to the city fairly late, definitely past midnight and I had a long commute back home in Queens. I had to work in the morning, so I wanted to walk in my apartment and just pass out. But when I walked in, I got a drink of water in the kitchen and thought: I’m hungry.