Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dim Sum--I'll have sum of dim, and sum of dim...

My Dad was in town this weekend and he and Taka took my new roommate and me out for Chinese brunch, otherwise known as the delectable meal "Dim Sum." We went to Jing Fong Restaurant, a place I'm fortunate enough to have two blocks from my apartment. 

Although we arrived at 11 a.m., it was already packed. Brunch in New York is more of an after 12 p.m. thing, so it says a lot that it was crazy that early. When they called our number, we went up the escalator and entered a massive room full of large round tables. They sat us with strangers, as usual. With this place, you can't be too picky. You sit where you fit.

Dim Sum is fun because, much like when Japanese chefs cook your food in front of you, it's not just a meal, it's an experience. Chinese women wheel large carts around the room full of mysterious and delicious things. Dim Sum is primarily small plates of different kinds of dumplings (yum!), and there are other types of Chinese dishes as well. 

Here's how the system works: You have a card. If one of these women walks by you with something that looks tasty, you gesture for it (because, inevitably, you do not speak the same language). She gives you the food and writes something down on your card and then you get to enjoy your plate. But wait--there's something else that looks good! Get that. Oh, and what's that? Yeah, that too, give us that.

And that.

It's sort of like tapas on steroids. And better, because you get to see what you're getting before you order it. Also, you can order Dim Sum all day, have a million items on your card, and when you go to check out find that your bill is under fifteen dollars. Easily.

It's just a lot of fun. I had a great time catching up with my Dad and Taka over tasty Dim Sum goodness, and loved that they got the chance to meet my new roommate. All in all, Sunday success story, I'd say.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Craigslist Roomie #8

Some of you may remember an older post on my crazy living situation at 47th Street and 7th Avenue (where I lived in a one-bedroom apartment converted into a three-bedroom apartment with 7 different strangers over the course of one year...). Luckily, I escaped this revolving roommate situation last summer when  good friend of mine from college moved up here and we found an apartment together--one where I actually signed a copy of a real lease with the owner of the building. In other words, one that was not being sublet illegally to the highest bidders. It's a wonderful thing, legitimacy.

In other parts of the country, I'm pretty certain that people typically don't live with complete strangers, except maybe their freshman year of college--and then it's widely considered pretty unnerving, as exemplified by the premise of the horror flick The Roommate. So, this summer I was pretty excited to have scored a semi-normal living situation (as normal as sharing a studio converted into a two-bedroom in Chinatown can be, anyway). But, suffices to say, it was awesome to actually know the person sharing my bathroom with me!

My roommate and I had a pretty good run for several months and all was hunky-dory, rainbows and butterflies and general mutual respect for each other's own limited space in this spatially-challenged apartment. But, as all good things must (especially living situations with people in their early twenties in a city which encourages constant change), this has, sadly, come to an end.

My roommate is moving in with his long-time boyfriend this weekend. (Damn stable relationships and the havoc they wreak on others!! Kidding. Mostly.) 

So, this means April first I will be living with craigslist stranger #8 since I've moved to New York. I'm not at all worried about it. I've met her and she seemed nice enough. She's just moved to the city from California, has already landed a job at a restaurant, and wants to be a pastry chef. I smell delicious food things in my future!!

I just thought I'd write this post to give anyone who cares to read this blog an idea of how different expectations for living situations are here than in the rest of the country. The cost of rent in Manhattan is crazy ridiculous and prohibits all but those with the most lucrative, high-paying jobs from living alone. The result is that people often end up sharing very small spaces with total strangers--which while scary, is also sort of awesome, because it gives you the opportunity to meet different kinds of people and experience the city with a fresh set of perspectives. It also prevents one from going totally nuts, sitting alone at home in an apartment with no one to talk to but oneself...Not that I've ever caught myself talking aloud alone in my room before. That would be pretty weird, right? Hah...ha.

So anyway, April 1st is a new chapter in my life up here. I'm really sure it will be great, but, if you guys don't see a post from me for a while, maybe check in and make sure I haven't been murdered in my sleep? K, thx!


Also, if you haven't done so already, go here to give money to disaster victims in Japan. Tons of people over there still don't have running water, food, or electricity. And that's just unacceptable.

And, if you haven't seen my newest article for YPG, check it out here. It's about honing amazing networking skillz, definitely a necessity for us twenty-somethings living through this recession thing...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Road Trip to Queens

This weekend my friend's improv troupe Tickles (awesome name, right?) was scheduled to perform at The Creek and The Cave, a restaurant/bar/comedy venue in Queens. His group has gigs there often,  but usually in the middle of the week and on weeknights I have a bedtime. Like a toddler. 

This show fell on Friday--a night when I am always WOAH excited to stay up and play late with the big kids--so I was super stoked to go.

In theory, getting to The Creek and The Cave from Manhattan is relatively easy. It's two stops from Grand Central, and you can get to Grand Central from almost anywhere in the city in twenty minutes. Under normal circumstances, I would have been looking at about half an hour of travel time, tops. But the gods of MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) had other plans. 

No 7 trains were running between Manhattan and Queens that night due to what the MTA gods were vaguely referring to over the loudspeaker as "... an emergency." Which, I mean, c'mon. Really? Somebody dared have an emergency at a time that inconvenienced my travel plans? Rude.

This forced me to take an advised "alternative" route involving no fewer than three subway trains. But I would not be deterred. MTA gods be damned, I was going to make it to that show! So, I took the S to Times Square, then the N to Queensboro Plaza, where I got off to transfer to the 7 train, still running in Queens (just not to Manhattan). All was going swimmingly. I was sitting on the 7 with just enough time to make it to my destination and still not be too late for the show. I sighed a contented sigh of satisfaction. Take that, MTA gods. I beat you yet!

Only, I hadn't.

Several stops passed, and I still hadn't seen mine. I pulled out my phone, just to check how many more to go. That's when I realized I'd made the rookiest of rookie subway mistakes. In my hurry to hop onto the 7 train I'd seen pulling into the station just as I'd gotten off the N at Queensboro Plaza, I'd gotten on it going in the wrong direction. Damn you, MTA gods! Not again! 

This is a mistake I made a lot when I first moved to the city. It's easy to do when you're first learning the different letters and numbers for each line. But...I've been here nearly two years now. Major fail.

I got off at the stop just past Woodside (in other words, very, very deep into Queens) and then transferred to the 7 going the right direction. By the time I got to the show I was way late and also felt like a big idiot. This feeling was only intensified when I tried to sneak into a row of empty chairs, then accidentally (and LOUDLY) knocked over a drink someone had hidden on the floor under a chair. 

BUT--on the bright side, at least it wasn't my own drink! And, there was still half the show left to go so I did actually get to see Tickles perform. They were, as always, hilarious. So, a Friday night salvaged. 

At least until I had to make my way back home and the 7 still wasn't working.... I took the G missed my connection to the N and so then decided to take the C... in other words, Friday night was basically a subway-style road trip. Check out the marked up map below to see my completely indirect, roundabout route! Note: "To" route is in red and "from" route is in blue. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cake Shop: Not a good place for a date or, oddly enough, to get cake--but a great place to see live music!

So last Friday I went to this bar in the Lower East Side called Cake Shop to meet up with this guy we'll call Ralph for a second date. Our first date went well, as far as first dates go. We'd met up for drinks, and, over the course of the next few hours neither one of us managed to say anything that completely pissed the other one off. This I consider the height of first date success. Also, he was pretty cute, and didn't seem at all crazy--other things high on my list of priorities.What can I say? I ask a lot.

So, the first date having not been a complete disaster, we made plans to meet up for a second at Cake Shop to see a few local bands play. The billing included I Am the Heat, The Press, Ben Franklin, and The Gay Blades all for $7--gotta love the LES scene. I hadn't heard of any of the bands, but had browsed their websites and decided they were all pretty emo/alternativetoalternative/punk/indie-style, in other words, totally my cup of tea.

Ralph didn't know any of the bands either, but his friend had recommended The Gay Blades to him as one he'd probably like. So, all in all it appeared to be a promising evening of drinks, live music, and general enjoyment of each other's company. Well, I was right about two of those things...

The night got off to a bit of a rocky start. I was late, which is sort of unusual for me--I'd gotten lost, which is not at all unusual for me. Usually I allow enough time for this mostly inevitable course of events, but even allowing myself an extra ten minutes to get there put me there about fifteen minutes after the agreed upon meet up time. I wasn't really sorry, although I apologized when I got there. Fifteen minutes, to me, is not a deal breaker.  He seemed fine with it and we went down to the basement where the first band was setting up. I don't think this is what ruined the evening but, because I'm not entirely sure, I'm mentioning as a possible piece of evidence for this puzzle. Maybe you, dear readers, can figure out what was the actual curdling point.

We made small talk while the band told the sound people they need more vocal. "More vocal. All you've got. We'll take some more--thanks." All bands said this. Apparently vocal is key. Also key, considering every band did this as well, having a member take off his shirt at some point during the show, or, hell, before the show even starts like the drummer of the first band I Am the Heat. Not criticizing. Just observing. Closely :)

While the first band was warming up and the drummer had just finished the obligatory take-off-shirt ritual, Ralph got up to use the restroom. I ordered another drink. Perhaps this was rude, ordering without him, but I didn't want the awkwardness of "who pays for this round?" and, well, I was thirsty! When he returned he saw my drink and, I noted, did not order one for himself. Curdling point? The band started to play.

I was enjoying the music, not really sensing that anything was amiss, when something weird happened. We were sitting at two bar stools, facing the band. My leg brushed his accidentally, as legs sometimes do beneath a bar. And he immediately pulled his far away.  

Probably nothing, I told myself. But, just to test a theory developing, I took my arm, which was propped on the bar, and casually moved it one inch closer to his, still not touching. And he moved his one inch away!

What. The. Hell. I ordered another drink. He did not.

I probably would have been more irritated by his obvious concern with any physical contact with me, but I was really enjoying the bands. At one point I'd even almost forgotten about the whole weird episode, and had sort of chalked it up to him possibly wanting to be respectful or some other reason, maybe personal space issues? But then we got up from the bar stools to get closer to the stage and I noticed, the place was packed, people everywhere sardine-style, and he somehow managed to maintain a foot's distance from me at all times. Which, in this environment, took near-Herculean efforts!

What. The. Hell. I ordered another drink. He did not.

The bands were still awesome and I'd made up my mind that I was going to have a great time this Friday night if it killed me, and then never see this jerk again. I jumped up and down with the rest of the people out to have a good time. I sang along to songs I did not know the words to. I supported a guy 2x my weight crowd-surving--I did all the things you basically sign up to do when you decide to go to a concert. He did not.

And here's the kicker. The much-anticipated headline band finally got onstage: The Gay Blades. You may remember that this band was the band Ralph's friend had recommended, the reason we had ultimately decided to come to this bar instead of any of a dozen other LES bars with live bands playing that Friday night. It was at this moment, when the band started to play (not a member shirtless yet, might I add!), that Ralph turned to me and said from his foot-distance away, "I think I should go home. It's getting pretty late."

It was 11 p.m.

"Really? I mean, isn't this the band you wanted to see?"

"Yeah. But, I should leave. It takes me a while to get home." 

And here is where I made a huge mistake. I left the bar, even though I was having a great time, because I did not want to hurt his feelings. 

Ladies: Never, ever consider some guy's feelings over your own. Especially if that guy is someone you're on a second date with who seems convinced you're crawling with cooties. If you're having a good time somewhere and you're with an asshole who wants to leave, stay. And listen to that band that's supposed to be so good! And then call all of your girlfriends for an impromptu night out after the show, and, by God, salvage that evening! Because Friday nights are sacred and should be enjoyed, whatever grand effort this may take.

So, to end this sad tale of a Friday night shot to hell, because I had not yet acquired the wisdom to stay, I left with him and we walked to the subway together. When we got to the station he informed me that, although he'd had a great time, he really didn't think we should have another date. 

Insult to injury! That was my line! How dare he beat me to it?!

I, being the lady I am, thanked him for a fun evening and wished him a good night (code, under these circumstances, for "have a good life"). Then I went back to my apartment, and got a drink. And I'm almost certain, he did not.