This is it! The last day of the Photo a Day May Challenge. It’s been a crazy busy day for me. I started packing all of my stuff, ran some last-minute errands, and then threw some clothes into a suitcase prepared for a trip out of town. My weekend has basically started today already, which was pretty sweet as I only had to work a total of 2 days this week.
I am creativity. I am a beach lover. I am a traveler, I am a fashion addict. My personality is too complex to describe in only a few words, but those four shots above characterize me pretty well at the current moment. I am many more things, of course. Just like everyone else.
Pre-birthday curls. By the time you read this I will already have left the City (hopefully). Getting ready for the big day. My 25th Birthday on June 1. I am very excited and thrilled to spend my special day this time with someone I care for and at a spot I like. We are heading out to the northernmost tip of Long Island. The boyfriend has rented out a car and maybe I even get to drive again after two months of not having touched a steering wheel. Even more reason to be excited, right? I love driving, you should know. We will check out some beaches, taste some fresh sea food and discover the little town of Montauk. Yes! Sounds like the best weekend I could wish for already!
I am sad that May has already come to an end but I am looking forward to a great summer. June is typically an amazing month as well (as pretty much any other). Many birthdays to celebrate, starting with my own. And then of course all those outdoor events and beaches that have yet to be discovered. The end of this month just means the beginning of the next. Life goes on!
I hope to see many great posts on how you people are doing with the Photo a Day Challenge in June!
So here’s the deal: I am not opposed to moving. Not at all! On the contrary: I embrace the feeling of leaving a place behind to settle in a new one. Heck, I moved all across the ocean from one country to another to start a new and exciting adventure in New York.
This city, though – I don’t know what it is. Maybe a living curse. Or Karma. Or a ghost haunting me. Me and finding a room – it’s just not working out as smooth as it had before, in good ole Deutschland.
I found my first apartment within two days of being here (my personal record, by the way). But then I also ended up being robbed by my roommate’s boyfriend/ affair/ 18-year-old thief who swiped some jewelry and also almost my cell phone. After this rather bad experience, I set out to search for a decent spot in a decent neighborhood. Read all about it here. And luckily I was able to upgrade to the wonderful Slope. This is where I roomed with the Belarusians. The White-Russians were nice but it didn’t work out in the end. That one year with them is to date my top performance when it comes to living the longest in one place in Nueva York. Then came a 6-month-stint with a gay guy and his boyfriend. It was short and sweet. Lots of cooking from their side. Not so much contribution from my side. The new job and all had me pretty much occupied to my teeth. Much happens in six months. Such as their decision to finally move together – into the current apartment. Resulting in me giving up the room. Which is why I was busy for over a month in finding another spot. All of this sounds plausible. But taken together, it’s adding up to four different places in 2 years and three months. Which is also a personal record to date.
I do have to say, you start getting tired of packing your belongings and to roam from one place to another. The more you’re here, the more furniture you have. Oh how I kinda want the time back when all I had to worry about is whether or not those two suitcases would fit inside a subway or a cab …!
This time, though, the challenge was not so much in packing but rather in finding an actual room. And boy, had I looked at a bunch of crappyshittyrip-offs interesting spots. Until now I am still convinced that it must have been this time of year working against me. My opinion was assured by other people who were offering a room.
Such as the guy who deliberately overcharged his roommates from the start. “I am not asking you for last month’s rent or a deposit***. All I am asking for is first month’s rent and a 3 month commitment. Because I absolutely do not look forward in filling this room during the summer hole,” he sporadically announced when I walked up the two flights to the entire floor in which more than three people could have comfortably lived. In turn for his “great” offer he already made it clear from the beginning that I would be overcharged a good 100 bucks a month. Fairness of the situation? I am not so sure about that. But someone else must have thought these to be splendid terms as the room was taken the next day already (according to the e-mail I received).
You find a ton of crazy-creepy spots here in New York. My search was luckily only in Brooklyn. Which also turned out to be a real pain in the arse. Just excluding all the areas that were unsuitable: Bedstuy (ghetto), Canarsie (even worse), East New York (death sentence for a white skinned girl), Coney Island (too far), Brighton Beach (too far), Sheepshead Bay (still too far). Only a handful of areas were left. With Park Slope still being my top preference. Cobble Hills following as a second winner. And then Williamsburg, Greenpoint, maybe Bushwick. Gosh, the search was very exclusive this time. But mostly also because pretty much nothing of greater value was offered. Whatever causes the summer draught – I started believing in it. The first few rooms were among the best, but also the most overpriced expensive ones. Then I found a very nice girl in Greenpoint. Only, my room was like a studio: No separate bedroom and the entire area combined with kitchen and bathroom. Which I wouldn’t have minded if I could have had it all to myself. But not with another person walking in and out of this room randomly using my shower and the kitchen. Where is the privacy here?
I would certainly have had enough privacy in the room offered by a former real estate agent over in Bushwick. Sorry, my bad: East Williamsburg – as advertised. She had spun her net around two other girls who were desperate to find something (and who were also new to the City).
“Disregard the projects right next to our house. I find the people rather cute when I walk past them every day to the train,” she chirped. Not that living next to the socially disadvantaged would have been uhm dangerous … And I was eager to see how much more BS she was able to tell. “The pressure in the shower is the best you will find” she added. “I am notorious for not taking a shower when I am gone on the weekend because I miss this one.” Aha, random stinky roommate who does not give too much about hygiene on travels. Not to mention the sauna-like atmosphere in the apartment because of the open kitchen and her efforts of having cooked brownies. But the best part of course was the room itself! I could hardly believe it when I opened up the door: The ceiling was about as tall as my hip! Meaning you had to bend very deep (and I am tall, I almost crawled) in order to even access the room. What claustrophobic people would have done in this situation – I can only imagine. A pathetic mattress on the floor replaced the common bed. You could picture its inhabitant trying to blow out her hair in cross-legged manner on the floor. Not to mention no window (but where would the construction people have cut that out?!). Needless to say, even this room was taken within a day. Everyone is desperate in finding something, not only me. I had to pass on this great opportunity, though!
So what else was left? A bunch of windowless rooms this time around. Not that it really matters if you are living with very cool people but I would like to have a morning breeze when I wake up. Or be able to look out of the window in the winter. Just random things you would never think about because a window is pretty much a standard requirement for those $800 and up these people were trying to charge for the place. Then of course the average nutcases. The girl who lived with her dog, a parrot, and her pot-smoking boyfriend. Pass! Then the woman who had the oldest cats ever seen but whose house smelled like a constant accumulation of cat piss. Pass! A cool four-roommate-situation on 4th Avenue, but way too far from the train station. Pass!
Or the indecisive Japanese girl who pushed her decision-making off until probably today. I waited one and a half weeks for her to say yes or no but always got the same standard response: Sorry, I am still seeing a couple of people today/ tomorrow/ on the weekend/ for the rest of my life and will make a decision after those appointments. I really hope she found someone, June 1 is approaching very fast (as in tomorrow). So I grudgingly went back to looking at rooms. Until last Thursday I found what I call a decent match: Only a 5-minute-walk from the main train hub in Brooklyn. Now I can choose between 6 different trains that will catapult me to the Empire State Building in less than 20 minutes every weekday. It is half the size of the room I have now. But the area is gorgeous. Still Park Slope, only the north side. A good 15 min walk from the Park – not as bad as it could be if I were to move to uhm Williamsburg. And you just cannot beat having those 12 trains right next to you (well, in walking distance). Or a German beer bar which will show all Euro cup soccer games from June on! Win!
So I guess I am settled. I was about to despair and call myself homeless. I even started eyeing those bridges that were not yet taken by other bums. Finally I found something. We will see how long it will last this time. I will keep you updated.
Round number four: It has been the most exhausting and extensive search so far. And also the most fruitless. If you want to move in New York, try to avoid the awful summer hole – that is the only piece of advice I can give you this time!
[*** It is not uncommon to pay a three-month-fee (first, last, deposit) when moving with roommates in New York. Some people, including myself, simply don’t have a total of $3,000 or higher all at once – especially when you’re struggling to make it here. That’s why this arrangement could be seen as a “deal” by some people. Not by me, though. I don’t mind paying less a month but getting my deposited money back.]
I hope you all had a great Memorial Day Weekend! Mine was too short. But other than that quite entertaining. More on this to come soon (when I find the time for some decent post that is). But for now I can tell you: There’s been a ton of beaches, some ships, and even a BBQ involved. So it had been some fun-filled three days off work. I even almost forgot how it felt like to sit in front of my computer for 9 hours straight. Until I walked in today. Oh well, better get used to it rather fast than never again.
But let’s rewind:
It was not easy to come up with something sweet on Sunday. In the very last minute (well, almost) we decided to throw on the grill and host a BBQ. Veggie burgers, grilled corn, a salad – it all came together just fine. After gathering the equipment and food for an entire hour before, that is. Nonetheless, my friend had a brilliant idea: S’mores. My very first ones! And they were good, too. Even though the coals had burned down at that point in time. It took us forever to find a deli in Brooklyn with decent graham crackers. But when we finally did, the crackers tasted extra good. Definitely worth the hassle!
[The weather today]
Well, yesterday I was at the beach. Once again. Good ole Coney Island this time. Since I am becoming tired of always telling you about how awesome the beach is, I decided to take a picture from our roof at 8 PM. When the sun set. It had been pretty warm and humid during the day. 90 degrees (30 Celsius) – summer is most definitely here. What better way to kick off the season than climbing on top of your house and taking in the view over Brooklyn. Or at least the roofs. Ahoi!
This is a screenshot of my iPhone. Lame, I know. I merely wanted to point out the date, which I could not find anywhere else today. May 29. 2 more days of this month left. I am moving in the first days of June. Looks like a new stage of my life will start for me. Once again adjusting to new roommates, packing my bags, unpacking my stuff. I should be used to it by now. I am not, though. With June, all the fun begins. Open air events, concerts, and operas – I am afraid it will pass by too fast. Just like May, which was a month filled with appointments to look at one place crappier than the other. Leaving not much of fun left during those few hours in between work, friends, and other personal issues.
I have felt more and more that I am not living in the present lately. Therefore, adjusting my attitude towards enjoying the current moment is my highest goal to achieve as of now!
Today is May 27. It appears that this little picture project is slowly coming to an end. I am not sure if there will be a Photo a Day Challenge in June but I doubt I will once again participate in it. Not because I did not like it, just because this blog has a different purpose other than that. I had a blast following the daily suggestions and have definitely come to snap a lot more pictures than I usually do – which is typically already a good amount. I also very much enjoyed seeing the interpretation of these suggestions by other bloggers, even the ones who stopped doing it halfway through the month … HINT!
However, we still have 5 more days to go. Well, four, but I am only posting up to May 26. My day has just started here and I have yet to meet “something sweet.”
So let’s go on and see what Thursday through Saturday held for me.
I finally went to Macy’s again. It’s been raining a fair amount during the week, so I try to spend my lunch breaks inside. Floor 4 holds a pretty awesome collection of things. It is also here where I ran across the new designs of XOXO (yes, kisses and hugs). Don’t these bright colors make you feel happy just by looking at them? I am thrilled to see that their shirts and dresses are in accordance to my taste. I am also anticipating that I will have to stop by a few times throughout the summer to get some hard core shopping done.
On the same note, I finally fulfilled a small dream of mine: I ended up buying a nail color I had eyed since last summer. Not sure it is in fashion anymore but I simply do not care. Go blue is my motto now and I really love how the color matches pretty much everything I wear. Should have done this waaay earlier!
Well, this could apply to every day until Wednesday but last Friday was indeed the very first time I got to see them wandering the streets of New York again: It’s Fleet Week! Thousands of navy guys and marines are taking over New York. Concerts, boat tours, and other fun things are going on throughout the entire weekend. I might just have to head to Times Square today to see them perform live on stage. Or go to the Intrepid and take some good shots of the boats that landed over there. I took part in more activities of Fleet Week last year (read more here) but then, to give me some credit, the weather has really not been the best this year, either. Fleet Week will end on May 30 and I am already sad to see the uniforms go. They bring a very special vibe to this city.
Possibly my favorite shot of the week! I had a date with my friends at the beach. We were scheduled to meet at Far Rockaway. On my 1-hour-trip over there on the A-Train this couple sat pretty much right next to me. They were German and also on their way to the ocean. I fancied their bodies covered in tattoos. Even though I could never do this, I still thought the tats looked pretty funky on them. Guess you do become alike after being with each other, right?!
I love how there is always something quite unusual to see on random days during random hours and noon time was that one occasion I wanted to share with you!
So I hope you are enjoying this 3-day-weekend (for some even 4 days) and get a great BBQ on tomorrow!
Cheers from New York!
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday! Fulfilling my three-day-schedule right on time.
With so much going on in the room search department I sorta need this challenge as a time-out from the every-day-stress I have come to experience lately. The topics were also pretty amazing for those particulars three days, I dare say! I was totally looking forward to finally being able to post my awesome pictures. Which I all took the day it was meant to be – no more cheating for me! Looks like I am finally getting the hang of it, right?!
[Where you stand]
Where would I stand on a typical Monday? Well, as of now, I work in the Empire State Building (read more here). And you have a pretty neat view from the 27th floor. After six months of going in and out of that office, I still like to appreciate the view. Especially with the current work load I am experiencing. So this is the sight you have from our conference room window on a rainy Monday on May 21 of 2012. I also downloaded this neat app on my iPhone: the 360 Panorama app. I highly recommend this toy to anyone who loves taking pictures of nature, skylines, or anything further stretched than normal. Totally worth it!
The color that makes me feel happy for no specific reason. I once wanted to have the walls of my room painted pink, but that was way back then, in the days of my teenagedom. I heard it is also the color of my zodiac sign, so maybe that is why I’ve always had a craving for pink. My bed linen is pink. My nail polish is mostly pink. My towel is pink. And on that particular day I was wearing… tada… a pink shirt, you guessed it! Pink is a mix between red and white. I also love red, wouldn’t have minded shooting a picture of the red dresses I have. But pink will do for now! Oh, and what happened to those fabulous pink glasses everyone had a decade ago? See pink, are we too cool for that nowadays?!
Where would we be nowadays without technology? I have no idea. I would be a bit more deprived of social life, education, and re-living a day. Through the use of my camera, for example. Wouldn’t exist without technology. I have been on picture tours lately once again. This is truly the best time of the season to get some photo sessions done. Park, beach, get-togethers… All kinds of fun stuff to do and which has to be recorded on a great camera. Currently I am still shooting with a Canon Rebel DSLR (see more pictures here). I had it for less than a year and am still carrying it with me a lot. Possibly a sign that is time to upgrade to a newer model, as I had initially planned.
I am generally speaking not opposed to technology. But I do think that it can be a humongous waste of our time. Couch potatoes sitting in front of the TV all day long. Video game freaks who’d rather fight a senseless battle inside instead of enjoying the first rays of summer outside…
Technology can be useful in many ways but I have the feeling it has perhaps drawn us further apart in ways we didn’t anticipate. It is about finding the right mix between artificiality and natural solutions in order to make our lives meaningful.
We all have them. Little by little, they might have accumulated over the years. Maybe they just came crashing into your world without a prior sign of them. Just like they did with me the other day. Little unnoticeable things that can cause so much evil.
They can also show you your limits of what you can tolerate. Frustration, anger, lethargy, dullness, emptiness– so many different feelings at once. Broadening your limits or leaving you stranded. Also pointing out what is really important in life. And what is not. What seemed so urgent yesterday has become so irrelevant today. Whatever ruled your life before – hardships readjust your values. Every. single. one. of. them.
So it’s time to reflect. Once again, in this so far short life. I thought almost 25 would feel a bit different. Maybe more stable. Maybe less flexible. Certainly a bit healthier. A quarter century, what to expect? Not yet the age during which you’d anticipate too many bad things happening in your life. But I guess that is not age-dependent now, is it? Another misconception from when I used to be 17 or 18 or anything before 20. Or am I just falsely reflecting on my time as a teenager from my current stand point? It is mighty hard to tell after such a long time.
I wouldn’t have thought that time, occurrences, and diagnostics can leave you with a sour aftertaste at this age. Or that it would be hard to fight off the bitterness spreading through your body. I thought mid-twenties would be a bit different. Easier. Lighter. But then I also never imagined myself taking so many risks at once. In order to survive. In order to fulfill my inner needs and the dreams yet to be created.
We all have them. They are just defined differently for everyone. It is up to us to decide what to do with them. After all, it is all about the attitude you approach them with. And how far you can go to rid yourself of them.
And perhaps, but only perhaps, a little distraction would help, too.
Three lovely days have passed. Once again our weekend has been filled with sun, summer, and fun. Once again I was able to go to the Park and enjoy the weather. Although this time around was a little bit different as I was stressed – more than last week. I’ll tell you the whole story in a different post. However, I still think I managed to do the very best with the few free hours I had. And as it goes, it is once again supposed to rain from Monday on (all the way to Thursday or Friday, but since the forecast is never completely right I would flip a coin on that). Let’s start with the artsy side….
[Something you made]
So Friday, after work, I finally managed to do something I never really did before. It is completely senseless as I am moving out in less than two weeks but I finally hung up my collection of bracelets. Right there, on the old school wooden wall of my nice room in the Slope. A little bit of order in the chaos that is surrounding my life right now.
[A favorite place]
This should be places instead. My favorite places yesterday were an array of bars. Bars on 5th Ave. Bars on 7th Ave. We had quite a nice day with booze, sun, and summer feelings. This is a picture of the Austrian bar Steinhof on 7th Avenue (read more here). The day ended early thanks to day drinking. I think I might prefer this type of drunkenness over being tipsy at night and then missing out on the entire day after…
[Something you can’t live without]
Nature. And summer! So let’s combine it both and what you have is trees, sunlight, and maybe even a party. This weekend was the weekend of the GOOGA MOOGA festival in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. I didn’t reserve tickets, unfortunately, but I did get to hear the loud screams of the band and masses playing today. Most likely they’ll be on it for the next three days until the party comes to an end but that doesn’t count. People have to work during the week.
I wouldn’t know what to without the prospect of having summer every year. It is the season I love the most and where so much happens. Not only here but almost everywhere.
I do have to say, I really like the weekend challenges…!
What a busy week it has been! Monday and Tuesday passed in a fling. Wednesday was dedicated to catching up with an old friend from DC who visited New York. And today, well today I had a pretty good dance lesson at the Y – Zumba class has become one of my favorites!
So noooow, before I go to bed, it is time for the Photo a Day Challenge, or at least what is left of it. Isn’t it crazy how May has already passed its middle number? Meaning from now on there will be less days towards June, the ultimate summer month. I am kinda sad, I had a good time this May. But let’s not get distracted by nostalgia and petty memories. Let’s get the daily picture show on!
Here it is. Freshly chopped off lawn from Prospect Park. You will see many more Prospect Park pictures for the remainder of the month, so please forgive me if I repeat myself. I tend to do that, especially when I am very thrilled. Prospect Park is simply amazing, especially during spring, summer, and fall…
To wake up and already missing the person you just left. To share a meal together. To travel. Love is many things.
[What you’re reading]
Books! I to date do neither have the luxury nor interest in possessing an e-book or iPad. I like the tangible feeling of books. The flipping through one page and another phenomenon. The only downside to books can be that they are too heavy on occasion. That is why my shoulder sometimes hurts, especially after carrying the little brick with me all day long. Still, nothing can replace a good old-fashioned book and the sensation of touch, feel, smell. Yes, smell! Remember when you used to smell your text books back in school? Well, I used to do so, so I remember it fairly well. The fresh ink scent with a new book or the moldy stink with a used one. The book will never be replaced and I am glad I have the choice to choose from an array of interesting stories I can carry around with me.
Trader Giottos (how they like to be called) have come up with a peanut butter filled granola bar. So awesome! I know, it’s bad, too much sugar and stuff, but I still like to replace it with my breakfast. That’s why today I snacked a granola bar from Trader Joe’s. Sometimes I eat it with fruit, that’s the healthier way of doing it. I guess I really don’t have much to say about snacks but I hope you enjoyed the four pictures and tune in for the next Photo A Day picture show!
A suspicious-looking group is huddled around the Bedford Avenue Stop in Williamsburg. One girl is carrying a huge pipe-like figure, another is hoisting a heavy white bag on her shoulders. The group is in a good mood. First a stop at the local liqueur store, then off to N 5th Street. Only interrupted once by a madman, who is curious if this mixed crowd of cheerful people happens to be on the look-out for aliens.
“I saw them once” he proudly claims. “The Martians came in a huge spaceship. I was close-by when it all happened!” The group giggles and laughs and then continues on its way – with a very different goal in mind.
The girl carrying the pipe-like form is no one else but Raquel Brust, a well-known street artist from Sao Paulo, Brazil. What she is carrying is her newest creation of art: an oversized photography of a woman’s pair of hands in poster-format. To understand her art is to understand the city she has lived in for the past years.
Raquel, who moved to Sao Paulo to pursue a career, quickly found the city anonymous and overwhelming. “I wanted to shut my ears and myself off from the outside world”, she describes her first impressions. “I couldn’t stand the noise, the chaos – everything going on all at once.”
Although she had initially intended on working in the city, she also wanted to give Sao Paulo a personal note. This is why 4 years ago she came up with her own interpretation of street art: the Project Giganto, from which she obtained approval by the city.
Her idea involves taking pictures of mostly aged people, who are marked by the side effects of urban life, and portraying their lives in this very city. Being exposed to Sao Paulo on a day-to-day basis can take its toll on especially the older generation. The constant pollution, (traffic) noise, and even just the fact that life in the city can sometimes be rather anonymous – who really wants to grow old like this?
The photographs are then blown up to a monstrous poster size. Some show a person with a personal item, such as an elderly man holding a picture of his beloved ones. Others are focused on different body parts. For instance, in her first year of creating the project she took the face of an old Brazilian native and glued it to the windows of an urban family. “It’s all about the contrast: Shooting pictures of people who will never be used to certain attributes of the city and putting their faces on well-known places that have a lot of foot traffic”, she explains in her charming Brazilian accent.
Raquel wants people to stop and think about what her art could mean. She therefore started hanging her photographs in places that were once common meet-up points of an area and that have been destroyed by the city or government to make room for new but to her eyes ugly buildings which mean nothing to the citizens who have lived there for so long.
Important to her is to bring some human presence to the big city – a place she considers rather inhuman and impersonal. Therefore, an ordinary object is brought to an extreme and hung on popular places throughout the city – for the past 4 years already. Each year has been different as she focused on a different topic. And 2012 was the year she decided to bring her Giganto to the Big Apple.
The group she is with this night is a mixed assembly of folks: Her Brazilian friend, her friend’s cousin, two guys who are seeking out an adventure, and me. All of us have probably only one thing in common: We have never hung up posters in the middle of the night in Brooklyn and we are all very interested as to where the night will lead us.
It is first all about finding the right spot. Raquel is good, she comes prepared. She wants it right there, on a well-lit construction site (which is likely to be monitored by security cameras). Although she was here only a few days ago, her favorite spot is now taken by random ads that take up one side of the wall. And here is where her respectful manner can be detected: Instead of tearing the ads off, like one of us suggested, she walks up and down the street to find a different spot. “No, because then they could do it with mine, too,” she declares. The rules of street art – she is familiar with them.
After some back and forth, the artist finally starts unwrapping her tools and wants to get it on with. By now it’s probably 12 PM. A street full with bars and drunk people is only one block over. Although two cop vehicles pass the scene within only five minutes apart, we decide to continue the project. Two people position themselves on different street corners to look out for police cars.
Raquel, her friend, and another helper start unwrapping the two posters and drag them across the street to its new home. Each poster depicts a hand of an unknown older Brazilian woman. The Brazilian artist decided not to give the poster a face. Instead, she chose this picture to show the contrast between the very young neighborhood and the old hand which will never get a chance to see it. Williamsburg seemed to her the neighborhood she saw the most change in the past few years. Its transformation from a traditional neighborhood to a trendy and over-generalized spot where the masses stream for enjoyment was exactly where she wanted to set an example.
They have to work fast in the dark. The first hand tears. Raquel tries to fix it with glue, but her efforts end in vain. By then, 10 minutes have already passed. The artist and her helpers decide to disregard the first hand and roll out the second poster. This one also starts to tear beneath the oversized thumb but it can still be fixed in the very last stride. No one tries to think about the fact what a fruitless night it would have been otherwise.
After a good ten minutes, she steps away and critically examines her work: A monstrous picture of a woman’s hand right there, on a bustling street in the heart of Williamsburg. The guards are called away from their look-outs. Raquel still fiddles around for another 5 minutes. The paper wrinkles have to be straightened and the right side of the picture still needs some more glue – here and there. “I like the tangible feeling of glue and the waves of the paper. It makes me feel I am creating something, this is work with my hands,” she says happily.
The rest of the group is slightly panicking and urges her to leave the poster alone before the cops show up around the next corner.
Then it’s done! Project Giganto has found its way into the most populated city of the USA. Everyone is thrilled and excited to have been part of this. Whiskey disguised in a bottle of vitamin water is handed out. Raquel and her two friends who hung the poster are full with glue but also carry a very special glow on their faces: The glow of having been part of something that withholds a big meaning in another big city. The glow of having been part of art with such a complex history but that looks so easily created on the blue background …
With tears in her eyes, Raquel finishes her interview before she gets drunkenly lost in the streets of Williamsburg. “The people back in Brazil do not forget about the Giganto. It meant a lot to them four years ago, when the project started,” she describes. ”And it still means a lot to them today. They are the very first to call me every year on my birthday. Their faces hanging in Sao Paulo – they still sometimes cannot believe it!”
Her art can be found on the streets of Sao Paulo (make sure to go through this city with your eyes wide open!), in London, and now in New York City. Keep an eye out for the monstrous hand decorating the construction site on the corner of N 5th St and Wythe Ave. Now you know the story!
After the launch party of Burmese designer Mo Hom, my interest in the Burmese culture and especially cuisine had been awoken. Mo had hosted Ginger Salad so nicely prepared we just couldn’t stop eating…
When a Burmese photographer saw this, he was fascinated and challenged at the same time. He made both my friend and me an offer we simply couldn’t refuse: Taking us out to a great Burmese restaurant so that we could get a taste of even better food.
This is why last week Thursday we all met up at an inconspicuous looking building in the Upper East Side. Although the restaurant itself does not look like anything special from the outside and albeit it is right across the street from a huge construction site (they are trying to come up with a bigger, better, faster 2nd avenue subway station over there *eyesroll*), my foodie experience was quite the opposite than from what I had expected. Another case of do not judge at first glance – many things in New York are like that, by the way.
Most people by now are probably scratching their head. My friend was equally perplexed when I told him about it. The response is quite understandable. “What exactly is Burmese cuisine?” he asked. “Does it involve a lot of rice?” You would think it did, as it is close to China, India, and Thailand. Nonetheless, its food is very different than from the typical Asian cuisine I had expected (lots of expectations blown out of the window that day).
We first started with a few different appetizers:
The fried squash, which is squash pieces cooked in a breading. Be careful with these, as they can be very hot at first (in the sense of temperature). We dipped them in a sweet and sour sauce to give the breading some flavor but the vegetable inside was just fine without.
The Ginger Salad: My personal favorite! Fresh vegetables and ginger roots mixed with sesame seeds, toasted besan and topped off with peanuts and crisp onions. I cannot say what exactly tastes good about it but the ingredients all together just go well with each other.
We had a mango salad at the end. It was composed in the same manner the ginger one was, but like I said, I really prefer the first option. The mango salad gives its variants a completely different taste – it is also very refreshing and sweeter than the ginger salad. So it was good to end this in a dessert-like manner.
We then went on sharing two dinner dishes:
Mohinga is considered the national dish of Burma. It is a fish broth containing thin rice noodles, minced fish, and boiled eggs among lemon grass and other distinct flavors.
Thun, our Burmese friend, also ordered Mangalay Nungi Noodles. They look like spaghetti noodles, but they do not have the consistency of them. I sorta ate around the chicken (as I am a vegetarian), but still got to experience the crispness when biting in the pasta. Noodles are not made the same in every country and Burma has come up with its own tasty interpretation.
Burmese cuisine is light and does not leave you with a feeling of having eaten too much. At the same time you did not miss out on culinary flavors, which leaves you with a great impression of the night. I believe the evening was a great success partly greatly due to our company: Burmese locals who knew exactly how to differentiate their cuisine from other Asian food and who made sure to point out the differences in texture and flavor.
Another thing about Burma is that I basically no nothing about this country. The restaurant was beautifully decorated with many landmarks and milestones of Burmese history and also cultural hotspots. It resembles the countryside of China (I only know from pictures) and I therefore hope to see this wonderful place myself at one point in time. The language itself is supposed to sound similar to the Chinese language and Tibetan dialect. My friend is very good at languages and therefore ordered in Burmese all evening long. Another friend who joined us said he had forgotten the polite way of ordering already, after being abroad for a few years. I am not sure if he was just joking but could to some degree understand how he unlearned parts of his own language if he does not speak or write it on a regular basis.
Café Mingala is located at 72nd St and 2nd Avenue. I know it’s not always on everyone’s typical way of things. It’s definitely not on my way when I go to Manhattan, that is for sure. But it’s absolutely worth the trip out of your way, I can tell you that much. Easily situated off the 68th St stop around Hunter College, it’s refreshing to stroll around and just absorb the student-infused neighborhood. If you ever happen to crave great Asian Cuisine or if you want to try out something exotically nice, make sure your stop includes this restaurant.
The weekend has almost come to a close, so it’s the best possible time to get this post out before heading to the Park again to catch some more sun. The beginning of next week is supposed to be gloomy and rainy, that’s why I am striving to appreciate the last rays of good weather which is finally here.
Let’s start with something easy aka as something that makes me happy:
Lying around on a lazy day in Prospect Park/Brooklyn. As for now, I still live an easy 5-minute-walk from this amazing park. Designed by the same people who have constructed Central Park, it is smaller in size than its Manhattaner Big Brother but nonetheless beautiful. Matter of fact, so beautiful, I’d prefer it any minute over Central Park. Lots of fun things go on here during the summer, such as Celebrate Brooklyn (read more here), an equivalent to the Summer Stage in Manhattan. The only difference: You actually get a spot here and can easily jump up and down to some great vibes of numerous artists.
Yesterday the temperature hit a satisfying 24 degrees (75 Fahrenheit), so it was the most ideal time to wander the ways, sit in the grass, and watch families trying to start a kite. Not enough wind for this, but I saw a cute shark kite I’d definitely would have bought my child, too.
Let’s not forget what this weekend is really about: It’s all about you, Mom!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the great mothers out there! And the mothers-to-be.
Unfortunately I am nowhere close to mine, so I really hope that the folks who are make the best out of this day. I am sending virtual kisses over to Germany, where my parents reside and hope that you had an awesome, pleasant, fun, and loving day with the rest of our family!
December 2011: My friends and I on our way back from a Post-Holiday-Christmas-Party. Chit chatting and laughing away, we randomly take a seat on the R train, which is running late again on another typical Sunday night. Or so we think. Mistake #1.
Completely absorbed in our conversation, we at first did not notice the ugly stares from a hunched over woman across from us. Mistake #2.
All of a sudden my friend looks up and notices that something is wrong. By then the female is practically attacking us with her bare looks. We are all three creeped out but try to nervously laugh it off. Without further warning, the woman-like creature yells and curses us out. No apparent reason, obviously. We slide over all the way to the other side of the car and continue our talk. Just another random madwoman on the train, we think.
Fast forward 5 months:
I am running late to an appointment at my friend’s house and am happy to snag a seat on the overcrowded F-Train form 14th St on. It can be quite an unusual thing to have, a free spot on a Saturday afternoon. I then glance across from me and see a tired female-like person with chopped off red hair. She is slouched and taking up a whole bench for herself. At first I am startled, unsure as to why exactly she looks familiar. As far as I know I am not yet friends with the homeless of New York and that is pretty much what she resembles.
Then it hits me: It’s the madwoman from back in December! At first I am hesitating, my desire to switch seats immediately almost takes control of me. Or rather: Taking the chance of not having a seat but standing again seems all of a sudden attractive. Anywhere far far away from this woman. Then I chill. It’s been almost half a year and I am dressed completely different, I think. No way on earth she would remember me from way back then. How wrong I was….
She happens to wake up on once every so often but I become more and more confident that I am out of the limbo. So I start getting my cell phone ready as I just have to take a picture for those two other friends I was with when she flipped on us in the winter. My phone is wrapped in a cassette cover, making it less evident that it’s a cell phone.
I even manage to shoot three pictures of her until she gets what I am doing. And this is when hell freezes over. Her loud cursing begins again and is aimed directly towards me. I think she was also mad because of the guy who sat next to her without her permission, to be honest with you. I try to ignore her screams for a bit but then have enough. At the next stop I pretend I am getting off – and flee to the other end of the wagon. Everyone is aware of her yells by now and doesn’t know where to look. Still, the crowd is pretty tolerant of the madwoman, even though it is a Saturday afternoon and not everyone is wasted or too tired to think.
Overall, you have quite a few people on the train that are out of the norm. For instance the girl that peed her pants when taking the Q Train home at 2 AM during a Sunday night. This was back in the days, around 2 years ago, but I still have to think of it on occasion. We were all tired and wound down from a night out and a long week. All except for this one girl, who just couldn’t stop dancing to her music and was wiggling around in her seat. Or so I thought. And then I noticed she wasn’t wearing any head phones or holding an iPod close to her. Her peculiar behavior caught the attention of pretty much everyone sitting close to her by now. Except for the guy on the far end of the bench, who was almost asleep. She jumped up and was dancing up and down on a spot close to the door. Then she was holding her pants. This must have been the point where she gave up because she sat back on her spot and pretended she was sitting on a toilet seat. All of sudden we hear a gushing sound and, sure enough, there she is, peeing on a NYC subway. Not even standing but sitting.
We were all taken by surprise and didn’t know how to react at first. The next stop was close and she got off right there. The guy who was half asleep noticed that something was wrong and jumped to another bench far away from the scene. As soon as the girl got off the train, we lost it. Hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. The situation had been just too peculiar and strange and completely weird and I am sure not everyone witnesses this even in the Big Apple. She tried to hide behind a map outside – a cop was also patrolling the station. He didn’t know what we were laughing about but that was when the train doors shut again. I really wonder what was going on in this girl’s head and why she did not at least open up the doors in between cars to pee there (which would have been the more sound solution, as my friend pointed out after hearing the story).
And not to forget the bipolar girl who at first complimented an Irish couple with their baby on how sophisticated their European accent sounded. But the next minute she turned around and yelled at a guy who was holding on to the same pole to better get his magazine out of her face or otherwise something bad would happen. The poor man did not know what to say at first (his magazine was way out of her reach, not to say face), and the Irish couple crept far away from her (not to be beaten up next).
Wheeew, the subway in New York – it’s definitely a circus going on beneath the city. Since almost everyone takes it at some point in time and since almost everyone relies on it as a means of travel, you have quite an accumulation of characters on one small speck of train. Every once in a while you get the crazies. But as soon as the funnies board the subway you see how much worth it is taking. For instance this picture I took yesterday: Flower girls with the widest hats possible addressing Cinco de Mayo in their own special way. Things like these brighten my day and make me love taking the F or Q or A or anything else all around town!
And back to the red-haired lady: I am still wondering what would have happened if I had yelled back at her. She never tried to physically attack me, only with her looks and screams.
Yell at me once, your fault. Yell at me twice, my fault. Yell at me thrice, be prepared for a nice loud REVENGE! AAAAW!