Monday, December 24, 2012

NYC 2012: A Photo Story

Once upon a December, I drove to New York City with Megan.

Where I crossed another thing off my bucket list: #60 See the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lit, and my was it beautiful. 

That's not all I did on our trip to the Big Apple. I also: 

Took a picture with Jesus Christ.

And a cannoli. 

And Santa. 

I celebrated the best engagement news ever. Congrats, John and Jessie!

I saw family. 

And Hasidic Jews. You can't see his peyos because he's on the phone. 

I drove in Manhattan and Brooklyn and didn't A) get in an accident, b) get honked at, or c) get the finger.

I walked around Times Square as a reindeer.

And chose to keep the reindeer antlers on in Chinatown and Little Italy.

I drank good beer, I hung out with good friends, and I saw more family.

I even met a man named Skunk who walked through the subway car with a live cat on his shoulder. Side note: said cat was wearing a sweater vest.

It was a great trip.

The End. 

A Message From Cupid

Dear Readers,

Two hundred Santas, a mennorah, and a red M&M in a Justin Bieber Santa hat with a boom-box walk into a bar.....oh and two NYPD cops, too...

No punch line. It's just Santacon NYC, an adults-only festive fundraiser that's also a bar crawl. Unless, you're us and hang out at one bar all day. 

Wanna learn more? Of course, you do. Here's a message from the Santacon website:

Santacon: It's Not Just Bros Puking in Your Neighborhood! 

Santa Claus isn't just a menace to all that is good and holy: he also brings presents! On Saturday (December 15th), sixty venues who participated in NYC Santacon donated a portion of the day's proceeds to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation: as of right now, they've reported $20,000, with a projected total of $45,000. 

All Santacon participants were asked to bring two cans of food to support local food banks. Santas donated 6,850 lbs of canned food at the event's starting point, which City Harvest is distributing. Twenty-two venues also collected canned food from Santas, the total weight of which will be available soon. 

Merry Christmas! 

Children of the '90s don't need much of an excuse to party, but partying for a good cause is particularly effective for our philanthropically-minded generation. Have a few beers and save the world? I mean, really, who's gonna complain? 

No one, hopefully. However, as I people watched on the corner of Restaurant and 9th, many a locals lamented in the madness that was NYC on December 15th. Some people even hide out for the day...

But that's lame. Santacon is for everyone (21 and older_, including Justin Timberlake, who has already gone on the record saying he will participate in Santacon NYC 2013. 

In general, this annual celebration is just good festive fun for all who know how to hold their alcohol. Those who can't just ruin the fun. 

Cupid (that's me...I even have a name tag, see below)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ugh. Cooking...

I am taking a journey, a learning journey. It's like exploring in a new place, but that new place is an area of the house familiar to many but not me: It's the kitchen. 

Learning to cook is, well, a process.

I've had some disasters in my past: e.g. the turkey meatloaf cooked to 160 degrees Celsius.

But then today (seriously, just now) there was another meatloaf. On Brad's first bite, his nose turned up and in a disgusted voice he said, "Umm...what did you put in this?" I may have poured in a little too lot Kosher salt. It came out of the container very fast. I blame the container. 

I thought I was in over my head. Now I know I am. A few days ago, I recruited a teacher. 

I asked my teacher to write up a few words about my skills. I don't have skills, so this is what he wrote:

The empty canvas.

Raw. New. A dry sponge. A babe in the woods. Gripping the knife red hands white knuckles tight as can be. Fear in her eyes.

I said "We are going to dice an onion." She said, " Okay, that's great! How do we do that?"

A neophyte. Open eyes. Questioned. Listened. Remembered. A student of the art.
Welcome to the club. We don't have cookies...we have wine.

Amen for the wine. I drank a fair amount and didn't even cut off any fingers as I learned to chop, dice, and mince.

Chicken and rice was the dish of the night. 

The chicken was good. It was flavorful and moist. I seasoned it with salt and papper and massaged lemon juice into the meat. But the rice...

My God. It's made with chicken bouillon and diced onions and diced garlic. The flavors pack this punch that forces a smile the second it hits your tastebuds.  

This dish is unusual. The side takes the cake. It's the thing you go up for for seconds, thirds, even fourths.

I mean it's cool. I'm no Paula Deen or Bobby Flay, but if I can make food that doesn't suck on a consistent basis, I think Brad will like me better.

Tragedy, Memory

I will never forget where I was on 9/11. Mr. Carter's 7th grade Earth Science classroom. He received a typed note from a hall monitor.

4/16.  Mrs. Lebherz's Honors Government class. The death toll climbed until track practice that afternoon.

12/14.  The parking lot of a McDonald's. Megan read from her phone, "Did you hear about the shooting?" We immediately stopped talking and went to online news sites.

Tragedy makes a profound impact on memory.

Personal tragedy and memory: Dropping Brad off at the airport before Afghanistan. Saying "see you soon" three different times. Waiting for the phone to ring. Crying myself to sleep not knowing if he was safe. Checking the KIA list multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times an hour.

The "Uncle Jack has died" phone call. Sobbing in Brad's arms. Delivering Aunt Sandy's and Jamie's eulogies. Practicing those eulogies in Uncle Jack's chair the night before. Watching my family mourn a husband/father/friend in the hearse. Hearing their sobs through the heavy black doors.

Family friend's deaths--Bob Evans, Melissa, Tammy, Mr. C., Jan. The blow I got when I found out Jan tried to kill herself before.

The suicides in 10th grade. Watching people sit in the hallways and cry. Skipping history lessons to talk about life in Mr. Lemoncelli's American History II classroom.

And public tragedy and memory: Columbine. Aurora. Oklahoma City. Arizona. 9/11. Newtown, Connecticut, which are all tragedies that are so much more personal to others than they are to me.

Tragedy triggers memory and vice versa. You remember the time, the place, the smells, the clothes, the feeling, the moment, the fear, the sadness, the shock, the worry. It's like a freeze frame in the archive of your memory, the movie that shapes your life. A moment that you can rewind to anyone says something, does something, hints at something that triggers that mechanism in your brain that says, "This reminds me of that."

Several years from now, I won't forget that on 12/14 I was wearing a bright yellow shirt and a flower-print scarf, ripped jeans, and brown boots that dug into my heels. I won't forget that I was in a McDonald's parking lot across from Dorney Park.

I will always remember that I had a glass of water that tasted like Orange Lavaburst. That I ate a mushroom and swiss snack wrap and 4 McNuggets while watching CBS News coverage.

I will always remember that I felt guilty for going to New York City for the weekend and didn't want to post pictures of the drive in on Facebook. That I could hear Obama crying during his address, which we found on an AM radio station outside of the city.

I will remember the overwhelming sense of grief I felt when I thought about such a tragedy so close to Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

20 sets of young parents will have to figure out what to do with the presents they may have already wrapped. The presents that may already be under the tree: football jerseys, Barbie dolls, puzzles, games. These are presents that they will never have the joy of watching their child open because one man with a gun and who-knows-what-hell kind of motive wielded multiple weapons in a "safe place," a school. A school with bulletin boards about the ABCs and playgrounds with tiny little swings and cubby holes to hold tiny little jackets and cartoon-character lunch pails.

My heart bleeds for the victims' families. My heart bleeds that many of these children may still have believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. That they went to bed with bedtime stories and nightlights to scare away the monsters.

Aurora. Columbine. Arizona. Virginia Tech. Newtown. A deep sense of grief is now forever associated with those words because of a man, a monster. These mentally-unstable people devastated countless families because.

Because is the answer because we will never know their motives. And what motives we may learn we will never understand.

It is not about God. He or She may not exist. This tragedy is not about lack of God in schools. Not every child in the classroom believes in God or believes in the same God. This is about the twenty-six people who lost their lives on December 14th and the twenty-six families that were impacted by that loss.

It is not about the shooter. I am sorry. He is not the victim here. The Adam Lanzas of the world will continue to choose homocide before suicide unless a profound change occurs in our society. I have hope that my generation will have the answer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Love NY

I survived this grueling semester--the second to last of my college career. My treat? A weekend in New York City with friends.

We'll be staying in Brooklyn. 

The last time we went to Brooklyn, we didn't get any sleep the night before. This time, I'm going to bed early. At like 10.

I need to archive some energy to live off of in the city that never sleeps. Otherwise, I'll fall asleep on the subway. Again.......