Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Good Man Sunday

If I learned nothing from 30 Rock, it’s that a trip to Ikea can make nails scratch against the chalkboard of a relationship. 

It turns out it’s actually true: apparently the stress of buying large items or even confronting the possibility of what a future might look like can drive some couples to tear at each other’s throats (literally or figuratively, I’m not sure). So when SE told me he wanted to go to Ikea, I said sure, thinking ‘What a fun thing to do on a Saturday!’ all the while keeping Liz Lemon and Criss in the back of my mind. SE hadn't watched too much 30 Rock, so he didn't know. 

But we didn’t fight, surprisingly. While SE would be happier in a room that looks more like Don Draper’s apartment and I would be pleased as punch to be in a place that looks like the Madonna Inn in California, we began to find things we liked that overlapped and made each other happy. And all SE really wanted to get there was a knife. I did find that being in there made me extremely tired—I noticed that the setup is not unlike a casino in Vegas, where there are no windows or clocks so you cannot quickly comprehend the passage of time and force yourself to leave quicker. By the time we had lunch after finishing the top floor (meatballs and ligonberries, of course), I was half in the bag, but continued to make my way through the marketplace, even procuring some cute, colorful plates and bowls and plastic Tupperware-esque containers along the way. I passed out for a hot minute in the ‘As-Is’ section after grumbling about the probably poorly behaved children who left their footprints all over some furniture that was perfectly good aside from the occasional scratch. 

We then decided to explore Red Hook a bit, walking down Beard Street to some of the piers. Growing up in Brooklyn, Red Hook was not ever a place you went for anything on purpose, SE told me. Nevertheless, it was this gorgeous, crisp, bright blue, cloudless day and for a while we just stood on the pier. This was not before going to a place called Nobletree Coffee, however. I wanted some coffee, and Google Maps said it was close by, so I decided to go. Now, having been there, I can say that Nobletree is undoubtedly one of these places that people who hate gentrification also despise—a place with a wooden bar and cold brew coffee on draft, its baristas with mustaches and suspenders not so much for irony but for quirky enjoyment, flavor profiles listed for each coffee they sell. These people love coffee, take coffee super seriously and, I hoped, would not snarl at you if you wanted to add some fake sugar to your latte like I did. You walk up to the bar and order from a barista in no particular order, perhaps the same way you might at a bar that did not serve coffee. You just catch the barista’s eye and order, much to the confusion of people who tried waiting in a line and were then thrown off when people just kept walking up to the bar past them. I ordered a latte, was asked if I wanted to open a tab (????), declined, and paid for my beverahhhhge. I am not a regular coffee drinker, so I don’t normally have an opinion about the flavor of the stuff, much less know anything about what a good cup of coffee tastes like. There was a place near Grand Army Plaza I used to love because their coffee tasted like fudge, but they closed and since I hadn’t actually been able to drink coffee for a long time. But I had been feeling better these days, so I decided to go for it. And let me tell you—it’s one of the best made cups of coffee I think I’ve ever had. It was the kind of cup of coffee that makes you understand what coffee is supposed to taste like, simultaneously nutty and fruity and creamy with no bitter aftertaste. What sorcery was this? Even SE, who can drink coffee but hates it, tried it and said “I still don’t like coffee, but that’s the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.” What higher praise can someone ask for? I felt like a gentrifying gentrifier, but damn that’s some good coffee. 

We walked along the waterfront a little bit, then hopped on the Water Taxi back to Manhattan (fun fact: the ferry to and from Ikea is free on the weekends, and also picks you up from Van Brunt street in Red Hook), the sky beginning to glow orange as the first inklings of sunset twinkled across the sky. Arriving back in Manhattan, we walk from Pier 11 at Wall Street back to the train, passing the building that doubles as The Continental, the assassins’ hotel in one of SE’s favorite movies, John Wick. I take pictures of him in front of it so he can send to a friend who’s equally obsessed with the film. We head back uptown and for no good reason eat Chocolate Chip Cookies at Insomnia Cookies, the warm, gooey chocolate a perfect counter for the chilly night. SE likes the outside of the cookies and I like the inside, so he peels off the edges for himself and gives the wobbly, chocolatey centers to me. It’s a perfect appetizer before we head downtown to the barbecue spot Blue Smoke, where every Sunday they have 50 cent wings. The wings are grilled then tossed in what they call their Alabama white sauce, creamy and savory and tangy and oh my goodness. Every bite is juicy and flavorful, a wing worth writing home about. 

SE planned us a gorgeous day (my only addition was the coffee), and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Give me some furniture, some cookies, some wings, and my good man on a Sunday and I’ll be just fine. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Miss Manhattan?

What’s a gal to do when she realizes at the last minute she has no Miss Manhattan Hangs Out subject? So I decided to do a hang with…myself. Because:

1) I’m constantly being asked what my day to day life is like as a freelancer.

2) I don’t participate in our culture of self-documentation and I wonder if it’s something I should attempt for the bare minimum of cultural relevancy.

3) I’d have a taste of my own medicine. What is it really like to be the subject of one of these things?

So about my day I went, camera in tow.

In the morning, rain drizzled as I made my way down Canal Street toward luxury vintage clothing store What Goes Around Comes Around to interview co-founder Seth Weisser. I had been there several times, and it’s like walking into a fashion museum: vintage concert t-shirts and denim, Playboys from the 1960s, vintage stetsons, handbags, scarves. I see a lush, white Helen Yarmak fox fur coat with black spots and after the interview politely ask to try it on. Publicist Rebecca Astorga is kind enough to take a couple photos of me wearing it. I try to master the nonchalant fashion blogger “I’m not looking at the camera because I’m too important” stare, but keep laughing. I walk back to the train in my own clothes, catching glimpses of myself along the way.

Home again, I change into a sweatshirt—incidentally, one made and given to me by last week’s subject, Nadia Pinder of StuyDYED. I’m preparing for my interview with drag queens Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova in advance of their new show premiering on Viceland tonight at 10pm, The Trixie and Katya Show. I’ve written down a few notes, but I continue to organize my thoughts until it’s time to talk to them on the phone. They are so quick and clever I wonder if my brain will ever move that fast, and I love listening to them talk. The interview is live today on Billboard.

I continue to do a bit more work, having cucumber and hummus for lunch—I wish I could say I regularly ate like a supermodel, but this is really all I have in my fridge besides a half-eaten piece of cheesecake I will also eat, post-cucumber.

Soon I get dressed again and head to what I think is a networking event for young creatives but actually turns out to be a curated mindfulness experience? I stay, hoping to take something away from the broad creative spiritualist generalities passing through everyone’s lips, but I leave when my butt starts to hurt from sitting so long. I move to the Bryant Park Whole Foods, eating and staring out into the blue and white lights of the winter village set up in the park. I shiver into a cab and once home, crawl again into my StuyDYED sweatshirt, and call my mom. I’m going home for Thanksgiving on Friday and it’s not a moment too soon.

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