Earth Day Musings

22 04 2008

They sure picked the right time for Earth Day. It’s definitely (finally) springtime in New York and there is something about the fresh smells in the air (and the warmth in the air that makes you want to actually be outdoors and able to smell it) and the new little blossoms on the trees that makes one love earth all the more. I am all about being pro-Earth and all, but I’d be far less inclined to be impressed by Earth Day fairs if they took place in frigid temps when the environment is nothing more than the wind whipping against my ears and causing my hands to sting.

Anyhow, rant over. It is spring and despite being a little foggy-headed from allergies, I am very much pro-environment and pro-doing what I can to help it. Last year at this time I sent an invective to my siblings who (living in Colorado of all places) didn’t recycle. They were annoyed, but a few months later I got a call from my nephew (to whom I assigned the task of bugging his parents about social responsibility) to inform me of the delivery of their recycling bins.

This year I have no siblings to enlighten but I will extend the plea to any and all other Coloradans who may come across my blog: PLEASE RECYCLE.

And now I have many other tasks to which I must attend (like Earth Day fairs) so I will end with a list of Earth friendly items, and pick up Earth Week again tomorrow:

  • Last year I posted about Earth Day friendly travel on EuroCheapo’s blog.
  • Totalbeauty.com has a list of Earth Day Discounts and Freebies for green chicks who refuse to sacrifice style for the Earth (or travel).
  • And because I love sweets, I want to turn everyone onto Travel Chocolate, the socially responsible chocolate bar (more to come).

Over and Out.

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Downs and Ups

17 04 2008

This post is a combination of two categories I started and then neglected. It’s a list and book review in one. After a brief explanation:

Last week was a hard one for me. I have blogged before about the joys of travel writing, but there are many unjoys to it as well (and it goes without saying that being able to make up words goes under the joy column). Since I’ve been back in New York there have been many of both, and last week marked a period of frustration with the struggles of worming my way into the giant clique that is the editorial world.

I found out I had a connection to the Editor in Chief of my dream publication and immediately drafted an email to said editor, only to hear back the following day in a two line email that thanked me for my interest in the publication but unfortunately this editor was too busy for even the briefest of informational interviews. This was disheartening for many reasons, not the least of which being that part of the reason I love the publication so much is that the editor seems like such a cool person. Needless to say I ended the week feeling rather glum.

And so a list of things that are annoying and crappy:

  • Editors who don’t remember what it was like when they weren’t editors and knock your favorite publication down a rung or two.
  • Being a waitress with a Master’s degree.
  • Allergies.
  • Sitting next to a man on the subway who is picking his nose.

And to balance it out, a list of things that helped me out of the weekend blues:

  • An exceptionally warm and lovely Saturday with music, a saint bracelet, and the smells of spring.
  • The nice man at Barnes and Noble that let me exchange my large photography book (which I bought online for my thesis much longer than 14 days ago) for the three very exciting books I got instead: Swann’s Way, Up in the Old Hotel, and Poet in New York.
  • A surprise encouragement email from a friend and one of the most inspiring women I know (who, it should be told, has had her share of travel adventures, and also has a fantastic sense of style).
  • Lo Tengo Torrontes, the wine I brought to my own pity party. I bought it because it was $9 and from Argentina, but it turns out it was quite good, a little fruity without being too sweet. And it has a label with hologram tango dancers.
  • Friday Night Lights. (I’m obsessed. I admit it.)
  • My good buddy J.D.

This last is the book review part. Because, though I’m still in the middle of several other books, I dropped everything thing this weekend to return to Franny and Zooey. I’ve read it so many times there are parts I know by heart, but I keep going back to it. It’s a once a year thing, I guess, and it’s also what I do when I’m feeling really bad. And every time it helps, and every time I notice something new. This time, for example, I realized how ridiculously funny Zooey Glass is, and how much Mrs. Glass is my mother.

But mostly I just love it because it’s a story about love, about a family supporting each other and about loving what you do. Because I could never say it any better than Salinger, I’m just going to go ahead and quote what Buddy Glass writes to his brother Zooey (who is, incidentally one of those characters I wish were real because I’d like to be friends with him): “Act, Zachary Martin Glass, when and where you want to, since you feel you must, but do it with all your might.”

I have two fragmentary comments about this quote, the first being that only Salinger (or the Glasses) can over-italicize and pull it off, and the second is that if I replace “act” with “write” I have me some pretty strong inspiration, especially when you throw in the Fat Lady. (No, I won’t explain the Fat Lady. Read the book and find out who she is.)

And in addition to all these things that have always made this book great, there is the additional fact now that it is about New York, or a New York family. And it may sound bizarre, but I think it might be one of the reasons I always wanted to come to New York. I simply had to see the city that made the Glasses. So reading it this time around not only provided the above inspriation. but filled me with the distinct and comforting instinct that I came here for good reasons, and that I am in the midst of greatness, even if it’s fictional.

And on that note, a 1961 review I found from the New York Times—by John Updike, no less. It’s “cool factor” was slightly diminished by the fact that it’s a bit infuriating, but I still think it’s a fun find. Also interesting is that I never even dreamed that Franny might be pregnant. Those who haven’t read the book, I warn you not to think too much about what Updike says, because, frankly (and in my expert opinion), he’s way off. I have always liked “Zooey” better, and it’s because of, rather than in spite of, the great Glass world. And with that, I close my rant. In the words of Buddy (from my other favorite novel Seymour, an Introduction): “Go to bed. Quickly. Quickly and slowly.”





Flashbacks (or Something More)

15 04 2008

I think Argentina’s stalking me. Or haunting me. Or calling to me in some strange mental telepathy sort of way. Or perhaps I’m channeling Argentina and making it all up. Whatever the case, it’s been cropping up a lot.

It’s going to seem hokey, but while there I felt I had some sort of spirit/force/what-have-you watching out for me. I’m pretty sure it was Gaga, my maternal grandmother who passed away before I was born but who, I’ve always been told, had a strong adventurous spirit and was in all an amazing woman. I grew up jealous that my siblings have Gaga stories and I never got to know her. In my recent adventures, it only seemed right to speak to a strong female force in my life—who, incidentally, came to San Francisco from Hong Kong (by herself) at age 22, knowing no one (and my mom was worried about my move to NYC).

In my recent adventures, I got to know Gaga. Just when I was feeling exhausted or sick or lonely, I’d get pulled into a parade at Carnaval or stumble upon a beautiful Ash Wednesday ceremony. And it always seemed that I’d recently asked her for help. Call it what you will, I think my grandmother was looking out for me.

Then I came home, and during the job-hunting struggles of late I’ve had the distinct feeling that Gaga is giving me the silent treatment. Last week was especially rough (a separate post all to itself), and I went into the weekend feeling particularly frustrated and all around glum.

Then on Saturday I sat in Washington Square Park to enjoy beautiful weather and a band playing the greatest hits of Marvin Gaye. The man on the bench next to me was wearing a bracelet, a wooden saint bracelet that just about every male in Argentina sports. I happen to have one of these bracelets. It was given to me by Dario, who I met on a bus to Buenos Aires at the end of my trip. This experience warrants a separate post in itself, but for today’s purposes, it’s only necessary to say that in a particularly weak moment I called on Gaga and then met Dario (which happens, in addition to everything else, to be my nephew’s name). He gave me not only interesting conversation and perspective but a bracelet by which to remember him.

I wore the bracelet the rest of my trip and periodically put it on now that I’m home. It’s not fashionable, but it makes me happy. I wasn’t wearing it Saturday (I put it on when I got home), but the sight of another wearing it here in New York gave me that same sense of happiness, and a sense of peace that this is indeed a small world and a good one. I didn’t talk to said male because he seemed to have lost that Argentine friendliness, but I vowed to email Dario and tell him about it. (I have yet to do this, but I will. And then I’ll blog about it.)

Since then, Argentina’s been all over. This morning in DailyCandy there was a deal for a Pachamama massage at the Iguazu Day Spa, and while I didn’t make it to Iguazu I am definitely simpatica with Mother Earth (as the Pachamama is also known). I won’t be getting the Pachamama massage any time soon, but it seemed a weird coincidence since I keep hearing about things from Argentina.

Perhaps more bizarre was my experience yesterday. After an afternoon of struggling through the headache that is taxes (yes I’m one of those brilliant people who waited until the last possible minute) I heard a street band on my way to work. This is not uncommon (see above), and yet yesterday’s band was different: something about the horns and the rhythms was distinctive. Though I was surrounded by tall buildings and fast-walking people, for a second I turned the corner expecting a group of brightly colored diablos dancing around on a dusty street.

Perhaps it was my tax haze, but it seemed so real I was almost there, and I really did expect a parade. Is it all coincidence? Wishful thinking? Or am I simply going insane? Or could it be Gaga telling me to hang in there and remember my adventures (and her)? The jury is still out on all that. In the meantime, however, I will continue to wear Dario’s bracelet and to remember my parade.

And for fun, this video I took in Tilcara which captures my diablo abduction. You’ll see the girl next to me be pulled into the parade, then I laugh before my diablo grabs me and chaos ensues as I get pulled into the parade. It’s like the Blair Witch Project (except much less scary… and real).





Fiercely Funny

13 04 2008

A little PSA for anyone in New York tomorrow who wants to witness some hilarious (and hysterical) women at their best. Bust Magazine is sponsoring a fundraiser in support of the inaugural Hysterical Festival, a woman’s comedy festival that will take place in New York this fall. The festival’s goal is to honor fierce funny females, and the fundraiser’s goal is to (you guessed it) raise funds to do just that. And with funny female voices like Heather Lawless and Rachel Feinstein,  it’s bound to be a barrel of laughs to boot.

The show goes on at Comix Comedy Club on 14th Street and 9th Avenue and starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 pre-event and $20 at the door.





3 Girls, an Island, and a lot of Pizza

10 04 2008

My very beautiful and very talented friend Tiffany has decided to apply to be a host on Globe Trekker. I know she would be fabulous at the job and have been helping her with her audition tape, which has to be a five minute tour of some place. Living in Brooklyn, she chose her home town. From this experience have come several adventures, the most recent of which was yesterday’s trip to Coney Island.

Yesterday Tiff, Libby, and myself went to frolic on the boardwalk, where, given that it was off-season, there was lots of room to frolic. It was freezing, and after lots of hard work filiming (and goofing off) we found ourselves cold and starving. Tiffany had recently seen a great pizza place on TV, and had subsequently heard rave reviews about it from her friends. We had to wait half an hour in a coffee shop for Totonno‘s to open, but it was well worth the wait.

Being Italian myself, and daughter to a world-class pizza maker, I consider myself something of a connoisseur. I am not usually satisfied with any old pizza, since I can make my own. In fact, when my brother came to visit me in New York we went on the quest for a great slice of NY pizza. We were both sorely disappointed in the city that is supposed to be famous for just that. But Totonno’s is the real thing.

It was established in 1924 and looks it. It’s tiny, a one room pizzeria that seats about 40 max, at small formica tables and booths. The white tin walls are embellished with designs and wallpapered with photos of famous visitors from years past, including Babe Ruth and, oddly, Conni Chung. We somehow found ourselvs under several pictures of the Bush family. Oops.

The waitress, whom we thought might be part of the family, suggested a large and a small pizza for the three of us, claiming that she herself was known to eat a large on her own. Then she gave use topping suggestions. The large would be spilt, half original with cheese and marinara, and half white pie with garlic, peppers and onions. We eagerly agreed to default to the expert and settled down with a few Brooklyn Lagers (including fun varietals like the Winter Ale and the Pennant Ale). Then our waitress went and made our “pie” herself. We watched her work the dough, pile on the toppings and slide it into the huge oven behind the counter.

Then we chatted with the group of older men who were causing a ruckus in the booth behind us. They were all from Brooklyn, complete with thick accents, and visiting Totonno’s on the whim of one of their group who had since relocated to Mississippi, without losing his accent despite 20 years. Their pizza came first and within seconds we were far less interesting than the concoction before them. And when ours came a few minutes later we understood why. it wasn’t just a pizza but a work of art: colorful and oozing gooey cheese, and that was before we even tasted it.

And taste we did, over and over. We devoured the large and decided that the small was still in order. Though the traditional was good (perfectly seasoned marinara and fresh mozzarella) we decided to reprise the white pie for our small. And then we ate it all. I think I ate five slices of pizza yesterday, and then I was in a food coma for about five hours, but it was well worth it. The crust was thin and crispy throughout, the cheese was gooey, and the combination of garlic and sweet onions was fantastic. I promised the girls a pizza party at my house some time soon, but I fear it won’t quite compare.





Sky High Cheapos

7 04 2008

Last week I stopped in to visit my old office on Broadway. Though they weren’t listening to the Spice Girls, I was happy to find the energy very high, and even happier to know the reason.

At long last EuroCheapo has their budget flights section up and running, and might I add that it looks fantastic? I shall. It looks fantastic! Not only does it have great general guides with tips on finding and booking budget flights, environmental concerns, and other helpful information, but there are guides to the budget airlines themselves, and the airports they service. Information fiends, go hog wild!

But the best part is that CheapoSearch flights lets you search for and book cheap flights in Europe, right there on the the site. The second best part is that I was in the office for a good amount of the time that this thing was in the works. It was a a labor of love to say the least, and the gang at EuroCheapo should be very proud of how it turned out.

I’m going to go with the pathetic pun and say their egos should be soaring right about now.





Distractions

3 04 2008

I’m guilty this week of blog neglect. What have I been doing that’s so important it’s kept me from blogging? Many things, actually. (Cue list…)

  • Freelancing. Yes, freelancing! I’m editing Barcelona hot spot reviews for a soon-to-be-launched website (which for now must remain nameless).
  • Spending time offManhattan. That slick transition really just means more freelancing. offManhattan is a great (green) site that promotes travel and exploration with an eco-friendly bent. My first piece is a review of the Brooklyn restaurant Relish and I’m looking forward to visiting and writing about more places and events in the Tri-State area.
  • Reading several books at once. I’m currently into Their Eyes Were Watching God, Eimi (a recently re-published and formerly out of print E.E. Cummings prose work — woohoo!), and I’m soon to be starting up (again) my 2-women book group on the discussion of Anna Karenina. Is it weird that with all these going on I have a strong urge to dive into Franny and Zooey for the thousandth time?
  • Drinking tea. My new “office” is just five minutes from home. It’s called Gramstand and it’s fabulous. The upstairs is warm and airy with a handful of small tables, but downstairs the basement is converted into a little lounge/office, complete with a few couches, one family table, and several small tables for working or socializing. I’ve been going there several times a week and camping out for the entire day. It’s a good way to work and get out of the house. And their many varietals of tea are all delicious and good for the soul (though my personal fave is the rich, delicious Vanilla Teaccino, or as I like to call it, Heaven in a Cup).
  • Eating. Lent is over and I can have sweets again, but I have yet to order alfajores. My consolation prize was a slice of peanut butter pie at Old Devil Moon. There aren’t words to describe the amazingness of this pie: creamy, peanuty, chocolaty, with a gram cracker crust. I wanted to lick the plate.
  • More reading. On top of all the books I’ve been reading, I’ve been catching up on my magazines too. Currently I’m spending a lot of time sifting through the New York Times Spring Travel Magazine that’s recently come out. I looked at one article and can’t stop looking. I suppose I can write it off as research though…