20 Dollars = Dessert for Two

What a busy weekend! I feel young again.

So it started off a bit… slow. Mom’s bus was, what, three hours late? I really didn’t think the traffic would be that bad into the city. But I guess it goes to show how much I know. At least it was a learning experience; now we know that it’s better to come either Friday afternoon or late Friday night. So it goes!

So while I was waiting for what felt like for-ev-er (just kidding) I listened to music, did crossword puzzles, talked on the phone, and people watched. So many people came and went, and there I stayed. But finally her bus came in and she looked relieved to get off. It actually did work out well because if her bus had come in exactly on time (4:45) it would have been kinda early to do anything. Too early for dinner, too early for our nightly activities.

So rather than dropping her bag (the tiniest bag I ever have seen!) at my apartment, we just headed out for the night. First we went to the Whitney Museum on the Upper East Side. It was modern art AKA not our cup of tea. There were a few Edward Hopper pieces that we liked, but there were also blank red canvases and splattered paintings a la a 3-year-old. But, hey, it was the museum’s free hours (which is why I suggested we go) so it was worth a shot.

Then we decided to grab some dinner in the UES, since it’s an area of New York that neither mom nor I really get a chance to visit. We went to Bistro Le Steak a fancy-ish little place on Third Avenue. It had a really nice atmosphere and the food was pretty good. We both left dinner feeling pretty full.

And then because we were in the neighborhood, mom asked if we could peek into the Bemelman Bar inside the fancy schamcy Carlyle Hotel. We literally were only able to peek in, since the hotel was outrageously fancy and there was a $25 cover per person to get into the bar. But the hotel was gorgeous and the paintings on the wall were pretty special. If anything, the hotel inspired me to want to be rich someday so I can stay there.

By this time it was pretty late, so we headed back to Queens. Went to sleep, and work up late for mom and early for me. We grabbed a quick breakfast at my apartment and then headed to the queer/awesome (depending on who you ask) Wikis Take Manhattan scavenger hunt (a video of the event can be found here!)

It was so much fun! Basically it was a scavenger hunt with a purpose. Many wikipedia articles about places and things in Manhattan are missing a visual. So our goal was to hit as many spots and photograph as many places/objects in the city as we could in six hours, in order to improve these New York-related wikipedia entires. Mom and I decided that we wanted to get as many as we could, but we weren’t necessarily obsessed with winning. We just wanted to do well and explore some new areas of the city.

First we took the 8th Avenue line down to World Trade Center so then we could explore some parts of the Financial District that mom was completely unfamiliar with and I was pretty unfamiliar with. My dorm last year was on the east side of the Financial district, and when I did go to the west side it was usually just to go to the movies. So I never really went to Wall Street or the heart of downtown New York.

So we went around lower Manhattan, taking pictures on Broadway, Broad Street, Wall Street, among others. We also went to Trinity Church to take some photos of famous guys’ graves (including Albert Gallatin, who co-founed NYU. Matt nearly died). I have to say, the graveyard was pretty creepy. Thank god it was bright and sunny, otherwise I would have been a bit scared.

So we spent a LONG time in the financial district, taking our time and just walking around the streets. Some of the pics we took were pretty boring; they were just shots of important buildings. But others, which I’ve posted here, were a bit more fun. Our favorite photo of the day was actually taken in the financial district. I’m not going to say which one… you have to guess!

So I’d say we spent a majority of our time downtown. At least three, if not four, hours. Then we headed to west Chelsea — 17th-24th streets, 8th-11th avenues. I didn’t realize how artsy that area was. Usually I don’t go past 9th avenue, so I had no idea. There were a ton of galleries (modern art AKA el terrible), but it was still a fun, lively place. So we took some more photos and, again, took our time meandering around streets.

By that point, it was time to head back to the meeting spot which was in the West Village. While everybody’s photos were being uploaded to the computers and the scores were being tallied, we all hung out on the roof deck and had some snacks and pizza. The wikipedia entry for this event said there were over 50 participants and that sounds about right. So a nice number of people, but not too too many. Mom and I got a primo spot on one of the couches and were munched on pizza and mom got drunk off wine (not really; I wish).

Because there were more people than they expected, it was taking them longer than they expected to tally the results. But that was fine with us; we didn’t really have anywhere to go at that time, so we were more than happy to just hang out and rest our feet on their deck.

And then, finally, it was time for the results… drum roll please… we came in… less than 7th place! That’s right, they gave prizes to the top 7 teams (remember, only 50 people were there) and we got nada. But that’s no big deal because I won something far greater than any prize they could give me. A fun afternoon with my mom? No. (Well yes, but that’s not what I was thinking of). I won the knowledge that I would be great on Amazing Race! I navigated that graveyard map like a pro and I was able to find places in a big city. Amazing Race… here I come!

So after finding out we were big losers we were off to Upright Citizens Brigade for Let’s Make a Ball, the improv sketch comedy we saw last time you guys were in the city. Mom, being the worry wort that she is, mentioned SEVERAL times that she was worried it would be sold out. “What if there sold out?” “Do you think they’ll be sold out?” “What are we gonna do if they’re sold out?” She was acting like she was stranded on Antarctica and she was about to miss the annual flight to the mainland. “Chill out,” I told her. “They’re not going to be sold out.”

Well. They were sold out. I don’t think mom said the exact phrase “I told you so” but I know she was thinking it, so she may as well have just said it. It wasn’t the end of the world like she feared, though. We just waited in the standby line, got tickets, and managed to grab two of the last seats in the theater (everyone after us had to either stand or sit on the floor). I thought the show was pretty funny. Even after asking mom, I’m not entirely sure what she thought of the show. I think it may have been a bit raunchy for my goody-goody mother considering the title of the show was “Baby got back horny have babies.” But I was laughing a lot and had a good time.

So after burning all those calories laughing, we had no choice but to replenish said calories by taking a trip FINALLY to Serendipity. I’m not sure how many times I’ve thought about going, talked about going, and have actually gone but refused to wait in there ridiculous line. But it’s safe to say that number is pretty high, and it was about time I finally went inside. So the wait was about 45 minutes (it wound up being less). So to kill the time, we walked a block down to Dylan’s Candy Bar AKA Jennifer’s greatest dream come true. We schmied, took Jennifer imitation photos, and gawked at how much (expensive) candy people were buying.

After our little excursion we were seated. The place is pretty cute; there are a ton of Tiffany lamps and old-style French menus. The photos of the place don’t really do it justice; it’s a lot nicer than the pictures make it out to be. We got, of course, there famous hot chocolate. (This little treasure that we’ve been wanting for god knows how long was my $20 expenditure of the week) After all that waiting, I have to say… it was worth it! It was delicious. Kind of like chocolate milk (so mom says; I’m allergic) or a chocolate shake. But somehow different. Like nothing I’ve ever had before. It was amazing and WAY too big. Neither of us were even close to finishing our treats. They really are meant to share, but, of course, the restaurant realizes that which is why they mandate a certain minimum per person. Therefore, no sharing. Awesome.

By this time it was late for me and beyond late for mom. We went back to Queens and again slept in. Sunday morning we went to a bakery and the bagel shop. The bakery was actually recommended to me by Aunt Susan. Somebody brought ruggalah for Grandma there and she loved it. I have to say, I agree. The chocolate cookies I had were A-MA-ZING. I typically don’t go for those small bakery cookies. I like the big giant ones, but I’m not a huge fan of the small ones. But after that (expensive!) sampling, I have to say… I’m converted.

Then, thanks to Matt, we headed to the Austin Street Fall Festival. I say thanks to Matt because he emailed me about this event weeks ago and told me to put it on my calendar. I did and forgot about it — until I got an email reminder about it Saturday. So after our brunch we headed to Austin Street. We were a little disappointed we ate though; they had so much food including my favorite street food of all… chocolate covered bananas. But it was probably for the best; bagels and bakery are bad enough, that food was even worse. So we took our time, going from booth to booth.

I’d say this festival was better than most NYC festivals because they had more handmade booths than they did mass-produced crap booths. Unfortunately, I didn’t really see any jewelry that knocked my socks off, so I didn’t get any. But I did see pashminas for dirt cheap… so naturally I got four! I’m so excited; I love wearing scarves. In fact for the next three Mondays I’ll be wearing a different pashmina to work (I already wore my light blue one this Monday — see the photos).

They did have one booth even better than pashminas (I know, can you believe it?). Pickles!! The bright green, barely pickle pickles that mom and I love and never find! So we got a nice big container of pickles that I can savor for, oh, the next week or so. I had one with dinner tonight and it was delish!

So after the festival we packed mom up (boo) and headed to Hell’s Kitchen for the weekly Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. Mom and I both felt the same way about it: it was fun to look around, but we kind of wish we were in the market for some of the items they had. They did have a bunch of old scarves (I’m really into scarves, can’t you tell) but none of them popped out to me. So we browsed and left empty handed. With a little bit of time before we needed to head to the bus, we stopped into a restaurant we passed on 9th Avenue. It was delicious. The bread was BEYOND amazing. I would go back for the bread alone. We shared a bunch of dishes and had the perfect super late lunch/super early dinner.

Everything was timed perfectly, because by the time we finished eating it was time to go to the bus. I warned mom that people got there early and boy was I right. I think we got there 20 or maybe 25 minutes before the bus was due in and there was already a huge line. Mom boarded her bus safe and sound and that’s how my fun weekend ended.

Not…! I was so inspired by all our busy-ness I decided to keep it up. I had so much fun at UCB on Saturday and was dying to go back again. So Matt and I decided to go to ASSSSCAT, one of their more famous shows. We knew it was popular and had no idea what to expect in terms of lines/tickets, but we decided to go ahead and live it up. First we got in line for 9:30 free show (I was right, mom, the later show is free). That translates to a 3+ hour wait, which thinking back was kinda crazy. I don’t remember how but I got to talking to the couple next to us (I know, wtf) and they told us to just wait in the standby line and they’d save us a seat. That was kinda incredible; makes me almost want to be nice to people. So we headed to the standby line, which was way shorter than I thought. The reason I didn’t initially go into the standby line was because I thought it stretched all the way to 8th Avenue. But I was wrong. People were just scattered around, not in the line. So we got in on the standby line, got seats, and laughed our butts off.

Horatio Sanz was there. He was COMPLETELY unrecognizable because he was missing about 30 pounds. Matt firmly believes that he’s suffering from the Josh Peck-complex (ask Jennifer) and he absolutely will not got a job unless he gains back his weight. But seriously, when I say unrecognizable I mean unrecognizable. It wasn’t until another comedian said his name and I listened to the voice that I actually realized who he was.

The only other semi-famous person there was Rob Riggle, a corespondent for the Daily Show. I’m not too crazy about him on the show, but at UCB he was hilarious; one of my favorites.

So that was tons of fun. Then we went to this dinner right by the theater that we always pass and say “hey, we should go there” but never actually go to. I had banana pancakes and they were scrumptious. I also took the opportunity to fill Matt in on our weekend, including the most amazing restaurant bread I’ve ever had. The convo went something like this…

E: Mom and I went to this great restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen.

M: What’s it called?

E: Hmm… I don’t remember. I have the menu, though [Start to pull out menu and read the name] It’s called Marios–

M: Omigod, give me that! Mario’s Trattoria! I’ve been there a bunch of times! My friends used to work there and live in the apartment above there! Omigod! Omigod! (Basically he freaks out/calls his friends/freaks out some more).

Small world, basically.

And, THAT, was the end of my amazing, spectacular weekend. Like I said, I wore my new pashmina and had a pickle with dinner tonight, so the remnants of my weekend remain. It was tons of fun and we should do it more often (ie, next weekend).

Check out the photos. They’re a mix of Wikipedia and personal shots. I’ll keep looking to see why they update the article about the event. For the spring event they include a link to all the posts that include new photos from the scavenger hunt. Hopefully they’ll do that again so we can see if we’re published artists!

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