Carnegie Hall

Last night, I went to see John Mulaney perform stand-up at Carnegie Hall with three of my friends. Our seats were in a box in the first tier. I have a sort of fondness for those little boxes. I think this is because they’re small, but not really cramped, and each one has a tiny entryway with coat hooks and a mirror, and when I sit down and look out at the rest of Carnegie Hall I feel cozy and grand at the same time, which are two of the best feelings.

The coziness of the boxes means you must sit close to other people. There are eight seats to every box. So, in addition to my three friends, we sat with four strangers, who were the best kind of strangers in that they were very friendly for about thirty seconds and then happily went back to their own conversations. I was seated on the left side of the box, next to the low barrier that separated us from the next box, which meant that I was also very close to the people on the other side of that barrier.

Ten minutes before the show started, a couple walked into the next box and sat in two empty seats next to the barrier. Both were blonde and, I thought, effortfully dressed up. He was wearing a jacket and tie, she a dress and necklace that didn’t quite go. Her hair was braided into a crown around her head. (Incidentally, this is a style I’ve long wished I could master.) She sat in the seat in front of him and they chatted excitedly, seeming in awe of Carnegie Hall.

When they arranged themselves into a selfie-taking position, their backs facing out so that you could see the rest of Carnegie Hall behind them, the guy apologized to us for reaching his arm into our box in order to take the picture. My friend Lee offered to take their picture instead and did just that. We went back to our conversation, they went back to theirs. But then I tuned back into their conversation. Because it was very loud. Loud and actually just the guy speculating about whether Nick Kroll would open and doing his own impressions of characters from Kroll Show, like Fabrice Fabrice.

I find that my patience for others wears thinner by the day. Strangers especially. But I still love observing them, passing judgment from the safety of my own thoughts. I was embarrassed for this guy, with his loud voice and his not-very-good impressions. I wanted to turn to my left, grab him by the shoulders and say, “Stop talking. Or at least control your volume. You sound nothing like Fabrice Fabrice and your girlfriend isn’t even laughing at you.” He deserved to know, I thought. But then, he serves me better as a character if he doesn’t.

The lights eventually went down, everyone settled into their seats, and Fred Armisen walked onto the stage. “Oh my God,” the guy started saying to himself, over and over again.

He grabbed his girlfriend’s shoulders from behind. “That’s Fred Armisen,” he practically screamed into her ear. “That’s. Fred. Armisen. From PORTLANDIA. He does Portlandia!”

“I know who Fred Armisen is,” she said, giggling a little, and squirming around in her chair to get free from his grip.

Ha! I thought. So she knows he’s annoying.

Armisen performed and then Mulaney went on and we all laughed and laughed, as people tend to do at comedy shows. The girl with the crown braid laughed hard at a joke about elementary school grading. Her laugh reminded me of the sounds I make when I’ve just cried for a long time and am not ready to stop, but can’t really cry anymore. When Mulaney did a bit about the changes to the Catholic mass, I laughed a little too hard, clapped my hands a little too loud, and wondered if anyone around me was as annoyed with me as I was for the performance of “getting the joke” that I was giving.

Toward the end of the show, the couple held hands on top of the barrier that separated us. She reached her hand back and he reached his forward and they proceeded to perform that kind of playful handholding that happens when you’re simply happy to be in someone’s company. Their hands moved up and down the barrier, closer to me than I would have liked. I watched them out of the corner of my eye. I suppose there’s someone for everyone, I thought, even though I’m not sure I actually believe it.

This Weekend Needed More R. Kelly Masks

On Friday, I was thinking about what I might write about on Monday. I had hoped I’d be writing a post today about how weird it was to attend an International R. Kelly Day party on Friday night. (This post would have been accompanied by plenty of photos of me wearing an R. Kelly mask.) But it turns out that the party wasn’t that weird. And there was a serious dearth of masks. It was just like going to an uncomfortably crowded bar that  happened to be playing an R. Kelly playlist just loudly enough that you could just hear what song was on. Actually, that’s exactly what it was like.

I did manage to have fun. I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people and there were plenty of drinks involved. HOWEVER, I realized toward the end of the evening that I didn’t get  to hear “Slow Wind”, which was the thing I was most looking forward to that evening because it’s the most important collaboration (between R. Kelly, Sean Paul and Akon) of our time, so I asked one of the bartenders if he could put it on again. (If you want something, ask for it. Amirite, ladies?) He said no. VERY rudely. Actually, he ranted at me about how he was sick of R. Kelly and he had played him all night and now he just wanted to listen to something else. So then I asked for my check and went home. Not really because I was mad, but more because I was tired and had been drinking since like 5.

The rest of the weekend was so normal that I can tell you about it in just a few sentences because I think writing any more about it would be cruel to me and to you. It was full of brunching and TV watching and a little partying. Yesterday, I realized the sun was still out at 6:30 because of Daylight Saving Time and that the day was not yet over so I went out to the grocery store and bought a bunch of ingredients for dinner and ended up making this Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage for me and my roommates. Then I watched TV until 11 but did not go to sleep until, ugh, very late and I had a few horrible dreams so today I’m in a bad mood and I’m sorry that these few paragraphs are about so little.

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just for fun, a photo of our roomie dinner

An Evening with Aidan

Aidan at dinner

Aidan at dinner

My youngest brother, Aidan, was born twelve years after me, almost to the day.  It’s well-known, at least within our family, that Aidan never “liked” me when he was younger. It’s hard not to dote on an adorable little brother, but he just wouldn’t let me. As a baby, he would bite and scratch me if I tried to hug him. When I was a senior in high school – all six of us were in the same school building for one year – I would visit his kindergarten classroom and he would go to the corner and turn his back, refusing to look at me while all of the other five year olds wondered aloud how he had such an old sister and sometimes, if I would let them touch my hair. He was six when I left for college.

We lived under the same roof again for one year, after I had graduated. I started working full-time as soon as I returned home and was more interested in lamenting being a 22 year-old office drone who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life living with her parents  than figuring out what made my then 10 year-old brother tick.

So, what I’m really saying is, I never got to know Aidan all that well. But I think I’m starting to get to know him better. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him this past weekend when I stayed overnight with him while my parents were away. While we were eating dinner out, it hit me all of the sudden that he’s pretty much a young adult. And that was weird but, I guess, kind of delightful at the same time.

As an older sister, I’ve always felt obligated to ask my younger, school-aged siblings the boring questions that kids always get asked. All about sports, their classes, etc. Conversation has gotten easier with my younger three siblings as they’ve gotten older and on Friday night, I finally felt like Aidan and I were having a discussion rather than a Q&A session. We talked about the Oscar movies we’d seen and the books we’d been reading. His English class is doing a unit on the Holocaust and I guess I was something of a YA Holocaust literature connoisseur when I was his age, so we had a good discussion about Night and its sequel and some other non-Elie Weisel books. (Aidan, if you’re reading this, read After the War by Carol Matas! That was one of my favorites.) And he tolerated my talking at him about pre-WWII Eastern Europe for longer than was necessary, which I think shows real maturity.

After dinner we watched The Grey, which I had been meaning to see for a while and it was only made better by Aidan’s commentary – ‘Do you really think you’re gonna get cell phone service in the middle of Alaska?’ – and the fact that my dog actually climbed up in the chair next to me and watched along with us. Aidan fell asleep with like ten minutes left in the movie so I had to tell him the ending, though I don’t think he really cared. Then I got back into big sister mode and made him get all of his stuff ready for his swim meet the next morning so, we were done being friends for the night. I left the next morning after he’d gone to his meet.

A part of me feels like the above might seem boring and sentimental to anyone who doesn’t know me as an oldest sister or know me at all. But I guess the night felt like a turning point to me? Like maybe it marked the beginning of the end of me acting like a third parent. Like now I can be more of a friend to all of my siblings because the distance that’s caused by age is really starting to disappear in my family. I don’t know. If anything, I had fun and I was glad for the opportunity to spend some time with Aidan and am also glad that he doesn’t scratch me anymore.

27.5 Hours in Philly

This weekend I made my second-ever trip to Philly to visit one of my best – and first! – college buddies.* Cecily moved to Philly about six months ago and I thought it was high time that I took the two-hour bus trip from NYC to hang out for a weekend.

I departed on Saturday morning, which was intensely misty. I had to catch the MegaBus on 34th between 11th and 12th Avenues. Getting there was a real treat, especially because it had started lightly raining rather than misting by the time I got out of the subway at 8th Ave. and I couldn’t get my umbrella out because I had stuffed it in a purse which was in my backpack. Once I got to our departure spot, I had to stand in the rain for another 30ish minutes. I did get my umbrella out while I was there, even though I was super worried about putting my backpack on the ground because it is yellow on the bottom and I thought it might get stained. (It didn’t.)

I thought I was going to get away with sitting alone on the bus, but of course someone got on exactly 4 minutes after we were supposed to leave and asked if I minded if they sat next to me. Of course I minded. I hate being close enough to strangers that touching them is a possibility. (Please note: I am this close to strangers at least twice a day on the subway.) I had been looking forward to stretching out and watching a few episodes of my new favorite show, Call the Midwife. Alas, the internet on the bus didn’t work, so I ended up staring out the window and listening to Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark like 40 times and getting kind of emotional about it.

Cecily picked me up at the bus when I arrived, which was so nice since I hate having to navigate an unfamiliar place by myself. Our only plan that day was to check out the Prohibition exhibit at the National Constitution Center, so we drove over to Old City. Before the museum, we went to Wedge + Fig, a tiny restaurant/cheese shop for lunch. There ended up being a wait so we did a little (window) shopping on N. 3rd St.

First, we went to Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. I’m not sure how to describe Art in the Age except to say that it seemed to cater specifically to Wes Anderson (and certain characters from his films). Or like, a really hip and rich urban lepidopterist. They had a pretty varied and interesting shop, as well an art exhibit that tied into the Prohibition exhibit we’d see later in the day. Here are some examples of what you can find in the store: Warby Parker glasses, a wide array of natty but functional menswear, pricey beard oil, several different kinds of rose-flavored simple syrup, a $100 weatherproof notebook set.

Then we went to Vagabond, which was as good a ladies’ boutique as any I’ve seen. There were a lot of covetable items there and I’m still regretting not getting the jean jacket I liked from the vintage part of the store. Ah, well. My hunt for a good jean jacket shall continue. Our time in the store was also the beginning of our hunt for a nude dress for Cecily’s upcoming role as a bridesmaid. She did spot some pretty great pants that might work but – as one might imagine – committing to purchasing and wearing something flesh toned is difficult, so we ended up leaving them behind.

lunch @ wedge + fig

lunch @ wedge + fig

We made our way back to Wedge + Fig for lunch. I ordered the weirdest thing I saw on the menu, which is something I do kind of often, especially if I’m unfamiliar with one of the components. In this case, I was unfamiliar with the “pork roll” on the Jawn sandwich. (The sandwich was pork roll, butter fried turkey, cheddar, a mustardy aioli and red onion.) It turned out that pork roll was pretty similar to bologna or Canadian bacon so…I wasn’t disappointed. The sandwich was delicious. We also split mac and cheese, which was a decent rosemary-ish affair. Cecily got the tuna melt. And even though our waiter raved about the tuna melt, it was kind of underwhelming! We heard him recommend it to another lady, but didn’t warn her.

temperance poster reproduction

temperance poster reproduction

After lunch, we checked out ‘American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition’ at the Constitution Center. The exhibit was curated by Daniel Okrent, who wrote Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which has been sitting unread on my bookshelf for almost a year now. (I actually bought it after I took it out from the library and didn’t read it for over a month and had to pay a late fee on it.) Anyway, I thought it was pretty entertaining! I’m not one for super interactive historical exhibits – I much prefer just looking at objects and reading – so I wasn’t as into all of the screens and games and picture-taking opportunities, but I understand that most people like activities. However, I did really like the dance floor that had guides for four different Charleston steps. (Even though it reminded me very much of the ballroom dancing classes I took as a little girl.)

inside the fake saloon

inside the fake saloon

We took some time and walked through the main part of the Constitution Center. It was simply overwhelming and the only thing I learned while I was there was that I would have voted for JFK if he had run against Reagan (they had these voting machines where you picked which side you agreed with on different issues) and that made me feel pretty OK.

up close and personal with the founding fathers

up close and personal with the founding fathers

We headed back to West Philly where Cecily lives and took a little rest at her house, which is amazingly old and Victorian. After that we headed out into the mist/rain again and took a walk around the neighborhood. We ended up stopping at Green Line Cafe for hot chocolate and then made our way over to the Second Mile Thrift Store to browse their large selection of second-hand clothing and knick-knacks. (The knick-knacks were especially great.)

misfit toys in the thrift shop

misfit toys in the thrift shop

After a stop at a friend’s house, we went to Dock St. Brewing Co., where we were meeting my friend Eric for dinner. Since beer and pizza are two of my favorite things, I liked this place a lot. (Right now, I’m wishing I could find a clip from Miss Congeniality where that girl freaks out about having pizza and beer.) I tried the Rye IPA, the Pre-Prohibition Pale Ale and the Teuton Porter. All of them were pretty great! As for pizza, we got the Barbecue Chicken and Mellow Yellow pies. Four of us ended up splitting two larges, which was way too much. The Mellow Yellow was probably my favorite of the two because they used mustard instead of tomato sauce and I can’t think of any food combination I like better than mustard and cheese. We ended the day back at Cecily’s house, with a delicious cocktail courtesy of her roommate.

The next morning, we got up and walked over to Gold Standard Cafe for brunch. Luckily, it was beautiful and decently warm out. We split some croissant French toast with mascarpone cheese and strawberry sauce and an order of vegetarian eggs Benedict with tomato, spinach and garlic. Both dishes were delightful! (I wish I had taken a picture because both were also really pretty.)

bye, west philly! you were kind of kooky.

bye, west philly! you were kind of kooky.

After that we grabbed my stuff and drove over to Center City so that we could walk around and also hit up Paper Source. I’m now very much in the mood for crafting again, so I think I’ll be heading to their location in Brooklyn soon to pick up some supplies. We then stopped at H&M to continue the hunt for a nude bridesmaid outfit but again came up short. We grabbed lattes at La Colombe and then it was time for me to get on the bus.

latte break

iced latte break

All in all, it was a pretty great 27.5 hours! Thank you, Cecily, for being a wonderful person to visit! Also, I’m really happy I didn’t have to stand on line to see the Liberty Bell again because I did that the first time I went to Philly two years ago.

*I just found a picture of me and Cecily that ran in the Daily Northwestern during our first week of college. I didn’t post it here because I look like a mom trying to dress like a college student.

A Thing That Happened Over the Weekend: Cooked a Chicken, Did Not Die

When I moved into my first apartment before my senior year in college, my mom taught me how to roast a chicken. She thought it would be practical because, you know, you can make so many different things out of roast chicken. Needless to say, I never roasted a chicken that year or in any of the years that have happened since then. Until Saturday, when I decided to roast a chicken for no reason other than it seemed like a good thing to do on a mid-winter weekend.

We all know that Ina Garten is the queen of roast chicken, so obviously I had to use this Barefoot Contessa ‘Perfect Roast Chicken’ recipe, which turned out to be super easy.

I went to the grocery store and wandered around for a while, collecting the ingredients I needed. It probably took me the longest time to figure out what kind of chicken to buy. Of course, I assumed I would buy an organic chicken because, I guess, I live in Brooklyn. BUT all of the organic chickens were like 2 lbs which is basically like, a personal size chicken. So I had to buy a $6, 6 lb Perdue chicken and I felt terrible about it. (And by terrible I mean like a poor, regular American.)

Of course, the nineteen-year-old checkout boy who gave me a hard time last weekend about not having my ID when I was just standing with my roommate who was buying beer for our party was my checkout person again this weekend. (This fact has nothing to do with this story.)

Anyway, I went home with all of my little groceries and got to preparing the chicken, which was pretty horrifically unpleasant as I cook meat maybe twice a year. I washed my hands approximately seventy-eight times while I was washing, salting, peppering and stuffing the chicken. (And I also Cloroxed everything I could have possibly touched in the kitchen.) By the time I had it all stuffed, my friend Vincent had gotten there and he helped me nestle the chicken in my roommate’s adorable Le Creuset dutch oven that we had filled with all of the vegetable that Ina suggested in the recipe.

Then we drank a lot of red wine while we waited for the chicken to roast. Once it was done, it looked like this:


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Then we realized that neither of us had ever carved a chicken. So we watched this video:

Vincent did a great job carving – obviously, because he’s a dude – using, unfortunately, not a boning knife. (I mean, watch the above video and try to not say “rub the boning knife along the carcass” a million times to every person you know for the next three days.)

And then we ate the chicken and it was delicious and we didn’t get food poisoning. But the leftovers are still sitting in the dutch oven in my refrigerator because leftovers – especially leftover poultry – kind of freak me out because I’m still afraid of getting food poisoning/diseases of any kind/turning into a chicken during the night.