Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nirvana

I have never, in my whole life, had an extraordinary couch.

When I was little, we obtained our plaid, flannel couch from a neighbor who was getting rid of it. Clare and I spent countless hours watching Full House and Roseanne on that couch. Painting our nails and lapping up heaping index fingers full of betty crocker icing, straight out of the can, which was to be hastily hidden under the couch when we heard dad's footsteps coming down the stairs. Because the parentals wouldn't notice it missing from the pantry at first, and probably wouldn't vacuum for atleast a week. The foamy cushions of that couch were trampolines, shields, garbage cans, fortress walls and napkins (sorry, mom).

Then we had the nice couch, with the flower upholstery, that we really only sat on when company came over. Or that mom put her purse on while getting ready to leave the house.

When we moved from our brick Rodger's Forge row house to the farmhouse that my parents live in now, we got rid of the couch all together. For my last few years of high school, we didn't have a couch from which to watch E! True Hollywood Stories. The TV room was an awkward, narrow room and logistically, a couch wouldn't even work well in there. Which was a convenient excuse, mom and dad, for not getting a couch. We do have an amazing recliner chair. It is called The Chair. Then there is The Other Chair. And of course, the floor. Usually we Andersons ate together at the dinner table, but sometimes we decided to eat together and watch TV. So, we would call dibs on the aforementioned positions. Inevitably though,  Clare and I would wind up on the floor, nesting on yoga bolsters in fleece blankets.

Until this fall, Zach and I have owned functional or attractive furniture, but never attractive, functional, and comfortable all at the same time. Well, we got a new couch and let me tell you, she is really the whole kit and kaboodle. I have just, for the first time in my life, come to realize the glory of couch relaxation time. Like sink in and not want to go anywhere for a long time. And then do just that. Bring the computer, get the cat, all of the remotes, a book, make a snack for later and fill up a big water bottle. Move in.We got the couch this fall (in preparation for winter), hand selected for depth, support, and comfiness. We also bought it from a couch store. That was a first. (note: couch stores being weird places is another discussion all together)

 I love my couch and I am not sorry for sitting on it on a Friday night. You can come over and sit on it too if you want.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Emptying the Phone Vault

I present to you an assortment of iPhone pics that have I have accumulated over the past few months. That's funny. snap. That's cute. snap. I want to eat that. snap.

Netflix snafu. Check out the categories.

After studying John Muir, my class transformed our door and hallway
into a forest. 

New beer place, Top Hops, went in on Orchard Street. They fill
growlers, do flights, sell bottles, take requests and have awesome
pretzels for your snacking pleasure. 

This was my "holiday gift" from the United Federation of Teachers.
The bottle opener says "I Cope" on it.
I will treasure it forever.

Sunday morning bagels and book reading
at Atlas is my idea of perfection.

Googlie eyes are always a good idea

Posted in the hallway outside the yoga studio.
Peace, love and neighbors all up in your personal space. 

Ham nubbins are amazing.
Five bucks for a bag and they transformed
leek and potato soup into a meaty, fragrant ambrosia. 

Nobody calls either one of those items
by those names, grandpa

Friday, January 27, 2012

Observations on Chinatown

From handbags to human traficking to how many people can really live in a one bedroom apartment, Chinatown plays by it's own set of rules. As a non-Chinese in Chinatown, you must accept that you don't know shit about dick. (excuse me).


No english necessary
Zach and I went out for noodles awhile ago at "the place on east broadway, two stores in from Chatham Square," otherwise known as "the place next to the place with the purple awning." It came highly recommended by a friend who raved about the rich broth and hand pulled noodles, though couldn't provide the eatery's name. Upon entering, a waitress pointed to a table. We sat. She stood poised, with her pen hovering above the paper, ready to take our order. We asked for a few minutes and some water, which was delivered quickly. While we processed the menu,  she sat two tables away, playing with a small child. When we were ready, we waved to let her know that we were ready. I ordered "vegetable han-pulled noodle" (sic) and pointed to English written on the menu, while her finger went to the Chinese characters written to the left as she wrote down something that looked like the equation for the area of a circle. Three minutes later, two bowls full of piping hot noodles landed on the table. The first and only English words she said to us were "bye" and "thanks." But, it worked for her. It worked for me. No questions asked. Literally none. Three minutes later an amazing bowl of noodles and rich, smoky hot sauce appears on the table.  


Awesome noodles, even better broth.
So good that I called Dad on the way home
to tell him about the purple awning noodle place.
Pedestrian Traffic 
Walking down Grand or Canal streets on a Saturday can be an intensely frustrating experience, navigating the fish stalls, old men smoking butts, rolling suitcases, strollers, delivery men wheeling towering crates of bok choy around on dollies. The best way to get from point A to point B without being slowed by these obstacles is by finding an older Chinese person who walks quickly and following them closely. They navigate well and other people on the street tend to move for them (a little bit anyway). It is like following the ambulance with it's siren on. 


But watch out if you are a car! People cross streets whenever they want in Chinatown. There are so many people that don't care about what color the light is that the cars slow down to figure out what is going on. But the light is green? They say to themselves while craning their heads to double check the green light through the windshield. Cars navigate the people in Chinatown. Because people make the rules and most of them don't have cars. While very dangerous, I sometimes find it pleasantly confusing.


Music
Columbus Park is located at Mulberry and Bayard, just south of mega touristy Canal Street, but is a totally different world. During the day on a weekday, it serves as a social area for older Chinese people. They play board games, listen to music, talk about books and obviously catch up on the latest gossip (not that I can understand what they are saying, but because they way people look when they are gossiping is totally universal... leaned toward eachother, whispering followed by excited gesturing. oh yeah. This um, band? musical trio? group of sorts, was performing in the square on a sunny Saturday. There was also another group performing the exact same kind of music at the exact same time about five feet away. It was rather interesting. 


video


And then, after walking and exploring you hit another world, because you have inevitably reached the border of Chinatown. You might find yourself on a narrow, empty street, darkened by looming city buildings from another era. Three steps past Columbus Park and you're deep in Batman's Gotham City. Or maybe you've stepped into Little Italy, where the fried dumpling smell has been replaced by that of smoked mozzarella. Or you're in the 'hood. Any way you cut it, getting lost in Chinatown is a lot like taking a trip to another world, an adventure that I highly recommend.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Commute

A slice of blue
half my width
Peeks out between two bodies
inflated by 

Kennedy Fried 
or winter layers,
It doesn't really matter
I want that seat.

Scuse me. Thank you.
Manners lip synched
between the two worlds 

within our headphones.
The deal is sealed
with a nod and a shift.

Like books on a shelf with room for no more,
We are wedged.
Rocking gently along the length of manhattan
Oddly comfortable.
The stranger snuggle
Could never happen above ground.

pie

EVERYONE SHOULD EAT MORE PIE.
Casual pie, though.
Not like after dinner, omg how did I just eat all that kind of pie.
More like, mid afternoon, don't mind if I do pie.
Possibly accompanied by a glass of wine.

Lemon chess pie @
4 and twenty blackbirds.

After climbing at Brooklyn Boulders on Saturday, Zach and I went to 4 and twenty blackbirds, a super cute bakery in Gowanus, BK for a quick slice before heading to the homebrew store. We haven't brewed in quite awhile. Almost a year, actually, but we are tonight and it smells delicious!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Anderson Family Vacay

<3

Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of fleeing the city and escaping to sunny Arizona for a week with my fam. We spent part of the week visiting grandparents in Scottsdale and the other part of the week exploring Tucson and what appeared to be some of Arizona's nether regions (can we say massive border patrol checkpoints in the middle of the desert?). It has been quite awhile since the four of us have gone on vacation together and it was great :D Great to be back in our familiar routine, packing a backpack full of pb & js and traipsing up mountains with far fetched, but very real, hopes of spotting a bobcat. (Spoiler alert: we didn't.)


Christmas morning was awesome. Clare and I went for an early run while it was still brisk, through Grandma and Grandpa's palm tree lined retirement community and out into the endless maze of Scottsdale's shopping centers. Someone had a wood fire going, which was pleasant, yet strange to smell considering our faux tropical surroundings. Our Christmas trot was the perfect way to start the day. As was the massage that came after. Thanks Clare :)

Thai Massage

Clarie working wonders on mom

Sisters Xmas pic!
The first half of our week was spent with Grandma and Grandpa and different branches of the family who are stationed in AZ. Twas fun to see folks who we NEVER get to see, spend some quality time with our Grandparents and honestly to re-meet relatives. When you only see people once every 8 years or so, seeing them again is always such an adventure. As it turns out, I have some pretty cool second cousins. Who knew? Not I :)

Scrabble was played. The victor shall remain undisclosed. 

The best part of the trip though, was getting outside and hiking almost every day. Whether it was a quick, steep hike up one of Scottsdale's highly populated peaks in a recreational area, or a meandering ascent up the spine of Rincon Peak outside of Tuscon, it didn't matter. We got outside. Sucked in the dry, warm air, enjoyed a little sweat, and filled each other in on whats what in our lives. Though we go as a family, we often pair off in twos while hiking. Twos make sense on any trail. You can't shout a conversation from the back of a single file line of four. Hiking conversations are leisurely; a patched together discussion of news in our respective cities, pleasant silences filled by the rhythmic sound of hiking boots crunching on rocks, little jaunts down memory lane, observations about the surroundings, spattered with quick breaks to trade packs, slug some water, or snap a picture. 

Dancer on Camelback

Some clever person put a fully decorated Christmas tree
on top of Camelback Mtn. 

Getting to the tippy top of Squaw Peak w/ Mom, Dad and Greg

Ma n' Pa at Squaw Peak
\
Attention span at the Sonora Desert Museum fading...

...playing with cacti commences

One of these things is not like the others. 
I'll give you a hint: Its the dead one. 

Those boots make for an interesting center of balance!
We spent one evening at the Kitt Peak National Observatory on the Tohono O'odham Reservation. Kitt Peak is the only National Observatory in the country (ie, anyone whose application gets approved can use the telescopes) and is the highest concentration of telescopes in the world. Fancy! 

Ariel shot snagged from their website, tx!
We arrived just in time to catch the sunset. Kitt Peak was chosen as the location for the telescopes in part because of the incredible air quality. My camera couldn't capture how awesome this view was. Not because of the sunset itself, but because of the gorgeous layers of mountains in varying shades of blue gray stacked against the horizon. One of the nerds other visitors told me that the last row of mountains was in Baja, California, about 250 miles away. So cool.

As soon as the sun went down, we heard this loud, metal on metal grinding, like a garage door opening. Scared the shit out of me at first. It is a pretty startling noise for someone who has never been in the presence of a telescope coming to life. The telescopes are all digital and remotely operated. Someone, in some dark little room at the University of whatever, had opened the roof of the telescope with the push of a button. Our guide chatted away and as it got darker, the telescope swiveled around as needed, like a gigantic R2D2, snapping pictures of the Orion Nebula, 1500 light years away. Alone. On a mountain.

Astronomy isn't really my thing. Finding the constellations frustrates me and light years are really too big for my brain to comprehend. But, this place was pretty cool and I have to acknowledge the people who study such a mind bending topic and make it accessible to the rest of us. I saw Jupiter and it's four moons through a telescope. Couldn't have done that on my own.
Visitors watching the sunset.
Telescope waiting for the sun to go down before getting down to business. 
This time last week, I was slurping down a hot pink prickly pear margarita at El Charro Cafe in Tuscon and slipping into that post big meal, day in the sun has finally caught up with you, haze of satisfaction.  

Now it is 15 degrees in NYC. Not complaining. Just stating facts. 
I have been reunited with Zach and Harriet and the city I love, buuuuutttt... I'm just sayin. I was in shorts. 


The souvenir I didn't get?
A gorgeous dining room table with turquoise inlay.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012, yowza!

January first, huh?
What even happened last year?

One day rolled into another, just as it always does around 11:59, except that today there is a set point at which we can stop, turn around and look at what we've been up to. If we choose to take it.

As I glanced over 2011, my first reaction was something along the lines of I didn't accomplish enough, or Well, that was way less epic than 2010. This time last year I started, but never posted, a list called "2010 in numbers," that listed things like states visited, new restaurants I'd been to, concerts, nights spent on a thermarest, near death experiences etc. 11 states in 2010. 34 nights on a thermarest. Not too bad.

2011 though, I only hit 5 states. What the hell?

Which is precisely why glancing is no good. I actually had to ask myself what I'd been doing that my year looked so lame compared to 2010. C'mon self. Look a little deeper. The year wasn't lame or boring while you were in the thick of it, so let's take a look.

After wracking my brain and flipping through my calendar, I've come to the conclusion that what I accomplished this past year doesn't translate to a "year in numbers" sort of post. Of course there were some awesome concerts (LCD soundsystem, Avett Bros), wknd trips (leaf peeping!) and drool inducing restaurants (Fatty 'Cue!). I could count them up and list them. But that's not so much what this year was about. I worked on things that take discipline (saving dough) and are not 100% yay! woo! fun! but challenging (backpacking, tri training), rewarding (avon walk) and easily overlooked because they required some stick-to-it-ness and planning.

So in 2011 I stuck with things. That. For me. Is a very big deal.

By the time you're reading this, it is probably not January first anymore. Doesn't matter. What have you been doing? Take the time to think about it. Give yourself credit for it.

Oh, and here is a belated xmas present: