Sunday, July 1, 2018

NYC: A Woman's World

If you're planning on traveling to NYC soon, make sure to bookmark my new New York City Recs!  I've also created Italy and London guides, which you can find in the same place.

I believe my June visit marked my fifth time visiting Shawn in NYC since he moved there close to six years ago.  You can see how much or little we've changed between this year (see photo above) and our first visit in 2014 (below); both photos were taken at the rooftop of The Met in Central Park.

Summer in NYC is a magical thing.  Once you look past the often sweltering subway cars, the odorous trash bags piled high and simmering on the sidewalks, and the occasional rat scurrying past your feet, you can't help but marvel in the bustle of sidewalk cafes and beautiful, carefree people strolling the streets, get caught up in the latest gastronomic fad (2018: matcha invasion), and find your own little pockets of life, community, and adventure around every corner.  

The first couple days of the workweek Brittany stayed with me and we enjoyed a delicious Greek dinner with Shawn and Becca, followed by an adult's interpretation of childhood dreamy treats at Milk Bar.  (The birthday truffle balls are 100% sugar but truly make my eyes roll back in my head.) 

 Rooftop bar Ophelia

Milk Bar sugar high

On Brittany's last night we headed to Greenwich Village and the Comedy Cellar.  While there, Brittany had to put a guy in his place who tried to cut us in line (mad props), we laughed our asses off at back-to-back fantastic stand-up acts, and we spotted Judd Apetow, plus later watched him directing an episode of his HBO show Crashing on the street.  Oh, the possibilities and fun of this place.

Trucker Hat Guy from 30 Rock

Street set of Crashing

 Hottie on the street

I decided to take Friday off and live a sliver of a Carrie Bradshaw life.  Before getting to that part of the day, I went to a really unique yoga class at a place called Humming Puppy, where there was a stark yet uplifting design, a reverberating humming sound all through class, and a lush lobby with fresh tea and coconut water for us to socialize over after. 

How is this the lobby of a yoga studio?  Can I live here?

Back to Carrie.  I pranced around Nolita, Noho, and Soho much of the rest of the day, popping into boutiques, sidewalk art stalls, and brick and mortar stores of favorite brands which I didn't know existed, chatting with shopkeepers and upgrading my outfit and accessories along the way.

Eventually Shawn joined me for lunch (he graciously/wisely was late, affording me more time to shop, and him less time to accompany me on that activity), and we explored the overlapping neighborhoods some more before moving on to Brooklyn for dinner.

"I'll be there for you...
if you're there for me toooo-ooooo."
Exterior used for Monica's apartment in Friends

Our weekend was a healthy balance of interactive museums (Tenement, City of New York, and The Met), eating (our favorite thing to do, and we stuck mostly to the realm of fried chicken), and enjoying Central Park.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend the Tenement Museum.  They've salvaged and restored a building on the lower east side that has been lived in by hundreds of immigrants from different countries around the turn of the 20th century and turned it into a museum.  A far cry from your average museum, where you look at paintings or antiquities and read placards, the building itself is the museum, and if only the walks could actually talk.  The guide made up for this by being a wealth of information, providing context about how the social and political circumstances of the time affected life and living conditions for these people, crammed dozens to an apartment, often with one sink in the whole building and only a few outhouses in the back, and also sharing personal anecdotes of people who had actually lived in the building.

Beverage break at The Garret, 
a bar hidden above a Five Guys

Central Park, an incredible oasis amidst the noise and concrete of the city, also makes for optimal people watching.  We posted up by the roller rink section, which boasts a phenomenal live DJ, old women in wigs dancing with scarves, and hella fit men from all backgrounds dancing with mad skills on skates. 

And because that was just the tip of the iceberg of what the park has to offer, we then moved on to Summer Stage, for our third summer in a row taking in a show there.  There was a jazz lineup that night, and we listened to Victory and Gregory Porter while eating our favorite fried chicken sandwiches.  If you go to Summer Stage, do not miss the fried chicken sandwiches.  I mean, the music's good too, but we're mostly in it for those sandwiches. 

Inevitably, walking the streets of Manhattan you get to interact with its colorful people.  This time around, our best meet cute happened in broad daylight when a man fell in step with us after getting in a yelling match with a woman outside the subway station (him: "you better call me-don't let me down."  Her: "I never want to speak to you again!!"), and asked if we were going to Mount Sinai hospital, the only reason white people ever go around those parts, according to him.  He's drunk and high as a kite on God only knows what, showing us his Bronx firefighter's ID to prove his status as an upstanding citizen (reassuring).  He goes on to say that his small grocery bag is filled with ice cream and lollipops, because that seems to keep his baby mama happy enough not to file for child support.  Wanting to tell us more of his life story, he goes deliberately out of his way and walks with us in our direction, saying that a couple years back, he went to the Puerto Rican parade (Shawn attests to the absolute wildness of this event), and had an affair with a girl there even though he was married.  Just his luck, she got pregnant, and now he's got to keep her happy.  He asks Shawn and I if we have kids together (hilariously, we look at each other and just shrug, like "not yet but I guess it could happen one day?"), and he says to Shawn that that's good, because "It's a woman's world."  If that were true, I think his poor baby mama would be getting a little more than lollipops as parental support, but hey.

At the Museum of the City of New York, we learned about the evolution of the Big Apple, like how it was built from south to north, and it affirmed much of the immigrant history we had learned at the Tenement Museum.  They also house the original painting of Hamilton that was used for the $10 bill, which I thought was cool, and a fun gift shop and bookstore.

My last half day we made our way to The Met (I think it's more than worthy of a visit every single time), of course via the park. 

I desperately wanted to see the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit, which was recently kicked off at The Met Gala.  It was incredible seeing the way Catholic imagery has been featured in popular fashion (especially Italian designers like Versace and Dolce & Gabbana), as well as how fashion has been integrated into religious celebrations (there were many elaborate dresses created for statues for saint's days).

The dress on which Rihanna's gala ensemble was based

Much love to Shawn who is invariably a gracious host and makes whatever I want to do in New York a reality.  We always have the best time!

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