Thursday, February 25, 2010

The... List of Things I Don't Like that Most Normal People Do... but I'm not picky!!

So, it’s come to my attention that, as low maintenance and NOT picky as I like to think I am, others beg to differ. Thankfully, one of my coworkers has turned this into a rather comical situation, by making me distinctly aware when I start off any and every sentence off with “I’m not the biggest fan of…” or “Yeah, I really don’t like…” Sigh. What can you do? So I present to you… the ever-eloquently named…

List of Things I Don’t Like that Most Normal People Do

1. Food in general – I had to put this on here because I have been told by MULTIPLE people that I am picky. I really don’t think I am though. I will eat anything that is put in front of me. I just think people tend to overglorify a lot of food (ie: that was the best pizza EVER… really? It’s not the best pizza ever if you’re saying that about like ten places you’ve been…). Now, maybe it’s me just getting caught up in all the overhype and having nowhere to go but down (aka: disappointment) once I try something that’s been overhyped, but still. I really don’t even think that’s true because there are other places which I’ve tried due to the overhype component that I’ve definitely heavily advertised to others (ie: Magnolias cupcakes, Mollys cupcakes, maybe just a cupcake thing? Who knows).

2. Water – I remember having my one free day with a personal trainer when I first joined a gym, and, while he was telling me about how he likes to motivate himself for a workout by picturing a nice big treat for himself after a hard workout. I still remember his exact words involved: “During a really hard run, I like to picture myself downing a nice cold glass of… water.” Wtf- talk about a letdown. I mean, it’s not like I crave a glass of COKE or anything when I finish working out. But water? Really? For some reason, water just does NOT taste good to me, even though it’s supposedly tasteless. I’d rather just go thirsty than drink water, to be perfectly honest. That’s the other thing- I don’t think my body needs water- I don’t really notice any significant differences if I drink it versus if I don’t, whereas I have a few friends who are like camels and can drink like a jug of water in one day. Trust me- I don’t even TRY to relate to those people on this level.

3. Flowers – I just don’t understand the point of them. Unless they’re a complete out of the blue surprise on a random day. In which case, fabulous! But otherwise, flowers as a present for a birthday or something? I certainly do. Not. Think. So. To me, that just illustrates the lack of thought put into the aforementioned present, as it’s generally accepted that “any girl” just “loves flowers”. Please.

4. My birthday – Trust me, as celebratory as I am about like everything and everyone else in life, this comes as quite a surprise to many. Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE celebrating others’ bdays (ESPECIALLY surprise bdays! Alkdsjflask! Best things EVER!) but I just don’t like celebrating mine. Part of it is truly because I don’t really like having a lot of attention placed on me for something that is really outside of my control (I didn’t CHOOSE to be born; my parents did. I think. Unless I was an accident. Which is a whole other story entirely that I have yet to hear about. But whatever.). Attention that I bring on myself? Well, that’s just another story, let’s be honest here J But for the moment, we’re focusing on birthdays and how I don’t like mine. I mean, I just don’t understand why people can’t celebrate everyone in their entirety every single day… but apparently that’s just me. Whatever.

5. Valentine’s Day – whether in a relationship or not, I have never enjoyed this holiday. Ever. Which, again, comes as a surprise to many people considering I love celebrating life (and so with life, comes love) in general… and you KNOW I get way too overly excited about other people’s love stories (I’m just going to directly reference Missy and Scott here. Hope you guys don’t mind. Whoops. Oh well. At least the shoutout is (HIGHLY) complimentary in nature.) Going along with the birthday theme here, again- why not celebrate the ones you love every day? I mean, it really should be effortless if love actually is all around (OMG DON’T YOU LOVE THAT MOVIE!! Lkjafslkjafsldkjalksfdjaslkjfd FAVORITE lakfsjdlkajfsdlkajsl!!!! And I’m so proud of myself for just sliding that quote right on in there ever so slyly… sigh. I do amaze myself. I really do. ANYWAY.) The same goes for other holidays where this whole giving of presents thing is involved. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about presents. But I prefer just giving/getting presents on an ordinary day when it’s least expected- simply because one was thinking of someone else. I think this is just in keeping with the fact that I hate commercialization. Especially of holidays. Okay. I know this doesn’t make sense since I’m slightly obsessed with Christiemas. But that’s different. That’s more about the SPIRIT involved… certainly NOT the presents. Again, another side note.

6. Watching sports (except tennis and sometimes basketball… okay, apparently, here I’m specifically referencing football…) – I know, I know. This is weird coming from a girl who went to Ohio State. But still. Why is watching a bunch of grown men fall over each other (aka: football) entertaining? In short, it’s just not.

7. Chocolate – I like white chocolate okay, but I don’t understand how everyone’s like “oh I cant go a day without chocolate”. It just doesn’t taste good to me. And this whole dark chocolate craze? I understand it’s healthier but clearly there’s a reason for that. It just doesn’t taste good. I mean, what kind of dessert is BITTER? Ugh. It should NOT be considered dessert, thank you very much.

8. Asparagus – Maybe this goes along the lines of how I don’t like vegetables all that much to begin with (I mean, seriously, these people who are like “Are you serious? I CRAVE vegetables”… I personally think they must be lying and/or overexaggerating. Who in their right mind craves vegetables?), but I feel like asparagus is a favorite amongst many. I don’t really understand why. I don’t think it tastes any more or less better than any other vegetable… so, while I don’t necessarily dislike asparagus, I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about (ie: as a favorite veggie amongst many).

9. Animals – So this isn’t completely fair because I do like some animals. I just don’t like domesticated animals (ie: pets). I think it just takes a LOT more to impress me (ie: in terms of an animal’s cuteness) than the average Joe. I just don’t understand. Most are not as cute as everyone says they are, nor are they easy to maintain. I mean, hello. You have to pick up after them multiple times a day? Ew. Therefore, because the cuteness factor is lost on me, I don’t think the effort it takes to upkeep a pet is worth the cuteness that everyone seemingly attributes to them. Blah. However, that being said, I do like wild animals (ie: lions and tigers and bears)… I think this is primarily because I’m just intrigued with how the circle of life works and all that J

10. Popular TV shows – Shows like 30 Rock and The Office are all the rage right now. Again, I don’t really understand why. I also am not being fair in this judgment because I haven’t watched enough episodes to accurately judge said shows. But it certainly didn’t grab my attention as a must-see every week from the get-go (ie: like Friends, Full House, Fresh Prince, Cosby Show… you know, the good old days). But shows like Seinfeld and The Simpsons? Really. I find them quite boring and certainly NOT entertaining. And I’ve watched enough episodes of THOSE to adequately judge, thank you very much. Seinfeld I really never understood. Jerry’s voice just annoys me. And I really just didn’t find it to be funny (and if you know me, you KNOW I find EVERYTHING to be funny). And the Simpsons? Just plain stupid. And not funny in the least. I don’t really understand how it’s the longest running show in history. Or some nonsense like that.

11. Smartphones – okay, again, maybe it’s just because I haven’t ever had one (nor do I really have an interest in getting one)… I LIKE having a different place for my phone, internet, etc. so I don’t understand what all the fuss is about with my nice old-fashioned 1995 cellular telephone. It does the job and I would actually prefer to not have my phone attached to my hip 24/7. I can easily find other avenues of entertainment than apps on a phone… although, to be honest, I do think I could do with the Google map component of the Iphone… so we’ll see… TBD.

So there you have it. Reasonably justified, correct? Yes. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the christie version of new york...

whenever someone remotely mentions the fact that they are even THINKING of going to new york, i believe my standard reactions involve some high-pitched squealing, jovial arm punching, envious sighs, and... da da daaa... The Itinerary. The Itinerary evolved at some point in san francisco when new york was like a foreign land to several californians (hello people, california really is NOT the end all be all of the united states...) who were travelling to new york for the first time. and you know me. unable to contain my excitement (and apparently, this incessant need for me to create itineraries... or Agendas... perchance?) and pure, unadulterated love for the big ap, of course im going to take the liberty of creating my own little self-guided tour of new york (which basically is an eating tour of new york but hello. it's new york. it SHOULD be primarily an eating tour)...

after sending along The Itinerary recently, i couldnt help but re-review it with my ever-critical eye and relive, well, one pretty darn fabulous city. so with no further delay, by all means... i welcome you to: The Itineraryalksjflask! SIGH NEW YORK. ol blue eyes really knew what he was singing about. is it weird that i get chills whenever i hear that song? sigh oh well. but i digress (doesn't take much, clearly). okay, back to... The Itineraryalslkdfj! (apologies in advance for the awful formatting. it was just not working for me tonight.)

1. MAGNOLIA’S CUPCAKES – 401 N. Bleecker Street (a few other locations have also opened up but this is the original and by far the coziest, which I’m sure is your top concern)

a. This is a MUST GO (wait, have you been?) – okay, while primarily known for their cupcakes (vanilla vanilla is my favorite, primarily because I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate, but I know others who love chocolate chocolate and chocolate vanilla), I would highly recommend the banana pudding as well. I don’t even like banana flavored things, but this is one of my favorite desserts ever. Oh my Lord, I can just taste the softened vanilla wafers swimming in the pudding right now

2. JOHN’S PIZZERIA – 278 Bleecker Street

a. Oh, look at that. Magnolia’s neighbor. A perfect night would probably be John’s for dinner and Magnolia’s for dessert because they’re so close to each other and both are legends in New York. John’s has one of the oldest ovens in New York (I made it a point to ask the waiter to see it. My friends were slightly embarrassed. Okay, so maybe we had to weave through some crowds. I didn’t CARE. Hello! It’s a part of history here!)

3. THE BURGER JOINT – 119 W. 56th Street

a. If you get to this address and are confused by the grandiose hotel that you are standing in front of, no worries. This is one of my favorite “typical” New York hole in the walls. This place has the most a-mazing fries and burgers (seriously, my favorite burgers EVER) and the best part is just how basic the burgers are. No, scratch that. The best part is that this tiny little “joint” is located in a little nook of the big fancy Le Parker Meridien hotel! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PLACE!!! GO!!

4. RICE TO RICHES – 37 Spring Street

a. If you like rice pudding you are going to looove this place! I bet this is the only place in the U.S. that has an entire restaurant devoted to rice pudding and only rice pudding. SO MANY FLAVORS and you can select whatever toppings you would like to put on it! And the portions are ginormous! The smallest size will fill you up to the point of sickness. You could probably easily split it too. AND, if you get any size aside from the smallest size, you can “mix and match” (ie: put a couple different rice pudding flavors into one dish! Delight!)

5. S’MAC – Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese – 345 E. 12th Street

a. A restaurant solely devoted to… mac and CHEESE!!! Delicious. Plain and simple. I mean, it’s pretty hard to screw up mac and cheese, but then again, I also find it quite difficult to “do” mac and cheese “up”. And this place totally does it up in STYLE. Yummers.

6. Sarabeth’s – 423 Amsterdam Ave

a. My favorite brunch spot by FAR. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS eggs benedict (and I’m not even the biggest fan of eggs!). Very cozy. It’s not unusual to do four hour brunches here. No? Just me? Oh well. Just to forewarn, the wait is RIDICULOUSLY long on the weekends so get there early

7. Kitchenette – 1272 Amsterdam Ave (way uptown, right by Columbia) or 156 Chambers Street (a really “hip” part of town… Tribeca… never been to this location before)

a. ANOTHER AMAZING brunch spot!! If you like sweets for brunch, they are a winner. Their other food is good too, but you will be inundated with bakery deliciousness as soon as you step in the door. Again, gets crowded, but it’s New York brunch. If a place doesn’t get crowded, you shouldn’t be going there either.

8. Serendipity!! – 225 E. 60th St

a. This place gets super crowded too, thanks to the overhype from the movie, but their desserts are le-git. Don’t get a meal here though because it is definitely a downfall. They are known for their frozen hot chocolate. I highly recommend their PEANUT BUTTER FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE. Oh wait. If you happen to be weird (I don’t judge. It is just a fact.) and don’t like peanut butter, then just stick with the frozen hot chocolate. A definite plus plus plus. But just to forewarn- these things are HUGE so you could easily (very easily) split just one with someone.

9. Koronet’s Pizza!! – 2848 Broadway

a. Unfortunately, this place is so far down the list even though it’s my FAVORITE PIZZA PLACE IN NEW YORK. The only reason I put it so far down was because it’s way uptown (again, by Columbia) but one of the all-time best hole in the walls ever. Pizza slices the size of Yield signs for about $2, which is unheard of in Manhattan. Very popular after a night out for college kids, but good pizza any darn time really. HUGE AND DELICIOUS!

10. Mamoun’s Falafel – 119 MacDougal Street

a. I’ve never been here but everyone who goes RAVES about it. Mediterranean at its finest… cheap and quick! Popular among NYU students as it’s right on NYU’s campus.

11. Max Brenner – 841 Broadway

a. A restaurant entirely devoted to CHOCOLATE. Not even being the biggest fan of chocolate, this place is an experience. Even if you don’t get anything, you should definitely walk by and see what the fuss is all about. You can smell the chocolate from a block away! (and I don’t even have a sense of smell!)

12. The Strand – 828 Broadway

a. Conveniently, this is located basically right across the street from the aforementioned chocolate shop! And, sadly, the first non-food related thing on this itinerary. 18 miles of books! It’s a new and used bookshop that is famous worldwide. You can find all kinds of rare gems here. Seriously, just an experience to walk its hallowed halls. Think Powells (Portland) except a little bit more rundown (come on, it is New York after all).

13. The Angelika Theater – 18 West Houston

a. I know the last thing you would want to do in New York is go see a movie, but if you happen to get bored, you should see a movie HERE!! An independent movie theater that is just an experience as well. I don’t know why I love it so much but it’s just darn fabulous. And in a fun part of town (SOHO).

14. The Shake Shack – In Madison Sq Park (Madison and E. 23rd)

a. It might be too cold for this but they have the most delicious milkshakes ever. It’s a little shack just in the middle of the park! Granted, they got in trouble for some health code violations but so did Magnolia’s and please. You think THAT’S going to stop people? Hell no!

15. Mike’s Bagels – 4003 Broadway

a. This is dead last because, while these are the absolute best bagels in all the land (they literally melt in your mouth), it is located in Washington Heights… aka: the Ghetto. (It was right by Columbia’s uptown campus and a favorite among students because it’s super duper cheap and delicious). It’s not worth a whole trip just for this sole purpose but just in case you want to explore life as opposite from the Upper East Side as it gets, here you go.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eviction take two…

You would think after being evicted from (one of) my New York apartments in 2006, I’d be super duper careful about, well. Paying my rent. To begin, I would like to defend myself- my New York eviction was not my fault. I wasn’t even in the country when it happened, thank you very much. Just because I happened to find the biggest goldmine in all of Manhattan (500 sq feet- two bedrooms, two flipping LIVING ROOMS, a bathroom, a kitchen… all for me, me me!!) and happened to (knowingly) illegally sublet it from a 92-year-old Puerto Rican woman who happened to have bought it when she went to Columbia (back in 1944… how grand) doesn’t mean that I should’ve been EVICTED. I mean, hello, it’s me! I was taking care of this palatial estate. Darn shady maintenance men who call out innocent (yet at the same time, illegal) tenants. Sigh.

Anyway. After seizing the moment and taking control of my personal administrative duties, I was so proud of myself for (finally) closing out my Wells Fargo account (after all, there is like one Wells Fargo in the Midwest, and that’s in who knows where Indiana). How was I supposed to remember to update my Autopay for my rental agreement, so that my rent would get automatically pulled from my current checking account rather than from my closed Wells Fargo checking account? Sigh. Okay. Fair enough. My fault. But I mean, my goodness! The hard copy letter I received from the accountant of my building. With a title like “Notice of Insufficient Funds” in big and bold as the heading, it can only go downhill from there. I believe the words “termination of lease” and “seize of property” were the key words that stuck out in my fearful mind. Really? How much scarier can you GET? And I only had five days to get the corrected payment to the accountant before said seizure of property would begin. And I got the notice on Friday night. Note how the letter conveniently left out the word “business” in calculating the five day timeline. Wtf, right? Right.

No worries, I immediately got on my Gmail to send a friendly little notice to the accountant indicating my deepest apologies for the inconvenience and letting him know that I would get the requisite cashier’s check from my bank on Saturday morning and mail it in ASAP. I mean, it never really hurts to develop that personal bond, right? Right.

So I get the cashier’s check and traipse along to my corner mailbox to mail that sucker OUT. Ugh. As SOON as it deposited itself nicely into the heart of the mailbox bin, I began to have second thoughts about it getting there in time. I mean, with all this darn talk about the pending blizzard, who KNOWS how long it would take the US Postal Service to navigate to Park Ridge, IL… a whole 20 miles away from my cozy apartment. Okay. So maybe I worry a little too much. And by “a little too much”, I do mean that I got a total of about 8 hours of sleep combined between Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights because I couldn’t stop thinking about this little fiasco. I mean, what if I was homeless by next week?! This is real LIFE, people.

So I decided to really seize the moment and hop on over to the bank this morning (Monday morning) to pull out yet ANOTHER cashier’s check and take it over to the post office to mail it EXPRESS so that it certainly would get there by tomorrow (Tuesday), by noon no less. Taking care of business if you will.

And no worries. I decided to send my pal, Al (that accountant), a friendly little email (again)indicating every action I had taken (including, but not limited to, taking a cashier’s check out on Saturday, mailing it in regular mail on Saturday, freaking out… okay so I professionalized the terminology just a tad, taking out another cashier’s check today, sending it express today… well. there’s the brief synopsis. I tried to make it nice and personable, if you will J). Poor Al. He probably had no idea what he was getting himself into when he stamped that email address on that “Notice of Insufficient Funds” letter.

No worries. All is good now. Al and I are BFF. And I have confirmed that I will no longer be homeless. Whew. Close CALL.

Monday, February 1, 2010

dear chicago, go green please. thank you.

So I don’t consider myself to be an environmentalist by ANY means, but there are certain things that the city of Chicago should really… rethink. (I know, right? Whoever would’ve thought that a bit of SF would actually rub off on me? The girl who slightly scoffed when Triage decided to up the green-friendliness ante with sensors for the lights in the kitchen, low flow toilets, NO plastic silverware/cups/etc, and wow… composting. Talk about con-fusing. Thankfully, the pictures helped a lot of things for me. So much so that I actually truly enjoyed composting after a couple of months. No, seriously!)

When I came to Chicago, I was actually kind of pleased about not having to worry so much about offending individuals who were so f’ing environmentally conscious that I couldn’t really even joke about using a plastic spoon because I didn’t trust the “dishwashing” process that was utilized when Triage eliminated plastic cutlery. Wowza. Hello, there. Needless to say, the reprimanding I received left me quite frightened, thus leading me to keep all my environmentally-inspired opinions (joking or otherwise) to myself. I scare easily, I know. Anyway.

But, my goodness, dear Chicago, given how perfect you are in my eyes, how can you so fail me in an issue/area that I wasn’t even that interested in to begin with?

For one, grocery stores… and their darn plastic bags – okay, maybe it’s a touch extreme for the city of Chicago to adapt to MY preferred method of lugging around my groceries (in my nice sturdy cloth Strand bag, WHICH, by the way, I got for free in New York in 2006, and which I’ve found to be quite multifaceted in use since then) but, Chicago, dear sweet Chicago, at LEAST switch over to paper bags. Oh wait, no, before even switching over to paper bags, at the VERY least, quit f’ing DOUBLE BAGGING my groceries with your PLASTIC bags. Okay, I understand that if you pile way too many groceries/items into one single plastic bag, the plastic bag risks falling apart. Fair enough. But to double bag a plastic bag consisting of (ironically) paper plates and a box of Kleenex? Seriously? Seriously. Let’s use some common sense here.

Next up: plastic silverware – omg, whenever I use a plastic cup or plastic silverware now, I literally cringe. How difficult is it, really, for individuals to bring in their own coffee mugs, actual utensils, and the like? I mean, it literally takes two seconds out of your day to wash these things out and who couldn’t use a little break from time to time? I guess it would be helpful if we could snag some dishwashing liquid and, dare I dream, a sponge to start that revolution… one. Slow. Step at a time here. (Please note that there is no bitterness involved here. None.)

Thirdly: garbage – wow. I never really thought I fully appreciated the art of recycling, let alone composting, until I moved here and realized that it truly is a lost art that (very quickly) needs to be found. Okay, I understand that composting is a relatively newfound fad for the mainstream population. But recycling? Hello. That’s been around since at LEAST 1988 (when I was first introduced to the concept). Sure, there are random recycling bins scattered intermittently throughout restaurants/bars/coffee shops/the workplace for, say, cans or bottles of soda… but… but what about everything ELSE that can be recycled? First and foremost, paper. Let’s be honest here. Recycling 101 if you will. Prominent displays for such recycling would not only be helpful, but are kind of necessary, as people are inherently lazy to begin with… therefore, as there IS some thought required in terms of which is the “proper” bin to place your recycled goods, signs/displays would be quite helpful. Pictures would be optimal (please reference my aforementioned success with the art of composting thanks to those pictures as guides).

And last, but certainly not least: public transportation and/or carpooling – I must say, Chicago’s public transportation system is rather top-notch. Now, maybe it’s because my two primary reference points (my apartment and my company) are both very centrally located, but I just don’t understand why the CTA is not more actively advertised. I’ve tried to instigate my own personal advertising campaign for the beauty of public transportation, but I can only do so MUCH. It’s taxing! But really. The use of cabs and personal cars in this city is. absolutely. Unreal. As is illustrated by, ugh, the incessant traffic. While I understand there are certain places that necessitate traffic because of a lack of a comprehensive public transit system (read: LA… which has its own set of issues that I will just refrain from going into here), I truly don’t believe that the Chicagoland area has much excuse. Even for those suburbanites, the Metra seems to be quite handy dandy (from what I hear, although, in all fairness, I haven’t ridden it all that much to extensively discuss). Now, I’m not one to say that I haven’t taken a cab from time to time, but people who use cabs as their primary mode of transportation should really re-evaluate a few things (and, by ‘a few things’, I do mean ‘carbon FOOTPRINT’, people!) in their lives. At least actively advertise the lost art of carpooling! I mean, think about it. What better way to meet people during your night out on the town, right? Right. for the environmentally friendly, if you will. Alksdfj! (OMG, if you happen to meet the love of your life using this technique, I will be expecting an email ASAP detailing the situation. Primarily so I can use it in your wedding toast because you KNOW I’ll be calling bridesmaid, thank you very much.)

So, in conclusion, Chicago… shape up. Right now. Please? Just a few simple steps and you’ll easily restore your (currently tainted) image of perfection in my eyes.