Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Au Revoir

In less than a week, a New York institution that still has packed tables will shutter its doors. It makes me feel so bad that this is the first and last time I will ever eat here. What's worse is, it closes for good on my birthday. I'm really disappointed that Florent's landlord thinks that what the Meat Packing District really needs is more luxury housing/dining/shopping. I say, kick out the designers and bring back the trannies and the leather bars.

New York is slowly but surely losing its edge. To some degree, it still exists in the outer boroughs, but they are bulldozing anything with character there too to put up multi-family McMansions and hair salons. I hate to say it, but it may be time for me to move on to a place that isn't afraid, is proud even, to be a little bit gritty and unpolished.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Some of you may think it's nuts to pay four-digit prices on a plane fare at the last minute to go to Istanbul for less than a week. I don't care. This had to be one of the best trips I've ever taken. Some people may buy themselves a pair of shoes or earrings as a birthday present to themselves, but I think this has any material object beat. Three days was enough time to march around town and see pretty much everything notable, historic, and fun. The city has a good mix of old world charm, culture, great food, nice scenery, and activity. I wore a headscarf in the Blue Mosque out of respect, and it didn't feel too weird. In fact, I look kinda cute in an innocent, look-but-don't-touch, traditional sorta way. Plus, timing it to see Turkey beat Croatia in the UEFA quarterfinals was priceless. My former manager, who happens to be ex-military, almost ran for cover at the near-riot that broke out in Sultanahmet, but I lapped it up like all the raki I drank.

There was a lot of learning and observing. Nargile is the Turkish word for hookah. Churches and synagogues are crammed between buidlings and fenced in, while mosques sprawl with minarets reaching towards the heavens - very different than how houses of worship, particularly cathedrals, are constructed further west. Next time I go to a meyhane, I will not overdose on cold mezze so I can enjoy the hot fish and seafood. Even in Paris, I learned that I really really REALLY like macarons.

This was the first time I felt a thorough sense of relief and gratitude that I was no longer with J. If I had proposed this trip, he most likely would have initially indicated interest, then later recanted at the last minute, which either would have me resent him for my staying home or feeling guilty for leaving him behind. Instead, I felt free and light and happy, something that has eluded me for a bit, and it gave me a complete sense of being over him. Now my mission is to find someone to join me on one of these spontaneous junkets, among other things. In that arena, I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Observations on Toronto

This trip was rough hours-wise (I broke my personal record of latest departure time - it is now 5:30am the following day), but not as hard emotionally as previous projects. I did a lot of power walking around the city to relieve stress and saw a good portion of it. As clean and friendly and nice as it is, it reminds me too much of New York, particularly the downtown area. However, I did enjoy the lower height of buildings in the areas surrounding the central business district. It's refreshing to get sunlight in an urban area.

The hot dog stands are better than NYC. Where else can you pick from several different types of encased meat, have it grilled to order, and dress it with umpteen different condiments yourself? Not bad.

My coworker will tell this story until the day I die: we are walking down Queen St W (think East Village St. Marks Pl as it fades from the perky gentrified area near Third Ave into the still-cess pool of Avenue D), I am telling M a story when a busker points at me and screams, "Fuck you!" Without missing a beat, I glare back at him and respond "No, fuck you too!" and continue telling the story without missing a beat. M was a bit shocked and awed at my snappy, forceful comeback.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

I am in Toronto for the next nine days for work. Which means I am for all intents and purposes falling off the face of the earth for a week and a half.

Last night was an office-wide party. I specifically scheduled my trip to Canada so that I would get to cut the rug with my coworkers. We started a count of the number of times the presenter said 'Click again' since the handheld presentation controller broke. One of my friends knocked my plate of food against my Calvin Klein jacket, started to apologize, and then saw me and said, "Oh it's just you."

Updates on my travels around TO in a few days...