Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category


June 23, 2008 1 comment

I spent this past weekend in New York–primarily Brooklyn–as a visit to Susan was way overdue. After much scheduling and postponing, we settled for this weekend because it coincided with her birthday. Lilly (whose birthday was last Tuesday) and I thus made our way to New York from DC and Philly, respectively, on Friday.

Because I’m severely allergic to the Chinatown bus (no, not really; I just hate it), I looked into booking my roundtrip tickets with BoltBus ($13 each way). I later learned about Megabus from my friend Ashley who was heading to New York on Thursday for a taping of the Daily Show–$6 each way! Unfortunately, the available return times were less than desirable, so I only booked a one-way, from Philly to New York. $6 ticket + $0.50 registration fee = fucking good deal.

The bus was set to leave at 5:15pm, and I wasn’t planning on going to work, so I had all day to pack and make sure I wouldn’t forget anything. I left around noon so I could head to the Gallery and get birthday cards for Susan and Lilly, as well as small presents. I walked around the Reading Terminal Market–one of my absolute favorite places in the city–and finally headed to the 30th Street Station, where the bus would come and pick us–New York-bound travelers–up. The bus, of course, was forty five minutes late, but with $6.50 tickets, who really cared?

The man who sat next to me smelled like metal. If you’re wondering what that smells like, get a bunch of coins and sniff them. Sniff them real good. That’s what the man smelled like. Also, he was gigantic, leaving me with not much space.

We pulled up to Penn Station around 8pm and I had to pee like a mother!

Susan took me to Vinny’s, a nice little Italian restaurant not far from her house. The portions were huge and the prices reasonable; I had chicken parmigiano with ziti bolognese, Susan had penne alla vodka.

Later, Susan’s mom drove us to pick up Lilly who got in much later than me. Just as we spotted her at a street corner, it started pouring!

We started the day with a bowl of cereal and some television. We then headed to The Painted Pot for some ceramics painting. Susan’s friend Kathryn joined us a little while later and ended up painting something as well. We were supposed to meet Gus at 12:30ish, but were late…of course. We had some bagels and it was delicious! We then hopped on the train. Gus was waiting for us at one of the stations and hopped on when we saw him. Off to Coney Island!

It was the Mermaid Parade! There were an incredibly huge number of people, naked, half-naked, non-naked… The boardwalk was very crowded, which, as I understand, is usually not the case. We wanted to ride the Cyclone, but I refused to pay $8 for a roller coaster. We got cotton candy and hopped on the train back to Susan’s place (except for Kathryn, who was to meet us again later).

We got some beer (1664!) and some rice balls, and witnessed a very painful third goal by Russia against the Netherlands–last goal apparently, as Russia won 3-1 in overtime. After much talking and learning about very shocking things (I’m still all wtf about that), we took quick showers and headed out again.

We met up with Kathryn and Vanessa, another one of Susan’s friends from high school, to go to a barbecue at Susan’s cousin’s place. We met some of Susan’s family and had some food before we headed out to the bar. Susan had texted a bunch of people she went to high school with as an invitation to come and join us at The Brooklyn Inn, a place I wasn’t very impressed with–except for the architecture; that place is fucking gorgeous. But the $1.50 pool game, and the jukebox (aka music that you have to pay for), I wasn’t digging so much.

I got excruciatingly bored after a while (because I’m restless when I’m drunk) so I started climbing onto the bars of the gigantic windows and following a girl who looked like Ugly Betty. For serious, she could NOT have been real. I took with me Lilly and Gus–who wanted to find a deli–and stumbled into a bodega, where there was a cat. I sat on the floor and started to pet the cat who enjoyed it tremendously, until a cop came in and asked me if I was all right.

Susan and Kathryn came and took us to The Last Exit, where Susan’s sisters and her sister’s boyfriend were. More drinks, much dancing (finally!), a Soul Train line, getting hit on by someone who told me I was “G.U., geographically undesirable” aaand we called it a night. It was roughly 4am.

We dragged Susan to a diner against her will–even though the diner was HER idea in the first place–and had some delicious food. Or at least some of us did. Gus fell asleep while holding the last quarter of his turkey club, and I had a gigantic pickle. Now that I think about it, I might have taken a picture of that pickle…

By the time we left the diner, it was light out. We got back to Susan’s place at 5:30am, so I guess this covers Sunday morning.

We were almost late for Lilly’s bus, which was set to leave at 1:45pm. We were supposed to meet Chaleigh for brunch at 11am, but given the time we got back, it wasn’t gonna happen. Besides, Chaleigh went to a wedding on Saturday, so we could pretty much guarantee this wouldn’t happen. We rescheduled and met her at 2pm instead.

We went to Nolita House, a cute little place in Nolita (North of Little Italy), Manhattan. We walked in to a bluegrass band playing (Nolita House has Bluegrass Brunch on weekends), which was quite enjoyable. I had a croque monsieur–delicious.

After a decent catching up with Chal, whom I hadn’t seen since our graduation last year, we barely made it to my bus, which was set to leave at 4:30pm. As in, it was 4:26pm and there were two seats left. I said my goodbyes and hopped on. I’m pretty sure I slept on the girl I was sitting next to, but I don’t think she noticed, as she was in a pretty deep slumber herself. We got to Philly’s 30th Street Station at 6:30pm on the dot, which was very impressive.

New York isn’t all bad. For years I’ve said that I pretty much disliked New York, but that’s because Manhattan was the only part I’d ever been exposed to. I strongly dislike touristy areas in the United States. Brooklyn was very exciting; there seemed to be a lot of things to do. I highly enjoyed the presence of bodegas, which are pretty much everywhere you turn. I do wish Philly were a little more like it…

I had trouble getting up today. It was humid and I was very sleep deprived, not to mention quite dehydrated. I went to the gym after work, and now am in desperate need of sleep. On that note… peace out.

Categories: Personal, Trips Tags: , ,

Post-Weekend Update, etc.

March 31, 2008 Leave a comment

Thursday afternoon, I rode Greyhound to Washington, DC for AU‘s CAS Graduate Studies Day. Lilly met me around Union Station, and we took the Metro to Bethesda to meet up with Chuck and An for dinner at Rock Bottom (we tried to hit up Union Jack’s, but it was too crowded). Before dessert, I had to take switch from contacts to glasses because something had been bothering my left eye for a while. After dinner (complete with DELICIOUS sundae), I was too full to walk!

Meteorologists had projected rain, but Friday turned out to be beautiful–sunny and warm. The day went by smoothly, and I got the chance to see more of the campus than I did the last time I was there. I almost met other prospective grad students, which made me happy–especially because I met another person interested in the French Translation program! I hope she gets in.

Lilly leaves for work around 8am every day. The event at AU wasn’t set to start until 10am (9:30am if you count registration), but I decided to leave with her. I got off after one stop at the Tenleytown-AU station to catch the AU shuttle to the main campus. It was about 8:30am, so I purposely missed two shuttles. I wanted to just stand around for a bit (as opposed to hanging around the campus… I don’t know why). I finally got on around 9am and proceeded to registration. I was given a name tag, a pen, and a folder containing various papers (agenda, map…).

Large round tables were set up. I put my things (heavy backpack, etc) down and got myself a cup of tea. Small talk was made as people entered the room and sat themselves down. After a brief introduction, we were all divided into our respective departments. I got up and headed toward a designated staff member as the Language and Foreign Studies department was called. As the eight of us gathered around the well-dressed, salt-and-pepper-haired woman, I noticed that she was speaking to everyone in Spanish. Maybe I got up too early. After introductions were made, I asked, “Is everyone here for Spanish?” The only boy of the group stepped forward and pointed at a tallish girl next to me: “She’s French!”

“Great!” It was only the two of us. The woman apologized, and led us out of the building. “Wait!” someone shouted behind us. “There’s one more!” A girl and two women walked towards us. A girl, her mother, and her aunt.

We walked to the building that houses the Language and Foreign Studies department (the name escapes me — Asbury?) and went down a set of stairs into the building. In between, I found out that the other “French” girl was from Fairfax. She had an accent. Was she actually French? We went down a narrow set of stairs into the building. We were briefly shown the computer lab where, “Shh, they’re taking a test.” We retreated to the tiny conference room, where we were to spend the remaining hour and a half. More folders. I looked at the French girl next to me. “It’s all Spanish.”

The woman told us that the two professors scheduled to speak were affiliated with the Spanish department.


She left and brought the faculty advisor for French Translation; we were thrilled. I asked questions, he answered. The French girl nodded approvingly.

A tall, slim woman peeked her head through the doorway. “Is this… Spanish?”

“I’m almost finished. Or I can be finished? Do you…?”

“Oh go ahead, I’m here to speak for the Spanish–”

“Oh okay go ahead–”

“No, no it’s okay, I’ll wait here.”

I had more questions. I would have objected. And so I kept asking questions until I was satisfied.

“Thank you very much,” I said. I turned to the group. “Sorry.” That is what Americans do, no? They’re a very apologetic people, I find.

“Oh no, no, that’s okay!”
“Don’t worry about it!”
“No, no.”
“We’ll be saying sorry to you in a minute.”

“Exactly.” Second word uttered by the French girl.

The tall, slim woman took a seat at the head of the table. She talked a lot with her hands. She said she was “Spanish. From Spain.” Her voice was clear and firm. She spoke with a slight accent. She made eye contact and hesitated little. Her hair was short, brown, and neat. Her makeup looked flawless.

“Do you understand my English? Do you want me to speak Spanish?”

Did she really ask that?

“No, no we’re fine,” they all said.

The well-dressed, salt-and-pepper-haired woman came back with French documents for the French girl and me. We whispered “Thank you,” and the woman retreated, only to come back shortly after.

The Spanish woman was interrupted.

“I’m sorry, I just want to talk to the French girls a little bit–are you girls okay here or do you want to go out somewhere or…?”

The French girl and I looked at each other. I raised my eyebrows and nodded enthusiastically.

“Where should we go?” she asked.

“We can just sit outside,” I said.

We grabbed our things and left, but not before they gave us mugs and pens. More things to carry.

We sat with the woman on a stone bench in the little courtyard-ish area. I wrapped my new mug in my scarf that I didn’t have to wear. We talked–about translation, mainly. About languages, about the school. About ourselves. The salt-and-pepper-haired woman was Colombian. The French girl wasn’t French; she was Romanian.

I asked how long the campus tour–at 2:30pm–concluding the event would take. The Colombian woman asked if I was in a hurry.

“Oh no, it’s just that my bus leaves at 4:45pm; I don’t want to miss it, that’s all.”

“Well, we can take the campus tour now! We have some time.”

The now-Romanian girl echoed. “Yeah, we can take it now.”

It really was a nice day. The Colombian woman led us through the spotless hallways of the athletic facilities and the artworks displayed in the beautiful Katzen Center.

I stopped by the restrooms to take my contacts out; something was poking at my left eye again.

Before we knew it, it was noon; time to meet the others back at Asbury and head to lunch. The Colombian woman decided to stop by an office in the College of Arts and Sciences building (or something like that) to check on the rest of the group and learned that they had already left.

We hurried back to the building were everything started; they weren’t there yet. We were left there until the others showed up.

The Romanian girl and I started talking in French, and the others showed up not long after.

The boy approached us.


Or at least that’s what I heard.

“Sorry for kicking you guys out.”

Or at least that’s what I think I heard.

“Oh, no that’s okay. How was it?” I inquired.

I think he said it was “fine” and that he “learned a lot.” But I could be making this up; I heard similar things all day long.

The group headed to lunch. The boy, the Romanian girl, and I talked a bit. We went to sit down. Each department was assigned a specific table. We picked three chairs that were unoccupied and next to each other. We grabbed food, the table got crowded, we moved.

Lunch felt short. I learned the Colombian woman’s name. I also learned the Romanian girl’s name. Two professors came to speak. I glanced at the boy’s name tag.

The first professor’s talk was enthusiastic. It felt prepared, but not overly rehearsed. He read an excerpt from one of his works; something about his mother. It was well delivered. It was sad and nostalgic, and I fought back tears at the end of it.

The second professor talked about the feminist movement in Uruguay, if my memory serves me right. By that time, I was feeling awful and needed to get up frequently to leave the room and get some air. At one point, before my return, the boy left.

The only thing left was a panel of graduate students. A few people started asking questions, and I couldn’t handle sitting in there any longer. I grabbed my phone and stepped outside until everything ended. I told Lilly that I would leave at 2:30pm and head to Union Station.

2:30pm rolled around, and the Romanian girl grabbed a few cookies for me to go.

We left together and headed for the shuttle back to the Tenleytown-AU Metro stop. While waiting for the Metro to come, we exchanged contact information. One hour we hopped on the AU shuttle, I got off at Union Station.

I had about an hour to kill, so Lilly and I walked around. I told her about my day at AU and mentioned my contacts bothering me. That’s when I decided to check my eyes for redness with my mirror.

And that’s when I spotted a tiny white dot near the edge of my cornea.

“OH NO! Not again!” I whined. I thought for sure I had another corneal ulcer. I freaked. I stood at a windy corner and phoned my ophtalmologist’s office. I scheduled an appointment for Saturday at 10am. My enthusiasm for everything else quickly dissipated and we walked to the Greyhound station.

My bus was late.

I got back to Philly at 8:30pm and met my mom at the Greyhound station. We went to Sang Kee for dinner. Mom expressed anguish at the idea that she had to be on a clear liquid diet on Saturday and Sunday; she was scheduled for barium enema (rescheduled from last week) today.

I didn’t have a corneal ulcer. What I saw in my left eye–and later spotted in my right eye–was something that people tend to get when they have allergies. My contacts had irritated my eyes, and there it was. The faint dot I saw in my left eye in addition to the white dot was a scar–the scar from my previous corneal ulcer. About the dot in my right eye, the doctor said, “I can’t believe you saw that; even with the microscope it’s very subtle.”

I’ve got super vision.

With Mom being unable to eat pretty much anything, this past weekend was relatively uneventful.

We woke up early to prepare for the hospital. They were able to go on with the procedure this time, much to my mom’s relief–and mine, of course. We got back from the hospital around 11am and fixed ourselves something to eat, after which we decided to take a nap. It was 12:30pm.

We woke up at 3:30pm, groggy, tired, and generally uninterested.

It had been drizzling since this morning. It was cold, the sky was gray–thus casting a gray veil over the entire city–and everyone seemed miserable. It felt like a Sunday.

We were miserable. But then, nighttime came and everything was better. Have you ever noticed that? Nighttime makes things better because it masks the grayness.

Think vs. Worry

October 2, 2007 2 comments

I spent (most of) the weekend in DC; moderately eventful, incredibly satisfying. I wanted to get an idea of what the city was like–it’s always been impossible to (sort of) really experience DC because my uncle’s always been the one driving us there and around the area. Not to mention that we always only did the touristy shit.

dsc09055.JPG I took Greyhound to Washington, DC on Friday evening after work. After a three hour and forty five minute ride, I got to DC’s Greyhound station and walked to meet Lilly, my hostess, at Union Station. I was very impressed with my first Metro ride–mostly with the carpeted cars. The ride was smooth, and every Metro stop was so…spacious.

L’s neighborhood was quite dark but decent, and I appreciated the reigning silence. Quite a difference from Philly’s wailing sirens and reggaeton-blasting speakers. It was close to midnight and I was hungry, so I made myself some eggs and we stayed in. I had all of Saturday planned out in my head–well, sort of.

The red line was experiencing delays and we ended up waiting for at least half an hour before deciding to walk. Not far from Friendship Heights there was a bus station; it looked like the buses that stopped there could take us to AU, so we waited…and waited…and waited. Apparently the buses weren’t operating on schedule either, so we kept on trekking. We eventually arrived to our desired stop only to find out that we wanted to go to the main campus; clearly, we weren’t there. Took an AU shuttle to the main campus, where we wandered for a bit before stumbling upon the admissions office which closed, of course, an hour before we got there. Typical.

It was 2PM and probably about time to eat, so we took a cab to Dupont Circle and settled at Cosi–where I saw a very cute guy; we exchanged some glances, but left it at that–for sandwiches. Walked down Connecticut and BAM! White House. Requisite tourist pictures, and onward. More pictures along the way, etc. Sculpture Garden (or whatever it’s called), CVS stop for gum and hydration, Chinatown.

dsc09051.JPGTiredness. Thirst. But mainly, Chinatown. Chinatown, where every sign had Chinese on it! We hopped back onto the Metro back to FH; we had to figure out a restaurant for dinner with Chuck. I also wanted to check out some stores on the way back to L’s place to try and find something for my mom’s birthday (next Monday), but no dice.

After much consideration, we decided to hit up Rí~Rá in Bethesda. My medium-rare Bistro Burger was excellent, as were the fries, my Stella, and the ultimate dessert: the upside-down apple pie, complete with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

Holy shit; we were so full that walking was a difficult task. C drove us back to L’s place (which is really her grandmother’s place) before heading back home. L and I sat around for a bit and decided we were much too tired to stay up any longer. I had to catch the bus back to Philly in the morning anyway.

Bus that I almost missed, by the way. The red line was experiencing delays yet again, and I got to the Greyhound station just in time. I thanked L for her hospitality, she thanked me for keeping her company, and on the bus I went. Everything went fine until I woke up and we were pulled over to the side of the highway. Now, I had never heard this one before: “We are having a major problem with the bus. We have an oil leak.”

Awethome! The driver decided he should take us to the next (nearby) rest area, after which he called a mechanic who told him to keep driving to Philadelphia.

Driver: Keep going? … It’s low. … It’s really low. We’ve practically lost all the transmission fluid. It’s a big leak. … You want me to keep driving? … You think we can make it? … Alright… Here we go…

Three blocks away from the Greyhound station in Philly, the driver, relieved, made an announcement along the lines of, “We are now in Philadelphia, if you are transferring buses blah blah blah…” He stopped, mid-sentence, and graced us with an emphatic “Oh shit!” The bus then proceeded to crawl to the station. And I mean c…r….a…..w……l………

Once we made it, I took a phenomenal piss and met my mom in Chinatown for a late (3PM) lunch. We went to Ong’s, possibly my favorite restaurant in C-town–and possibly underrated, or at least it’s one of the lesser-known eateries in the area.

So, man, DC; quite a different atmosphere. Philadelphia’s definitely grungier, and I think that’s one of the things I will miss the most about this city. It’s so urban, so vibrant. DC’s vibrant, too, but in a different way. It’s hard to explain, you just have to see it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated Philadelphia. I never thought there was anything for me here, I didn’t think I could fit. Not “fit in,” just “fit.” I wasn’t sure Philly and I were a good match…until maybe my last semester of college. I guess I just never had the opportunity to really appreciate this city, but things have changed. I like the streets of Philadelphia. I like the way the sky reflects on its skyscrapers, and I like how the sunset changes the skyline. The only thing I don’t like is not having someone to share these things with.

Every time I’m downtown around sunset, I look up at the buildings and see the beautiful pink and orange sky reflected on the glass panes. Do you have any idea how breathtaking that is? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s blown away by this–the only one who even notices this. I could stare at it forever. You probably think that a sunset at the beach is much more beautiful and romantic; I happen to think otherwise.

How much time do you, or should you, think about the future? your future? How much of that time is spent not only thinking, but worrying? I don’t know where I stand on this issue. I tell everyone I know what I want–and I tell myself, too–but is it true? Am I sure? Sure sure? Are we ever certain that we want to go in a certain direction? How do you know? How can you tell? And don’t give me any of that “You just know” shit, because I don’t believe any of it. At any given moment there is a huge number of options; an infinite number of paths that you can take–any of which could be the one. Choosing the right one is a difficult task, it really is. Consider the pros and cons of each one. Consider instant gratification versus delayed gratification. Consider what you have, what you don’t. What you want, what you don’t. What you’ll gain, what you’ll lose. Consider what you think is the best, versus what actually is the best–and this is something you don’t know, so naturally you go with what you think is best. How do you get to that conclusion?

And why do I still not have a boyfriend?

Life: a mystery.

Categories: Personal, Trips Tags: , , , ,