Summer Digest

Dear kids,

We had a lot of funtivities this summer! We went to a Yankees game and Coney Island. I dashed off to San Antonio and saw mom/ladybug and (uncle/) Dave/dad in July. There’s a bunch; do check out the pics below. For this entry I’m leaving out four key adventures that took place this summer because there are so many pictures from each. These events will eventually come to life in an entry of their own. They are: our visit to the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, my visit to San Antonio, a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and a day trip to Coney Island.

I’ll be honest with you guys. This summer was also too short and kind of rough.But this summer was a time of reflection, remembrance, realization, and apparently alliteration also.

Part of this was loneliness – it’s surprisingly difficult to make friends in this big city – and that led to nostalgia. Wishing for the Motherland and so on. Nostalgia plays dirty tricks on your mind. You remember things at their best instead of as they really were in the end. Fortunately I got a dose of reality when Katrina visited in August I realized how much of that homesickness was actually nostalgia. Katrina is staying on at VCU to get her master’s in occupational therapy (like a boss) and so she reminded us of how, although there was a hey-day in RVA that we all shared and reveled in, we’d all kind of outgrown it. This was a good reminder because it led me to another conclusion: I wasn’t taking enough advantage of all there was to learn here in THE City and that was part of the reason my brain was playing nostalgic tricks on me.

After Katrina left I decided it was time to pull myself up by my bootstraps and reenergize my mind. For months I’d been here in this new place exploring and discovering new “spots,” but I’d not really done much to learn about new ideas, trades, and concepts as I had when I was a student and then teacher at VCU. This needed to change at once. If you’re not learnin’, you’re not doin’ nothin’. And so I realized that although I was running about doing all this stuff, I wasn’t taking the time to learn more about all the life around me. I’d stopped reading and asking questions regularly and that’s never good.

When I decide to do something I do it. I knew my brain needed a boost so I made plans and goals for boosting it. The first one was a reading list. Since college I’ve had a growing reading list of books I wanted to read when I wasn’t buried under a mountain of textbooks. When I first graduated I started on it, but my efforts tapered off into just reading a book here and there. Enough! I decided to set myself a goal to finish a chunk of that list before Jan 1, 2015. The list itself is over 100 books long, which I’m ashamed to say is too much for me to be able to read in four months, so I picked 20 and I’m sticking to it. I just finished Auntie Mame, a hilarious book about a nephew who goes to live with his zany aunt in NYC. I highly recommend it.

The next plan and goal was to develop skills. I have a degree and sure, that’s great, but I found myself wanting to know how to DO more! For my job I do have to use graphic design software from time to time, so I decided that I want to become a master of this software. I enjoy working with it, and the more I know about it the more cool and fun things I can do with it. I bought myself a couple of textbooks and have been reading the theory and practicing the concepts regularly. Here I am in The City of Opportunity. It would be foolish to not take advantage of all it has to offer to develop and hone new skills.

Finally I begrudgingly decided I needed to be more physically active. I have exercises that I do regularly for my back because of some trouble I’ve had in the past, but I needed to do more. I started going to a free Pilates class at one of the rec centers near work. Keeping up with the regular exercise has been the hardest part for me. I always look at it as a bit of a chore so this makes it difficult. But I never give up because giving up is never an option.

The last thing that I’ve set my mind to doing is to step outside of my comfort zone more because when you step outside of what you already know, you experience something new, and when you experience something new you learn new things. You may not realize you’re learning new things, but you are. I think the biggest reason we had for leaving RVA was that the whole place had become our comfort zone and, with the exception of the occasional new restaurant or bar, there was no new. We could’ve stayed and still learned plenty, but not as much as we’ve learned by up and moving somewhere totally unfamiliar and packed with new things to do, see, experience.

We’re not always going to move around whenever we feel we need to learn, but I also don’t think NYC is the last stop on our residential train. We’re so young! We have all the energy and time to soak up as much about life as we can now so there’s no excuse for us not to be moving and doing. Same goes for you kids.

Just remember to always keep trying to learn. School may not be your thing, but life is nothing but a learning process. I say, if you’re not learning, you’re not living! Try new things, read as much as you can, and ALWAYS ask questions!

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and check out the good stuff below.

All my love,
Auntie Cat

 

  • Brenden turned 24 on June 1st. We went to Toast Chicken restaurant for brunch (and maybe a few mimosas).

 

Sporting “the Kramer”

  • Uncle Logan graduated so we went to Fredericksburg, VA to see him. I actually chronicled the beginnings of the voyage there:
    • (About 3pm) I’m on the South Ferry bound 1 [train] and this car has no AC. “As I write this a drop of sweat is rolling down my forehead,” [said Aunt Katrina to me once in a note she wrote while in the Philippines]. Cody is with me, bless her heart, and fortunately the car isn’t crowded. This is the first day of summer in NYC. And I love it. 
    • Jk – now the train’s crowded. The sweltering train is crowded. Now THIS is summer in New York.
    • I’m in a rush to catch a bus to Chinatown so I can get to Fredericksburg for Logan’s graduation. There’s a creeper across from me with a handkerchief and a bandito mustache. He looks just like Brenden’s friend, Justin.
    • I’m stopped at the 42nd St. station on the Brooklyn bound B. Brenden’s train broke down [we are not together yet at this point in the voyage]. We’ve sat for 4 minutes and the doors close and we’re moving. Trains stop for 30 seconds at most stations. Sometimes 40 at a major hub. 4 minutes is a long time. 34th, but stalled again……..
    • [Alas] on the bus. Packed. Crying baby in seat directly in front.
    • It’s 6:09pm. We left Chinatown at 5:02 or so. We’re currently still in Manhattan. And we still have to tackle a bridge… 
    • It’s 3:15am. Arrived in Fredericksburg around 12:30am.

And that, my friends, is why Brenden and I hate travelling back to VA.

On a ferris wheel we found by the mall

On a ferris wheel we found by the mall

 

  • We went to the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1964 World’s Fair, which was hosted at Flushing Meadows in Corona Park, which is in Queens. Most of you probably don’t know that my namesake, Grandma Katy aka Grandma Wood aka Mary Cathleen went to the 1964 World’s Fair. You may recognize the alien spaceshuttlesqe tower thing in the picture below. It’s in one of the first scenes of Men in Black.

    The Pavilion that turns into a spaceship in Men in Black

    The Pavilion that turns into a spaceship in Men in Black

 

The Unisphere at Sunset

The Unisphere at Sunset

 

  • We saw a movie in Washington Square Park, which is near NYU. It was a French film. Cody dug it.
Cody enjoying the French film, Buffet Froid, in Washington Square Park. Cody is still unsure of what that movie was actually about.

Cody enjoying the French film, Buffet Froid, in Washington Square Park. Cody is still unsure of what that movie was actually about.

 

 

  • We spend a lot of time on our roof. That’s an almost daily thing.
Thanks to Instagram you can make NY look all artsy-dreary like it supposedly did long before Instagram existed.

Thanks to Instagram you can make NY look all artsy-dreary like it supposedly did long before Instagram existed.

And this is what happens when you're a Photoshop newb.

And this is what happens when you’re a Photoshop newb.

 

  • I did yoga in Times Square on the Summer Solstice (June 20). It was the strangest thing trying to find peace among all that loud bustling chaos. Unnatural even. It’d be like finding a traffic jam in the soothing waves of the ocean. I wouldn’t say it was unsettling. I never reached peace, though I came to some kind of a dark solace.
Weird, right?

Weird, right?

 

  • One Friday night we saw a midnight movie at Landmark’s Sunshine Theater. It was National Lampoon’s Vacation, the original one. Funny thing is that even though he and I were both raised on old movies neither of us had seen this one. It was a great flick. There we also saw this gem:
R. Kelly's brilliant work of art may be unfamiliar and before your time, but your parents will of course appreciate the masterpiece that reflects what good taste my generation has in music videos. Truly.

R. Kelly’s brilliant work of art may be unfamiliar and before your time, but your parents will of course appreciate the masterpiece that reflects what good taste my generation has in music videos. Truly.

The fanciest candy counter I've ever seen.

The fanciest candy counter I’ve ever seen.

and a fancy marquee

and a fancy marquee

  • We went to a rooftop party at a place right next to the Empire State Building. There we learned that it is, in fact, impossible to meet people at parties unless you come with a friend who knows everyone.
It never loses its luster. Anytime I ever see it, especially up close, I feel tingles of excitement. And I see it almost daily!

It never loses its luster. Anytime I ever see it, especially up close, I feel tingles of excitement. And I see it almost daily!

  • Katrina came to visit. I took a couple of days off and we explored. It was fantastic!
    Pre-Central Park Bloody Marys on a Friday afternoon. #winning

    Pre-Central Park Bloody Marys on a Friday afternoon. #winning

    The lovely Katrina in Central Park

    The lovely Katrina in Central Park

    Lots of love at the world-famous Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens.

    Lots of love at the world-famous Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens.

    More beer love :-)

    More beer love 🙂

    Our final stop was for a Halal Guys gyro platter, aka The Best Food Known To Man. At 53rd & Ave of the Americas.

    Our final stop was for a Halal Guys gyro platter, aka The Best Food Known To Man. At 53rd & Ave of the Americas.

  • We checked out Roosevelt Island, a teeeeeny tiny little island randomly plopped between Manhattan and Queens. It has a fairly uninteresting history (see here) but what’s cool about it is that you take an aerial tram to get to it! You run over the Queensboro Bridge. I didn’t get a great shot of the view from above, but it’s something. We stopped at a cupcake ATM (yep, you read that right) on the way there. Click the link for a video demo courtesy of Youtube.
    View of the Queensboro Bridge from the Roosevelt Island Tram

    View of the Queensboro Bridge from the Roosevelt Island Tram

    The East River (just think of all the great bodies floating around in there!)

    The East River (just think of all the great bodies floating around in there!)

    Yes. That is indeed a cupcake ATM.

    Yes. That is indeed a cupcake ATM.

     

  • One random Friday, Brenden won free tickets to a Mets game (in Queens)! Yes, the Mets suck, but hey – it was free and we really enjoyed it. Plus the seats were pretty good.
    "I'm not calling it after some stupid bank. It's called Shea Stadium."

    “I’m not calling it after some stupid bank. It’s called Shea Stadium.”

    View from our seats

    View from our seats

  • We took Cody to a dog party in Brooklyn! Yes, that’s right folks. There’s something for everyone here.

    CODY DOG!!!

    CODY DOG!!!

  • As the summer wound down there was a really great block party on my street, W 136th. There was a DJ, live music, dancing, bake stands, and grills galore. It was one of the hottest days of the summer so the atmosphere was perfect. Especially when they cracked the hydrant. Kids running around in hydrant has always been an image I’ve associated with New York. Actually seeing it reminded me this is real. We’re actually doing it. It was beautiful. 🙂

    hot fun in the summertime - my block: W 136th & Broadway

    hot fun in the summertime – my block: W 136th & Broadway

  • At the end of the summer, right before my birthday, Brenden’s uncle John took me to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. It was my first time seeing a Broadway show, and it was better than I’d ever imagined it would be. The music was bitchin — it “beat the shit out of Phantom,” the lighting was CRAAAZY cool, the makeup and costumes were overwhelmingly impressive, the theatre itself was cool. It was one for the bucket list, and it is an experience I will always cherish.

    Hedwig at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway! Not the best picture, but by far the best Broadway experience!

    Hedwig at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway! Not the best picture, but by far the best Broadway experience!

  • Summer concluded on September, 22, the birthday of yours truly. We went to a restaurant in Little Italy and had the best Italian dinner and the best wine I’ve ever had. Maybe I’ll add a review of it on here sometime… I also walked past the pop-up (New York lingo for temporary) cafe, Central Perk, which came to be as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of the show, which also fell on my birthday. At dinner Brenden gave me tickets to the opera, La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera in the Lincoln Center. This probably sounds stuffy to you, but since I was a little kid watching Moonstruck with Auntnet and Becca, I’ve dreamt of seeing it at the Met. Spoiler alert: it was incredible. I will post about that later.
    If only it were real...

    If only it were real…

    BIRTHDAY CANNOLI!!!

    BIRTHDAY CANNOLI!!!

    preparing wish...

    preparing wish…

    making wish...

    making wish…

    annnd giggling at hubz's comments

    annnd giggling at hubz’s comments

    Still trying to figure out how I managed to hook this man...

    Still trying to figure out how I managed to hook this man…

 

Well, that was a lot. And like I said, there’s more. I hope you kids don’t hate on me for taking so long to post. As you can see I’m a busy bee! But I’m never too busy to miss you.

All my love,

Aunt Cat(ie)

 

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