New York City!

It’s Monday and we’re all back to the real world! For me in particular, since this is my blog and it’s a bit of a shock having spent the past few days in New York City, aka my favorite place in the world!

After a whirlwind week of working, my friend Lauren and I hopped on the bus to visit our friends Bobby and Ruben. The bus ride was a little long, especially as the anticipation built, but we got through with a lot of chatting.

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Once we arrived late Thursday night, we had dinner at a Mexican place where lots of chips and salsa were had, as well as a grilled chicken and pepper dish that was pretty okay. It was time for bed as Lauren and I had a busy Friday planned.

On the definite agenda on Friday afternoon was the NBC tour, so we headed towards Times Square and had brunch at a diner. I selected the single pancake, scrambled eggs, and bacon, which hit the spot! I’m not used to waiting so long to eat in the morning, so I was hungry! The weather was beautiful and perfect for walking around, though Lauren and I might have been the only ones wearing shorts. On our travels, we noticed two very long lines, which I thought might be for those elusive eateries that Buzzfeed always posts, but one was for what we concluded was a Hamilton meet-and-greet (understandable) and the other was for Chik-fil-a ( a rousing, huh!?).

After we took in the scene, we found ourselves at 30 Rock! We found where we were supposed to meet for the tour and then we had an adventurous debacle trying to locate a restroom, and then a restroom that was actually open. We did make it back in plenty of time, but almost missed the tour anyways because we were browsing the store. Whoops! The tour was fun and informational, plus just plain cool getting to sit in the audience of SNL (sans actual show), but it wasn’t all that overwhelming. It didn’t help that Lauren and I were bunched in with a bunch of teenagers on a class trip.

Back into the sunshine and away from the teens, we made our way over to the Highline which we walked on our way to meet Bobby.Though it was a little congested, it’s such a nice walk with spectacular views. Here would be a great time to insert a pic of the view, but we were busy taking in the scene. Once we stepped off near Chelsea Market, it was time for some refreshments.

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The final leg of our afternoon took us to Union Square, where we hopped back on the subway to get ready for dinner that night. Lauren and I were excited to try Tao!

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The food was excellent, especially the sweet and sour cauliflower! We also shared chicken and pad thai dishes, finishing off with a giant mousse-filled fortune cookie. Post-dinner, we decided to take advantage of the still-warm and beautiful evening weather and hit up a rooftop bar. I can already predict this will be my favorite thing to do in the summer, even though I don’t think every place I go to will offer views of the Statue of Liberty.

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Once we arrived and got our drinks- boozy popsicles in wine!- it started to rain! There was a cover and heat lamps above us, but they only lasted so long until we were the only ones left and had to leave.

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Lauren and I racked up a ton of steps, especially on Friday- almost 30,000, and then a lot on Saturday too!

On Saturday, we started our morning off right with a workout! I’m now a big fan of hitting up gyms for one-day passes when I travel! For my workout, I spent a half hour working through a strength training circuit before hopping on the treadmill for a run. Since losing the last ten pounds, I’ve definitely gotten faster and was able to stay at a strong, but comfortable pace, except that I was battling a bit of a bellyache. I finished my hour up with a core workout before getting ready for brunch.

This pretty much sums up brunch.

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Bottomless mimosas! For my actual meal, I chose eggs benedict with spinach with a side salad. Delicious! A little tipsy and a lot full, we made our way over to Central Park to sit in the sun and just relax. The best!

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That is the face of a happy girl! I mean, look at this view from lying on my back:

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Once the sun started to go down, so did the temperature, so we knew it was time to head back. For dinner, I had part of an amazing cauliflower (vegetable of the weekend!) crumble and spaghetti in a lemon cream sauce. For after-dinner drinks, we had trouble finding a spot that stuck, but we finally did find one (my poor, sore feet!) and enjoyed a nightcap before heading back to bed.

Sunday sadly was our final day and we kicked things off with brunch. I had trouble deciding, but the waiter recommended the hot dog (kind of an odd choice for brunch, sure) and it didn’t disappoint. By the time we got back to the apartment, Lauren and I decided to pack up and head out to stay in the general area of our bus. Even though we weren’t hungry at that time, we knew we would be once we were on the bus, so we trekked over to Whole Foods with our luggage and got some snacks.I enjoyed a roasted chicken sandwich and a cookie! The journey home was even longer than the one there, and even though I love and miss New York, I was happy to be home.

For one, after a weekend of indulgences, I always love getting back into my food and exercise routine as it’s so motivating to feel healthy again! Another, I always feel so inspired by the city and ready to work hard, so I know I’ve got a lot of exciting things to do over the next few months- and choices to make!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, wherever you are and whatever you did! Happy Monday!

No April Fool’s Here! It’s A Review!

I’ve retired from April Fool’s Day because I know how to learn my lesson. A few year’s ago when my sister was living in Argentina, I decided it would be funny to email her that I was feeling too overwhelmed and would be dropping out of school. This would be ridiculous on many levels, but primarily because my parents never would have allowed it unless something was seriously wrong. Now, at the bottom of the post, I wrote APRIL FOOLS in huge font, and she should have been suspicious given my propensity for humor and past reputation, but she was thrown off I guess with the time change. Anyways, it happened to be a day she was traveling so I couldn’t even reach her to explain it was all a joke, she only realized when she looked down at her ticket and saw what the date was. I’m no longer allowed to prank…her at least.

As promised, I have a book review to share with you all. I took out Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker from the library and quickly became entranced by the topic. It’s a short book from the perspective of a pubescent teem girl who is battling the repercussions of growing older and the changes that come with it, along with a massive alternation in the way the world works.

It’s never explicitly explained exactly what has happened, how, and why, but time has slowed. Days grow longer, as do nights. Among the chaos, fear, and danger of this realization, species die, illnesses arise, and crops can no longer be grown naturally. Tensions rise between those who remain on “clock time” and the few, now ostracized, who prefer to live by the sun.

It’s interesting to read how people acclimate to even the most extreme changes. What once seems normal, is foreign. Things like pineapple-gasp!- are no longer. Grapes cost over 100/pound. The sun is to fierce to be outside and people work, go to school, and live their daily lives in the darkness. Personalities shift as well as some relationships crumble and others grow stronger. Despite this, many people adjust, though there are always those who don’t.

Among the changes to the earth’s rotation, life still progresses for this little girl. She still has those awkward moments puberty and being a middle schooler provide. She still has crushes on boys and complicated friendships. She comes to realize that her parents are human, susceptible to weaknesses and changes like everyone else. Loss and happiness are ever present and the daily ministrations of life still seem like the biggest things in the world, even with the larger things happening in the world that have nothing to do with her, because it’s her life and aren’t we all like this?

The perspective of the book seems old and wise, which makes sense because it’s the little girl looking back at this time of her life. Much of what she discusses is seeped in observations influenced by hindsight. Her reflections are beautiful and thoughtful. With the threat of Global Warming growing ever present and the changes in the atmosphere and weather far more severe, this topic is definitely something to consider. 

This weekend, I also finished watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The show is a Netflix original comedy created and produced by Tina Fey. The premise is about a young woman, played by Ellie Kemper who was Erin in The Office and was also in Bridesmaids, who was kidnapped as a young girl by a cult leader who tells four women that there has been an apocalypse and the bomb shelter he has them locked in is the only source protecting them. The first moments of the show reveals the “mole women” being rescued and then becoming viral sensations. On a publicity tour in New York, Kimmy Schmidt decides she wants to lead an adventurous life and chooses to stay in my New York rather than go back to Indiana. Now she is an almost thirty year old woman who has the cultural knowledge of a fifteen year old girl, who has been damaged by this heartbreaking incident, yet remains optimistic.

The show is quirky and weird. The premise alone as a comedy seems outrageous. My favorite part are the supporting characters, The sassy roommate, the jaded landlord, the wealthy and shallow boss, and so on. I also think Ellie Kemper does an excellent job, but it’s the cast of characters that make the show worthwhile. The episodes are about twenty minutes long, very weird, but full of smart jokes, and genius guest star appearances. I cannot ruin this because the shock value alone is so clever.

I’m sad that I’ve already finished the season, but it left off at a satisfying point. I’m still intrigued and want to know what happens next and I think that is a mark of any quality show. Thus far, the jokes are funny. The characters endearing, and the writing clever. For me, it’s not quite at the level of Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, or The Mindy Project, but it certainly has the makings and the potential to get there. But honestly, it’s not like Tina Fey can do bring anyways. Watch!

Breakfast was a little weird this morning. After the gym, I ate a hard-boiled egg, but we were having a bagel morning at work and so I figured one in like three years would not do harm. I chose a sesame one with a smear of cream cheese and it was quite good. No time for pictures though.

Lunch was a simple salad with some grilled salmon on top. Since I had a carb-heavy breakfast and ice cream cake to celebrate a birthday, I felt satisfied by just the salad until I got home from work and ate a pear. Thankfully, I still seem fine to eat them. Last week my eyes were red, raw, and sensitive, but I started to take an allergy pill before night and it cleared right up. I might even be brave and try an apple, but only when I’m home and Benadryl is accessible.

  

Dinner was simple and tasty. Grilled chicken paired with leftover brown rice, roasted brussel sprouts, and a dollop of leftover cauliflower gratin. Delicious! The trick to these sprouts are salt, pepper, and a mixture of olive oil and maple syrup.

 

 My workout this morning began with a body strength workout. I performed four sets of ten moves with step ups, squats, lunges, kickbacks, burpees, push ups, mountain climbers, mermaid raises, hip lifts, ankle grabs, v ups, and Russian twists. I did a few planks before jumping into the pool for my cardio. I switched things up just a little by doing three sets of sprints. Very tiring, but very refreshing. I’m just loving the effects of hemming on my body when mixed with running and strength training. I also went for a brisk walk when I got home from work because at 40*, it felt spectacularly warm!

The One Where I Watch A Cartoon

This summer, I’ve run through patterns where I will find a new TV show and all I want to do is watch it, or there will be other periods where all I want to do is read. While I do other things in my life that are actually productive during these times, I’ve found my recent freedom from school-related things to be indulgent.

I’ve talked in length about my annual Harry Potter re-read and that did not disappoint. On Rave Review Tuesdays, I have also talked about Orange is the New Black and Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven. While I am currently reading David Sedaris’s new book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (and only have two days to finish since it’s from the library), I went through a phase the past couple of weeks of watching a new TV show (for myself, not new in general).

Disclaimer, if I’m even using that in correct fashion, but I have never really been one to watch cartoons. Growing up, I absorbed Disney princess movie after Disney princess movie, where I think my proclivity for crowns stems from, but when it came to sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons, I was never into them.

This might be due to the fact that my sister is three years older, had three years older taste, and I wanted to follow her in every step, including TV shows. I only ever would glimpse cartoons here and there when my brother, who is five years younger, would watch them, and at that point, I had no patience for them. I was the freak who watched Friends when she was much too young. I always preferred Saved by the Bell or Sweet Valley High because it offered much more drama and romance.

My family went through a phase when we were older of watching Family Guy and I thought it was funny in parts, but never my favorite. We were never allowed to watch The Simpsons when we were growing up and when I got older it just never occurred to me to watch that. It especially became easier to not have to watch what was actually on TV because of DVR and other forms of new media that allowed me to watch my favorites anytime I wanted.

There was also the period of my life from seventh grade to my freshman year of high school that all I watched was Friends. I don’t know why I was allowed to buy all of the DVD sets, especially because a year later they were so much cheaper!

Anyways, back to the topic, when it comes to cartoons, I am pretty much all about the Disney princess movies and that’s it, until I found a new show.

It all started with Tumblr. Browsing through my feed or whatever they call it on that, gifs and quotes from Bob’s Burgers kept popping up. I thought they were kind of funny when reading them, even without knowing any of the background. People were commenting about how funny it was and how they relate to it in odd ways.

After a couple of weeks, my neighbor mentioned she watched it and loved it, as well as my cousins, so I checked on Netflix and decided to give it a try. When I watched the first episode, I was taken aback because most of the characters’ voices, men and women, were voiced by men. At this point, I was thinking it was going to be another show that I would roll my eyes at and get annoyed with, thinking it was some anti-feminist attack and all about fart jokes.

I was wrong and I’m so glad I kept watching.

Much of the humor is actually very clever and each character is fleshed out in a brilliant way. I can’t decide which character I like best between Tina, Gene, and Louise because they all have very specific personality traits that are hilarious, ridiculous, and somehow quite endearing. I also adore Linda and Bob and the entire family dynamic because to its core, the show features a very close, sweet family relationship who mock each other, get annoyed by one another, but always stick together and support one another.

There is something very relatable about the characters, which I think I’ve discussed on here before about that’s how any media draws me in. I don’t care about the storyline, or rather, in some sense I’m more lenient about what is happening to characters if I like the characters. In any medium, book, movie, TV show, musical, or play, there is going to be a premise that is not quite regular and borders on the fantastical, or is completely fantasy. It has to be interesting to draw in an audience.

Within the show there is a realness to how quirky people in real life are, whether they don’t quite fit in with other people’s realm of normativity, whether because they are a little nerdy, can’t read social cues properly, somewhat introverted, or are just so eager and excitable that it can be overwhelming for other people. Bob’s Burgers even shows the struggle of a person, and the family they have to drag along with them, when they own a family business.

Yes, the show is built on hijinks, makes the occasional fart joke, and sometimes goes for the obvious joke, but that’s all part of its charm. I think sometimes that some other shows similar to this have the objective to offend, however they can, however badly they can make it, which causes them to lose form. The shock factor works best when it’s used sparingly because you don’t expect it, but it also doesn’t take away from the show you’ve created.

However, what do I really know, because I don’t have a multi-million dollar TV show or movies coming out. Yet…

I will watch or read anything if it adds a touch of cleverness and beauty to it. Perhaps I am analyzing the show way too much outside of the scope of what the creators want, but I think that what they have created is a quality, fun show that takes a somewhat simple premise and makes it outstanding. The writing and dialogue is smart, but not overwhelming or trying to be too far above what this genre entails. It kind of reminds me of 30 Rock in that smart, but ridiculous form that takes nothing to be serious, but also has heart and truth.

Actually, I would say it has the cleverness of 30 Rock and the endearing factor of Parks and Rec…

I watched the three seasons featured on Netflix faster than I should have, but they were only twenty minutes per episode, so I flew through them. I was sad knowing I had to wait until fall to see new episodes until someone told me that the fourth season had already aired and would probably be on On Demand. It was the gift that kept on giving.

I realize that I’m sort of jumping on the bandwagon that has been plugging on for awhile now, but Bob’s Burgers will definitely be something that I’ll continue watching when the new season hits. I might even watch it when it actually airs, which means it’s special if I’m going to deal with commercials.

I mean, if I didn’t convince you with this edition of Rave Review Tuesday to check it out, because if nothing else, it’s just fun, then maybe the fact that it just won a Creative Arts Emmy might sway you.