Monday morning and it snowed like crazy overnight, bridges to Manhattan backed up, etc, yada yada yada, so our movers wanted to postpone a day. Not really an option with flights out of JFK Tuesday lunchtime. Relax, it was all OK, Menno gave them hell over the phone and they arrived in the end. Our Super did an amazing job of shovelling snow off the sidewalk in front of the building, worth majorly over-tipping him at Christmas, after all.
Actually these movers were the bees knees, they wrapped everything up way more diligently than the movers and packers we had in Europe, even plain old wooden chairs got covered with paper, cardboard and tape. Maybe not so good for the environment, though.
At the airport the next day we had our kittens in special cabin-friendly carry cases so that they could stay with us all through the flight, tucked neatly under the seats in front. We did have to take them out when we went through security and there some funny looks as we went through the metal detectors with wriggly kittens on leads. Oh yeah, and one security guard got freaked out when he tried to check M’s passport because he had a fear of cats. Ahhhh.
We took a whole bunch down to this LES music spot to see Tragedy, a heavy metal Beegees tribute band (yes you read that right), lots of spandex. I seem to remember it was cheap, like $14 dollars including four support bands (they were all fun-weird too).
My sis and I picked up some unique finds on an icy cold Sunday over at the Brooklyn Flea. She bought a red retro, circular suitcase, me a huge enamel pie tin ($10). Other wares included vintage clothes, rugs, furniture, and of course… pickles.
I’d been told good things about the resident covers band at Cafe Wha? by my friend, Sloane, who readily admitted a huge crush on the guitarist. And it was great, too. Waitress service at a table within spitting distance of the tiny stage was a bonus.
Tasty, good value Cuban food with the main problem being getting a seat or even a space to stand in – it’s so insanely popular. Ridiculously cool people, lots of models or artists with beards, tats and hats, so M really stood out whenever he met me for a mohito after work. Going solo for a beer one hot day, I remember hanging out with a wannabee scriptwriter who was totally coked up and going on about his latest film exploiting Heath Ledger’s recent death, nice. NB. Menu pick – fish tacos.
Tonight, a party in a classic loft apartment full of original art and interesting people (read – a guy with a hat and a couple whowore matching clothes). Mac & cheese, meat loaf and plentiful supplies of cake. Jazz trio and two young pianists vying for our ear.
In NYC, up until now we have only been to other Europeans’ apartments with other Europeans as guests. The reliable ex-pat circulars of leaving parties and housewarmings. In this instance, our real estate agency wanted to say “Thanks” with a party and get it in before the Thanksgiving rush (well, rush for some – we’re still waiting for an invite for turkey dinner, hint, hint).
I was expecting a bar somewhere with a rolling presentation of apartments to rent, and brochures all laid out. Then, even when entering the 5th floor Tribeca apartment, I thought, oh hang on, this must be an apartment they are trying to rent out, the market is quiet and so they’re hosting a party there – cool idea. But no. The owner (of both the apartment and the real estate agency) had invited us into her own home. A senior-looking little lady, she was stylish with an open face but with a hint of frailty. Her son’s artwork hung on her walls and someone called Brian had made all the food.
M returned form the kitchen, astonished at the eccentric salad-spoon manoeuvres of a pushy tall skinny guy behind him with a big mop of hair. Next minute the same guy is tinkling away at the grand piano, in some kind of a personal contest with a gothic girl. She was way better. It could have been a scene from a Woody Allen movie if it weren’t for the lack of angst and intellectual rambling.
So, anyway, now I feel like a New Yorker. Or someone who knows New Yorkers, at least. Ok, then, someone who buys stuff off New Yorkers and spends enough money to be invited to their house.
Awaiting the results coming in via CNN, at home on the sofa with M, it just didn’t seem that exciting so we rushed down the road to The Onion’s bash in the LES, then rushed back home to get ID and then rushed back to the bar. Once inside we found a big screen at the back and at the bar, a quite white crowd and smelly take-outs surrounding us. Still not really that exciting, people seemed grumpy to me, which is odd because I thought The Onion’s bandwagon would be good for a laugh. Same old anti-climatic coverage from CNN, not really communicating the significance of the Ohio and Pennsylvania wins when they came in.
So coming up to 11pm and Obama on just over 200 electoral votes, having been inching up slowly over the last hour. Gearing up to go home, thinking even though the West coast polls were closing at 11pm, it would take another hour for votes to be processed. But no! Bang on 11pm, CNN flashes up Barack Obama is the new President of the United States, electoral votes hiked up to over 300 just like that. Ok, thanks for the heads up, guys.
Good speeches from both McCain and Obama, the latter in particular appearing incredibly serious right from the beginning of his victory speech, allowing himself only a few smiles. Quite sobering, amidst all the celebrations going on. It got me thinking of what a heavy load to bear he now has, together with the worries of keeping himself and his family safe from harm.
Unfortunately I’d had loads of coffee to prepare me for a long night, and now found myself too wired to sleep after it was all over by midnight or so.
I have tried for a few months to get a place on the local Whole Foods’ cookery class on Morrocan cuisine and finally got in there tonight. I think there were about 13 of us; a young, laid back crowd. Well apart from the lady who turned up without booking – she was pretty uptight about being told the class was full, better luck next time, darling.
We had an introductory talk on kitchen do’s and don’t’s, and an overview of Morrocan food with tastings and much smelling of various spices and pickles – pickled lemon is surprisingly tasty. We were talked through the recipes before being split into three groups to attempt about 2 dishes each. Disappointingly we were the only group with all vegetarian dishes whilst the other groups got to play around with raw chicken and lamb. I basically cut onions, mint, and kept things neat and tidy but I did learn the technique for peeling tomatoes, not a difficult skill I know but just something I’ve never tried before.
Anyway, I took it upon myself to take some photographs so that I could loiter around the other groups to see if I could pick up what was going on with the more interesting recipes. Lots of onion grating and tentative checking of steaming pans. Serving
up time came quickly and the dishes were quite good, but we agreed that at home we should cook the meat for longer. I’m going to give it a go in few weeks when the hot weather is over and Menno’s parents are visiting. If I take a picture and sent it to Whole Foods, I’ll get my next class for free!
When I was a young girl or maybe even a teenager, one of my favourite things was to take my school atlas and, using only the pages showing North America, transcribe all the place names into a separate little book with a freshly sharpened pencil, crossing them off as they were recorded. I loved the sound and the look of the placenames on the page and for some reason they seemed the most exotic and characteristic of all of the nations included within the atlas, despite the fact that I had probably not even made it to France at that stage. Walking by the local bookstore this morning brought that name-affection back to me with a notice for the evening’s book-reading, ‘Names on the Land – A historical account of place naming in the United States’.
I was absolutely satisfied. A variety of readers (some better than others) treated a good-sized audience to snippets of the book and opened up about bits of their land-connections and musings on nomenclature. And normal people asked straight-forward questions without any pretentiousness. For the country itself, I learned that some of the alternate names offered instead of the United States of America were: Freedonia, Alleghania and Columbia. The writer, George R Stewart, scorns the one that was settled for in the end. Needless to say, I bought the book and read three chapters in one night which, by the way, is really good for me.
‘No one knows when man came, or who gave the first names. Perhaps the streams still ran high from the melting ice-cap, and strange beasts roamed the forest. And since names – corrupted, transferred, re-made – outlive men and nations and languages, it may even be that we still speak daily some name which first meant “Saber-tooth Cave” or “Where-we-killed-the-ground-sloth”.