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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

We’re all mad here

Posted on May 11th, 2012 by annakjarzab

I believe it was Bridget Jones who said, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”

Maybe spectacularly to pieces is a bit of an exaggeration, but literally not a few days after my editor called to tell me she loves Tandem (cue huge sigh of relief here!), my roommate told me that she was moving to Atlanta. Then the monumental task of breaking my lease, finding a new apartment, and moving into that apartment lay before me. Moving in New York is basically an awful experience from soup to nuts. You really can’t start looking until about three weeks from the date you need to move in, and your options are…limited. Also, every one is a Shady McShaderson. Brokers are expensive and difficult to work with, apartments go in the blink of an eye, prices are high and apartments are tiny (you should see some of the places I looked at; the whole thing is absurd). I’ve done it twice before and it was a nightmare both times. I’m not looking forward to doing it again, and I’m feeling a little maddened by the enormity of the task.

So it’s been a little PANIC!! At the Disco in my headspace lately. At this point, the only thing keeping me moderately sane is the thought that Tandem, on which I have labored almost without ceasing for the last year and a half, is going to be a real book that you can read and hold in your hands by the fall of 2013!

Anyway, the good news is, it’s almost over. I move a week from Saturday, which is NOT A LOT OF TIME, but oh well. I’ve got an apartment now (a 5th floor walk-up, unfortch, but it’s a big studio with a great kitchen, close to many train lines including three express trains, and it’s alllllllll miiiiiiiiiine), the movers are hired, the super for my old apartment is showing my place to new potential renters, and it looks like it’s all going to be okay.

Below are some photos of my new place, if you’re interested. I’m sure those of you who live anywhere but New York are totally laughing right now at what I consider a “big studio”, but this is a town full of madness, and the real estate market is one of the best examples of that!

This one’s a bit fuzzy. That’s my broker in the upper left.

My new kitchen. It’s got a dishwasher and an actual fridge (you have no idea how many apartments I looked at with “efficiency” kitchens, aka mini-fridges).

Oh, God, in my head it looks so much bigger. Don’t worry, those are the only two windows in the entire apartment.

I’ve got another picture, but I don’t think you care to see the bathroom. I’ll take pictures after all my stuff is inside and arranged, so that you can see what it looks like when I’m all settled. As for now, trying not to freak out about how completely unpacked I am at this moment (like, I have NOT. PACKED. A. THING.) and telling myself it only looks small here because the pictures are tiny and from my iPhone. And that if it sucks and I hate it, it’s only for a year and then I’ll move to Brooklyn.

Seriously guys, New York sucks, don’t move here.

Hey there stranger

Posted on June 7th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I’ve been avoiding this blog. Every time I come over here and open up WordPress, I feel like I should be recapping the final episode of Make It or Break It! But I haven’t watched it yet, if you can believe that. There were a few weeks there where it’s like I completely forgot TV existed (except for Parks & Rec, which, get ready, you guys, I’m sure I’m going to talk about that soon), and I’m still not all caught up on my stories. I wrote a post last week about that Dear Sugar column re: authorly jealousy, which sort of got under my skin, and maybe I’ll publish it later this week, although I’m always wary that things I say online can be taken out of context. But anyway, if you’re curious as to what I’m doing, I’m just chugging along in the background. I’m waiting on notes for my new manuscript from my agents and notes on The Opposite of Hallelujah from my editor, so basically I’m bored, writing-wise. So, of course, I started a new manuscript. It’s contemporary again (the one that’s with my agents right now is a soft sci-fi series), and the characters have the best names. Actually, the book was inspired by the names, which is why it, um, doesn’t have a plot, really. But I’m not worried about that because I’m just playing around with it for now. It’s written in the third person, which I’ve only tried once or twice in the past, and I”m enjoying that. It also gives me the opportunity to think up some really awesome, off-the-wall band names.

That’s all! I wish I had more news, and will probably in the near future, but for now I’m just waiting on notes (how much do you want to bet they come at the same time–when it rains it pours) and fooling around with this new manuscript and catching up on TV and researching for the continuation of the sci-fi series and generally bopping about New York doing weird things like speed dating (you don’t want to know).

Peaks and valleys

Posted on April 3rd, 2011 by annakjarzab

Today was kind of a rough week for me. On the one hand, my friends and I won trivia this week. And it’s not just that we won. We totally NAILED IT! We got almost every question right, which was pretty astounding. It was a dream team–me, Cambria, Monica and Brett. The prize wasn’t much, but hey, $25 off your bar tab isn’t exactly nothing.

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For the record, that giant red number on the right side is a one, not a seven. I know. It looks like a seven.

But into each life, a little rain must fall. Hold on. I’m crying as I type this, I need to catch my breath…Perfect Couples was CANCELED, you guys! And it didn’t even both to TELL ME to my FACE–I had to find out via a trivia question. A TRIVIA QUESTION. I’m not even sure how I’m going to go on, but I guess I have to move forward. God, beer me the strength. That show was funnier than people gave it credit for.

At least Community is coming back.

Progress report

Posted on March 30th, 2011 by annakjarzab

So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m trying to be more active and go to the gym more, since, you know, I pay for it and all that, and that I’m doing Couch to 5K. I decided to repeat the first week of the program (so I did “week 1” for two weeks, well more like two and a half weeks) because I’ve never been able to run anything close to 5K (I think that’s around two and a half miles) and I thought I should take it slow to let my body adjust. But by the third day of my second week of “week 1” (does that make sense? are you still with me?), I was starting to feel like I could do more. I was crowding the front of the treadmill, which I assumed meant that I was running faster than the 5.5 pace I’d set the treadmill at, so I bumped it up to the 6 pace. That was Monday; I was proud that I pushed myself, and after the workout I felt really strong and capable. Hey, it was an accomplishment for me! I’m terrible at this running thing.

So yesterday (even though you’re supposed to take a day off between Couch to 5K workouts) I went back to the gym to start on Week 2. Week 1 sets are 5 minutes warm up, then 8 sets of 60 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, followed by a 5 minute cool down. My pacing for those workouts has been warm up: 3, running: 5.5, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5 (except Monday when it was warm up: 3, running: 6, walking: 3, cool down: 2.5). I was so sure that the Week 2 workouts would be a breeze because Monday felt so good. Boy, was I in for a surprise! First of all, they tell you to take a day of rest between workouts for reason. I’ve had bad knees for a long time, and when I started my warm up yesterday I realized, hey, my knees really hurt. But I was already dressed, I’d already stolen a treadmill from somebody (there are two kinds of treadmills at my gym and I don’t know how to use one of the brands, but the brand I have managed to figure out is also the more popular one, so sometimes you have to knock little old ladies out of the way to get one and I’m not above that), and I was already warming up, so I was like, whatever, I’m doing this. Apart from the knee pain, everything else felt fine.

It wasn’t the worst workout ever. It was hard, harder than I thought it’d be, and by the end I was sort of dying and wanting it to be over, but I was also feeling really proud for making it through. Week 2 workouts are 5 minutes warm up, then 6 sets of alternating 90 seconds running with 2 minutes walking, then a 5 minute cool down. I started doing the running on 5.5, but had to bump it up to 5.7 because, again, I was crowding the front of the treadmill so I knew I could go faster (but didn’t want to set it at 6, lest my legs break and I pass out). But I was really feeling it afterward. My knees were screaming with pain, and so were my ankles. I know part of it is just the way my body is–I have knee problems, this isn’t new–and part of it is the way I run. My balance is not great and I favor the sides of my feet even when I walk, so I probably have terrible, terrible running form and that is causing pain where it needn’t be. However, I seem to be bouncing back quicker from the muscle fatigue and pain caused by the running–the first few times I did it, I would ache for days, but even though my knees really hurt yesterday, they feel fine today. I even contemplated going back to the gym tonight, but then I was like, don’t do it. Tomorrow will be fine.

In other news (this is such an exciting post you guys!) I bought new running shoes. Mine were ten years old (I know! Ten! That shows you how much I’ve used them) and UGLY. I remember that I lost my taste for them when I saw a particularly unfashionable and unliked RA of mine wearing the same ones in college, but for a decade they’re all I’ve had. So I went to the Footlocker Run store in Union Square and bought new ones. I thought I deserved it for really dedicating myself to this running thing. I bought these Nike Free Run + shoes, because they’re really lightweight (which is invaluable in a city where you have to carry everything with you) and they simulate barefoot running, which I hear is the best but would never do EVER. So okay, a few things about these shoes: mine aren’t those colors (they’re just white with a royal blue swoosh) and, um, I had to get a pair of men’s instead of women’s.

Okay, but here’s why! It makes me feel like a colossus admitting this, but I wear a size 10 and these shoes run small since they’re almost like slippers–they have no tongue, they’re a little tough to get on, but they fit like a glove so you have to get a size up if you have any hope of fitting into them at all. But a size up from 10 is 11 and the store didn’t carry women’s 11s. So mine are a men’s 9. And actually, the guy who sold them to me told me that lots of women with small feet get upset when they can’t try on the men’s sizes because they think they come in better colors (they do–the lady colors are blinding neon and total ugsville). I’m sure he was exaggerating because he wanted to sell me some shoes and the way to do that is not to make the patron feel like a giantess, but whatever. I love them anyway. They feel amazing on and they don’t weigh down my bag like my old ones did, plus they’re much nicer looking.

So that’s where I am with the running. I’m sticking to it, and I’m enjoying it for the most part, so I feel like that’s all good news.

Running in place

Posted on March 18th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I am not a runner. I mean, the first rule of fight club is obviously “You don’t talk about fight club,” but the second rule is definitely “Let’s all be honest about whether or not we’re actually runners.” (No it’s not. Actually the second rule of fight club is “You don’t talk about fight club.”) So I’m not a runner. I don’t like to run. I’m not good at it. My brother and sister are both runners but I’m like, meh, I could do without the running.

But I’d like to be in better shape. I’d like to be a runner, although I hear tell in some circles that some people are just never going to be runners no matter how much they run? I don’t know. I’m not trying to be a runner. I’m just trying to run. For now.

In January I joined a gym using a corporate discount I got through work, which makes it slightly less expensive to belong to the gym, but not much. Because gyms in New York are insanely expensive. I pay $75 a month to belong to mine. SEVENTY-FIVE ENTIRE US DOLLARS PER MONTH! My new gym doesn’t even have a pool! Ugh. Whatever.

So I joined the gym in order to make myself work out, and then of course I kept putting off going for one reason or another (“I’m sick”, “I might be getting sick”, “I was just sick, I probably shouldn’t push myself”) and suddenly a whole month and a half had gone by and I’d only gone to the gym like once. Which is disgusting, spending all that money just to have the privilege of going to a gym I don’t actually go to. So I decided this week that I’m actually going to go, and not only am I going to go, but I’m going to restart Couch to 5K, which I began eons ago at my parents’ house over the summer last year and never finished. Couch to 5K makes a really awesome iPhone app and I still have it on my phone, so on Thursday instead of doing the elliptical I waited somewhat impatiently for a treadmill and completed the first workout.

And, okay, the beginning workouts of Couch to 5K are NOT that hard. It’s a 5 minute warm up (walking) followed by 8 sets of running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, followed by a 5 minute cool down (walking). NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL. Except when you’re not a runner you’re like, “Holy crap, sixty seconds is a long time.” Now, my gym self is a lot like my real self, in that inertia is a big obstacle for me (an object at rest will stay at rest, etc.), but once I’m actually doing something I push myself really hard, stupidly hard at times. So getting motivated to go to the gym is a real struggle for me, but once I’m in my gym clothes and I’m on the treadmill, I’m like, “Well, I could walk at the 2.5 speed but what if I walk at 3. I could run at 5 but maybe I’ll run at 5.5.” I like to see how hard I can push myself. And once I’m in the groove I can go forever–I was once on the elliptical for 2 hours at my old gym because I was watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on the TV and didn’t want to stop! (It was empty and there were lot of machines available, don’t worry, I wasn’t being a jerk.)

But…when you’re not a runner and you push yourself really hard on a treadmill, even if you’re not doing THAT much, you end up getting insanely sore. INSANELY. I could barely move on Wednesday morning. But, because an object in motion will stay in motion, I of course went to the gym that same night. You’re supposed to do the Couch to 5K exercises three times a week, allowing at least one day in between for rest, so I was planning on just doing the elliptical for half an hour and going home. But when I got to the gym there were tons of treadmills available and no ellipticals, so I decided to do Week 1, Day 2 of Couch to 5K instead of waiting. BIG MISTAKE. Yesterday I actually could not go to the gym because I could barely walk around the office.

I know this is just temporary, and my friend Cambria told me that the second day you’re always more sore than the first, and I feel so much better today that I’m definitely going to the gym and doing Couch to 5K Week 1, Day 3. But man, it was crazy how much just running for a grand total of about 8 minutes took such a toll on me. I just never use those muscles, not being a runner. But I’m going to finish Couch to 5K! This I swear to you. However, it would be a lot easier to do this if, say, all treadmills actually had Couch to 5K preprogrammed in, or that you could program your own intervals. (Actually, you probably can, I just don’t know how.) Because it is seriously annoying when the app tells me to “RUN” in this very scary computer woman voice and I have to fumble with the key pad to get the belt to move at 5.5 immediately. Someday I’m going to get tangled in my headphones and fall on my face. Anyone want to take bets on how long before that happens? The comments are yours.

Snowed out

Posted on January 27th, 2011 by annakjarzab

Ugh, last night. So if you don’t follow East Coast weather (and why would you, if you don’t live here?), I’m here to tell you that New York got 11-19 (depending on who you listen to) inches of snow last night, and I had a front row seat for the blizzard. This is because I made the mistake of not going home after post-work drinks with my coworkers when I realized that it was 9 PM and I’d been at the drinks thing since 6 PM. But I was feeling good and even though it was snowing outside I decided to hop in a cab (oh, if only I hadn’t been able to get a cab–I would’ve gone home and been cozy in bed while the snow fell, but alas) and head to meet my friends at my favorite watering hole.

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Trivia was just finishing up and they won some money, so we stayed a while longer–a LONG while longer, it turns out. I was enjoying my time talking to a friend I don’t see as often as the others and didn’t quite realize how snowy and late it was getting until finally we looked outside and were like, DAMN. Because it was insane out there. Nobody really wanted to leave (and I don’t blame them, because the weather was looking formidable at best), but I convinced them that it would only get worse and we should head home, since many of us live on the Upper West Side, on the exact opposite side of town from the bar.

We went outside and tried to hail a cab with no luck. Suddenly the search for a cab devolved into a snowball fight, and twenty minutes later we all trudged sopping wet back into the bar. WHICH WAS DUMB. We should’ve just gotten on the subway, it was four blocks away! Now, granted, I hate taking the subway to and from this part of town. It requires a transfer, which I try to avoid if at all possible, and it also requires that you walk through what my friend Doug calls “the vile mile”, which is a block-long tunnel between the 14th St F and L station on 6th Avenue and the 14th St 1, 2, 3 station at 7th Avenue. There’s nothing really wrong with the vile mile; it’s well-lit and safe and relatively clean, but it’s really long and for some reason my shoulders clench up every time I have to walk through it.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, because we weren’t smart and we didn’t get on the subway. Instead we warmed up and watched the storm rage, and eventually I realized that if we didn’t leave right then and there we would probably be stuck till early morning. Which would’ve been fine if it was a weekend, we could’ve just stayed till closing and gone to the diner across the street for pancakes with the bartenders when they got off like we used to do when we were young (sigh, the good old days), but it was a Wednesday night and it was midnight and we all had to go to work tomorrow, so that was really not an option. We did a survey of the “food” in our purse (the bar kitchen was closed) and came up with three different brands of mints, and that’s it. We would make the world’s worst survivalists.

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And yeah, those are pickle flavored mints. Nikki has also been known to eat entire packets of pickle salt by themselves. Not as gross as you’d think.

I really wanted to head for the subway, but other people insisted on hailing a cab, and finally–miracle of all miracles–we found one. I couldn’t believe it. AND it was a van cab, which if you live in New York you know is basically like putting your hand out and successfully hailing a unicorn.

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Actual New York City van cab photograph

So it looked like everything was going to be fine, although I did worry about how I would get home from my friends’ place, since all three of them live within a three block radius twenty blocks lower than I do, and I would either have to get the cab to make a second stop (which they don’t always want to do) or trudge to the subway to take it up to my place. But unfortunately that wasn’t a problem, because the cabbie pulled over at 41st St and 3rd Avenue and told us to get out, he wasn’t taking us any further. So we were basically stranded in Midtown East in the middle of a blizzard. With no other options, we walked the couple blocks to Grand Central and, after figuring out that no, the Times Square Shuttle doesn’t actually run past midnight, we hopped on a 7 train that had just arrived. EXCEPT IT WAS GOING TO QUEENS, despite being on the Times Square track.

The wait for another 7 going in our intended direction was long, as was the wait for the 1 train at Times Square. But the actual hardest part of my trek home was the two block walk from the subway to my apartment building. It was freezing, I was wet from the earlier snowball fight, I was exhausted, and the sidewalk was piled high with 10 inches of snow. There was a point where I (melodramatically, I might add) thought I might not actually make it, that I might just fall eventually and not have the energy to get up (I also hadn’t eaten since noon, which was a bad choice). By the time I actually crawled into bed, it was 2:30 AM.

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This morning, post-blizzard

And you know what? The least it could’ve done was kept snowing. That way I might’ve gotten a snow day for work for the first time ever. As I was walking down the perfectly shoveled sidewalk this morning, I just kept thinking two things: Where was all this shoveling last night when I almost collapsed and froze to death ten feet from my apartment? and I never want to own a home in a place where it snows.

Don’t forget about my event with Lauren Oliver and Leila Sales on Friday, January 28th (that’s tomorrow) at WORD in Brooklyn. Details are here. Please note that the event starts at 7:30 PM, not 7 PM as originally stated (erroneously, by me)!

Telling you for the first time

Posted on January 6th, 2011 by annakjarzab

I don’t know why I haven’t posted about this before, probably because I’m losing all of my marbles starting with the ones that allow me to remember something without first writing it down, but anyway I was just reminded today that I’m doing an event in Brooklyn on January 28, 2011 (it’s 2011–isn’t that weird?) with Leila Sales (who wrote Mostly Good Girls and is also my coworker and is also hilarious) and Lauren Oliver (who wrote Before I Fall, which I’m sure you’ve never heard of, PSYCHE you’ve totally heard about it it’s very famous)! I’m really excited about it because:

  1. It’s my first New York City event!
  2. I get to do the event with Leila and Lauren. To be honest, I would go to this event even if I weren’t participating in it. I love Mostly Good Girls and Before I Fall and it should be a really, really good show.

Below are the details–if you come, you can see my cute new haircut in person! (This haircut is a real hit, I promise, I’ve received so many compliments.)

WORD – January 28, 2011 at 7:00 PM
http://www.wordbrooklyn.com/
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-0096

We will probably be talking about the experience of publishing your first novel, but more importantly we’ll be discussing the coincidence surrounding the fact that our titles all have three words in them. See you there! (J/k, that’s the least coincidence-y thing about Leila, Lauren and I. What are the most coincidence-y things? Come and maybe we’ll tell you!)

Out-of-borough experience

Posted on September 13th, 2010 by annakjarzab

I don’t know if you all are veteran Sex and the City fans, but there’s this one episode in like the third season (or maybe second?) where Carrie is dating some guy (duh) and she brings Miranda along with her to Central Park on a date with this guy, because she’s setting Miranda up with this guy’s friend. Obviously, I’ve managed to retain a lot of details. Anyway, Miranda’s blind date seems all right until he admits that he hasn’t left Manhattan in ten years. Like, at all. And when she, aghast, asks WHY, he’s really judgy about it, saying how everything you could ever want is right here in Manhattan, why would you EVER EVER LEAVE?

I’ve been feeling a little bit like that guy as of late. Not in my opinion of Manhattan, but in my lack of going anywhere else. Of course, I’ve left the city–I went to D.C. and Chicago and California and New Orleans, all in the last four or five months. And I go to Long Island about once a month to visit Kim. But this weekend I was trying to recall the last time I went to another NYC borough and COULDN’T DO IT. That’s messed up. When was the last time I went to Brooklyn? I HAVE NO IDEA. I mean, I have a pretty terrible memory, all things being equal, but still. It’s been a while.

But I made up for it this weekend! You should know now that writing a post about leaving Manhattan usually involves a lot of complaints about transportation, and this one will be no different. I was not blessed, transit-wise, this weekend, although the weather was GORGWA, as my Contiki European tour guide Raquel would say.

Friday:

Friday I mostly chilled, and did not, in fact, leave Manhattan. I had to work until 5, which was torture–the first Friday back from summer (during which all we publishing drones get to leave work at 12:30-1:00 PM) is always really brutal. We were actually pretty punchy around the office, but by 5 everybody was like, GET ME OUT OF HERE OH MY GOD. We were crawling the walls.

I had dinner at Chat ‘n Chew with Alex, and then we, of course, went to the bookstore, where I got to see firsthand the horror of the new toy section. This non-book emphasis in bookstores is really bumming me out, yo. I know it’s hard out there for a pimp these days, but it breaks my heart to see what was once a robust teen section shoved into a corner to make way for Dora the Explorer plushes or whatever. Sad face to the extreme. On the upside, I bought Blameless, the third book in Gail Carriger’s awesome, hilarious, sexy Parasol Protectorate series. So it wasn’t a total loss.

It was also Fashion Night Out, but as you know I’ve been having my Fashion Week Out recently, so I decided it was best for all parties if I skipped it. Nevertheless, Alex and I ducked into the Union Square Sephora after B&N and it was a madhouse. And then we saw this in the sky:

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Okay, I know that’s a crappy iPhone camera photo in the dead of night, but it’s the lights coming up from Ground Zero. At first I thought it was the moon, but no: so much sadder than that. On September 11, 2001, I was at home sleeping–it happened early in New York, and I was three hours behind in California. I was bumming my way through my last weeks pre-freshman year in college. I remember my dad woke me up and told me that someone had just flown planes into the WTC, and those words took a while to sink in; I just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but in a few seconds I was up and out of bed and sitting in front of the television all day. It was horrible. A week or so later, my parents were moving me into the dorms at Santa Clara, and there was a giant memorial outside the mission for a SCU junior who had died on flight 93. I just remember being totally devastated, and it did color all of my college experiences, because I was a poli sci major, and it was so fresh and awful and people were taking 9/11 and pushing and pulling it in a million different ways to extract what they wanted out of it.

Sorry to be such a bummer. Let’s move on to Saturday.

Saturday:

My first out-of-borough experience. My friends Nikki, Cambria and I decided to go to the Bronx Zoo. The only zoo I’d ever been to in New York was the Central Park Zoo, even though they literally have one in every borough. The Central Park Zoo is probably the least awesome of all of them, because how many animals can you reasonably fit into a small corner of a park? Not many. One depressed polar bear, a couple of penguins, and a red panda who you can never see.

Of course, this was my first standoff with public transportation this weekend. The New York City subway system is actually very reliable on the weekdays, but on the weekends it’s like it goes off its meds or something–nothing goes where it’s supposed to, entire lines are canceled, you can’t get anywhere, it’s a total nightmare. And this weekend was no exception! You can take the 2 or the 5 on up to the Bronx Zoo, so, because we all live on the west side, we decided to take the 2 from 96th St. Except that the 2 was only running up to 96th St, and then randomly switched over to the 1 line (the 1 and the 2/3 diverge at 96th St, if you care) and stopped at 103rd St (on the 1 line, not the 2 line) and 137th St. on the 1 line. WTF? We luckily jumped off at 103rd before we got trotted all the way up into Hamilton Heights. We had almost no other option but to take the 5 train, which is on the other side of the park, so we took a cab to 125th and Lexington Ave and waited for the 5 there. After that, it was kind of no problem. We got to the zoo in good time and spent pretty much the entire day there.

I didn’t take very many pictures because of course I forgot my camera, and my iPhone camera is whack, but I did get this one of some giraffes:

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I guess it’s a little impossible to see them. But this red panda is really easy to see!

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I used my Cam Zoom app to get in close to this one. Cam Zoom is not such a super great app, at least the lite version I have isn’t, and most things were so pixilated when I used it that it was useless to me, but this one turned out okay. That red panda (not actually related to the panda, it turns out!) is very close to where I was standing, and it’s just sleeping there like a stuffed animal you can grab off the shelf. Amazing. And so cool. It was my favorite animal I saw all day.

We also had something of a gastronomical adventure. First of all, I had Dippin Dots (or whatever they were called there, I will always call them Dippin Dots):

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I remember the first time I had Dippin Dots–it was at Space Camp, and they were called Space Dots. Yum! Also, Nikki got this awesome novelty cup with lions on it:

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The thing about the lion cup was that you could get free refills anywhere in the park as long as you had your receipt. Since I drank like half the Diet Pepsi in there, I offered to facilitate the refill, so I went up to one of the snack counters and showed the girl my cup. She said–I KID YOU NOT–“Take off your top.” Meaning, of course, take off the top with the lions so that she could actually refill it, but for a second I just stood there like, “What can I say to this that is funny but not stupid because this lady seems to not be in such a great mood, but you can’t pass up this opportunity, can you?” I couldn’t come up with anything, so I just meekly handed her my cup–top off–and then took it back when she’d filled it and raced back to my friends. GOD, though. If I’d only been quicker, the JOKES I could’ve come up with.

Here’s a pic of our friend Kyle drinking from it later. I told Nikki we should get the bar to fill the thing with beer, but I don’t think that happened:

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After the zoo, we took the 5/6 back down the east side so that we could watch the Texas v. Wyoming game at Bar Coastal. If you ever come to New York and want to watch sports, go to Bar Coastal. They have the best waffle fries known to man, and about a glockjillion TVs. We were so zonked by the end of the game (Texas kicked Wyoming’s butt) that we couldn’t stay awake for the USC v. Virginia game, but I was delighted to discover, upon waking up the next day and checking my ESPN app, that USC won, too!

Sunday:

Sunday I went to two boroughs, although one was just in transit. You know I’m Polish, right? Maybe I don’t mention it enough…anyway, my friend Monica is also Polish (she actually speaks Polish, which makes her cooler than me), and we like to try out the local Polish fare together. The best (only) Polish food I’ve ever had in the city is at Krolewski Jadlo, which is this great authentic Polish restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Greenpoint is a traditionally Polish neighborhood, although, like all other ethnic groups, the immigrant population that’s been there for decades is being pushed out by gentrification. Still, there’s a healthy Polish population still alive and kicking there. I love going there; it’s sort of like being back in my grandmother’s neighborhood in Chicago, although being surrounded by all the Polish signs and people speaking Polish makes me miss my grandmother a lot.

Getting to Greenpoint is sort of a nightmare, though. There’s only one subway line that goes directly there (the G), and it’s notoriously awful and unreliable. To get to Greenpoint from my house, I have to take the 1 to the 7 at Times Square, then switch from the 7 to the G in Long Island City, which is in Queens. EXCEPT: the G train was not running this weekend. It had been replaced by a shuttle bus. And you know what? A shuttle bus (which is just a normal city bus that has been repurposed, and is free) is actually a lot smaller than a subway train! So of course it’s packed to the gills with people, and I had to wait a long time for it.

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Oh, and it was raining. This strange place was right across the street from the bus stop. I kept staring at it and wondering, “What could possibly go on in there?” I posted that question to the Twitterfaces, and I think we’re all in agreement: it’s best not to know.

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Finally I got off the bus at Nassau and made my way to Krolewskie Jadlo–right on time. Not much to say about this, except that the food was delicious, as always.

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This is a terrible picture of a not-so-photogenic but oh-so-tasty prune wrapped in bacon. Or, as it said on the menu, “bacon stuffed with plum”, which doesn’t make any sense.

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My entree. This is what they call the “Polish plate”–pierogi, golombki (stuffed cabbage), kielbasa (Polish sausage), and potato pancakes. It came with a side of shredded beet salad and a very sweet cole slaw.

After lunch, my friends and I went to a chocolate shop, where I bought some Polish chocolates to bring back to Chicago in a few weeks, and then to a bakery where we got some sweetbreads stuffed with cherry jam. After a long subway ride home, I collapsed on my bed and proceeded to watch hours and hours of Make It or Break It, which is my new favorite obsession show now (full post about its awesomeness to come). I actually stayed up till 2 AM to keep watching it, then wanted to kill myself at 7 when my sunrise alarm clock woke me up–and then watched another episode while I was getting ready. OB. SESSED.

Smacznego!

With love and rhino cakes

Posted on May 21st, 2010 by annakjarzab

What follows will be a boring post about my boring life. Also, I suspect that while I find this incredibly funny, it’s one of those stories that you had to be there for. You can tell me in the comments, I guess.

So, as some of you know (because you’re my friends in real life! Very few other people read this blog), I am a legal adult and therefore am allowed and choose to imbibe the occasional alcoholic beverage. There are many, many places to do this in New York City, but I prefer one bar in particular in the East Village, because…well, they have weekly trivia, and we do it every week, and since it’s been like two and a half years since we started going we now know all the bartenders, who are cute Irishmen and give us the occasional buy back UNLESS YOU’RE COLIN READING THIS IN WHICH CASE NO THEY DO NOT WE PAY FOR EVERY ONE! Just kidding, Colin doesn’t know how to use the Internet.

Anyway, some time ago the only non-Irish bartender, Jeff, got a degree and went off looking for a 9-5. So of course the boys hired a new bartender, a sweet young lad from Dublin named Dave. Except, the bar already had a bartender named Dave, so we called them Old Dave and New Dave. Old Dave is a delight in his own way, sort of grumpy but I believe he’s grown used to our faces in the last few years and tolerates us admirably. New Dave, however, is just the loveliest puppy-type person you’ve ever met in your whole existence. He’s got a cherubic face and a wide smile, and when you walk into the bar he looks up, grins at you, waves and says, “Helloooo luv, nice ta see ya!” EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And then we shout, “NEW DAVE!” by way of greeting. I’ve never seen the man in a bad mood or upset, and he’s very charming, but not unsettlingly so. Sincerely so.

So the other day, we went into the bar and Old Dave was working, and Colin, the manager, was behind the bar. I remember being thrown by that, because I almost always go on Wednesdays and Colin doesn’t work Wednesdays, but it was Saturday, so that was my first mistake. I ordered a beverage from Old Dave and asked, “So where’s New Dave?”

“Fired,” he said.

“WHUUUUUUUUT?” I cried.

“We had to fire him,” Old Dave said. “He was stealing.”

“Money?” I asked in a daze. I mean, New Dave? A THIEF? Impossible!

“No,” Old Dave said. “Rhino cakes.”

Okay, so what are rhino cakes? But Old Dave has a pretty thick accent (we like to rank the bartenders by how difficult their accent is to understand; 1, being the easiest, is Brendan, and Old Dave is at 4 with the hardest). Later, Brendan came in and I grabbed him by the shoulder with my Talons of Rage and asked, “DID NEW DAVE SERIOUSLY GET FIRED?”

“Oh,” he said, nonchalant and disinterested. “Yeah.”

“BUT WHY?”

“He was stealing urinal cakes.”

OH, URINAL CAKES. At least that’s a real thing. Although my roommate did say, when I told her this story, “Rhino cakes makes more sense to me than urinal cakes. What’s a urinal cake?” So…

Anyway, they told us that he would steal boxes of the urinal cakes and then sell them to other bars. And we were like, what? That’s a thing? But they assured us that it was, and that New Dave wasn’t coming back. We drowned our sorrows in cheap beer that night, and then a few nights later we were eating dinner and trying to come up with ways to figure out how to get New Dave re-hired. WE LOVE HIM THAT MUCH, Y’ALL. We wished we had his phone number so that we could find out where he was working now and make that our bar instead. We contemplated buying a box of urinal cakes, dumping it all over the bar and saying, “HERE’S YOUR STINKING URINAL CAKES! We want New Dave back!” We thought about paying for our tabs in urinal cakes. We thought about bringing them upstairs to the owner’s apartment and demanding that he allow New Dave to come back. Meanwhile, we were cracking up hysterically, but we were half-serious.

Then I forgot all about it, honestly. It’s been a busy few weeks.

But guess what, you guys? Those assholes were just messing with us. New Dave didn’t get fired, OF COURSE. He had the night off! Like a normal human being! WTF were we doing believing that idiotic story? Although, I will say that Brendan is the MASTER–I don’t know if Old Dave warned him before that he was telling us this, but when I said, “Is it true New Dave got fired?” he completely verified the story without hesitation. That’s pretty impressive.

I’m not even mad, because you know what? I’m just happy to have my New Dave back.

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A walk in the park

Posted on April 19th, 2010 by annakjarzab

I had a pretty productive weekend, I must admit. Slowly but surely I’m building Untitled Book 2 back up to its original length; I’ve got over 270 pages now (remember how I cut 150 pages from the manuscript and started the second half completely fresh? Well you do now!), and I’m thinking the manuscript will clock in somewhere around 315-320 pages. That would make it just around the same length as AUT (which is 352 pages printed, but I think the final manuscript for that sucker was somewhere around 310 pages), maybe a little longer. I find that surprising. I thought it’d come in around 300 pages, but now, thirty pages from the end, I’m nowhere near ready to really tie up the mystery–I need some more space for that. I always thought of Untitled Book 2 as less complex than AUT, not to mention funnier, lighter, more romantic, but I don’t think it’s going to be. When I cut those last 150 pages and made a real shift in the story, it darkened the book up a lot. The book got angrier and more slippery. I’ve been having a bit of a rough time nailing down the emotional trajectory of the second half, and for a long time I was angry at myself for that–I always had a very clear idea of the emotional trajectory of AUT, what was I doing wrong this time?–but I’m starting to see that such slipperiness is innate in the character who’s telling the story. He’s not really sure what’s going on, what he wants or needs or feels at any given moment, and his memory is unreliable, which upsets him. I’m still struggling to get a firmer grasp on him, but I understand that he as a character is tough to get to know because he doesn’t know who he is at any given moment, necessarily.

I also got out of my house and away from my computer this weekend, surprisingly. On Saturday night, I went out for my friend Eric’s birthday, which was the best time I’ve had in a while because I got to see a lot of old friends I don’t hang out with as often any more. See, Eric (he who designed this website) and I used to work at the same company, and then I left to work for another company last August. Which is all well and good, but I’d worked at the old company for almost two years and because it was so small and we all sat in one big bull pen, we talked all the time and got really, really close as a group the way you can’t if you’re all sequestered in offices (not that I don’t love having my own office, because I do, I’m just saying). So while Eric is one of my best friends, everyone else we worked with are people I love and enjoy spending time with and miss. And lots of them came to the party! I literally knew everyone there, which is fun.

On Sunday I took a walk down Riverside Drive in an attempt to get some exercise and see some new things. And boy did I. Here are some pictures I snapped with my iPhone while I was walking:

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Riverside is full of interesting architecture and lovely sculptures and monuments and things. It’s given me plenty of inspiration for a book I hope to be writing three years from now. These are indeed phone pictures, but I made them look way cooler with this photo app I downloaded, Camera Bag. It is paid, but it’s worth it–and this coming from someone who basically never pays for apps ever. The Photoshop app is free (I think) and allows you to make photo effects also, but the PS app has a lot of options, and I do better with less options. Camera Bag is just simpler, and I highly recommend it. I can’t wait to take some pictures in New Orleans and jazz them up with Camera Bag, also. Did I tell you I’m going to New Orleans in two weeks? I’m so excited!