Friday, July 22, 2011

Teacher's Pet

Location: 42nd Street, New York City

Stories about travel, food, and life’s experiences…
Whilst working as a receptionist at The Weather Channel near Grand Central Station in Midtown, one may be surprised to find that it can be a rather dull experience at times. No matter, for I certainly will be able to give you the very latest updates on the weather at any given time. A few weeks ago, however, we had an advertising class of students from Syracuse, NY in for some lectures. I would guess that the majority of them were from Eastern countries such as, China, Japan, and Korea, including their professor. As he waited for them to finish, the professor sat quietly in the lobby.
Now of the students, there was only one male. He very politely greeted me when he came in. Maybe that’s why he made an impression on my mind. Anyway, I took much delight in observing him as he meandered through the lobby to wait for the rest of the students to finish their presentations. Upon meeting the professor, in his extremely cute, accented English, he greeted him simply saying, ‘Hi, Professor’.
I am debating in my mind why I find this little encounter so endearing. Perhaps it was the gracious, mannerly way he greeted his superior. Or, maybe his pleasant demeanor and respect for authority – qualities that are so lacking in our fast-paced American way of life. And whether genuine or not, it seems soothing to a person’s well-being to encounter these types of traditional values that are all too fast fading away from Western society.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back Home in NYC

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Stories about travel, food, and life's experiences along the way..
Well it’s been exactly one week and one day since arriving back in New York City. Upon pulling in to Grand Central Station on my bus, all were greeted with 100 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
I must admit after making my way home to Brooklyn on the subway, and as I wheeled my luggage up Greene Avenue, I had mixed feelings about being back in the city. “Maybe I should have stayed”, I thought. After all, the folks said to stay as long as I wanted. And with my non-committal job; (I temp at the moment) that wouldn’t have been a problem. But no, I decided to come back to the city and forego the prolonged chaos that comes with a large, dysfunctional family. Mind you, I say that in the most endearing way possible.  So I was back, trying to fight off that void of emptiness and loneliness when a person leaves loved ones and familiar places. Turns out I was able to do a good job of occupying myself and my mind and decided to be happy with my decision.
Aids in Warding Off Post Holiday Blues – (in Brooklyn)
As my former Czech shrink once put it, ‘it’s all about filling a void with good things’. Of course, at the time she was referring to my abyss of sadness and isolation at the rejection from an old boyfriend. However, those are some of the best words of advice I have ever received, hence now they get carried with me wherever I go.
The Gym
So armed with that mantra on my first morning back I set out for the gym located on the corner of Fulton Mall in downtown Brooklyn. The gym evokes those “happy” endorphins and feelings of power and control, which is probably why I love and need it so much.
Located a few doors down is a super-duper, ghetto fabulous store called Danice . Danice is packed full with eye-catching, colorful, summer fashions. I definitely wouldn’t shop there for work attire. However, being on a budget these days and needing a fun pick-me-up, I was able to score two super cute sundresses for eighteen bucks! Of course, they may only last one season, but for that price, I can live with it. I’ve decided I like shopping ghetto fabulous.
Rockaway Beach
Another antidote I pulled out of my arsenal of tricks to aid the post home-holiday blues was a trip to the beach with some friends on the weekend. We headed out to Rockaway Beach Saturday after a yummy breakfast at a local dinerBeach 90 (stop off the S train) is where we laid our beach blankets and hung for the next 5 hours. We like this beach because it’s super laid-back. There are lots of shells for beach combers (like myself), a cool little beach bar, and a picturesque rock jetty. The only drawback of our beloved beach is the overwhelming amount of seaweed the tide brought in. I thought about making sushi, but then decided it might be a bit too sandy. :-D (har har)
Bay Ridge
Well after we had our fill of fun in the sun, we headed back to our friends’ apartment in Bay Ridge. I swear - even though I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, I really don’t get out much. I had never been to Bay Ridge prior to that. Bay Ridge is a lovely ethnic neighborhood nestled in the Southern corner of Brooklyn. The area I was in is pretty, quiet and seems family oriented. 

Tanoreen Restaurant
A perfect ending to our beach day was a stop at Tanoreen, a delicious Middle Eastern restaurant located in the heart of Bay Ridge. It’s a bit of an upscale place with great atmosphere and cute Arabic waiters. I highly recommend the browned brussel sprouts with tahini and pomegranate molasses. They will absolutely melt in your mouth.  The owner, Ms. Bishara, a gorgeous, intriguing, Middle-Eastern woman, came around to all us patrons wanting to make sure everything was to our liking. We, of course, readily acquiesced that it was wonderful!

In Conclusion

So in conclusion, I would like to give a round of applause – first to my friends for unknowingly catering to my void. Also to Brooklyn for being so diverse and full of life. One doesn’t have to hit up the loud hot spots of Manhattan to have a great time. To the beach for its soothing sights and sounds (and also for my horrific sunburn – though I’m determined to return once it becomes a tan!) To Middle Eastern culture for its delicious food and people that are so pleasing to the eyes. Oh yes - and to Danice for such great, cheap dresses. J  

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Step Back in Time

Location: Germania, Pennsylvania

Stories about travel, food, and life's experiences along the way...

As if coming back to the country to your parents’ farm isn’t enough to give one a taste of the slower things of life, going to an estate auction will. My mom absolutely loves that sort of thing, you know, antiques, thrift stores, yard sales, anything old and nifty. Well, she conned me into going. I wasn’t really thrilled about leaving my quiet, comfy bed at 8 am; after all, I am on vaca (my shortened ‘Annie word’ for vacation). But Mom assured me that it would be worth it, even if we didn’t stay long or find anything. ‘You have to do it at least once, it’s an experience’, she affirmed in her mother Moya voice. Now two years ago I am quite sure I would have stuck up my nose at the idea, but my maturity told me to just trust her judgment and go with it. And I will have you know, she was right. This auction business is serious stuff and for a now conformed city girl hungry for interesting experiences, it did not disappoint.

An old building established 1924

The first auction tent

Some local onlookers

Upon arriving at the scene in Downtown Germania, it happened that there were actually 2 auction tents. One tent was for the neat, hipster goodies, and the other for the tools and equipment. Of course, the tool tent sported mostly farmers and guys looking for tools to tinker with. Sounds of the auctioneers rattling items and their prices buzzed through the air. Onlookers stood around quietly and calmly trying to decide if there was anything they couldn’t live without. However, after about 45 minutes Mom decided there wasn’t really anything she couldn’t do without so we headed home.

Not sure if this bad boy was for auction or not
The tool tent and ticket booth

Who says auctioneers aren't cute?
Now upon reflecting, I say it’s a step back in time because coming from one of the biggest cities in the world, having worked on Park Avenue, near Grand Central Station, at the Empire State Building; and coming to what seems like a halt on time - the contrast is almost unbelievable. Just stepping out on the street in New York City, one has to have the exact sense and direction of where they’re going. If not, you’ll be swept along with sea of white-collars, or perhaps be the object of someone’s impatient wrath. Sad, but true. Thus, my point about coming back to the country where it’s not a sin to have a laid-back stroll or take your grand old time just for the heck of it. Chances are you just might end up enjoying yourself or learning something new.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Going Home

Location: Germania, Pennsylvania

Stories about travel, food, and life's experiences along the way...

Home is a 5 hour bus ride west of New York City. Then another 1.5 hour ride after being picked up at the nearest bus station. It just so happens I’m headed there now. No, I’m not going to California rather the hills of north-central Pennsylvania. PA is the 33rd largest state in the US. It is roughly 46,055 square miles (or 119,283 square kilometers). It just goes and goes. If you want that freewheeling, wind in your hair feeling, just take a drive across the state. There is also another plus this time of year – it’s green everywhere; lush, lively, green trees, and fields. 

Behind Dad's barn

The village of Germania, where I was raised, is no exception. First of all, it’s tiny – according to the 2000 (the most current I could find) census there are only about 339 residents. There is one paved road, Rte. 144 that slowly winds through it. The rest are dirt roads. You’ll be able to see a few farms along with some horses and cows. My sisters used to have cows and horses, as well, but they’ve since downsized and now just 3 dogs and 2 fish hang their hats at the farm.

Downtown Germania

The nearest town is about 7 miles away. Galeton is a quaint little place situated around a lake and very picturesque. It even has one traffic light. J
Whenever I head back, I get this eerie, nostalgic feeling. It’s almost hard to put into words. Going back to a place so familiar yet is somehow light years and worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. And I guess the same is true of thinking of being back in my neighborhood in the city. For anyone who is a traveler or has moved far from home, you may know this feeling.

A million miles away

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Along the Way

On my parents' farm
Stories about travel, food, and life’s experiences along the way..

I grew up in the hills of north central PA in a small village called Germania. Just saying the name to some of my friends evokes the thought of a distant land in medieval Europe. Transylvania, Icelandia, Finlandia, Germania .. you get the picture. A distant land it really is. Some may think Germania is worlds away from “real” civilization. There are dirt roads, cows, farms, and dirt bikes. Oh yes, and fishing. My parents, who really do live on a farm, have to drive one hour, one way just to get to a Wal-mart. That all being said, the hills of Pennsylvania are absolutely some of the most be beautiful country I’ve ever seen.

Fields my father hays every year
Anyway, despite being a country girl at heart, my curiosity and love of distant lands has taken me all over the world, as well as, the fact that I am probably the world’s biggest runner. And I don’t mean as in marathons, lol. You’ve heard the expression, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. That’s me. I’ve lived and trekked in the jungles of Guyana, South America; taught English in Eastern Europe; and now the big city has finally called. I currently rest my head in Brooklyn, New York City.  

Brno, Czech Republic - where I lived

Don’t get me wrong - as I get older I’m trying to work on the whole running thing. But I’m also learning to enjoy where my meandering ways take me. And being able to say that I’ve got hundreds of friends all over the world is one of the best things money can’t buy. To me, they’re worth more than any career could ever be. Also being able to see the world through different eyes, as in, not American eyes is truly.. dare I say eye-opening, lol.
Therefore, I dedicate this blog to where life takes us along the way. Being able to enjoy various cultures, foods, debating the pros and cons of differing situations, countries, etc. – I love it all and can’t wait to share my thoughts, and hear yours. A portion will also, no doubt, cover places in my hood – Clinton Hill/Fort Greene area in Brooklyn, NY.
An old trabant in Czech

With my good friend, Jana - Brno
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