What’s Up? (7/23/2018)

New York
I spent a week back in New York, from July 14 to July 21, and it was a much-needed vacation. Time to rest my brain from work, time to rest; period, by banking in some sleep hours, and I would say time to rest my body — except I did get some good exercise in. On Tuesday, July 17, I rode 8 miles on a bicycle out to Jones beach for breakfast at the beach — an egg bagel with butter, which tasted delicious on this cloudy, foggy morning at Jones Beach. Only problem was, just 2 miles on the ride back my front tire popped, and I had a very bumpy ride back home.

Still, this visit to the beach, and another one with my friend on Friday, July 20, were really good for me. I love the beach, even if the reality of beaches are very, very different from the fantasy of them. “Beach vibes” reduce the beach to a certain type of music, with perfect blue waves and white sand – and I surround myself with music and art that remind me of beach vibes. But the reality of Jones Beach is less ideal, and all the more beautiful for it. The sand at beaches isn’t all white, it’s brown and tan and filled with seashells and dead things. The water at oceans isn’t all blue, on a cloudy day it can get green, grey, foamy, all that good stuff. So thanks, beaches, for bringing the sound of relaxing waves, squawking seagulls, salty air and, occasionally, fishy smells. The good and the bad.

Silky’s
On August 7th, 2015, I made my first of many visits to Silky’s Sports Bar and Grill after moving to Squirrel Hill. When I went there on June 23, 2018, I did not know it would be my last visit to Silky’s. Upon coming home from my vacation on Long Island, I found my favorite bar – or at least my most frequented bar, was closed. I can’t say I’m incredibly shocked, as Silky’s could get quite empty when there wasn’t a Steelers or Penguins game on TV — but still, not getting to give Silky’s a proper goodbye hurts a little.

What was my last beer there? A lager, an IPA? I know I was watching Germany play Sweden during the group stage of the 2018 World Cup, and it was the day before the Stride for Pride 5k, so I didn’t want to drink too much. What will happen to that bottle of Bacardi 151 they had lying around? Will anyone miss the Cherry Master video slot machine that sat largely unplayed on the bar counter?

You create a lot of memories at your local bar, no matter what that local bar is, no matter where you live. I didn’t get a chance to actually give a toast to Silky’s, so, here’s what I’ll say instead. You could always count on Silky’s for a few things: 1) Sports, 2) Good beer, 3) Waffle fries to die for, and 4) Jay Bird.

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What’s Up? (9/12/16)

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I thought I’d try something different today.

How are things going? But, in pictures. Because here’s how things are going. After a mega weekend featuring old friends, another Pitt Football win, my brother, and Bruce Springsteen, I faced a Monday at the office with five hours of sleep… and thing went really well. Really, really well actually. The work I got done was good, and there was quite a bit of work.

But it all started with a Mocha, in Espresso A Mano, on a very comfortable 55 Degree day. The type of cool summer morning that says, summer is on it’s way out. And, for once, maybe I’m ready for summer to end. Ready for the transition from air conditioners to open windows, and into my long-sleeves and infinity scarves section of my wardrobe.

And then I left work and found two things that put a smile on my face. One, being the cat-lady public art someone put up in Lawrenceville; absolutely one of the best characters in all of The Simpsons. The other was the leaning Circle K sign, which, for the second time this year has been struck by a car and nearly completely destroyed. I feel bad for the Circle K but heck, it’s kinda funny.

And then; and then, and then, and then — after my 2 mile run and the beautiful weather and the future funk and the snapchatting — I came home to find my neighbor handing out bread for Eid Mubarak. Having almost fasted the whole day, by accident (nothing but a 2AM biscuit, and 3 cups of coffee) this home made bread hit the spot, with savory oils that are just asking for some hummus.

 

What’s Up? (12/7/15)

Bow
I was completely prepared for a normal Monday. Bus to Lawrenceville, cappuccino at Espresso a Mano, start work; in that order, nothing different.

And then a Border Collie ran up to me in front of Piccolo Forno. Dumbfounded, I greeted the dog, but didn’t know what else to do. He was a little mangy looking. Some leaves, grass, or dirt around his paws. He jumped up on me to say Hi, and while it was cute, I was also apprehensive.

And then this Border Collie ran into the street full of oncoming traffic, and I suddenly became very protective of this dog. I got it back onto the sidewalk, where it ran to Espresso a Mano, after greeting several citizens of Lawrenceville in passing. At Espresso a Mano, as luck would have it, the dog was stopped by a man named Paul. I talked to Paul, suggesting that I knew a place where we could get a collar and leash around the dog. Paul picked up the dog, who we now know was named Bow, and got him into his car.

We drove to the office where I work, put a leash on Bow, and I said my farewells, thanking Paul and wishing him good luck. Everything turned out okay for Bow and Paul, and it turns out that Paul is a really chill dude, and a folk musician.

That’s what a runaway dog will do though. Throw your day in a mix, and introduce you to some cool people, because the people who stop to take care of a dog are going to be interesting in one way or another.

Cachaça
While I’m on interesting things, lets talk Cachaca. The Brazilian liquor I couldn’t get my hands on for the Brazilian Grand Prix, even when I asked my local store about it. Turns out, my store carries Cachaca, they just didn’t know it.

So what the hell is it, and why is it interesting? My short pitch for Cachaca is this: It’s the middle ground between Rum and Tequila. Not as harsh as Tequila, but more complicated tasting then Rum. And it goes great with freshly squeezed limes and two sugar cubes. Caipirinhas they’re called. I’m not following the recipe to a T, but it’s good, damn good!

What’s Up? (11/23/15)

Exercise Calendar

Exercise 

The days highlighted in blue show the days where I’ve done at least 40 minutes on the bicycle. Good job, me. Before October 19th I bet the blue spaces were few and far between. Or, further apart from one another. I probably haven’t gone whole weeks without a little bit of exercise for a while. I don’t have much to say on this except, I’m going to keep at it.

Lawrenceville Hipster

On Friday (11/20/15) I was making cocktails for someone, describing work, and my daily routine and whatnot — and she asked if I had become a “L-Ville Hipster” or Lawrenceville Hipster. Well, I didn’t know. I have a coffee place where I’m a regular who orders the same two things without fail. I shopped at H&M so I’d have a few new items to distinguish my look from my Oakland days. But otherwise… Whatever components make up a “hipster” I’m pretty sure I don’t have them. I think I’ve probably changed, grown, or feel significantly different since coming to Lawrenceville regularly but it’s not like I’m adopting a fake style, I’m just using the neighborhood to let myself be more… me?

This cardigan for example. I’ve been wearing it for hours. I love the thing. I love the way it meets at my neck. I love how it looks slim, or feels slim. The extra long sleeves are cool. Something about it inspires a great deal of confidence for me, the same way infinity scarves do. And I only ended up in H&M because of Lawrenceville, working there, and hearing about the H&M in South Side. So, by extension, Lawrenceville helped me find a piece of clothing that makes me feel really good. So am I some fake as hell hipster in Lawrenceville? Nah. I’m a real as fuck member of the neighborhood, and I love it.

What’s Up? (9/30/15)

Make This Quick
I need to go to sleep soon (it’s already 9:30 PM, which for the first time in over a year, has become a regular bedtime again), so I’ll make this quick. September 2015 is going to be over very soon, and its been a really important month for me. For a week now, I’ve been commuting to one of my most favorite neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, for an awesome job. At that job, I’m learning valuable skills, occasionally petting dogs, and coming into a lot of knowledge about Boston sports culture. It’s great, and Lawrenceville is so exciting to be in. I’ve seen When Marnie Was There (2014) and AKIRA (1988) in theatres at Row House Cinema, had vegan meatballs at Brillobox, seven cappuccinos from Espresso a Mano, mushroom soup from Cafe Coca, a margarita from Round Corner Cantina, and a less adventurous chicken sandwich from Wendy’s.

September was good, and I’m really looking forward to working straight through October, wearing scarves, Halloween, and throwing some cocktail parties, hopefully.

What’s Up? (9/20/15)

Singapore
The Singapore Grand Prix brought a great week to a great ending. I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and stayed in bed for a while just watching some absolutely fantastic racing. The top three, Vettel, Ricciardo, and Raikkonen didn’t do much in the way of overtaking, but everything from P4 below was a shifting landscape. Massa and Hulkenberg have an incident, both DNF. Hamilton has a power failure, DNF. Button’s doing well, then has an incident with Maldonado, DNF. Who knows what happened to Alonso but he also did not finish.

So basically, after a poor weekend in Italy, my guy Nico Rosberg catches a break. He’d have liked to have had a podium, I’m sure, but a race where he finishes and Hamilton doesn’t? I think he’ll settle for that. Always great to see Ricciardo up there on the podium, Vettel too. The big story of course, is the man who ended up on the track. The pedestrian seemed drunk, high, or confused, and he brought the race to a halt. Who was he? How did he get there? Why did he go on track? I may never know, but it was fantastic, even if it was terrifying.

Negima
No idea what came over me last weekend, but I fell in with an old Manga series close to my heart — even if it had been years since I last read it. I had read 18/38 volumes, and stopped sometime in my first year of college. It is a series that quite frankly, I would be embarrassed to have someone just flip through. It’s full of fan service that I can’t justify. It panders to an audience that I’m not a part of by constantly making its female characters end up in situations where they end up naked for the enjoyment of the reader.

But dammit, I love those characters. I can’t deny that! A lot of the characters are just mixtures of tropes, but they sure are likable. (They’re also bad ass, strong, brave, occasionally immortal, demons, ghosts, and lesbians). I don’t know what my game plan is. I’ve fallen back into this very, very old habit of reading an old series. It’s better than watching TV most of the time.

Kelevra
Finally, it would be impossible to describe how awesome this week has been without mentioning that I’ve found work. Or at the very least, I’ve found work to do! An internship, which begins on Wednesday.  I feel like a great weight has been lifted. The months long job search comes to a months long break, and I’m so excited to get all polo – shirted up again, head into work and learn what this marketing thing is all about. I’m no longer unemployed, as far as I’m concerned. That’s so exciting, and that’s good because I really could not imagine going all of September without work. My bosses seem cool, and I know I love the neighborhood already. So that’s that! I’ve had a grand two weeks since we last spoke.

What’s Up? (9/8/15)

Late Show
Tonight millions of Americans will tune in to Stephen Colbert’s new Late Show. I have to say, I find myself more excited than I thought I would have been. Maybe it’s the state of this country. There’s no Jon Stewart to extinguish the flames left by Donald Trump and Kim Davis. Gun violence runs wild, people shout Blue Lives Matter, Sarah Palin thinks people should be speaking American, Michelle Bachmann thinks–well who cares? (Something about the Supreme Court being a perversion).

The thing is, the return of Stephen Colbert feels like the return of a messiah. I feel like I need someone like him on TV now more than ever. Deliver us from evil, in the name of Stephen Colbert, amen.

New Apartment
It escapes me, whether or not I’ve written about the new place yet. It’s amazing. I get things done in this environment. I clean, I organize, I bike, I read–way more than I did before–and I can work here too. One of the things that I think increases productivity is the lack of roommates. (No offense roommates.) If I wanted to read on the couch before, I’d have to use the living room while nobody was using the TV. It’s not like the TV was constantly used, but the living room was shared between four people. Now, if I want to read on the couch, I read on the couch. It’s an obvious but big difference I guess, of living alone vs. with people.

Party In The Tropics
Friday, (9/4) there was a nice little shindig at Phipps’ Conservatory. A party in the tropics. A night to meet new people, dance, have a drink under the shade of a greenhouse full of beautiful flora. The whole event seemed like the beginning of a film, to me. It starts with me meeting friends in a room full of cacti, then it snowballs into including a political refugee from Belarus and his hummus recipe, the ins and outs of drinks, dancing, and the art of gala-type events. Drinking in museums, in art galleries, in conservatories, observatories — Pittsburgh provides you with all of these opportunities to pretend you’re in a James Bond flick. At any of these events, you can almost role-play the party, buy into the idea that you’re some high roller classy type, but with a knowing wink. It’s all about fun, and meeting people. You can never stop meeting people.