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.

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.

What’s Up? (England Day Four)

Monday started off with two hours in the wonderful Mettricks cafe. Their egg and bacon sandwich was one of the best tasting things in all of England. Thick round bacon on a buttery slice of toast served on a black chalk slab. Mettricks was incredibly stylish, a cafe complete with couches, sofas, loveseats, etc, with board games and magazine choices like “Barista.” I mean this sincerely, Barista Magazine was actually a good read, I cared about the articles, and its coffee product advertisements were appealing. So me and my friend had one of many ‘real talks’ that were in store for us this Monday, while we knocked back our coffees of choice. A Cappuccino for me, an Americano for her.

Winchester was our first destination in our week of travel. It was a quaint city that the London Airport Bus drove through on the way to Southampton, so I had an interest in visiting the city before my friend even brough it up. So, Winchester was this very historical, brick-heavy city, with a shopping street that reminded me of Diagon Alley. At the Whittard’s in Winchester I got fifty 1886 Blend black tea bags, which brewed a nice malty black tea (I like my tea black! And smokey lapsang was a treat to drink while I was England).

After the shopping, we headed in the direction of the Roman Viaduct, an artificial river/canal-type thing. We were only slightly sidetracked by the Winchester Cathedral and a lovely garden designed to be experienced by senses other than sight. Flowers and other plants were grown for the way they felt, and smelled, so we were invited to smell and feel everything in the garden. It’s interesting, I feel like most gardens and parks are designed to be looked at–this felt much more special.

The Roman Viaduct was by far the standout feature of Winchester though. The water flowed beautifully from underneath buildings, through alleys, under bridges, and then released into a natural river full of flora and ducks. The ducks, oh my gosh me and my friend might have actually spent a full hour just walking along the Viaduct looking at and photographing ducks. It was easy to be filled with happiness in this place. We found a bench with a fitting inscription: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Crown and Anchor
In Winchester we were on a mission for a Fish and Chips dinner. We walked into a seafood restaurant that was open, The Fish Tale yet completely deserted: no customers, no waiters, no welcomers–we saw the bad omen and got the hell out of dodge. Instead we ended up the Crown and Anchor, a nice pub that was kind enough to serve us Fish and Chips even though the kitchens were to stop taking orders in five or so minutes. I had a cider from my friend’s hometown, we endulged in our massive fried cod, and dived head first into ‘real talk’ matters. The Crown and Anchor was obviously a place filled with characters, a place where the gruffiest toughest-sounding Englishmen were ordering Coors Light, oddly enough. Here too, Winchester made me happy, comfortable. At this hour, from our window seat we could see many schoolchildren walking up and down the street, busses, (yes, even the double-decker variety), and the magnificent, mysterious statue at the end of Winchester’s High Street. A man (?) holding a sword upside down, like a sign of peace, or compromise–like “I am armed, but not aggressive.”

How Was Your Break?

My break was good, thanks for asking. Good times were had with the family; I bonded over music with my father, got into no fights with my brother, and the whole family  watched home videos from 1994-1997 together. Better than average times were had with friends; I learned how hair is bleached and dyed, I played with a puppy, I had hard cider for the first time (though I still need to get my hands on some Hereford-made stuff), caught up with friends, found out where acquaintances are in life, I found out Paul Walker died while I was having my first and only slice of New York Pizza while on break, I Mario-Partied it up, and I had a very nice diner at Paddy’s Loft.

Now, into the eye of the storm. Two papers due this week. One exam. One Power Point presentation. Internship applications. Potential internship interviews. Three papers due the week after that. Two interviews left to complete for the Journalism Paper. Two final exams.

Hold me.