Remember Them.

Like Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and the Challenger Space Shuttle, everyone remembers what they were doing when the news broke of a plane hitting the North Tower.  Many of my friends and family were watching the news while getting ready for work.  Listening in shock and confusion as speculations were made about how and why the plane was off course and hit a such a large building in lower Manhattan.  This shock and confusion quickly melted into horror and disbelief when many of them watched on live tv the second plane hit the South Tower.  The world as they knew it was dissolving right before their eyes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I slept.  My friend and fellow American Matt called and woke me up by asking “are you watching this? The plane. The plane hit…” he trailed off, unable to finish his thought.  “The Pentagon,” he whispered. The bottom fell out of my stomach.  I couldn’t breathe.  My heart stopped beating.  It was like someone pressed the ‘pause’ button on my life.  I just sat there staring into the dark, my brain trying to process.  The Pentagon?  Surely not, I reasoned, he must have misheard.  He had to have.  The Pentagon?  THE PENTAGON?  I sleepily marched into the living room and turned on the tv.  Every station was replaying horrible images of New York under attack and producing billowy clouds of black smoke.

I call home, my hands shaking as I dialed the phone.  The lines were busy. I tried again and again.  Waiting.  Watching the tv project surreal images of a city I had never visited, but still identified as home. My brain was trying to make sense of the entire scenario and praying for it to be some horrible made-for-tv movie.  It wasn’t.  My friend Penny sat up with me all night holding my hand, while we shook our heads and tears rolled down our faces, plopping into our cold cups of forgotten tea.

The morning sunshine brought no happiness.  Just more horrible stories about people jumping out of the buildings, rescue workers who had perished trying to save as many people as they could, and everyone looking shell-shocked.  The death toll was in the thousands.  People were frantically searching for their loved ones and coworkers.  The numbers of victims just kept rising and no one knew where it would stop. At that moment, 8:14 am Australian Eastern Standard Time, the newscaster said the scariest thing I had ever heard in my life:

Americans abroad are urged to stay where they are and do not under any circumstances go to any US Embassy or Consulate Office.

At that point in my life, I had been traveling for nearly a decade and the one thing that was hammered into my brain from the time I was preparing for my first international trip: if you are ever in trouble or lost or need help, go to the Embassy.  Now I was being told not to under any circumstances?  I couldn’t believe it.  My heart started pounding.  I just stared at the tv, shell-shocked.  What the literal fuck was happening?  I didn’t know what to do.  Mind you, I was in Australia, and I felt safe. But I did have thoughts during the middle of the night that I should probably check in with the Embassy in the morning, you know, just because.

That was the moment 9/11 felt real to me.

Fast forward 17 years and I now live in New York City.  I have met people who were first responders or who had loved ones die or who were stuck in Manhattan and couldn’t get back home to the other boroughs or who were in schools or buildings nearby and can remember the ground shaking when each plane hit and each tower fell.  For the city of New York, nothing would ever be the same.

As a country and as a world, we mourned.  We mourned the loss of nearly 3,000 people.  And it changed us.  We are a little less naïve.  We pause a little more when a plane flies a little too close to buildings or just a bit lower than we think it should.  Even I glance wearily at these planes.  Me, who did not live here at the time and could never possibly hope to understand exactly how the city coped.  I can only observe the aftermath as an outsider.  And the aftermath is raw and rough, but yet, beautiful and graceful at the same time.

On Monday, the World Trade Center Subway Stop on the 1 Train opened.  Since I moved here, it was only a grey dot on the map indicating that it wasn’t in use.  Honestly, until a couple of months ago, I didn’t think it would ever open.  But here it stands, as a poignant reminder of true American grit.  She might be broken, but she will never stay that way and what will emerge will be better than before because of what happened, not in spite of it.

Always remember how fragile and fleeting life can be.  Two waterfalls stand where two buildings once proudly towered over all.  Etched into these waterfalls was every person who fell with those buildings.

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Remember them. Honor them, so that they too may soar.

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Dusting Off the Keyboard.

It took me 28 days to wish you a Happy New Year, so I think that waiting nearly 7 months for the next post seems to be right on schedule…right?

How is it already July?   And there’s no denying it is July–the humidity here in New York City is stifling and I feel we’ve already had more days in the 90s than all of last summer combined.  I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

Speaking of hell, I found a meme on Instagram the other day and of course, I couldn’t find it again.  But the gist of it was the following:

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I mean, it’s definitely too late for me, but…

 

Sunday Comics: Texas Heat Wave

too. hot. to. type.

Actually we were given a brief heat wave reprieve today in NYC–but Sundays are great for being lazy.

Meanwhile, back home:

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Stay cool & hydrated–and watch out for rings of power!

Chalkboard Art: Summer in NYC

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I think this accurately sums up today…

Subway Art: 42nd Street

NYC has some of the most amazing museums in the world, however, art can be found anywhere in the city.  In fact, I’ve found that some of the most intricate pieces can be discovered only a subway ride away…

Like Penn Station, the subway station at Times Square is huge and spans from 40th to 44th Streets and from Broadway to 7th to 8th Avenues.  And like Penn Station, different sections of Times Square have very different tile art.  So like Penn Station, Times Square will get multiple posts.

This set of tiles are located in the 8th Avenue/Port Authority section (aka the blue A/C/E train lines) near the tunnel entrance to the trains running on the Broadway & 7th Avenue lines (aka the yellow N/Q/R/W and red 1/2/3 train lines).

 

Chalkboard Art: The Simple Things in Life

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I mean honestly, when it’s in the mid-90’s (or mid-30s Celsius), who could ask for anything more (aside from beer and a beach, of course!)???  😉

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Subway Art

In following up to my More From South Ferry post, I was chatting with a fellow blogger, Andy (of The Wandering Poet–check out his website!), about some of the amazing murals that can be found on the New York City subway platforms.  This reminded me of another series I wanted to bring over from my other blog shezzaspeak: Subway Art.  Plus it occurred to me that perhaps you want something other than Hawaii 24/7…

NYC has some of the most amazing museums in the world, however, art can be found anywhere in the city.  In fact, I’ve found that some of the most intricate pieces can be found only a subway ride away…

If you’ve never been to Pennsylvania Station in New York City, it is busy.  In fact, it is said to be the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere.  I don’t have all the data to back that up, but I feel anyone who has ever navigated Penn Station during rush hours would agree.

This is because Penn Station plays host to 6 MTA subway lines, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).  Amtrak estimates that their annual ridership at Penn Station (ranked #1 in busiest for Amtrak) is just over 10 million commuters a year.  The average weekly commuters on New Jersey Transit is about 95,000 (just shy of 5 million for the year).  The LIRR hit their highest numbers in annual ridership since 1949, with just over 89 million commuters.  And the MTA estimates their annual subway ridership at Penn Station is slight over 50 million commuters.

That is a lot of people.  But you’re not here for the people, you’re here for the pictures.  And not only is Penn Station busy, but it is also big.  Perhaps not as big as the commuter numbers might suggest, however, it is expanding.

What that means in terms of this blog is that you’re going to see several different posts from Penn Station, as each section has its own style and they are all very different from each other, so I felt it a slight to craftsmanship to slap them all in one post.

This first set is from the New Jersey/Amtrak transit side of Penn Station at the 7th Ave & 31st Street exit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is also large and expanding.  This is all just a preface to explain

More From South Ferry

Okay so before we go back to Hawaii, I just wanted to share with you a few more photos from the old-new South Ferry station that just opened:

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Breaking News!

I’m interrupting our Hawaiian trip to bring you some exciting news.  Or at least, exciting news if you live in or are visiting New York City.

The old-new South Ferry station is fiiiiiiiinally reopened!!  Tourists came and went with their only concerns being if they were getting on the correct train and which stop they needed to get to where they were going.  Meanwhile–in something resembling first time tourists in Times Square–residents looked a little shell-shocked and in awe of the spacious and updated station.

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Why all the fuss?  When I moved to New York City (in 2007) if you wanted to get to South Ferry on the 1 Train, you had to be in the first five cars of the subway train.  Then in 2009, the MTA opened a shiny new South Ferry station–one where you didn’t have to be in the first five cars and was well lit and had escalators (for those times when you just couldn’t walk up one more fucking step no matter how close you were to your FitBit goal).

Then in late-October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit.  Water filled the new South Ferry station to the point where it was coming out of every entrance.  According to the MTA “almost 15 million gallons of salt water flooded it during Superstorm Sandy.”

It took several months of walking from South Ferry around Battery Park and up to the next subway station before the MTA opened the old South Ferry station and once again, anyone wanting to get out at the South Ferry station needed to be in the first five subway  cars.

It took nearly five years, but today the old-new South Ferry station was reopened.  This morning we were all in awe and this evening it was so nice to just get on the train without the hustle and stress of making sure you are in the first five cars–because now we can luxuriously use all ten of them!

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🙂

 

Pizza Night!

Growing up, Friday night was always pizza night…because who doesn’t love pizza?!?  Plus nothing goes with football like pizza (hey, we’re Texans!  Also upon further reflection–aka growing older–I’ve found beer to be a better accompaniment to football, but at five years old pizza is probably the better option).

Of course, until I moved to New York City, I didn’t realize how serious pizza was.  I mean, sure, I’ve always loved it.  But here?  Here you’d better have an informed opinion about crusts and styles and toppings.   There used to be a great pizza place up the hill from my house, but they moved a couple of years after I moved here and the place became [shudder] a seasonal accountant office.

Anyway, the point is that my pizza options are now limited to Dominoes (don’t get me wrong–sometimes you just need the coolness of ordering your pizza online and watching the Pizza Tracker thingy…no, I haven’t been drinking…much…) and the Italian place up the street, who admittedly makes a mean calzone, but you have to be prepared to wait at least an hour.  At that point you could just make it yourself.

MAKE IT MYSELF?!?!?

I do need to give props to Ann for having the brilliant idea, finding a sauce, and picking up supplies at Whole Foods.

I’ve never really given much thought about making my own pizza because while the theory of making pizza dough from scratch always seems too tedious (despite assurances by April about its ease and the tastiness of her pizza).  However, enter in the age of fresh pre-made dough (not the pop open can variety)….and voilà! now homemade pizza seems a lot more reasonable.

Plus the world is your oyster when it comes to sauces and toppings.  Although I find that when you have more than 3 toppings, the pizza tends to get too heavy and thick.  Of course, if you’re a fan of Chicago-style pizza then top away! Personally, I’m not and prefer thin slices with crisp, crunchy crust (and for the record, I felt that way long before I moved a borough away from Brooklyn!).

Through trial and error, I’ve found that baking the pizza in stages ensures a crisp crust and that everything is cooked properly.  Also I like it really garlicky and spicy, if garlic or spice isn’t your thing you might just want to use 2 cloves and less pepper.

Asparagus, Avocado, & Onion Pizza

  • 1 ball of pizza dough (as I mentioned, I purchase mine–but here are a plethora of dough recipes I found on Pinterest if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • Sauce (mix together the following ingredients):
    • 1/4 c. of olive oil
    • 4 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 12-ish stalks of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil topped

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Lightly oil a baking stone/cookie sheet.  Slowly pull and stretch the pizza dough to the desired size and thickness.  Spread the sauce on top of the dough–I use a pastry brush to make sure that it is spread evenly.  Bake the dough for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the onions and asparagus and bake for 10 more minutes.

Once those 10 minutes are up, add the cheese and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes.

I know all the back and forth sounds a bit tedious, but trust me–it’s really not that bad and TOTALLY worth it.  After 5 minutes add the avocado slices and bake for 5 minutes more.  At this point, the cheese should be bubbly and the crust golden brown.  If not, continue baking until it is.  Once it reaches this point, pull it out of the oven and sprinkle with the basil.  Cut the pizza into slices and enjoy!

By the way, this pizza pairs really well with hefeweizen beer and fruity, dry white wines, like viogniers and dry rieslings–okay, fine and some not-too-buttery chardonnays.  Buon appetito!