Monthly Archives: May 2010

Pennsylvania Is A Long State

Monday morning found us in the center of Pennsylvania, in a town called Centre. I hope we were also in the center of Centre, eh? After politely waking up Dave (shaking him until he falls out of bed) we headed out for a run through the area.

Rural Pennsylvania is different than New York City in a million ways, but the one that hit me hardest was the nature of the terrain. We ran down the street from our hotel, saw a sign that said “bike path”, and turned to follow it figuring it would be scenic. BAM. Immediate hill. We both pushed through it to the top, and made it carrying a steady/slowish jog. Once we reached it I was bent over breathing like a madman. Since moving away from Staten Island three years ago, I haven’t had an opportunity to run on anything but 100% flat ground. That hill left me so winded it was both painful and glorious at the same time. Whew!

We continued on through a park, walked a bit, ran back and then sprinted it in to the hotel. I’d guess we ran about 2 miles. Running with a boyfriend rules.

Then we hit the road and had some pre-packed emergency pb&j’s for breakfast. The goal was to reach the border of Lake Erie, and then follow the lake around and cross to Lake Michigan. The biggest city we saw on the map (based on the size of the dots over the cities..) was Erie, PA. We stopped off at a gas station, fueled up, got some beef jerky a.k.a. snack of champions and real men, and then drove, and drove, and drove. We came upon some beautiful landscapes on the way and jumped out of the car to experience them.

The first one was a small row of trees in a huge field in Brookville, PA. There was one old sturdy tree that reminded me of three movie scenes: 1) Forest and Jenny sitting in a tree as kids like peas and carrots, 2) an opening scene in Dances with Wolves when the woman is crying, 3) a scene in Shawshank Redemption when Tim Robbins is burying his tin box under the stone beside the tree.

After this adventure, we hopped back in the car and kept driving for another three hours. I passed out in the passengers seat, and woke up to Dave spontaneously pulling over to the side of the road so we could capture another beautiful scene.

The night ended in Erie, right on the lake. Day of frolicking complete. Next stops: Cleveland to Indiana to Chicago.

Philly Cheesesteaks and a Car

The roadtrip is in action!

Sunday was jam-packed with things to do, starting with me waking up at 5:40am and not being able to fall back asleep (cue the coffee). Dave and I met each other at Penn Station in the city to catch an 8:10 train to Long Island to grab my car.

First stop: Philadelphia! We’ve both never eaten a cheesesteak before (blasphemy), and thought it would be awesome to have the most authentic we could find to start. I asked around a little before we left, and someone told me that everyone goes to Pat’s or Genos, but that those spots are very touristy. Then we got a hint that this place called Tony Lukes was where the real deal cheesesteaks were. So that’s where we went.

Looks kinda shady, no? We both got a regular cheesesteak with American cheese and onions, trying to keep it classic.

The verdict? Dave loved it. “I could eat five more of these right now.” My thoughts? It was okay. I thought it was a little bland and I dipped it in ketchup.

From there, we figured since we were in Philly we should check out the historic area and see the Liberty Bell. We drove a little further into the city and found a parking lot. Our self-guided historic tour took about 45 minutes. Not bad. One might even say.. the best.

What you can’t see in this photo is the mob of tourists facing us waiting to jump in next to take their picture. Pretty funny. Doesn’t the bell look small?

After seeing the bell and walking around a bit we got back in the car and decided we would just drive as far as we could up towards Lake Eerie. Three hours of fields and fun times in the car later, we stopped in Centre, PA, and got a room at a Ramada for the night. The potential plan for today is to go for a run in the morning (!!) and then head back on the road. Now I just need to wake up Dave :).

The Unplanned Roadtrip

This Sunday I am going on a roadtrip with the boyfriend to escape the city for a week. We’ve both had crazy lives for the past month, and planned this a while back knowing it would be a nice finale. So our plan is…

… we don’t really have a plan.

We are getting in the car and pretty much just going. Originally I was pushing for us to end up in Nashville and then turn around and come back, but due to the flooding that plan is out. We quickly pulled up a map of the U.S. earlier this week and looked for a plan B.

The only requrements of this roadtrip are that we head west, see things we’ve never seen, and make it back here in one week. I’ve actually never been west in the U.S. (except for a few business trips, but those don’t count because you don’t get to sight-see). With these considerations, we came up with this route which I very roughly sketched out using PowePoint, so excuse it’s complete inaccuracy:

The three definite things planned:

  1. Eat a philly cheese steak (never had one!)
  2. See Chicago
  3. Pack a multitude of pb&j sandwiches should any pbj emergencies arise

Other than that we’re wingin’ it. We’ll have a GPS, and will be punching in a city or town and following directions. Which cities or towns will we punch in? I have no idea.

Any suggestions from locals or travelers are welcome :).

I Finally Made Real Coffee.

I love coffee. Or maybe I have a ridiculous addiction to coffee, thus why I love it. I’ve written articles about coffee, mused about the dangers of high caffeine intake, even attempted to quit at times (longest coffee-free record is one month; still impresses me when I think about it.).

Growing up both of my parents drank coffee every morning, and perhaps it was the normalcy of this routine that set me up to follow the same path? Or, could it be that coffee is just that amazingly awesome? Maybe a combo of both. Last week, during the wisdom teeth saga, I was prescribed vicodin for the pain, and while I was on it, dazed in my bed, I thought to myself  “This is the opposite of coffee.” And then I stopped taking it.

Given all these facts, one would think I have a very specific type of coffee I make in the morning, and a very used coffee maker of some type. But the truth is, if I’m left to fend for myself for a cup of coffee in my apartment.. I make instant. I KNOW. I know. This is a crime. Don’t I know how bad instant coffee tastes? It shouldn’t even be called real coffee! I know. It turns out, I had an aversion to learning how to use a coffee maker. Who knew? No one knew. (I knew).

Oh, irony.

For my birthday last week, my best friend found out about this scenario through this blog post (and I imagine winced in pain) and proceeded to buy me a coffee maker for my birthday. This coffee maker went straight into my cabinet still in the box, waiting for the day I actually bought coffee and coffee filters. That process might have taken me months, had the boyfriend not stepped in and had an intervention with me (I procrastinate). Instead, we went to the grocery store, bought some Kenyan roast coffee and sugar, and got me all ready for this big, huge, step in my life.

Then I made real coffee:

big changes*

It was so much better than instant, that when my alarm went off this morning I actually jumped out of bed excited to make more. Coffee motivates me :).

If you’re like me, here’s all it takes to make coffee:

  • To measure the amount of water that goes into the coffee maker: use your mug.
    • Pour in as many full mugs as you’d really like to drink. Want four mugs of coffee made? Fill a mug up four times and pour it in the machine (my coffee maker is for individual cups, hence why you see my mug in the picture and not a pot o’ coffee).
  • Put in the filter
  • Add ground coffee: I put 2 rounded tablespoons per mug o’ coffee. I use an actual tablespoon measure.
  • Hit the brew button.
  • Wait 3 minutes.
  • Drink.
  • Pat yourself on the back.

Sleeping On A NYC Subway

This weekend I was up in White Plains visiting my brother Marc, his girlfriend Jessica, and our families, and we got into a discussion about sleeping on the commute to work. My brother’s girlfriend’s sister Allison (did you follow that?) lives with them, and her and my bro commute to their jobs in the city everyday from White Plains via the Metro North. The ride from White Plains to Grand Central Station is about thirty-five minutes.

Allison: “I was driving to the train station the other day so exhausted that I couldn’t wait to make it to the train just so I could go back to sleep. I was thinking to myself, ‘stay awake!’ ‘ just make it to the train!'”

Me: “Ridiculous. I wish I could sleep on the subway in the city.”

Allison: “I was so tired, I debated sitting on the train back to White Plains and riding back to the city just to get an extra hour of sleep. I figured I’d still get in at 9:30… that’s not bad!”

Me: Stopped talking at this point. just laughing. But thinking to myself–this could never happen for me.

Once I leave my apartment it’s all over. The trains in the city on weekday morning are not quiet. They are not relaxing. It’s more like  hundreds of people squeezing their butts into a subway car regardless of if there is actually room to fit their butts. And in addition, attempting to sip their coffee to wake up and look alive at work, while also reading a trashy novel because how would New Yorkers survive with one instance of nothing to do? Or worse! The men in suits who now read the news on their iPads on the train in the morning. Holding up the big flat device which if someone were to fall into them by accident would slam them in the face and possibly break a nose. Break. A. Nose.

No. Sleep on the subway commute is impossible.

Lo and behold, this morning I was proven wrong. I got on the F train heading to work, and saw this man. This man, pulling out all the stops to catch a few extra minutes of sleep before selling his soul to an 8 hour (probably more like 10 hour) workday.

for real.

I give you..

Ingredients for sleeping on a NYC subway:

  • miniature travel pillow
  • determination to wait until a corner seat opens up on the train, and the speed of light to haul ass and sit in it when it does before ten other grumpy, caffeine-deprived commuters seize it
  • ear plugs to block out the noise from the guy next to you listening to his iPod with the kind of headphones that make everyone around him listen to it too
  • an eye mask, so as to not allow yourself to peak and see everyone staring at you
  • the neck pillow. specifically an inflatable one that must be blown up while waiting for the train, and aired out and packed away once arriving at work
  • complete awareness that what other people think doesn’t matter, ’cause dammit I’m going to get these extra 15 minutes of sleep in!


Gestures Flood

I often think to myself that the influence people have on each other is woven deeper than the influencer can ever know. In the countless moments of decision in my day, each action is combined with a memory of someone, or some time.

On my 23rd birthday, I was working at a large ad agency at the time, and I came to work to a vase full of roses on my desk. I wasn’t dating anyone. Did I have an admirer at work? That would’ve been cool, but, not the case. They were from my manager. With a card that she signed with our clients names who we jokingly mocked day in and day out (I think this is standard protocol in all client-related services, no matter how great the clients are). What a gesture! What a thought. What a way for her to wake up and think to herself, “It’s Mel’s birthday, I think I’ll stop and grab her flowers.” I felt like someone cared about me. And it’s funny because I’m sure we can all quickly say the phrase “people care about me”, and we can even know it, but it’s not often that we actively feel it. And what a pity, because isn’t that the best part?

This past week I have been out of work recovering from a wisdom tooth surgery gone awry. Last night I decided this is at the top of my list of one of the worst things to have happened to me. I was depressed for five days with pain, alone in a tiny new apartment, scared, freaking out to friends who were sitting online talking to me. My brother brought me mashed potatoes, my father called and sat on the phone with me until I stopped crying and the pain went away, my mother sent me funny emails from work mimicking my “you can do it!” spirit, a friend laid in my bed next to me and distracted me, and my boyfriend, smothered in law school finals, called three times everyday to see how I was feeling, and constantly looked up immediate cures to help me last through the pain.

During all this time I was feeling sorry for myself, I have to be thankful to be surrounded by people who were thinking about me. But while I was out of the office, something else was happening. A national campaign I have been preparing for launch has been left hanging in the hands of a new manager who just joined our company last month. I’ve been showing her the ropes, and helping her get aqcuainted with how our start-up agency (full of 40 year old, hilarious, yet supremely immature men) runs. Then, I left. With one week until launch. Emails are coming to my phone at 10:30 at night from her to our clients, and I kind of feel like a mother duck who ran out on her ducklings (strange analogy, I’m aware). Today I started to feel better, and thought to myself “Shit, I can probably handle being at a desk right now. She’s sitting there swamped. I’m going straight to hell, aren’t I.”

I don’t really know how to thank her yet. But I know I’m getting her flowers tomorrow morning.

A Thought & A Song

I had a slow, thoughtful day. Not that much to report. But I can tell you that friends and laughs are two of the most important things in life.

And I thought I’d leave with a song.