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27 Before 27: Eat Chicken and Waffles

12 Dec
The Reverend Al Sharpton

The Reverend Al Sharpton

In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

The food to-do’s on my list always give me warm fuzzies. Because, delicious food is the best, and I love trying anything new.

I’ve had fried chicken (albeit not in years), and lord knows I’ve had waffles. But this combo? It seems so odd, but it’s so right.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I think this has to do with the fact that I almost never eat it. I am absolutely not a morning person. Getting up to go to work in the morning is usually a struggle. Most mornings I just have cereal and milk, almost always Special K. But when I have a day-off, boy oh boy do I love to get pancakes or omelets or breakfast burritos or big puffy blueberry muffins. I should stop. I’m drooling.

So for my first Chicken and Waffles experience, I enlisted my friend Gian who is the one who introduced me to the concept. We found a place in Harlem called Amy Ruth’s. The place was charming, and when you are seated, you are greeted with a basket of corn bread. Corn bread, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Does anyone get that Chris Rock reference? Are you amazed that I have the ability to reference Chris Rock? I’m kind of amazed with myself.

So back to the chicken and waffles. The waffles part is misleading, because really it’s only one. But it’s massive, and it was fluffy, so no complaints. The chicken part lived up to its half by being about as large as a small chicken. I didn’t even really know how to hack into it, but I figured it out.

Delicious! The salty crunch of juicy fried chicken, combined with the fluffy savory of a waffle, and drizzle some maple syrup on that while you’re at it. I was a happy lady. I’m embarrassed to report I couldn’t finish it. And I was only about a fifth of the way through it while Gian was all but licking his plate. But it was a satisfying day-off breakfast meal. So satisfying that I didn’t even really feel the need to eat the rest of the day. That’s an amazing breakfast.

27 Before 27: Read Moby Dick

2 Dec

In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

Before I read “Moby Dick,” I read “Anna Karenina.” A friend and I decided to read it together, taking on a part a week and discussing it with each other. We were both inspired to read it because of the Keira Knightley movie version that is coming out. I typically enjoy the classics. I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Twain. I was that nerd in high school English that loved every last book we read. But for some reason, I really didn’t like “Anna Karenina.” I tried to. But I just didn’t particularly like any of the characters, and the huge chunks about Russian agrarian society was somewhat tedious.

This is when I started reading “Moby Dick.” When I would finish a part in “Anna Karenina” before my scheduled meeting with my friend, I would start in on “Moby Dick.” And I loved it. It was such a necessary change of pace. Herman Melville’s language is so full of images and smells and sounds. It puts you directly in the Nantucket whaling community. And Queequeg! The tattooed foreigner that Ishmael quickly befriends? Loved him. The scene where they are spooning the morning after they meet, adorable. I found myself rushing through “Anna Karenina” so I could get back to “Moby Dick.”

So at last I finished the Tolstoy torture and could fully dedicate myself to “Moby Dick.” This, of course, coincided with reading the part in the book where Melville goes on and on and on and on about whale anatomy and references to whales in literature. It was long-winded, and I honestly didn’t really read all of it. I skimmed over most of it. I mean there were pages of different scientific names for breeds of whales. Really?

All in all, it’s an amazing book, if you cut out the lists and the explanations. If you did that, it would probably be more of a novella. But it made me laugh, it pulled me in. I missed my subway stop while I was reading the end. So dramatic and exciting. Will I ever read it again, though? Nope. Probably not.

Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure….. Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle , and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”

27 Before 27: Get a Professional Massage

19 Oct


In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

Soon after I made my list, I saw a Groupon for a 60-minute Swedish massage in Chinatown. I jumped on it quickly as it was a 50% discount. Probably one of the main reasons I’ve never gotten a professional massage is because it’s just not the kind of thing I spend money on. I like learning what people spend the majority of their money on. For a lot of girls my age, it’s clothing. For some people it’s travel, concert tickets, fancy electronics, dinners out. I keep a lovely Excel spreadsheet of my finances, and the majority of my money goes to books and booze. A winning combination.

But I thought this would be a nice way to treat myself. My job is physically demanding, and this would help me relax. The place was a little bit sketchy, as the sign for it was on neon green posterboard with clip art glued onto it. But the place itself was nice. I was so nervous. I’m a private, and oftentimes shy, person, and I was freaked out by the idea of a stranger touching me. So one of my favorite parts about the massage was that she started by covering me in a towel and massaging me through the towel. It wasn’t until 5 or 10 minutes into the massage that she started to remove the towel. By that time I was comfortable.

Some parts of the massage felt incredible. I liked having my hands rubbed, and I enjoyed when she pressed points along my spine. Other parts really hurt though. I suppose it was my fault. Early on, she was massaging my neck, and it was hurting me. The masseuse asked me if it was too much pressure. Trying to be tough, I denied that it hurt, and said it was perfect. Ergo, she used that amount of pressure on the rest of me, causing me to wince in pain often, which the lady obviously couldn’t see as my head was tucked into a weird hole in the table. But something in me thought that maybe the pain was a good thing, maybe she was getting out knots or something in my muscles. I don’t know how that shit works. I thought it might be good for me.

The next day I woke up with pain all over my body. I felt like I had an intense workout at the gym the day before, and I felt stiff. Not sure if that is a common feeling the day after a massage, but I was a little thrown by it. All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour of my time, and I think it would be better if I just spoke up and said what I wanted. Oh God, that’s too true in every aspect of my life.

27 Before 27: Donate Blood

2 Oct

In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

This was a fail. But I’m still crossing it off.

I was excited to do this one, because it’s rewarding to give back. It wasn’t going to cost me money, like other things on my list, and I was going to get free juice and cookies out of it. I’ll do just about anything for free cookies.

It was simple to just google “Donate Blood NYC” to find a blood bank conveniently near me to donate through. I showed up rather early on a Monday morning (early for me since it was my day off), hydrated, full of a healthy breakfast, and ready to give a pint.

Blood banks make you fill out a rather lengthy form about your health history. But I honestly didn’t think there would be any problem. I’m a healthy, young lady. Used intravenous drugs? Nope. Slept with a prostitute? Nope.

So the nurse calls me into the room. She starts by pricking my finger and putting some droplets of my blood into a neat, little machine. She then took my temperature. Finally, she pulled out a blood pressure reader. I gulped.

I knew how this was going to go down. It happens to me every time I visit any sort of doctor. She took my blood pressure, then got a screwed up look on her face of pure disbelief. She took it again. She took it again. I sighed. I knew what was coming.

“Your blood pressure is very low.”
“I know.”
“It’s normally like this?”
“Are you sure?”
“You don’t feel like passing out right now?”

My blood pressure is 80/50. This isn’t normal. But it’s also not bad. There’s nothing really to be done about it, except to wait for time to raise my blood pressure as it does with people. Technically, a blood pressure like mine should mean I’m passing out all the time or at least feeling rather dizzy. But I’m not. I’m a medical miracle. But this medical miracle cannot donate blood. Apparently, losing a pint of blood could possibly throw my body into shock and make me very ill.

I’m sad that I’m ineligible, but maybe in a couple of years. Alas, I need all my blood right where it is.

27 Before 27: Write a fan letter

18 Sep


In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

I can hardly believe it, friends. I am one week into my 27th year on this blue dot, and I’ve already knocked something off my list! All that birthday drinking had to stop at some point, so I could get down to business.

Writing a fan letter in some ways feels awfully childish. In fact, when I started this one, after I wrote the opening “Dear Ira Glass,” I giggled at the peculiar nature of it and read it aloud in a high-pitched teenage girl voice. I was nervous to do this, because it’s putting oneself out there. Trying to contact someone who has no idea who you are, yet is someone that you wholeheartedly admire.

So I went with Ira Glass. I thought about Bonnie Hunt, but I didn’t have much to say other than I though her talk show she had a couple of years ago was pretty awesome. I thought about Tina Fey, but she’s truly a celebrity. I don’t think my letter would ever reach her, and I’d bet she receives a lot of fan letters. But Ira Glass, although a celebrity amongst hipsters and nerds, seemed less out of reach. I’ve heard him speak in a ballet studio in Brooklyn. He seems like a humble, likeable, kind guy. Plus I felt like the fact that I’d seen him speak was a jumping off point.

My letter basically thanked him for speaking at the New York Writer’s Coalition event and detailed how I admired him so. There wasn’t much else to say, because I don’t necessarily want anything from him. My dream is that he will be touched by my sincere yet brief note, write me back, and we’ll begin an old-fashioned correspondence like Rilke and his young poet. Ira Glass will become my mentor and my friend. That’s my dream, but I know the chances are slim to none. The one thing that I realistically hope for is that the letter actually makes it to him and that it makes him happy for a day. I sent the letter to him at the “This American Life” address, so I believe there’s a fairly good chance of it making its way to him.

I feel silly about it, but sometimes a kind note can make someone’s day. I’ve worked many jobs, many, many, many jobs, and I was always touched when someone took a moment to mention that I helped them or did a good job, so it’s something that I likewise try to do for others. Perhaps even Ira Glass needs a little pick-me-up now and then.

27 Before 27

16 Sep


I’m 26! And I had an amazing transitional week from 25 to 26. The Saturday before my birthday, I invited a hodgepodge of friends to a small gathering at a West Village bar. I’ve been in New York for two years now, and I was touched to realize that I have such an amazing group of people who love and support me. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, and I still get warm, fuzzy feelings thinking about that night. My phone still can’t take pictures, so the only real picture I have from that night is the one my friend Kristina took of all the Vet office co-workers that were there.

What was amazing about my birthday was that I had my vet office friends, my softball friends, my soccer friends, my Seattle friends, my Think Coffee friends, my roommates, my crazy dentist office friends, etc. At one point my new man companion made a comment that all of my friends were so different from one another, but the one thing they all had in common was that they were all warm, kind, fun people. I feel I’ve done well for myself.

However, I have not done well for myself as far as my 26 before 26 list goes. I only completed 12 things. And many of the items left behind were not so difficult that I have a good excuse for not doing them. But I will do better this year, I will focus, and I hopefully won’t wait until December to knock the first one off.

One thing I decided to do was to roll over the unfinished items to the new list. But I’ve starred them below to keep track of which ones are taking me the longest.

1. Read Moby Dick– It’s a classic. It’s considered one of the great, defining American novels. I know all the basics about it, but I’ve never actually read it. It’s so monstrous and intimidating, but I owe it to American literature to read it.

2. Eat pork belly– I’ve heard it’s delicious. My former life as a vegetarian for eight years makes me somewhat standoffish when it comes to meat which is why I’ve never had it. A funny note, I mentioned to a co-worker of mine that I was putting it on my list, and he told me that pork belly was so four years ago and not in culinary vogue anymore. Oh, New York, you crazy, nonsensical place.

3. Write a fan letter*- Last year when I put this on the list I thought I was going to write one to Tina Fey. However, at this point in time, I would like to write one to Ira Glass! That dashing nerd! We’ll see.

4. Get a professional massage- I’ve had plenty of amateur ones, but I think I’d like to get the real deal. I work hard. I deserve it.

5. Donate blood- It’s such a simple thing that could mean so much to someone, but I’ve never done it, because blood used to freak me out. With my new career as a Vet Tech, it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it’s kind of neat.

6. Do some gardening*- Ya know, I actually did sign up for a volunteer gardening project in the Lower East Side, but when I showed up, I was actually assigned to re-paint jungle gym equipment, so I did try. But I failed.

7. Anonymously pay someone’s tab*- Does the fact that I haven’t completed this make me a selfish person incapable of helping my fellow man, or am I just really poor and can’t afford it? Something I should really think about and fix one way or another.

8. Be an extra in a movie or tv show*- I live in New York. I need to make this happen and become immortal on the silver screen.

9. Take a boxing class- I’ve always thought it would be fun. I’m a scrawny girl, but I’d like to become capable of beating someone up.

10. Visit a new baseball stadium- I’ve been to 6 of the 30 major league baseball stadiums, and I think it would be a hoot to see them all. So I’ve decided to put this on my list from now until I’ve completed them all.

11. Do a juice cleanse- I’m trying my darndest to be healthy. But I struggle with staying away from beer, whiskey, pop tarts, pizza, cheese, french fries, Oreos. Need I go on? I’d like to try one of those three day juice cleanses and see how it makes me feel. So many people swear by them.

12. Go hiking*- Such a simple one, but I live in New York. I hear there’s hiking on Staten Island, but that feels like a cheap cop-out. I’d rather go on a hike where I can see something naturally stunning.

13. Pluck my eyebrows*- I told a close friend that this was on the list, and he looked at me surprised. Sigh, yes, I have lovely eyebrows, but is there a chance they could be even more improved!

14. Go skinny dipping*- This is a really difficult one to make happen, because you can’t really just call someone up and say, “Hey, you wanna go get naked and jump in some water?” It’s just got to happen on its own. I guess I should start hanging out by bodies of water more frequently and be the creep in the corner slowly hinting that we all get naked and jump in.

15. Go scuba diving*- Likewise difficult to accomplish in New York, but I should really stop using that as an excuse. The whole point behind my list is to have easy things alongside more challenging ones. Things that will force me to step out of my comfort zone.

16. Go sailing*- So, who’s got a boat? Anyone, anyone…

17. Join a book club*-  Although I scoff at my undergrad degree, I really did love being an English major. I think joining a book club would be a grown-up extension of that.

18. Go to a hockey game*- I really tried! Last winter I was dating a hockey fan, and we kept on making plans to go that just never worked out. Then at some point I realized the only reason I was still with him was because I still wanted to go to a hockey game. That’s wrong. So I broke up with him. Then I was single, and I STILL didn’t go to a hockey game.

19. Go to roller derby- I wish I had the guts to join a roller derby team, but for now I’ll settle with watching other girls be violent and awesome.

20. Go to a dog show- I like dogs, a lot. But I’m not sure if I’ll love this or hate it.

21. Tango Lesson- I love dancing. I’m also really bad at it. The one time I took salsa lessons when I was 21, the stranger I was partnered with got very frustrated with me and told me in exasperation, “You have to let someone else lead for a minute!” I’ll never forget that.

22. Visit a whiskey distillery- I’ve been to many beer breweries, and it’s always fun. And if there’s one thing that I love more than beer, it’s whiskey.

23. Attend service at a synagogue*- Isn’t Yom Kippur this week? What is that?

24. Go to a gun range*- Bang Bang Bang.

25. Play the drums*- I recently went to a jazz club and the drummer in the band was a woman. I admired her.

26. Lie down and listen to a classic rock album and do nothing else*- This one is sooooooo easy. Why on Earth haven’t I done it. No. good. excuse.

27. Eat chicken and waffles- I’d never even heard of this supposedly common brunch option until I moved to New York. Apparently there are a lot of really great places. And I love me some brunch!