Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My First New York

Editor's Note: Today's post is inspired by New York magazine's "My First New York."

I moved to New York exactly three years ago. I didn't really have a plan when I moved here. I asked my then-girlfriend if I could stay with her until I found my own place and a job, then bought a one-way ticket and packed anything I could fit into two large suitcases and my carry-on backpack. I would've brought more stuff, but I didn't want to pay the surcharge for extra checked-in luggage.

I shacked up in her Astoria studio for about six weeks. I'm really glad I did, otherwise I probably never would've liked or visited Queens. I was only temping at the time, so I got to experience the neighborhood during the weekdays.

The main thoroughfare is Ditmars Boulevard, which is lined with everything you could ever need -- restaurants, cafes, bakeries, groceries, butchers, convenience stores, bars, flower shops, etc. It seemed like an endless stream of old Greek women pushed shopping carts along Ditmars, and the old Greek men just sat at outdoor tables drinking coffee and smoking all day, seemingly without a care in the world. There was something charming about the scene.

The only issue I had with Astoria is that it was a bitch to get back from the city after a late night out. During my six-week stay, the girlfriend happened to be out of town a couple weekends. I'd meet up with friends in the city and attempt to return to Astoria by myself. But I didn't have much money back then, so I'd be bombed and try to get back via the subway. Worst. Decision. Ever...Twice.

The wait alone is a test of wills. It's amazing how many Q and R trains run late at night, but for some reason N trains seems to be nonexistent. Once you get on the train you're surrounded by a few other budget-conscious folks, but also, some homeless guys wrapped in layers of clothing from the winter. Even though it's getting warmer, they still hang onto their gear because they need it for the next cold spell. It's nasty because they sweat through it all day, and the stench just overpowers the subway car. Definitely not good for the olfactory senses.

One of the times, I ended up hopping on the wrong train, temporarily passing out and getting off at the wrong station. I surfaced only to find myself at an unfamiliar part of the city. I stumbled around for a few minutes trying to figure out where I was and whether I could just hop back on the train. But I ultimately decided to hail a cab because I was still new and didn't have an inkling as to where I was or have any idea about how I'd even find the right train. It made for a great adventure.

I live in the city now, and there's about a 0.7% chance of me ever moving to one of the other boroughs. But first experiencing New York from Astoria was fun and taught me a very important lesson -- when it's 3am and you're drunk, just spend the money on a cab.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Effing Hipsters

Awesomeness from OP. Just read the captions.

http://lookatthisfuckinghipster.tumblr.com/

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Thoughts

I'm not a fan of public nudity. A European woman was frolicking and jumping rope in Sheep Meadow...topless. Everyone was staring. It wasn't very attractive.

For the past year, I've had a special bond with Ramen Setagaya. I've taken my friends and family there, and I would always refer people. But alas, I found a better spot -- Minca. Absolutely superb.

If you're into ramen, check out Rameniac. It has ramen recommendations and reviews from all over the globe.

I'm planning a cookie ratings post. If you have any suggestions for places in the city with good cookies, please send them my way. Manhattan only please. And feel free to recommend places in the UWS, UES, Harlem or Financial District. I'm performing this taste test throughout the summer, so I'll be able to bike all over the city.

While checking out the Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene, I realized I could never live in Brooklyn. I'm way too mainstream; I'd always feel out of place. By the way, the Brooklyn Flea has some excellent food options.

Every street in Brooklyn looks exactly the same to me.

I know I have a shoe problem because it took me 10 minutes to decide what pair of shoes I was going to wear...to return a pair of shoes.

I watched The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Horrendous acting. Poor writing. Awesome movie. So many hot Japanese girls. More importantly, Zachary Ty Brian had a role in the first 10 minutes.

Outdoor dining is one of life's simplest and greatest pleasures.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Life Mulligans

I was checking Plinky last week, and I saw an interesting prompt - moments in life I wish I could do over. Here is my list:

I once told a Chinese girl that I don't trust Asians with blonde hair. She then responded that she used to dye her hair blonde. My response: a combination of "oh," "ugh " and "well," plus a bunch of other gibberish.

Blacking out and getting hit by a cab.

When I was 14, I was too shy to talk to the cute girl who lived down the street, even though she clearly wanted to talk to me.

Asking for a pint of Absolut Mandarin to drink before a Pearl Jam concert. It was my first concert, and I was 16 and had just started drinking. I didn't know about chasers.

About a month ago, I ate about $45 worth of barbecue and sides at Hill Country. I had originally intended to walk home, but I only made it three blocks before I hailed a cab. When I got home, I immediately jumped in my bed and slipped into a food coma.

When I lived on The Island for five months, the only place I visited outside of the country was Hong Kong. I really wish I had taken the opportunity to explore other parts of Asia.

Bike shorts.

Whenever I buy a value box of Hello Panda, I can't control myself and end up eating at least five of the ten packages within 10-15 minutes.

My subscription to Playboy. I'm definitely not renewing. I read one issue when I was 17 and legitimately thought the articles were good, but that may have been because I had extremely poor comparison points - Maxim and Stuff. I'd rather get Details again, along with their tips on the best shave in every issue.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Shit or Get Off the Pot

Editor's Note: You may remember my guest writer, The Rainmaker. Earlier this year, she had expressed a desire to start her own blog but wasn't sure she was ready. I told her she could try writing a few things on The Dirty Burrito to get a feel for it. She got hooked, so she's launched her own blog: Chasing Raindrops. Check it out and look for updates on my blog roll. (Also, I told her the readers of The Dirty Burrito aren't used to all that girly stuff, and she needed to take her exceptional writing and storytelling skills elsewhere, so this is her last guest post - unless she writes something non-girly.) I wish her the best of luck!

In New York dating prospers as a professional sport, where the rules are bent with each individual to stay in the game. It's survival of the fittest. Throw technology into the mix and for those already uncoordinated - you're fucked.

It was that part of the day when food coma sinks in and you’re trying desperately not to glance at the time…tick, tock…four more hours to go… Luckily, a text exchange was stimulating my brain activity. I had met this guy at a bar the week before and we were trying to coordinate plans to meet up again. While normally I’m not a fan of text conversations, this had higher entertainment value over my work. We went through the motions of reintroducing ourselves again, the progress of our days, places we like to go out. At about 20 texts in, I thought we were narrowing down plans when he asked if I had been to Stanton Social. My anxieties were cast aside for a moment – maybe this was going to be a good date after all! He made a great suggestion. After replying that I had been dying to try Stanton Social, he punched back: “If you go make sure to get the meatballs and French onion soup dumplings. As you can tell I'm a fan.”

The expression on my face would have made for priceless television – the perfect cue for Ashton Kutcher and his crew to bombard the scene and say, “You’ve been punk’d!” Needless to say, it was a busted deal.

The texting standard has unwillingly forced us single women to mourn the death of a personal phone call. It’s supposed to make our lives easier but technology only presents additional hurdles, impossible to ignore in the already complicated world of dating. If it’s meant to be in this day and age, we must succumb to this standard. Is there still a way to get the intimate means of communication without settling or shutting down the opportunity?

I get it. Putting yourself out there is hard. Text can favorably act as a buffer to rejection – when you mass text at 2am and get no answers back, it softens the blow to one’s ego. Also, text allows for a perfectly calculated comeback, helping our chances of closing the deal. If it comes down to a war of wit, you can bet I’m consulting my best friend to win the battle. While text is supposed to lighten the situation, a back-and-forth exchange over a 30-minute period completely defeats the purpose. It wouldn’t be so complicated if it was confined to matter-of-fact Q&A but we’re all suckers for the game.

Text is a breeding ground for miscommunication. Clearly I thought this guy was making plans to meet up, when he was only throwing out a suggestion that I should pursue on my own. Tone of voice is an essential element to the identification process. Not only are we supposed to decipher confusing messages without tone, we are also expected to weigh the legitimacy of the message, depending on when it was sent (i.e. post-midnight invitations = looking for ass). Check the time, crack the code.

Ask any woman how she feels about a man asking her out over text – it’s a cop out. Unfortunately we now give more undeserving credibility when a guy puts forth the effort to call. Why should we waste our time juggling a pair of non-existent balls? In an attempt to understand Mars, I asked a bunch of man friends for their take on the texting standard.

“If I want to take a girl out on a date I call. That’s man time, that’s alpha. I would announce my presence with authority” – plain and simple from my favorite bachelor. I got different responses from all of them but universally they admitted they wouldn’t ask a girl they were truly interested in over text. Also the situation varied depending on the personality of the guy (he’s shy, socially awkward, hates talking, etc.) and the context in which he met the girl. Like every scenario, there are exceptions to the case. A real man still steps up to the plate and calls.

What are we supposed to take away from this game? We can’t change the standard, only adjust to it. Text is another test of character. It’s a stepping stone to figuring out what you want from the other person, whether it’s keeping the relationship on that casual level or taking it to the next by calling. Most of us don’t want another opportunity to pass us by. We shouldn’t shut people down at first text.

The reality is that once you get past the initial asking out, no real relationship can survive solely on the grounds of this guarded communication. It prevents us from truly getting to know the person on the other end. There is no intimacy involved. Whatever kind of relationship it may be, aren’t we all looking for some kind of fulfillment? Because when that fulfillment is absent, we move on and look elsewhere.

All things in life serve some kind of purpose. Why waste time once you’re on the shitter? Play the game all you want but don’t lose sight of what you seek in the end. Even better if you get a great story out of it along the way.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Defeated

30 pieces of steak (3 lbs. of meat)
Cooked in margarine
Fries
Pickles
Salad
Ice cream
Whipped cream
Beer

This is why I'm fat...FML.

In case you're wondering, the winner ate 54 pieces of steak.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Where's The Beef?

It's going to be in my belly. Tonight, I will participate in my second beefsteak. I definitely won't have any last-second interviews so I'll be able to arrive promptly this time, meaning I won't have to speed-eat 21 pieces of steak in 30 minutes.

My goal for tonight is 25 pieces. I'll try to reach 30 if my head isn't pounding from the butter and beef. If you want real-time updates on my status, you can follow my Twitter feed for updates as I eat. It's also a good way to check whether my arteries won the battle and I live to eat another day.

Wish me luck.