Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekend 4: Parks and Bars Galore

What a weekend!!!

Friday, I more or less had the day off. I need to get some work for Slow Food done over the next week or so, but I didn't need to do it on Friday so I mostly took the day for myself. I went to Queens to put up posters in my grocery store and to meet with a woman at a nonprofit financial advising agency that works towards economic equality. The woman seemed to like the idea of the nutrition tours, and agreed to talk to her clients about signing up for one.

After running, I met up with Joanna at Bryant Park where we watched a couple of dance troupes rehearse for a performance that evening. At 5:30 I went to a free open rooftop bar at the Empire Hotel — no catch! You only had to RSVP online in advance. I met up with some of the friends I made at the 21st birthday party last weekend and really enjoyed hanging out with them more. We went to a different bar when the open bar ended, and then I headed out to find Emily celebrating her 21st.

with Joanna in Bryant Park 
"Do you ever dream you're flying? I wish I could dance like that because then I could know what flying felt like." -Joanna 
red carpet photos at the rooftop bar
[photo belongs to Yasamin Haghshenas]
the view from the bar 
My phone had already died by 7 p.m., so I looked up directions on a friend's phone and wrote it down on a piece of paper. Despite having had three drinks without eating, I managed to navigate myself to the bar where Emily and her friends were supposed to be — but they had left just five minutes before I got there. So then I borrowed the bartender's phone to look up directions to the restaurant where we were supposed to go next. I was proud of myself for finding that one, too (having gone from the upper west side to the lower east side back up to somewhere between those two). A couple of circuits through the tables and bar area determined that the group definitely wasn't there. I waited by the door for half an hour before deciding they definitely weren't coming. The kind host, though he was clearly very busy seating people, took pity on me and let me borrow his phone to log on Facebook. I saw that Emily had messaged the group saying there wasn't space at that restaurant so they were eating somewhere else. A semi-desperate message ("hi I'm stranded with no phone please tell me where you are!") and a few minutes later, I got a response the name of the restaurant where they had gone instead. I looked up directions for that place (still on the restaurant host's phone) and then sent a quick reply: "Okay I'm walking there now please don't leave before I get there!!!"

After a 15 minute walk I was finally united with the group I had chased all over lower Manhattan. After some great Spanish tapas, we walked to a different bar before all going home. I love meeting all these friends-of-friends because everyone I talk to is super friendly and interesting! I've also been lucky to meet several Duke and UNC students who I know I'll be able to see/hang out with in the future.

with Ellie at Emily's 21st birthday dinner
I slept in Saturday, went running then worked on my online class for a couple of hours. Then I met up with Sagar (the one who turned 21 last weekend) for some Frisbee in the park. We ended up walking the entire length of the park, including one super fun pit stop to sail a remote-controlled sailboat on a pond! Then we made dinner together — mostly he made dinner, a delicious tomato-chickpea dish.

Central Park Sailing Club
delicious chole dinner

That night I met up with Ellie at a different free open bar, this one much more club-like with neon lights and loud music. Then Ellie and I went to her friend's apartment for a little while. It wasn't a big night but I was still out super late just because it takes so long to get around the city.

Liberty Theater: free open bar #2

This morning I went to the Pride March downtown. So fun. I love all the bright colors and high energy and glitter and music and dancing! I know a lot of my family and friends are opposed to homosexuality on a biblical basis, but I think the most important thing to remember is that people are people are people. The Bible's key message above all else is love, and so I think respect for people who choose a different lifestyle than you is mandated simply by our shared humanity both from a Christian perspective and a secular one. I was happy to be there supporting acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

acceptance matters!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


The highlight of my week thus far:

holding a chicken at the Bed-Stuy Farm

Monday: Instead of going to the Slow Food office, I walked around Manhattan looking for restaurants to shoot magazine photos in. I visited a dozen places and collected eight business cards for emailing managers. As I walked, I was self-guided by a pretty kick@ss map I made that includes a point for each of the restaurants awarded the "Snail of Approval" by the NYC chapter of Slow Food for use of sustainably-sourced ingredients. I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon completing assignments for my online class, in a cafe that had neon green walls and was frequented almost exclusively by Asians.

My favorite photos from shooting at the Union Square greenmarket:

Later I walked with my friend Emily (who I met through Ellie my first or second week) to see a free opera in Central Park. By the time we got there, though, it had already started and the gates were closed. So we found a spot among the other opera-rejects grouped on a nearby rock and tried to listen from there. We didn't catch much of the performance but enjoyed the atmosphere nonetheless and probably absorbed some culture by osmosis or something.

Tuesday: Yet again my first grocery store was rescheduled last-minute, this time because the woman coordinating the participants got her dates mixed up. We'll hopefully be able to do it next week instead. My partner Sai and I spent the day walking around Long Island City/Astoria, forging more community partnerships for tour recruitment. I went to the City Harvest office in Midtown that afternoon to make some phone calls and catch up on email, then attended a session where my supervisor made a presentation about his work setting up my internship program. I think I'd enjoy doing something like that.

waiting outside my door for the super to come because I locked my keys and wallet inside my apartment when rushing out for work Tuesday morning

Wednesday: My first tour! I led two women around the Bed-Stuy grocery store where I work with Rick. This tour was in English, which was good for my first time. Both women seemed to enjoy it, and I definitely did. That afternoon, Rick and I made friends at a local bakery where I got to sample some awesome sweet potato pound cake. We also spent a solid hour at the Bed-Stuy Farm, where I got to hold a chicken!!!

delicious sweet potato pound cake at Sweet Lee's Bakery

here's the chicken picture again because it makes me so happy
After another few hours in a cafe doing my online class, I met up with my friend Carson for happy hour in Midtown. I hadn't seen her since last fall, so it was great catching up.

Thursday: I'd normally be in the Slow Food office, but because City Harvest is closed tomorrow they had us in the office for meetings today instead. I'll just work from home for Slow Food tomorrow instead. Today is my CH internship coordinator's last day, which is sad because I've enjoyed working with him and now we'll have to adjust to a different supervisor.

In the office today there was an abundance of free food, including fruit salad and chocolate cupcakes (for each of which I was equally excited).

I went running for the first time in more than a week, an absolute necessity to combat the accumulating slothy feeling.

I'll never get tired of this

Monday, June 23, 2014


Saturday: Woken up unnecessarily early by my dear friend Joanna, who felt lonely being the only person awake at 8 a.m. Cleaned the apartment (good for my mental health) and then spent a couple of hours at one of my favorite cafes so far, a place called Joe's over by Columbia. It's on the second floor of a corner building and sports a wall and a half of floor-length windows, which not only let in tons of natural light but also afford a super fun view of the street intersection. I am a fan of the place also because they gave me a coupon for a free drink after forgetting to fill my order. Also they have delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies.

love her

I spent the afternoon with Joanna and her friends (who go to UNC, woo!) sitting in a sunny field in Central Park, taking photos on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum, and devouring a delicious Asian fusion dinner.

Met rooftop

Sunday: Slept in beautifully, then went to a food market in Brooklyn with Jasen (the friend of Yasamin's with whom I got crepes last week). At the market, I ate: a vegetable empanada (my enjoyment of it hugely amplified by my hunger level), cold spicy peanut noodles (delicious), and lemon basil shaved ice (wonderfully refreshing). I also drank an entire coconut (extremely fun). I spent a lot of money very happily. Now I'm at a tea shop in Harlem working on my computer until it's time to go to dinner with Ellie and her friend Eugene.

it's safe to say I'm enjoying this summer
with Jasen at Smorgasberg, the Brooklyn Sunday food market

Rocking/Going Out

Happy hour, Fall Out Boy and a rooftop party: Does this sound fun yet?

Thursday: A productive day at Slow Food, laying out the organizational foundations of our magazine production (setting deadlines, organizing to-do lists, etc.). Met up with a friend of a friend for happy hour downtown. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to her, and we sat there for a solid two hours. We both declined a third drink when the bartender asked, but he treated us to it anyway, so I walked home feeling decidedly tipsy. Got home around 8 p.m. and could think of nothing productive that I was capable of doing, so decided pretty quickly to just go to bed in anticipation of my next morning.

me @ Fall Out Boy concert circa 6 a.m.

Friday: Woke up at 4:15 a.m. for the free Fall Out Boy concert at The Today Show. Arrived before 6, waited in line reading HP for two hours, listened to the band play three songs, then walked to work. Ellie told me that it was very classic Caroline to read Harry Potter in Spanish by myself on the sidewalk at 6 a.m. while waiting for a Fall Out Boy concert.

the line for the concert

what I did while waiting

Today Show woohoo who spotted me on TV??

A full day of meetings at work. Got some positive feedback from my supervisor in our one-on-one time. He also challenged me to try stepping back in situations where I might feel more comfortable than my partner in speaking up (e.g. when introducing our program to potential community partners) so as to allow my partner to develop his skills. That's challenging for me but a super important lesson, because I know I have the tendency to dominate a conversation when I feel confident about the subject matter.

Came home and considered taking a nap but then remembered my online class had started. I did my 20 pages of reading and, periodically interrupted by long conversations with various friends through various forms of communication technology, wrote up an excellent 600-word response to post on the discussion board just before the deadline. Of course, as soon as I clicked "post," the system logged me out and erased all my writing. So I sent a pathetic, panicky email to my professor on our first day of class begging for a deadline extension, and then rewrote my reading response. All this made me an hour late for my evening plans. So I skipped the shower, haphazardly threw together an outfit, then met up with Joanna at Union Square before walking a MILE in my platform wedge heels to a rooftop birthday party. A friend of a friend was turning 21 and had a sweet apartment with a rooftop deck. It was easily one of the best parties I've ever been to. The crowd was about 99% UNC students, some of whom I already knew casually and most of whom I had tons of mutual friends with. Around midnight we went to a bar where the birthday boy miraculously convinced the huge, gruff bouncer to let in the under-21s of our group. I had a blast the entire night (I even came home with the number of a guy whose last name in my phone is, classically, the name of the bar where we met).

with Joanna at the rooftop party

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy post

I know three weeks is a vacationer's glimpse of a city, but I am actually surprised by how much I like NYC. Last summer, when I was in Buenos Aires, I lived every day feeling lonely and afraid — emotions I attributed to the sheer size of the city. NYC boasts almost three times as many people living within its city limits (and it's more than five times bigger in terms of surface area), but my summer experience has been vastly different — in a good way.

This is obviously due to several factors: because living in a domestic city is much less challenging than living in a foreign city (where I barely knew the language); because I know lots of people (who know lots of people) in NYC this summer, as opposed to knowing hardly anyone in Buenos Aires; because I love my jobs this summer and hated work last summer; because it's genuinely summer here and was winter in Buenos Aires; because I got mugged my first weekend in Buenos Aires and haven't been in remotely a similar situation in NYC....

On second thought, it isn't surprising at all that I love it here as contrasted to last summer.

I wonder if my enthusiasm for every single day will wear off as the summer progresses? I've noticed that whenever I'm away from home for longer than a couple of weeks, I start getting homesick just after the halfway point of my trip. This was the case on my Outward Bound backpacking trip the summer after I graduated high school, during my summer in New Orleans, during my summer in Argentina and during my semester in Spain. So I'm semi-expecting homesickness to set in around Week 6 of my 10 weeks in NYC, but I'm optimistic that I won't get tired of it at all! I have loved every day of my first three weeks here.

happy happy happy :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Week 2 Catch-up

The past week, in summary:

Thursday: running in Central Park, then Slow Food. Met an intern who is half Honduran and half Spanish (new friend goal, obvi). Indian dinner with Ellie, her friend Emily and my friend Sarah.

Friday: Team meetings at City Harvest, then more outreach work in Queens (establishing community partnerships to help recruit participants for my nutrition education tours). Made Thai soup (#success) then picked up Mary McCall from Penn Station!

Whirlwind tourist weekend with MM, Papa and Nana. Special bonding time with sister :) Also honed my travel agent skills scheduling a very full weekend for everyone — hectic at times but tons of fun!

sisters + statue

Saturday: Early morning run with MM in Central Park, bagel breakfast with grandparents, work training session while family went to wax museum. Lunch at a restaurant with a beautiful back patio, followed by a visit to the 9/11 memorial and museum. The tragic phone recordings they played from flight attendants and passengers on those doomed flights ("baby, I hope to God I get to see your face again but right now I just don't know... I love you so much, and please tell the kids I love them, too...") made me cry. The museum did a good job of portraying the immensity of the tragedy yet made it personal by highlighting every individual who died and sharing lots of personal stories of anyone who was involved.

That night, MM and I shared a delicious Cuban dinner in Brooklyn and then went to a supa hipsta Baths concert.

Papa and Nana at the 9/11 memorial
walking in Central Park
Sunday: Ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Glamorous late lunch at the beautiful Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Afternoon stroll through Chinatown. Later MM and I hung out with my friend John, and then went to a rooftop bar for drinks and Instagram pics.

on the Ellis/Liberty Island ferry
(Grand)father's day brunch
Papa was very excited about the Chinese fish market
rooftop drinks on our last night!

requisite Times Square pic
Monday: Slow Food. Drafted a news briefing for staff and board members, moved some digital files, and started setting up the new magazine project in our online interface system. Super cool lunch with representatives from Sustainable America and Feeding the Five Thousand (organizations focused on reduction of food waste). I love learning about all these approaches to and projects in the vast and complex field of "food."

Tuesday: Outreach in Queens. Lots of positive reception! Happy hour with a friend of someone I met in Pamplona, who turned out to be super cool and interesting. Inspired, excited and encouraged by her dynamic life.

Wednesday: First scheduled tour cancelled, sadly, because the senior citizens didn't want to go out in the 90-degree heat. Napped in a park, ran a 5k with my friend Joanna, and made dinner at home with Joanna, Ellie and Ellie's friend Eugene. Befriended the Argentinian fruit vendor outside my apartment >> good day.

 ***Bonus grandparent pics***

at the wax museum

Our last morning together! They looked so picturesque waiting for us in this park that I just had to document it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Slow (Brown Sludge) Food

I started at Slow Food USA today! I can already tell that this is an awesome organization, too. How lucky am I to have found simultaneous internships at TWO organizations that make me so happy?! Slow Food USA's mantra is that food should be good, clean and fair for all. It's a membership-funded nonprofit that works on campaigns, symposiums, advocacy and other education-focused programs to promote "good" food in every sense of the word. This summer I'll be helping with their biannual magazine production. Today was a brief drop-in to meet the staff and get acquainted with the office; tomorrow will be more of a real orientation.

The Slow Food office is hidden in this building. Deceptively sketchy looking— it's actually really nice on the inside.

As I rode the subway home, I contemplated how happy I am to have coworkers with whom to debate the value of "organic" for an individual consumer, to bond over our shared disgust for high fructose corn syrup, and to admire each others' kale/quinoa lunches. I am quickly on the road to becoming a certifiable food snob, I thought.

Inspired by all this, I decided to go on a big grocery shopping trip when I got home and finally make one of the many vegan recipes I've gathered on Pinterest. I chose a simple peanut stir fry...

Supposed to look like this:

Turned out like this:
brown sludge yummm

Still not sure what went wrong. Maybe my peanut butter was too thick and my soy sauce too strong? It tastes okay, but now I'm worried about my coworkers judging me at lunch as they eat their colorful, dainty artisan salads :(

I think I'll save this for dinners and pack a sandwich for lunch instead.

(This link doesn't really make me feel better, because that stir-fry definitely belongs on the list:

*   *   *

(The rest of this is boring)

Yesterday the nutrition education interns (myself included) had another meeting with Phil and then did more outreach work to recruit participants for our grocery store tours. We try to partner with community agencies so as to have better turnout on each tour, and part of my job is establishing those partnerships. So far I'm in touch with a senior center, a retirement home, a community center, a library and a school.

That evening I went to the Museum Mile Festival, where nine of NYC's most famous Fifth Avenue museums were free. Visited El Museo del Barrio (the Puerto Rican museum) and the Museum of the City of New York. Both were well-curated with interesting exhibits, but way too overcrowded.

Later I met up with a friend of Yasamin's for crepes! We met when he came to Chapel Hill for Yasamin's birthday last year but hadn't seen each other since then. It was great catching up and I'm sure I'll hang out with him more this summer.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hittin Curves/Riding High

In spite of all my lofty plans for Sunday, I ended up spending most of the day reading Harry Potter in the grass and sun of Central Park. It was wonderful.

Today was wonderful in a completely different way, as I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to ride along with one of the City Harvest truck drivers on his delivery routes. I arrived at the Food Rescue Facility in Queens at 7 a.m. and waited in the lounge (moderately awkwardly) with the drivers until my assigned host for the day was ready. Eddie turned out to be one of my favorite people I've met this summer: extraordinarily friendly, impressively loquacious and highly opinionated. I came home bursting with knowledge about his personal life and wisdom for life in general.

at the FRF -- 7 a.m.
felt too awkward to ask him for a pic together at first, and forgot later on
and we're off!

Eddie says women these days go after married men instead of single ones because married men are less likely to have AIDS. It's a thing, apparently. Eddie has lots of opinions about relationships. He told me about how he calls his wife (of 33 years) his girlfriend because they date to keep the love alive. He buys her two dozen roses every other week and calls her every morning to wake her up.

Eddie also says that being nice to people will get you far in life, as will careful record-keeping and personal organization skills. He told me about how you sometimes have to demand respect from other people, and to never put up with someone treating you wrong. Eddie loves his job because it's fun and fulfilling. His grandkids think he's a hero because he feeds millions of people every day.

Eddie and I drove all around Manhattan, picking up food from grocery stores and restaurants and dropping it off at churches and other collection centers. All the while I learned all about his personal preferences (loves driving, top 40 radio played loudly, prank calls, sleeping in), dislikes (heights, rats, running, rap, sass), routines (what time he wakes up, when and where he eats, what he does on weekends) and plans (including moving to Florida to get a driving job for a similar nonprofit in Orlando after his youngest daughter moves out of his home in New York).

It was an extremely informative, engaging and entertaining day — especially because I felt entitled to two lunches: one at 10:30 a.m. (five hours after breakfast) and another at 2 p.m.

waiting for bags of bread to be handed up from this bakery's underground storage room