A Day of Me

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You know how some people love celebrating their birthdays by doing all the things they like planned by, well, themselves?

What a horrible concept.

Not because of the whole narcissistic aspect of it. Nope, that part’s great. After all, it’s one of the few times in your life you can totally get away with getting your way (other than maybe graduation and your wedding day—if you’re the bride, that is) while everyone else has to bite their tongues about your narcissism.

What makes it horrible is that you’re the one doing all the planning and the researching and the inviting and the logistic-ing, which, if you’re like me, is a whole lot of time spent doing all the things you really hate versus doing all the things you really love. Like, napping.

Which is why I outsource all of that stuff to Franco.

Every year we plan each other’s birthdays based on a broad spectrum of things we enjoy (Him: I like steak!), while the other goes through all the trouble of making it happen (Me: Dear Google, steak NYC where yum yum?).

This year, Franco’s query for me involved:

Maybe West Village
Maybe books
Probably outside
Drinks of some kind
Coffee question mark
With food

Go, Franco, go!

And that, my friends, yielded some awesome results.

Without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things, in no particular order, except chronological:

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No. 1
The pupper in a bag. (Oh yeah, we got a pup. I’ll tell you all about him later.)

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We dropped the pupper off at my brother’s place in Manhattan (Oh yeah, my bro moved to NYC. Man, you’ve missed a lot.) to ease the separation anxiety—ours.

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No. 2
Franco letting his majestic hair down, if only for a few seconds.

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Like so.

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No. 3
Eating somewhere chill and delicious and cute. Franco chose The Spaniard because I love Spain despite the whole them colonizing my homeland thing. It is a part of us. And I’m an ignorant stupid American now. Also, there were bacon slabs, guys. BACON. SLABS.

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No. 4
A bookstore. This one’s one of my faves. Though I rarely set foot in it, it’s a piece of OG NYC and I like knowing it’s there. It’s the kind of spot where the neighborhood people stop by and talk shop, er, books, and the people who work there recommend books sans pretension. One recently arrived New Yorker asked for books about New York because he “wanted to fall in love with New York by book… I guess,” and ended up with a pile at least five books high, as each staffer had their own very special rec.

 

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Here’s a book on the dumpster outside the bookstore.

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Here’s Franco by a barbershop because I thought it would be funny if Franco sent this pic to his mom. Y/N?

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I also thought this was artsy.

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No. 5
Ice cream. This thing was actually faux ice cream and basically flavored ice shavings. I’m probably sounding really old right now but what even is this thing? I ate it anyway. It was good.

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No. 6
A visit to the Tenement Museum. Yes, I really did throw this museum out as a suggestion, faux half-joking, and Franco wisely concluded I was very serious about it and signed us up for the Hard Times tour. In case you’ve never been to this museum, it’s a look at how people in NYC lived in teeny tiny apartments amid bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment. It’s also called The Totally Present Day museum.

***

Lady on the PA: It’s time to line up for the 4 p.m. Meet Victoria tour and the 4 p.m. Hard Times tour.

ME: I sure hope Franco booked the Hard Times tour.

Franco: Here’s our ticket for the Hard Times tour, milady.

ME: YEEESSSSSSSS.

He’s a keeper, ladies and gents.

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No. 7
Butts.

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Whenever I see stuff like this, I think it’s cool then wonder if it’s some kind of guerrilla marketing. Maybe for a guac shop? A smoothie joint? A pop-up investment bank?

 

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No. 8
Coffee. It was hot AF and we needed to kill time before dinner. I’d also like to add that Franco is very photogenic, so most of my pics are of him. He tried taking pics of me but the camera burst into flames.

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Now THIS is definitely marketing of some kind. Check out dat hashtag. Is it for a shoe? A university? The moon?

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Nearby was this anti-AirBnB ad. This neighborhood is clearly going through some shit.

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No. 9
RAMEN. Who eats really hot ramen on a really hot day? Me! Me! I do! Franco and I stumbled upon this place one drunk night, and I hadn’t been back since.

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Til now. Check out dat black ramen.

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He gets white ramen. We are an inclusive couple.

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No. 10
Dirty martinis. I enjoy going to ridiculously fancy places like The Grill while severely underdressed because it confuses the staff.

Them: Who are these 12-year-olds and why are they at the bar? Is this a trick?
Me, raising my martini glass to my lips, pinkie extended: MUWAHAHAHAA.

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Then we picked up the pupper and went home.

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The Days So Far

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Been going through the archives and decided to share a few pictures from the last couple of months. No cohesive theme here. Just random moments.

I’ve been capturing things a bit differently now that Instagram has become my default channel. But this is still my favorite space for posting pictures.

It’s a lot quieter.

Which means, fewer people see what I post.

Which means, I feel more free.

Which means, this is really how I take pictures.

Funny how that works.

Let’s do dis.

IMG_6409 (1)Quite proud of this rug and its dust bunny friends.

IMG_6463One night Franco and I watched these guys change this sign to an identical, much cleaner sign. We were on our way to a distant bar in Brooklyn late one night to pick up the credit card I’d left behind a few days before (yes, I’m an adult). It was an hourlong slog. When we got there, the place was closed.

IMG_6476Whenever possible.

IMG_6541My super glamorous studio. See that mic stand over there? Swivels 360 degrees to and from your mouth. Patent pending.

IMG_6584A friend and I stumbled upon this cute little park right after this asinine dialogue courtesy of me:

Friend: What’s this?
Me: Ugh. Probably one of those rich-people parks you need a key to get into.
Nice old lady holding open the gate on her way out: Come right in, you cynical asshole.

Then we got chased by a chicken. It was glorious.

IMG_6609One day I dug up my cheapo watercoloring set that I’d bought about seven years ago and completely failed at but still lugged around through my many, many moves. I learned that when you’re bad at colors and coloring, you can get away with picking and choosing what to color.

IMG_6614Office permapup. Fully grown and pocket-sized. Want.

IMG_6699This is how Franco watches sports. You might think it’s really awkward to have a big ol’ window with no curtains. You would be right. But… we’re too lazy to ask the landlord if we can drill holes, so fish tank living room featuring a singing-dancing duo it is. You’re welcome, neighbors.

IMG_6762One of the first nice days of the year we decided to hang at Central Park at the last minute. That blanket is actually a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store.

IMG_6773A book about the joys of spinsterhood. Franco gets nervous whenever I read it around him.

IMG_6781Times Square After Midnight, one of my fave places in the city.

IMG_6785Another creep session. These guys had a synchronized routine. They marched to a spot, lifted some things, hammered some other things, and did it all over again.

IMG_6825Pretending to read the Times, but really we’re about to watch “Gossip Girl” while lunching.

IMG_6827One of those perfect days in the neighborhood.

IMG_6932Best wings in the biz and nicest people ever.

And with that,
~20 pics down, thousands more to go.
Until next time, friends.

Pork Chops on Christmas

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Christmas came and went.

We ate deep-fried greasy everything and saw just how far we could sink into our respective couches. We stared or didn’t stare at the TV. At dinner we sat around the table fact-checking each other’s know-it-all claims about something or other, each refusing to give in because we were all equally right.

Then it happened.

It began just as any of my dad’s depressing-to-us-but-normal-to-him-tales typically do—out of context.

Just what we were laughing and chatting about I can’t remember. A mispronounced word perhaps? An errant booger?

Whatever it was, it went a little something like this:

Me: Pork chops, am I right? Man, do I love me some pork chops!

Dad: Speaking of pork chops… it was 1992, and it was time to enroll you three into your first American school.

[My sister, brother and I exchanged knowing looks, “Here he goes again.” Franco, an experienced awkward-moment provocateur, perked up.]

Dad: We’d arrived in the US just months before. Your mom and I decided to take you to a private Catholic school a couple blocks from our apartment. I remember talking to you in the principal’s office in Tagalog, and the lady at the front desk—

Older Sister: She was mean!

Me: What did she look like again?

Older Sister: A mean old lady!

Dad: She snapped at us and said, “We speak English here.”

[This led to my parents telling us to speak English at home so we could get rid of our accents as well as minimize the inevitable discrimination we’d experience elsewhere. This also led to us losing fluency in our native tongue… whoops.]

Me: I remember leaning on her desk as a little 8-year-old, 3-foot-nothing, and she said, “Before I begin, how about no elbows on my desk?” And I was like, bitch please….

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[Author’s note: That may or may not have happened.]

Dad: All the immigrants they’d previously admitted had trouble catching up and had to take remedial courses. The school even suggested we enroll you in public school instead. Imagine that, public school!

[Lest you think my dad was some kind of elitist snoot, remember that this was early ’90s NYC in Da Boogie Down Bronx. We eventually made friends with people who did go to public school, but they were noticeably less, um, geeky and lame than we were. In short, we totes would have gotten our faces punched.]

Dad: I was like, Nah, homies. I want them to go to school here. The school said, “They should take ESL (English As a Second Language) classes first.” They were held in these trailers parked in front of the school.

I told them you all could speak English! So you took a test to prove it. Then, when you passed, they came to me with another problem: “They’re older than the kids in their grade! They need to be in their proper age group, but I don’t think they’re ready for that.” So I told them, “Well, I suppose they could take summer school if they end up struggling.” The school begrudgingly let you three take an assessment quiz.

Older Sister: I remember it being really simple. They asked us to spell words like “cat” and “dog.”

Me: Meanwhile, in the Philippines, I was already spelling four-syllable words.

[Author’s Note: bowdown.gif]

Dad: Of course this was all reflected in your test scores, but the school came back and said, “We have another problem.”

“What now?” I said.

“Well,” they said, “it seems they’re actually quite advanced for their grade level. Would you  mind if they skipped a grade?”

“Wonderful,” I said. Then I thought, “What about letting them skip two grade levels?”

“Mr. Bolipata,” they said. “Now you’re pushing it.”

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***

Epilogue:

My mom, wanting to show up our doubters, incentivized us by promising to shower us with presents should we get first honors. This method proved way too effective—we asked for TVs, our first desktop computer and dial-up internet, a dedicated phone line, film cameras, video cameras, books. My mom soon dreaded report-card season, while the nerd monsters she’d created grew into even bigger nerd monsters.