I walked thirteen miles today. In flip-flops.
Thirteen. Miles. Can I just let that sink in for a minute? That’s basically a half marathon. Mind you, that *was* over the course of 12 hours or so. But it was still pretty far. I guess that’s what happens when you put someone who loves hiking in a walkable city with great public transit.
The journey started with going to see where Ariela works. She told me about a cool mural and a great French bakery nearby, so I went to go find them. The first thing I sought out, though, was a really colorful painting that we’d passed on the way to her office:
On the way to the next mural, I saw this neat window into a garden:
After doing Google research, and repeatedly backtracking using my phone’s GPS, I found the aforementioned “YES” mural. It was worth the walk. There are so many “NOs” that we encounter in our everyday lives, that it’s delightful to see a giant “YES” somewhere. It also felt reassuring, in an odd way. I dream of doing a lot of things that seem a little crazy or unorthodox. (This trip is a prime example) I almost want to print a big copy of this to hang somewhere to remind me that “YES,” sometimes it’s okay to walk your own path.
Also, I had an admittedly cheesy–but nonetheless amusing–idea for a movie scene pop into my head while looking at this:
Ext. Brooklyn Street – Night
Our protagonist walks slowly down the street, staring abashedly at the ground. In one hand, he carries the crumpled remains of his rejection letter. His hair is mussed, and his eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep.
I dunno… is it really worth trying anymore?
He walks into an overpass , and looks up at the abrupt shadow. He sees:
Fine then. Maybe it’s time to try a new approach.
What’s the rest of the movie about? Not a clue. Maybe he’s an actor trying to get into a specific company, or a playwright or… no, I think our Tom is definitely a struggling actor. Hm…
Anyway, it was an interesting idea, and I probably wouldn’t have had it if I hadn’t see the mural. Hurrah for inspiration!
After a few more pictures, I decided that, YES, I really did want another cup of coffee, so I checked my map, and made my way down to Almondine, the suggested patisserie. On the way, I took the time to photograph one of the many green roofs that I’d seen around. For some reason, I just kept thinking, “another!” à la Thor with coffee. But, you know, minus the cup smashing, and plus enthusiasm for eco-friendly roofs.
A couple of blocks later, voilà:
In comparison to finding the mural, finding Almondine was simple. Once I arrived, I ordered a café au lait, and a pain au chocolat. The place was shockingly empty when I got there. The streets and trains had also seemed quite sparsely populated for a Monday. When asked, the girl behind the counter said that yes, it was a very slow morning. (Maybe because it’s the week before Labor Day?) We ended up chatting for a while, and I found out that she was getting her second masters in Fine Art Photography. This seemed very mysterious, as you’d think that one MFA would be more than sufficient for any task. However, I didn’t get the full story because other customers came into the shop and needed assistance. I didn’t want to wait around, so instead I walked over to a waterfront park.
There was a breakdown crew in the park that was storing stuff from the previous night’s Video Music Awards. However, there was a relatively serene area nearby with picnic tables in it. These afforded views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the river, and the One World Trade Center building (still under construction). I sat sipping coffee, watching people, and regarding a public art exhibition that was along some fences surrounding the park:
My original plan for the day had been to grab Ru and take him for a long walk in the park. However, I felt the call to adventure pulling me onward each time I looked at the bridges. Finally, I gave in, and decided to hike over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan.
While trying to find the footpath on which to cross over, I stopped to take a picture of a statue in a churchyard. I was so absorbed by it that I almost walked into a construction worker who was coming out of a nearby fenced-off area. We ended up talking because we were headed the same way. When I told him that I wasn’t from the area, he commended the reopened Statue of Liberty to my attention. I told him I’d go see it, but that ended our conversation–meaning that we had about 30 seconds of awkward silence before we went our separate ways. Spoiler alert: I didn’t end up going. (Oops!) Maybe next time.
The walk across the bridge was pretty cool. I saw Mlle Liberté as I went, and also got some great views of the city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the clear spot I somehow found myself walking in to stop and take a lot of photos. The bridge was extremely congested, and people were basically not paying attention to anything except the pictures they were taking. I got slammed into once, and ended up with a few awkward attempts at passing folks. Finally I got fed up and started singing Lascia ch’io Pianga as I walked across the bridge. Not super loudly, or anything. Just as a way of indicating that, “hey, there’s someone coming up behind you. Please don’t step on my foot as I try to get past.” It seemed to help: no one else bumped into me, and people seemed to move away from where I was. (Although, to be fair, they might have been thinking “crazy lady, coming through! Movemovemove!”)
Once I crossed the bridge, I realized that I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. I’ve seen many of the city’s art-related points of interest in the past, and didn’t feel like checking them out again. It wasn’t too hot or muggy (yet), so I decided to give in to my nature-girl tendencies and hit up Central Park. It was four miles from where I was, so I took the train to 62nd street, then walked the rest of the way.
Writing about the glories of Central Park feels so cliché. But it’s so beautiful that it’s hard not to wax poetic! The trees, with their towering majesty, create a welcoming, yet mysterious atmosphere that invites you to explore its depths. Here and there a boulder thrusts up from the ground , suggesting a mountain. In some ways, it feels almost like a Zen garden on a grand scale, reflecting the full beauty of nature in a (relatively) small arena. And here and there are performers, singing or dancing, bringing art to the outdoors. In other words: the many beauties of the world collect and collide here, making it eminently worthy of visitation.
I spent probably an hour hiking along the trails, taking pictures, and petting Boston Terriers. After passing the famous boat pond, I decided to leave the park and see what was going on in the neighborhood nearby. (Why did the Kat cross the park? To get to the other side!)
So, what was on the “other side” of the park? The American Museum of Natural History. I’ve always enjoyed science museums, and it was getting pretty hot, so I decided to check it out. The entry fee was $22, which seemed steep. However, after seeing everything the museum has to offer, I can understand the cost better. The place is enormous! They have (extensive) exhibits on everything from human origins and cultures, to biodiversity, to planetary and solar system formation. In that last room, there is a meteorite the size of a VW bug on display–and you can touch it! When you really think about it, there’s something sort of extraordinary about that. In the museum there is an object from outer space that you can lay your hands on! Since our sun isn’t big enough to fuse carbon into iron, it means that this object traveled across the galaxy–or even the universe–before plowing into our little world. Imagine the stories it could tell if it could talk! Now, technically, I realize everything on the planet is made of stardust, so this is nothing to get excited over. But there’s something more mysterious about this roughhewn object that makes it seem more elemental than commonplace rocks. There is certainly a unique texture to its interior, as you can see below:
I spent a fair amount of time in the rooms pertaining to solar-system formation. I also spent a rather large amount of time taking pictures of photographs of moths. I thought it might be cool to try making a cloak that was patterned like their wings. If nothing else, they’re just really pretty:
Eventually, I realized that I was getting really tired, and should probably head back to the apartment to chill out. On the way out, I saw this neat sculpture:
I thought it would be cool to wander around the neighborhood trying to find lunch and/or a birthday present for Ariela. Unfortunately, my blood sugar was already pretty low, so I ended up wandering around rather indecisively for an hour or so. Once I gave up on both things, I hopped on a train back to Brooklyn, only to get off at the wrong stop. The good thing about that was that I was right by a supermarket, so I could get a quick snack. The not awesome thing was that I ended up walking an extra mile to get back to the apartment. Whoops!
Once I got back, I spent some time chilling out and doing research on florists. It turned out that there was one within reasonable walking distance. (Wait–what am I saying? This is Brooklyn, part of an eminently walkable city. Of course there was a florist within walking distance!) When I called and asked if they were dog friendly, the guy on the other end of the line said, “yeah, of course!” So I got Ru all set with his lead, and we walked to the Park Delicatessen together.
Yeah–the flower shop is called Park Delicatessen. No, I don’t know why. You can’t get sandwiches there, but they do have a lot of really cute local/hand-crafted goods for sale. I probably would have asked for the backstory, but I was too tired to think of it. Or, to take pictures apparently. For several hours.
When I walked in, the guy said, “dog lady!”
“Yep, that’s me!” I replied.
“Where are there not dog-friendly florists?” He seemed genuinely confused.
“Ah,” he said, nodding sagely.
The owner was super friendly. He made up a nice bouquet, and I found a cute card to go with it. We walked back to the apartment, I got Ru settled back in, and then just sat down and vegged out for about an hour, till Ariela got back from work. D had things to do till later, so we tried to figure out what to have for dinner. We finally settled on going to a Mediterranean place that was nearby. We had time to kill, so we ended up taking Ru for a long-ish walk. (He and I didn’t go very far in the afternoon.) As part of our course, we passed–and ended up up going to–a great resale shop called Beacon’s Closet. They have a well-curated selection of all sorts of clothes, shoes and accessories. I purchased one pair each of sunglasses and boots. (The boots cost me $20, and were originally $190! I found a tag in them from Nordstrom Rack.) Ariela looked at a few dresses, but decided to pass on all of them. As for Ru, he said hello to a lot of girls, who all went gaga and petted him. Of the three of us, I think Ru got the best deal.
After the walk, we headed over to Zaytoons for dinner. D, and a friend named Matt met us, and we ended up at a window table. To start, we split a plate of “dips”–hummus, babaganouj, foul, and a cucumber-yogurt concoction. This came with freshly-bakes pitas, which was probably the most exciting part of the meal for me. They were fluffy, warm, and had that amazing just-out-of-the-oven taste and chewy texture. It was great.
The falafel sandwich I also had was a little less awesome. While nicely flavored, I thought it was a bit dry–and maybe had more filling than was perfect for the amount of bread wrapping it. It could have been improved by adding some of the dips to it. I’d say it was a decent restaurant that I’d go back to–but it might not be my first choice next time. (They were open late, and the food was decent, cheap, and filling. Hard to beat, when you’re trying to find dinner at 9pm.)
Finally, Ariela and I ran across the street to Ample Hills Creamery to get ice cream. It was getting pretty late, but since we’d discussed them earlier in the weekend, I was determined to go try their treats. Perhaps I was a little testy. I may have said something like, “dude, I walked thirteen miles today–I earned it.” I regret the grumping, but I can’t feel bad about begging to go–it was really good! I ended up getting cookie au lait ice cream–which is cookies n’ cream with a coffee base instead of vanilla. I also got it in a cookie cone, which seemed interesting, but wasn’t really worth it. (The flavor was just okay.) If/when I go back, I’d probably get the ice cream in a dish instead, so I could savor it instead.
The store closed at eleven, so we went back to the apartment. Everyone was pretty tired, so we said we’d go to bed early. But first, at midnight, D lit a sparkler on a mini pie, because it was officially Ariela’s birthday!
After Ariela went to bed, D hung up decorations to surprise her with the next day. I helped a little, but mostly stood around and took pictures like a paparazzo. (Should that be paparazza, to indicate that I’m female?) Soon after, I went to sleep, because, well–I was really tired!