Tag Archives: How I Met Your Mother

Young Man On The Road #15 Detour: New York City

This is for the stray observations, story details, and drawn-out discussion that couldn’t fit in the other NYC post, thematically or otherwise.

The cheap lamination of my Hawaii State ID did not fare so well in Manhattan.  Once I was refused entrance until I showed them my expired California Driver’s License, once I was refused entrance even though I showed them my California Driver’s License, and once my Hawaiian State ID was actually taken away from me.  When the bouncer saw I was serious about getting my valid ID back, he let me in, but with much hesitation.

A lot of people are turned away from New York because of the “rude New Yorker” stereotype.  I’ll admit, I was, too.  However, having interacted with New York natives first-hand, I can say that this is not entirely accurate.  They’re not outright rude, just. . . honest.  They might be short or curt in interaction because they have somewhere to go, but I wouldn’t call this rudeness because rudeness implies malice.  If anything, they’re indifferent, and I much prefer someone honest about their indifference than one putting on airs with fake smiles and feigned interest.  In a way, New Yorkers have the same self-serving mindset of LA natives, but they’re not fake about it, and I respect that.

List of places we ate at because TV/movies told us to: H&H Bagels (as mentioned in Entourage), Gray’s Papaya (as seen on How I Met Your Mother and No Reservations), Katz’s Deli (as seen in When Harry Met Sally), White Castle (you know where that’s from).

List of places we ate at because New Yorkers told us to: Shake Shack (high-brow fast food burgers and shakes), Carmine’s (gigantic family style Italian dishes), Russ & Daughters (bagels and smoked salmon), Lombardi’s (sit-down pizzeria), Brick Oven Pizza 33 (classic order-at-the-counter pizza), Halal Guys (popular gyro food cart)

By the way, everything in New York is delicious.  That’s a fact.

About the pizza: Lombardi’s was good, but it wasn’t what we wanted from our first New York pizza experience.  When Ian and I thought “New York pizza,” we envisioned oversized and greasy yet delicious slices to fold and devour.  Lombardi’s was a sit-down restaurant-quality pizza with fresh ingredients that, while tasty, wasn’t the quintessential New York slice we sought.

And then we discovered Brick Oven Pizza 33.  A block from our place in Chelsea, Brick Oven Pizza 33 was a walk-up-to-the-counter type place, open late, and run by hard-working men in messy aprons.  We picked out our slices from behind the glass window and–after a few minutes of waiting for our pizza to warm up in the titular brick oven–chomped down on swarm of wonderful flavors, coated in grease but not overwhelmingly so, resting upon a blissfully crispy crust.  I went there three times in two days.

Now, is it better than Chicago’s deep-dish pizza?  That depends on two things: 1) what you want from pizza at the moment, and 2) how you define pizza.  First, Chicago pizza is what you should eat if you want to fill up with a meal at a restaurant.  It takes a long time for it to come out and requires a fork and knife, but the fresh ingredients piled in a deep and flaky crust is worth all the hullabaloo.  If you want a quick and delicious bite to hold you over through the day, New York pizza is the way to go.  The right ingredients folded between a thin crust will satisfy your mind, body, and soul.  To address the second point, the biggest argument I’ve heard from diehard New Yorkers against Chicago deep-dish is that, basically, it’s not pizza.  “You’re not supposed to eat it with a fork and knife!  You’re supposed to pick it up!  You can’t fold this!”  Basically, their argument comes down to semantics, how they define what a pizza “is.”  However, you rarely hear them address the quality of the food item.  Based on their narrow definition, New York pizza wins by virtue of being pizza.  If you were to expand your definition of the dish, though, and compare overall quality, Chicago pizza wins hands down.

Our first 24 hours in New York: We had been in Rigo’s place not five minutes when he invited us to his buddy’s rooftop barbecue in Queens.  The host and majority of the guests happened to be Filipino.  Go figure.  A few hours after grilled meat, curious liquor, drinking games, and fireworks, Ian and I found ourselves in a cab to the Lower East Side with Rigo and his buddy Eugene.  We arrived around midnight and the streets were swarming with dolled-up young New Yorkers.  Donning shorts and sandals, none of us fit in, but that didn’t stop us from bar-hopping ‘til the early morning.  We eventually ended up crashing in Eugene’s Brooklyn apartment.

The following day was the most impromptu adventure we’ve had.  You see, Ian and I were planning on returning to Rigo’s house after the barbecue before going out.  Instead, we woke up at an apartment near the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and took off from there.  I had a nearly dead phone, yesterday’s clothes, no camera, and no protection from the beating sun.  It was the best outing yet!

Since Grimaldi’s Pizzeria had a long line, we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown and Little Italy, and to another well-established pizzeria: Lombardi’s.  Eugene wasn’t used to walking so much, and the added factors of the previous night’s alcohol and that morning’s heat did not help him through this new activity.  We eventually crashed in Washington Square Park.  Well, the other three did; I was too excited to sit still and instead wandered around the park taking pictures until my phone died.

Eugene split shortly afterwards to catch up on sleep while Rigo, Ian, and I kept exploring.  We got some MetroCards, watched the Women’s World Cup at a pub near Union Square, wandered around the Rockefeller Center, and eventually met up with his girlfriend, Sara, at the Halal Guys food cart.

That was just the first day, and the week just kept getting better.

We chose going to the top of the Rockefeller Center (advertised as the “Top of the Rock”) instead of the Empire State Building because it has views of both Central Park and the Empire State Building.  Also, while the admission price for the Top of the Rock was a bit steep, there was a package deal that paired admission with the NBC Studio Tour that made paying a bit more justifiable.

Of all the observation decks we’ve visited (Seattle Space Needle, Chicago’s Willis Tower—formerly known as the Sears Tower, and the CN Tower in Toronto), the Top of the Rock was the best.  Three levels of spacious decks, open-air views of the entire city, unobtrusive freestanding glass panels as barriers instead of wire cages or dirty windows, and no long lines.  I don’t know how the Empire State Building observation deck compares, but I can’t imagine it could be better.

Of all the tours we’ve been on (Coors Brewery, Motown Museum, Steamwhistle Brewery), this was the worst.  Well, “worst” sounds too negative, and it wasn’t bad, it was just really uninspired.  It was as if they were banking on the fact that they were an internationally recognized studio in a famous building.  The pages were just young interns doing their time until they could climb to the top.  Sure, they were easy-going and entertaining at times, but they mostly just lead us to empty studio sets and spouted the obligatory info.  In contrast, our tour guide for the Motown Museum had a warm personality, vast knowledge of all things Motown, and a natural ability to involve the crowd without making it feel like a pop quiz.  Plus, you could tell he was passionate about the place, working there because he wanted to be a tour guide and not because it was a stepping stone to something greater.

During our first tourist day with Meghan, we meet a Dutch man and his daughter.  He needed help figuring out which station got him closest to Little Italy.  Ian and I were actually oriented well enough to help him out.  We were excited to learn that he’d be taking his daughter to San Francisco afterwards.

A few days later, we ran into them again!  What were the chances that they’d be in the same car of the same train on the same line at the same time several days later and in a different part of the City?!

Speaking of subway awesomeness, this one time, a group of dancers performed breakdancing stunts on a crowded train while it was moving!  I don’t know how they could have possibly practiced those tumbles, jumps, and flips without kicking anybody or running into the center pole.  I was thoroughly impressed and tipped them a buck without hesitation.  The native New Yorkers were less impressed, but I imagine they were just pretending to be to keep up their tough personas.  Losers.

In line for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, we came across a happy old man playing a steel drum.  We enjoyed his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” so much, I was inclined to tip him.  The man asked where I was from and I said, “Hawaii” (or “California,” I can’t remember–it depends on my mood).

He replied with, “No, I mean, where are your parents from?”

“Oh, the Philippines.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, the old man busted out with the Filipino National Anthem.  All I could do was laugh and smile.  Really, that’s all I could do because I don’t know the words!

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YMWW #15: Just Another Manic Thursday

Saturday, January 23, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Everybody has their ups and downs. Sometimes a good week is followed by a bad one; sometimes you ride a fortune roller-coaster in a single day. Thursday was one of the latter.

. . . However, I’m going to cheat and start with a point from Wednesday.

GOOD

I got a missed call on my phone from an unknown number during work. Feeling no reservations about putting my current task on hold, I sneaked to the break room and listened to the voice mail. It was Marci from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. apologizing for not calling earlier and asking if I’d like to come in for an interview. I called her back right after work and said “Hells yeah!” Or something like that. . .

BAD

Thursday morning. Early morning. Try, 4:15 AM. . . and I was up. I was up over an hour-and-a-half before my alarm would go off because my street is a wind tunnel and some unusually strong gusts of wind were pounding on the garage door next to which I sleep. Streams of screeching air blasted through the cracks of the door, which itself was violently shaking near my eardrums. I attempted to move to the living room couch, but my roommate was already snoozing on it, having passed out watching Season One of How I Met Your Mother. I returned to my bed and somehow managed to fall back asleep. At least, for the next hour-and-a-half.

GOOD

I finally got my first full paycheck in over a month! See, what happened was when I got my first paycheck, they accidentally gave me $600 more than I was supposed to get. When they realized their mistake—a whole two months later, sad day—they started taking increments of “prepaid” money out of my subsequent paychecks; $150 over four paychecks. The last one was a whole $12 because of the days I got off to go to California. But on Thursday I got my first full paycheck in over two months!

BAD

That paycheck, though, was supposed to come on Wednesday. But even with it now, I still don’t have enough to repay the money I owe people. Like, my landlord.

GOOD

I had an interview at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. right after work. Ala Moana Shopping Center (future workplace) is roughly a 40 to 50 minute bike ride from Kahala Mall (my current workplace). Fortunately, my family said they could lend me a car to drive there after work. I got off at 4 PM. The interview was at 4:45. The drive is ten minutes. Sweet.

BAD

Not so sweet: my cousin was later than expected dropping off the car. Not too late, but just enough to increase my heart rate a bit. . . and take away the slack time I was going to use to prep myself for the interview in the parking lot. It’s cool, I though, I’ll just take the highway and avoid all the stop signs.

GOOD

I head up the on-ramp with about 20 minutes until my interview and—

BAD

—hit rush-hour traffic. So determined to make it there on time, I forwent the one exit I knew would get me there because it would take too long. I shortly realized that I didn’t know what other exit I should take. Traffic + lost = late. . . unless I could do something about it!

GOOD

I decided to risk breaking the new cell phone driving law and called my friend Brit. While she seems to always get lost when I’m in her car, she knows exactly where to go when I’m driving and she’s on the phone. She led me through a chill, back entrance approach and I parked in time to walk briskly to the restaurant, approaching the doors 60 seconds before my interview time.
“I’m here for an interview,” I said to the hostess.
“Please take a seat at the bar and a manager will be with you in one minute.”
So, I grabbed a stool and reveled in my ability (read: Brit’s ability) to get me there on time.
“Um, Anthony?” some asked from behind me.

BAD

I turned around to see not a manager, but a server. “Hi, um, all the managers are in a meeting right now, so they won’t be able to get to you soon. I don’t want you to wait all day, so can you come back tomorrow, between three and five?”
Shocked and confused, I nodded and hesitantly walked out of there.

GOOD

Not letting my trip go to waste, I went into Longs Drugs to buy some essentials: toilet paper, toothpaste, maybe some food. I just got a paycheck, I thought, I should go grocery shopping! After about twenty minutes, I had a basket full of boxed cereal and canned goods. I strolled over to the checkout stand very satisfied. The clerk was about to scan a can of sliced peaches when a thought flashed across my mind:

BAD

My paycheck would not have cleared by now; I don’t have the money for this stuff!
I stopped the clerk before she scanned my peaches to let her know I had to return everything. Well, almost everything. I left Longs Drugs with a 12-pack of toilet paper and a tuna snack pack.

GOOD

Still in a slight daze of confusion, I walked to the car, sat inside, and pulled out the tuna snack pack. $3.29 for a premixed can of tuna, a stack of crackers, a cup of diced peaces, and a cookie. A cookie! This was a complete meal for half of what I pay in the mall for lunch! A huge smile spread across my face. Despite having no money, no groceries, and no interview, I was still able to walk away with this little package of hope. I savored every bite, starting with the cookie to jump start my taste buds, continuing through the small but hearty can of tuna, cracker by cracker, and ending with a refreshing cup of peaches, its juices-in-concentrate cleansing my palate. I took a picture!

Look for it in the canned goods aisle of your local grocery store!

EVEN BETTER

After dropping off my cousin’s car and fixing my bike with zip-ties (see below photo), I went to Coffee Talk to hang out with Brit while she “worked.” I love keeping her company at her work, mostly because I get free stuff; Thursday’s freebies were a coffee shake concoction and goat cheese sandwich. Juvana showed up and Brit and I had fun keeping her out of the loop of a previous conversation; it’s our new favorite game. It was a fun ending to a roller-coaster of a day.

The screw that holds the rear rack to my bike keeps falling out. Not surprised, I shouldn’t expect two tiny screws to support the weight of the rack, a crate, and my backpack. I actually trust these two zip-ties more.

And yes, I cut off the excess plastic.

EPILOGUE

Looking back, I think Thursday taught me that no matter what happens on any given day, you can always find something to balance it out, whether it be a well-deserved tuna snack pack or the company of good friends.

PS: When I realized that the server at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. must have mistaken me for someone just turning in an application, I called the restaurant back. The manager apologized, telling me that it was not my fault at all and that the servers “don’t know anything” sometimes. I have an interview with him on Monday, and he will be there. Guaranteed.

Later days!

You have your ups, you have your downs, but if there’s a Roxy model involved, there’s always something to smile about.

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YMWW #1: Why I Went

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Touchdown at Honolulu International Airport: Wednesday, 9/16, 11:40 AM. Local time.

You know what else happened at 11:40 AM? This all finally became real. Despite buying the tickets, packing my bags, and having good-bye dinners, my move to Hawai’i didn’t really sink in until that tightly-packed airplane hit the runway. “Moving to Hawai’i” had become an oft-repeated phrase, nothing more than an idea. When I finally felt the tropical air and saw the bright blue water, it had become tangible. I had arrived. . . and I was finally excited.

I was excited, and not for the prospect of beaches and Roxy models, but for the self-congratulatory thought that I had followed through with the life outlook I had been claiming to live by: don’t worry about securing the future, just live in and enjoy the present. By buying a one-way ticket and leaving without securing a job or a permanent residence, I’m really going against Society’s Set Plan for Success, which would be something along the lines of:

  1. succeed in school to get into a good college
  2. succeed in college to get a good career
  3. succeed in a career to make money
  4. use that money to enjoy life
But a life long enough for that plan is never guaranteed, so in the wise words of Ted Mosby via Barney Stinson: “Don’t postpone happiness.”

Admittedly, I do have a great security blanket in the form of family. I know that no matter how miserably I fail at finding a place to live and a means to pay for it, I will never be a homeless beach bum (unless that turns out to be my next big calling). But I don’t want to rely on them; I don’t want to crash forever and I’m sure they feel the same way.

So, as I write this, I’m on a mission, not a vacation. I’m enjoying the aimless manner in which I moved to Hawai’i, not necessarily Hawai’i itself. The beaches and Roxy models can wait (but not for long).

Hold tight, baby. I’m coming.

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