NYC, Day 2

On Sunday we spent the morning at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Costume Institute has just reopened after a two-year renovation with the “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” exhibition. James’ ingenious architectural designs are shown next to computer graphics which show how the complex pieces are constructed. He is known for his highly structured ball gowns, capes, and coats cut from luxurious fabrics. Sadly, no photos were allowed…

I was however able to take a million photos of Greek gods and goddesses for my budding classicist:

This one was my favorite…perfect for Mother’s Day:

Little did I know that while I was admiring the art at The Met, this masterpiece was being created at home:

To be continued tomorrow!

NYC, Day 1

My friend and I began our weekend at West 32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, otherwise known as “Korea Way” or K-Town.

We had bibimbap at Kang Suh:

We spent an hour at Koryo Books, where my friend scored her teenage daughter some K-pop CDs, and I got an anniversary present for my husband. (More on this in another post).

Even though we swore we would never want to eat again after consuming the gargantuan bowls of bibimbap, we were lured into Tous Les Jours for dessert. Despite its French name, this is actually a Korean bakery chain. We had this:

Patbingsu (Patbingsoo) is a Korean dessert made of shaved ice and a bunch of toppings. The “pat” is for the sweetened adzuki beans that are one of the traditional toppings. The powdery looking stuff is also made out of beans (misutgaru) – blech. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – beans should never be a dessert ingredient. The fresh fruit, rice cake bits, and dollop of green tea flavored ice cream were ok though. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the enormous bowl must have weighed three pounds!

I’ve always wanted to visit Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore that is located right on Bryant Park.

Every time I’ve tried to go to this book store, it’s always been closed. This time, alas, it was open. My mother’s words, “Don’t buy junks!” rang hollowly in my ears as I helplessly wandered around the three floors filled with irresistible things.

As we admired the gorgeous books, the exquisite stationery, and kawaii tchochkes that grown women should be immune to, my friend and I kept murmuring things to each other like, “This is absolutely the worst place in the world. We must never, ever come back here ever again. Terrible things are happening right now…

We walked around that store as if in a trance for hours until we finally stumbled out of that place, blinking our eyes as if awakening from a dream, laden with bags so heavy they cut into our skin.

We met up with my friend’s cousin and fiancée at a spot I’d never been to before: The Bar Downstairs at the Andaz 5th Avenue Hotel. It’s right across from the New York Public Library:

…through these painted doors:

and down a flight of stairs…

We took a stroll back to our hotel through ever-bustling Times Square:

and turned in for the night:

FOMO

I suffer from a particular brand of FOMO. For me, it’s more like FOMOOPO…fear of missing out on a photo opportunity.

I left straight from work late Friday afternoon for a fun long weekend in New York City with a friend…It’s been crazy busy at home and work and I was looking forward to getting away to one of my favorite places in the world with a friend I haven’t been able to spend much time with lately. The only problem was that I was going to miss out on taking photos of my son dressed up for his first formal dinner dance. As I left for work Friday morning, I said my good-byes and extracted promises from my husband to take lots of photos. From my son I extracted promises to pose nicely for them. If you’re wondering why I’d have to get these assurances, let me present into evidence this:

You’ll notice that this is a pretty old photo…This kind of nonsense has been going on for years.

“Please pose nicely! Do it as a Mother’s Day present for me!” I cajoled. I shamelessly laid it on with a trowel.

It worked!

Here are a couple photos my husband texted to me:

Check out the size 11 1/2 puppy feet!

 

My Scholarly Couch Potato

 

This one’s dedicated to my husband, my beloved scholarly couch potato. We will have been married seventeen years tomorrow.

When I brought my future husband home to meet my parents for the first time, my father immediately recognized a kindred spirit. He watched knowingly as my fiancé gazed in wonder and admiration at his groaning bookshelves overflowing with exactly the same kind of scholarly tomes that he himself loved to read.

The day before our wedding, my father took me aside to give me the only piece of marital advice I ever got from him.

“If you want to have a happy marriage, don’t expect him to be handy, or to do things around the house. Basically, he’s a scholarly couch potato. All he’s going to want to do is sit around all day long reading his books. Let him.”

I thought this was hilarious. My dad’s own attempts to be “handy” have often ended badly. One of my earliest memories is particularly horrific – I remember seeing my dad coming into the kitchen with a river of blood gushing from his knee. He had just chopped it with an axe while trying to split a log. On another occasion, he cemented over the dryer vent by mistake. How many times have I heard my mother muttering darkly to herself, “He can do nothing!“? (Nothing but write more than fifteen books and accumulate two doctorates, a masters, and two bachelors as a non-native speaker in this country that is).

My dad had peered into the depths of my future husband’s soul and had found it to be the perfect mirror of his own. He had dispensed his paternal wisdom in an attempt to create for his son-in-law, his fellow scholarly couch potato, the life he himself craved. I foolishly told my husband what my dad had said about him, thinking that he would take it for the compliment that it truly was.

He did not.

During the first year of our marriage, we lived in my parents’  house, which was vacant while they were living in Korea. We had just left New York City where supers took care of any maintenance issues in the apartments we had lived in. Now, in the heart of suburbia, we were faced with the care and upkeep of an aging house.

Still stinging from my dad’s assessment of his practical maintenance skills, my husband set out to prove him wrong. There was nothing he wouldn’t tackle. Leaky faucet? He’d diligently watch youtube videos to figure out how to fix it. Elecrical issue? He’d work at it relentlessly, cursing like a sailor, deaf to my pleas to call an electrician. He obsessively tended to the lawn, brushing off my suggestion that it would be better to let the grass grow a little longer before cutting it. The pièce de résistance was when he waterproofed the basement, which had been prone to flooding. He may very well have shortened his life span with the highly toxic chemicals he had to use in the process, but when he finished he crowed in triumph: “How’s THAT for a scholarly couch potato?!”

As the year dragged on, I could sense that his spirits were flagging. Each hard-fought battle with a blown fuse or a shower head that needed replacing took its toll, and in the end the cost benefit analysis proved too unambiguous to ignore. He came to me one day with shoulders slumped and said in a defeated voice, “Your dad’s right. I am a scholarly couch potato.”

Somehow, dear reader, that admission made me love him all the more.

Happy anniversary to the man who keeps things happily ticking away at home, not with a wrench or a hammer, but with true and steadfast love.

Chic Sister Chronicles

It is an accepted fact that my sister is the fashionable one in our family.

This winter whenever I would see my father, he would invariably be nattily dressed in a sweater that I knew he would never have picked out for himself. My father, who had never before in his life expressed a shred of interest in clothes or fashion, would pat his torso in satisfaction and say to me, “See this sweater? Your sister bought it for me. It’s a really nice one.”

My mother, who favors shapeless black turtlenecks and sweatpants for herself, looks at my get-ups with resigned pity and says, “You always wear weird things. That’s your taste…Your sister always looks beautiful in whatever she wears.”

When I was living in New York, I would buy clothes every now and then at the ubiquitous street fairs. My mother would look askance at a skirt I’d be wearing and say, “Quit buying one dollar clothes! They look terrible!”

“Hey!” I’d protest, “This actually cost me five dollars!”

A couple of weekends ago when my sister and I were debating about the clothes I should wear to our cousin’s wedding, (mine or hers), I told her, “People at work have told me they think I dress fashionably.”

“That’s really sad,” she replied with perfect sincerity.

Recently I needed to buy a pair of shoes to wear with a certain outfit. I looked through thousands of pairs of pumps on that rabbit hole of a website called Zappos until my eyes started to glaze over. I was getting nowhere until I tried to pretend I was my stylish sister as I looked through the gazillions of shoes. I finally settled upon two pairs I thought she might approve of and sent her the links. I picked them, in fact, because to me they were reminiscent of the shoes she had worn to the wedding. I immediately got this three word message in return:

“Old lady shoes.”

“Maybe because I used ‘wide’ in the filter?!” I wrote back, bewildered.

“Get over yourself and your ‘wide’ feet!” she snapped back at me by text message, “You are not wide, you are just whining. Beauty hurts.” And then she proceeded to text me pictures of sleek $300 to $400 dollar shoes.

“But do they come in pot roast size?” I mused to myself…The answer, of course, was “no.”

My sister eventually picked out a pair of wide pumps for me that I could actually afford and today, when I got home from work, there they were waiting for me on my doorstep:

They looked so sleek, I had to double check to make sure they were really wide. I put them on and marveled at the way they magically made my fat feet look narrower.

Sometimes when my family gets together, my sister entertains us all by imitating the way I walk in high heels. Picture her walking around like a cowboy with rickets drunkenly swaying to the loud and hearty guffaws of my family. I decided to make sure the shoes really fit by walking around in them as I cooked dinner. I made a concerted effort to not teeter swaybacked and bowlegged as I walked back and forth between the fridge and the stove. I thought I looked pretty damn good. I tried to channel my sister as I sauntered around in my beautiful new suede high heels.

And then I dropped a huge blob of mayonnaise on them.