Sunday, March 23, 2014

YouTube Deejay Sessions: Rumours

Most of the music that I can say I truly love has meaning for me or memories attached to it.  Even the most vapid songs have the ability to take me back to a certain time and place when I hear them, simply because they are a snapshot of a particular time.  I think that's a part of the real beauty in art, even the "worst" of it, that it has the power to do such things.  I put "worst" in quotations simply because tastes are subjective and what is considered good to one person may not be considered good to another.

The album "Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac is one of the few albums in which I love every track.  Every. Single. One. 

The album brings me back to a similar time in my own experience that has thankfully long since passed.  I am tempted to give you my own detailed interpretation of the tracks and how they fit in, but I may save it for another day, if at all I ever decide to share.  This time was for me, in many ways, much simpler, although it did not seem that way in that moment.  At the time, the struggles seemed to be some of the most difficult I thought I would ever face, and sadly enough, they turned out to be far from it.  In this time, I gauged my level of happiness on emotions that were beyond my control and on the actions and desires of others who, in the end, proved to be looking out for themselves.

Even now, listening to this album reminds me that the time and those people in it have left an indelible mark.  It also serves as a sobering reminder that all of it could happen again, perhaps with a different cast so to speak, because these things are a part of the human experience.  None of us will come out of this life unscathed - we are all beautifully damaged in some way from these types of interactions.  We may never recover but ultimately, in the end, we can be okay.  It all comes down to this - when it's over, "do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home?"

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Philadelphia Blog Post: 30 Things to Do in Philadelphia

Some fellow bloggers and I have teamed up and each created a list of 30 things to do in Philadelphia.  Between all of us, that's 150 different things to do in this city!  Also, please stop to enjoy this moment: could you believe that I'm actually doing a post that says nice things about Phili?!  whoa.

I've lived in this city for nearly 9 years (terrifying) (somehow I have survived) and I've come up with my list, complete with anecdotes of adventures that have happened to either my friends or me at these places (except for the one about Payaso, that's actually an old inside joke).

Anyway, enjoy my list, it's been fun doing all the things on it over the last few years, so I hope it can guide some of your adventures.

*Note: I snuck in more than 30 places to go here :-)  

1) Go to the Mutter Museum (19 S 22nd St).  It's a museum of medical oddities and it's really cool, but certainly not for the faint of heart.  Ways to make this more awesome:  Have your first (ever in your life) date here...crazy pre-meds.  Or just take any date - if he/she can handle it, you may have a keeper.  

2) Go to the Macy's in the Wanamaker building (1300 Market St). See the giant pipe organ and have a photo shoot with the eagle statue.  If you're from out of state (over 250 mi away), visit customer service and show them your Out-of-State drivers' license or photo ID and and get a savings pass.  Then go shopping.

3) Go on a search for authentic Mexican food (Philly isn't known for it, and you're certainly not going to find it at one of the expensive places in Center City).  The closest thing you will find is Taqueria Veracruzana (9th and Washington) or one of its neighbors around the corner on 9th.   Ways to make this more awesome: go late at night, they're open til midnight!

4) Go to the Italian Market. Just go.

5) Go to Pat's and Geno's. (9th and Passyunk)  Preferably late at night while you're wasted and you have a DD.  Ways to make this more awesome: if one of the workers asks you or one of your friends out (AND you get a phone number).  if you manage to finish a second cheesesteak.  if you have a friend with a truck and you eat your meal seated in the truck bed.  I personally prefer Pat's because Geno's political rhetoric is too much for me.  Some Philly natives say that both suck and not to go, but it's something you need to experience once just so you can make the call yourself.

6) Go to Jim's (4th and South Streets) and Tony Luke's (39 E Oregon Ave) for steaks.  Compare to Pat's and Geno's.  Make your own judgment.  If you're near Manayunk, I also recommend Chubby's (5826 Henry Ave)  - see this post for the accompanying anecdote.  Ways to make this more awesome: if you're in Center City, go to Franklin Fountain (116 Market St) for dessert.  If you're in Manayunk, go to Custard and Cakes Creamery (5461 Ridge Ave) for dessert.

7) Go to the Philly Pride Parade (but skip the parade part and go to the festivities on Penn's Landing.)  Ways to make this more awesome: join a friend with a boat who is willing to sail while you throw beads to the people on the landing from the boat.  It's amazing.

8) Go to Oscar's at 15th and Sansom.  It's a great little dive bar in Center City.  Cash Only.  They make the best, most dangerous Long Island Iced Teas in the city.  One will get you drunk.  Two and you'll be ready to blow some dude named Payaso in the back of a van.  Ways to make this more awesome: hook up with someone in their broom closet (and remember mops and brooms aren't going to judge you or be voyeuristic).  Participate in the Sharpie conversation in the bathroom stall.

9) Go to a Steven Starr restaurant.  His restaurants are, in my opinion, a Philly staple. I really like Pod, and I've heard great things about Pizzeria Stella.  Continental is also a favorite of mine, but I never leave there full, so make sure you plan dinner #2 immediately after.

10) Go to the Penn Bookstore.  It's just a Barnes and Noble, but you can feel slightly bougie and Ivy League for about 10 minutes.  Or longer if you stay and read in the aisles.

11) Erin Express.  This is an all day bender that takes place during two Saturdays in March right around St. Patrick's Day.  You wear green, start the day off with kegs and eggs, and drink all day. Ways to make this more awesome: pack your own booze or you will find yourself losing your buzz and all your money to the bars (the specials aren't always that great, what Erin Express is about is the atmosphere).  Get on one of the buses and drink what you brought in the back of the bus.  Don't bother getting off the bus, just make new friends and chill.  If you're really ballsy, you can also sell beer in the back, which is another easy way to make friends.

12) Go to the gayborhood and enjoy the wonder that is the "gay pour" (strong drinks, a splash of mixer just for color.)  If you want to dance, Go to Tavern on Camac (243 South Camac Street) or iCandy (254 S 12th St).  Everyone talks about going dancing at Woody's but I find that the best dancing is to be found at Tavern on Camac and there's never a cover.  I've also heard good things about Voyeur, but I haven't yet experienced if firsthand.  Ways to make this more awesome: get pizza afterward at Homo Hut (aka 13th Street Pizza, and yes, people really do call it Homo Hut).  But, if you're not getting the macaroni and cheese pizza, don't bother because otherwise then you're just going for ambiance. Make sure you're lucid enough that they don't overcharge you, and make sure you have cash. 

13) Sonic (2201 E Butler St).  Not many people realize that there is a Sonic in Philadelphia.  It's right of the Betsy Ross/Aramingo Exit.  In the summer, they're open until midnight. 

14) McGillin's.  This is the oldest continuously operated bar in the city, and one of the oldest in the country, located at 13th and Drury Streets.  If you're going on a Friday or Saturday, you'll need to get there by 8pm so you can get a table.  The food is good, the prices are reasonable and the ambience is fun and positive. Ways to make this more awesome: go for karaoke night (Wednesday or Sunday).  Make new friends and enjoy the decor.  Or, you can be legen---wait for it---dary and bring a friend who is so drunk that they can't actually get in (which, by the way, you have to be wa-a-a-aaaasted to not be allowed in).

15) Lorenzo's Pizza on 3rd and South Streets.  They're open til 3am.  Pizza slices bigger than your head for $3 bucks.

16) Tea Talk at 10th and Spring Streets.  If you like boba (aka bubble tea) this place does it well.  I always get the jasmine flavored one.

17) Barcade at 1114 Frankford Ave.  Do you like retro video games?  Do you like arcades?  Do you like alcohol?  Then Barcade is where you should go.  It's not like Dave and Buster's where you can get tickets and come home with things you totally don't need but want anyway, but you can come back with warm feelings of nostalgia.

18) Brauhaus Schmidt at 7th and South Streets.  All the German Beer, and you can even get Das Boot (a 2L boot shaped glass filled with beer).  The food and appetizers are unique and all fantastic, and the waitresses dress in German barmaid costumes to give the place an authentic feel.  I always have fun when I go, even if I'm the DD.  Ways to make this more awesome: go with your coworkers and be shocked by the unexpected people who put away the most beer in the least amount of time (beer ninjas).

19) Underdogs at 17th between Sansom and Moravian Streets.  They have all kinds of hot dogs, and they're good whether you're drunk or sober!

20)  Brunch at any of the following places if you're into brunch and hate to wait: Valanni (12th and Spruce) or Jones (7th and Chestnut Streets).  The food is good, the service is never rushed or hungover (at least not obviously so), and the atmosphere is good.  Best of all, you don't have to languish in a waiting area for 45 minutes before getting seated!  Red Owl Tavern (4th and Chestnut Streets) is good as well, especially for their bottomless Bellinis, but I cannot attest to wait time.

21) If you're interested in ceramics, check out The Clay Studio (2nd Street between Race and Arch Streets) and take a class.  They are a full ceramics studio - this is not one of those places where you paint pots that other people, you can make real art from start to finish.  And once you've taken one of their classes, you can sign up for open studio time and come in on your own time.

22) Chris' Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom St).  The food is amazing, happy hour is fun, and the shows are good.  This is a great place for a date night or even a quiet happy hour to yourself to grab dinner and a drink, hear some music, and clear your mind.  Ways to make this more awesome: go alone, make friends with a band member and talk music over drinks.

23) Morgan's Pier during the summer when it is open (221 N. Columbus Blvd). I certainly enjoy getting a nice drink outside by the water in the summertime with friends - they also have ice cream and hot dogs.  Can't get any better than that (unless you add sex, and that would be entirely possible since you could probably meet someone there who could help you with that).

24) Go shopping for a craft project at Blick (13th and Chestnut).  This is a really good art supply store that has everything!  If you're into DIY/making your own art, go here.

25) Famous 4th Street Deli (4th and South Streets).  For awesome deli food and portions that will last through the apocalypse.  Ways to make this more awesome: go in your pj's.

26) For some bangin' falafel, Mama's Vegetarian (20th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets).  This place makes the best falafel sandwich in the city.  Just remember, they're closed on Saturdays and it's cash only.

27) Get dinner at Moshulu (the big boat restaurant, 401 S Christopher Columbus Blvd) if for no other reason than to be able to say "I'm on a boat !@#$%^&* don't you ever forget" and not have it be entirely out of context.  The food isn't amazing, I won't lie, but the ambiance is good and you should go once.

28) 4th of July fireworks at Drexel park, 32nd and Powelton Ave.  If you want to see the 4th of July fireworks, but do not want to deal with crowds on the parkway, I recommend camping out in the afternoon with a picnic blanket and some foods and beverages.  This has become a more popular occurrence every year, there is good energy and a great view of the fireworks.

29) Aloosh Restaurant (36th and Lancaster Ave).  This is a newer restaurant and hookah bar - the food is amazing, the ambiance is good, and you can hookah for a reasonable price.  This is a good place to take a date and actually have a conversation or go in a group with friends. 

30) Picnic in Rittenhouse Park. (Between 18th and 20th Streets, on Walnut St) It's fun when the weather is nice and the people watching is interesting.  Ways to make this more awesome: Have an awesome friend who lives a block away. add vodka.

If you want EVEN MORE things to do in Philly, check out my collaborating bloggers' posts!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

the intangible bucket list

I like the idea of a bucket list, but because I am not even thirty yet and am not currently facing a terminal illness, I haven't put this list to paper.  However, I have an ever-evolving list of things in my mind that I would like to do before my inevitable demise into old-age, which fortunately may be further off than we think with the way modern medicine is at the present time.

This year, I've managed to check off two items from the list in a very short period of time.  Both of these items had been sitting on the list for years but the right opportunity had never come along to actually do them.

The first thing I checked off was participating in the ICCAs (International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella) - this is something I'd been wanting to do for SO long. soooo longgggg. It took almost a decade to finally get to do it, and honestly, it was chance (or destiny depending on how you look at things) that my life has taken the unexpected turns that it has in the last couple of years which allowed it to happen. You can see the performance here.

The other thing I checked off my list was entirely random and only somewhat unrelated to the above, and that was going to a strip club.  I'd never been to one before - I went with a friend from my singing group.  It was an interesting experience.  The feminist in me was very conflicted - was it a place of empowerment or a place of exploitation?  It was an interesting experience and I am glad I went.

I'm also currently in the process of working on checking off another item from the intangible bucket list, and that is to complete the Broad Street Run.  So far, I entered the lottery and was chosen (by chance, along with many friends) to take part in the run.  Now I'm in the process of training for it - as it is, I can easily run three miles without issue - now I just need to get to ten miles.  The race will also be taking place on May 4th...there is a strong chance that I will be doing this run dressed as Princess Leia - the logistics are still to be worked out, but I think I'm going to go all in with this.  Stay tuned.

And also, stay tuned for an upcoming collaborative post with my friend Chrystina of, my friend Alison of Simply A, and two new friends Carly and Emily.  We are compiling a list of 150 things to do in Philadelphia.  My contribution will be posted here separately and will include links to the other bloggers' lists.  Almost 9 years living here, and I should hope I could put together a pretty good list that will keep you busy for at least a few months :-)  Between all of us, you'll have stuff to do for at least a year!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

eew snow

Whenever there is talk of a snowstorm, it's not usually as bad as the news makes it out to be.  Honestly, I think the people who give the news get off on talking about bad shit happening in the world.  The worst is when the LA news stations report snow in PA to the point where they start freaking my grandma out, sometimes even weeks after the snow is all but melted away.

Well, this time, there's actually something to talk about.  It's currently snowing like a motherfucker.  I got out of work early, which was cool since it means that I had time to get a workout in AND study for my accounting class (and maybe get sucked into a stupid show since I have no rehearsal and no desire to do accounting), but I also got to walk over a mile in the snow and wind to get home.  I'm pretty sure that was the most unpleasant winter walk I've ever taken.  I was covering my hair and face with the scarf I had on and looked like a mess in Ugg boots.  For the first and hopefully only time in my life, I wished that I owned a ski mask.  At one point, the wind blew so hard it actually gave me a headache.  I guess this is life in the big city. 

I don't have much more to say about this so I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from my "lovely" walk home.

Right outside Penn's med school.  This is the only point at which the weather actually looked pretty.

The line of cars on Market Street.  I was walking faster than the speed of traffic, which wasn't very difficult to do.

View of the Philly skyline around 4:30pm.  (jk.  you can't see it behind the fog of doom)  This picture was taken from the middle of the street where I was walking because the sidewalk wasn't plowed and the snow was coming up over my boots.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Zesty Bitch Recipes: Hummus

I decided that it's time to share another part of my life with you all on this blog: my recipes.  I'm calling this "Zesty Bitch Recipes" because of an inside joke between my roommate and me.  Haters need not apply.

I had been thinking about sharing recipes for awhile, but I honestly cook with instinct more often than I cook with measurements.  I was talking to my grandma over my vacation, and she lamented how her mother (my great grandmother) never liked having people help her in the kitchen and never shared how she made the amazing dishes she used to make.  I am more of a solo cook myself (I get kind of anxious if there are too many people in the kitchen), but I usually get good reviews whenever I cook for others.  I also am really good at cooking for one.  I decided that if God forbid I kick the bucket or drink away too many brain cells, I'd better make some kind of written record of how I do things.

I've gotten really good at making Rachael Ray type meals with lots of shortcuts (but minus the annoying narration and strange abbrevs), but there are many things that I just know how to make well and have been making for years.  I'll kick this series of postings off with my super easy hummus recipe. 

Lazy Hummus
(feel free to adjust quantities to your taste. these are very close approximations to what I use, as I do not use exact measurements)

1 can of Chickpeas (if you have time, prepare them fresh.)
4 tablespoons Tahini
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (if you prepare fresh chickpeas, you may need to add a little more, but this is a good place to start)
Garlic Powder
A blender that doesn't suck

Open the can of Chickpeas and drop all the contents in the blender (don't drain).  Add the 4 tablespoons of Tahini.  Add 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Add the Kosher Salt.  Add Garlic Powder (as much or as little as you like).  Close the top of the blender and blend everything until it reaches a smooth (but not watery) consistency.  Stop the blender (I include this instruction for anyone who tries to prepare this while wasted and distracted).  Get a new clean spoon and taste to make sure it's to your liking (if you add anything, run the blender for another 15 seconds or so to mix it in).  Don't be a slob and double dip the spoon when you taste check it again.

Once everything is to your liking, you're ready to plate your creation.  Put the hummus on a plate or in a bowl and make a little crater so you put another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top (or if you like more than that, that's cool too). Sprinkle a little bit of Paprika over the top.  Serve.

This will make about 2 cups of hummus.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

An Open Letter: to the morning catcallers

I never really saw much point in writing an open letter to someone until I felt the need to do it myself.  I used to think it was pointless because the act of writing the letter can be an admission that one feels as though they lack the power to change things by any other means.  Remember Sinead O'Connor's letter to Miley?  That clearly fell on deaf ears.

Today, I decided I needed to vent.  I'm not an angry person, and I don't like to bitch on this blog, but I finally had to say something about this subject.

The open letter to follow is directed toward the men who tend to hang out near a certain drop-zone like intersection, and to those people anywhere who loiter in this manner and behave similarly.  For those of you who don't know what I mean: in an urban setting, a drop-zone is a place like a train/subway/bus stop where people will exit the train or bus, commit crimes nearby, then run back on the train or bus, not to be seen or caught for awhile, if at all.

In writing this open letter, I'm admitting that I don't have the power to change things without risking bodily harm.  Unwanted negative interactions with strangers, specifically catcalls, have always made me uncomfortable.  I suspect that I'm not the only person who has ever felt this way.  This open letter is also on behalf of anyone who has had similar experiences in this city or anywhere else but just never took a moment to put their discomfort to words.  Read on.

Dear Sirs.

I have the great misfortune of needing to walk past you and this intersection on my way to work every weekday morning for the past 2+ years.  Let me tell you, this has been a tall order.  A few of you are normal, mind your business, and just greet everyone with a polite "Hello."  That's fine.  But some of you...what the fuck is wrong with you people?

First of all, good morning.  Second of all, do you have a profession?  How is it that you are able to just chill on a street corner between the hours of 8:30am-5pm?  The subway platform is downstairs, don't you have a job to go to?  Oh wait, nevermind.  You're already at work.  My bad.  Now that you've offered me Percocet and Oxycontin, I see what your job is.  It's 8:30 in the fucking morning, and while I'm fully aware that nothing good happens before 11am, I don't need any of your shit, prescription or otherwise.  I won't need it when I have to walk past your sorry asses again on on my way home either.  Fuck off. 

Also, how is it that you can be standing awake in 30 degree weather at 8:30am, and possibly all day, and be as horny as you are?  If you can't quit trying to look at my exposed wrists through all the layers of clothing and jackets I have on, and if you insist on telling me while you're high on whatever (because I suspect it isn't life) about all the inappropriate thoughts that are going through your mind, then you might consider rubbing one out before you leave the house every morning to take the edge off so that you don't holler or thrust your man-parts in the direction of every girl who so much as breathes within two yards of you.  I normally would suggest asking your wife or girlfriend do it for you, but I suspect that no woman in her right mind has or will venture there in this millennium.  I'm going to guess that your inability to control your base desires is probably why you're also trying to sell shit (and apparently give away the D) on a street corner instead of going to an actual job.  Get your shit together.

That's all.

I'm sure there are other issues that come up for you all as well which merit a futile tirade.  If you have any contenders, feel free to suggest.  If it's something that bugs me too then I just might write another letter.  For now: take that, catcallers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

don't hold back: 7 billion people in the world could read your blog.

I don't make it a habit to visit the subject of why this blog is called "Escaped From LA" often in large part because it's complicated, but mainly because a blog is a rather public forum that shows up in Google searches.  There is something mildly terrifying about the fact that the number of people who can access this blog far exceeds the number of people that my mind can even fathom.  I can't be sure whether I want to lay all my shit bare to the people who read this regularly or to anyone with an internet connection who happens to stumble upon this little internet place.

I understand that the point of blogging is the sharing and spreading of information with others. My blog is about my life and my observations.  Other people have blogs about their own lives and their own observations as well, so I'm aware that my idea isn't unique.  I have always believed in the idea of "writing about what you know," and that is largely what I do.  But why blog?  Is this an expanded version of Facebook statuses and Twitter posts?  Where do we draw the line: when is the word blog simply a euphemism for the words "journal" or "diary?"  Or, is it the poor-man's version of a memoir?  When did sharing your innermost thoughts, perhaps those that in the past would only have been shared with a close confidante or locked in a book that your curious family members would read behind your back, become the "new normal?" Have any other blogging friends had these questions?

I bring this up because I'm questioning the future and direction of this blog and what I personally am willing to talk about on this forum.  By no means am I famous, but I also recognize that we are all one viral post away from infamy, and through many conversations in real life I am coming to realize that a lot more people care and actually read this blog than I realize or ever thought would (and I thank you for that <3).  As I have gone back and read old posts, specifically the more recent ones from 2013, I'm not entirely happy with my work here.  While I recognize that I am a perfectionist and may be judging myself too harshly (which is why I haven't decided to delete the blog), I also want this body of work to be something that I am proud of.  If I'm going to overshare as I do here, I want to present you, the person/people reading this, with solid writing and interesting content.  People largely will not read something unless it is interesting or there is a point to what is being written and I don't really enjoy writing without purpose.  I've never been a fan of bullshit or wasting time.

I was uncharacteristically passive about all of this for most of last year because I hadn't been able to pinpoint why I wasn't happy with my posts. At first I thought it was simply because I was tired and busy - I tend to keep my schedule really booked most of the time.  I also thought that perhaps I just wasn't having as much fun (definitely not the case, especially when you look at my travel calendar).  But, as I read more carefully, I realized that the issue goes beyond any of that.  The real issue is that I am actively censoring myself and what I choose to write about.  I'm holding back, maybe even being a little self-conscious, and it's largely because of how public this forum is.  I wouldn't say that I'm necessarily "afraid" to write what I want, but I recognize that there are some safeguards that need to remain in place in order to protect my professional life, feelings, and maintain some semblance of privacy.  I think it's important for me, and every blogger who posts regularly, to thoughtfully reassess and revisit their blog to make sure that it's everything it was envisioned to be.

Going forward, I'm going to make an effort to try and write about things that I haven't typically written about here before and hold back less.  I signed away privacy to a large degree when I decided to make a blog at all, and when I decided that said blog would be about my life.

an aside: I'm socially aware enough to know that not all 7.046 billion people in the world (number as of 2012, thanks Google search) have internet access but if they did, they could access any website with a working computer connected to the internet.  My blog, and everyone else who blogs and doesn't keep shit on lockdown, would be available unless the internet were restricted in their region.  I'm also aware that the world is not watching meLOL
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...