The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: New York City (Page 1 of 2)

Teresa Homecoming 2014: So Lucky to Be So Loved

My favorite flowers in the middle of Park Avenue

My favorite flowers in the middle of Park Avenue

Despite the reason for my travels, my trip home to New York wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, much of it was fun, and exactly what I needed in the face of grief. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order:

Me and Adeline

Me and Adeline

** BABIES

Oh my God, SO MANY BABIES. It seems that I can’t go back to New York without there being new people to meet. 🙂 On this trip, I got to meet three new members of my friend tribe: Eli (my friend Robin’s new son), Emma (my friend Liz’s new daughter), and Adeline (my friend Jean’s new daughter). They are all such amazing babies. Eli is super-chill (except of course when he needs a nap), and Emma is SO enthusiastic about life I can’t even believe it! Adeline is still very much a newborn, so she’s not much of anything yet, except very, very cute (and tiny!). Children always manage to come into my life when I need them most, and these three were no exception. Eli and Emma kept me smiling at my father’s wake, and holding Adeline when I went to visit Jean in Croton on Hudson reminded me that even in the midst of horribleness, there’s always rebirth and hope and happiness (and so much cute!). Welcome to the world, kids. We’ll try not to wreck the world before you’re old enough to do anything cool.

Me and my sister

Me and my sister

** FAMILY

The Boy and I had an awesome afternoon/dinner at my brother’s house in Staten Island and he, once again, impressed my brother and sister-in-law. 🙂 I also realized that The Boy and my brother are very similar in many ways, which is likely why they’ve gotten along so well the couple of times they’ve met. We had an awesome conversation about religion, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the entertainment industry, and everything in between. I also got to see my lovable nephew, William, and my brilliant niece, Hannah, who is an absolute firecracker.

Oh, and the show Girls was filming a couple of blocks away, so I was thisclose to ditching everyone and going to hang out with Lena Dunham. But I chose hanging out with my family and partner instead. Because I AM A GOOD PERSON.

My accommodations at my sister's house. I rocked that Dora the Explorer quilt SO HARD. :)

My accommodations at my sister’s house. I rocked that Dora the Explorer quilt SO HARD. 🙂

After The Boy left (I stayed in NYC an extra week to decompress after the funeral), I had a fun overnight at my sister’s place, where I got to hang out with her, her husband, her visiting mother-in-law, and my awesome nieces. There was a tinge of sadness in the air – my brother-in-law’s father recently passed away, and I happened to be at my sister’s on his birthday. My sister’s mother-in-law bought a cake to commemorate the occasion. So there was a lot of thinking about dead fathers, and my sister’s house has felt a lot of loss lately.

But later in the evening, the nieces and I got together and watched the movie Frozen, which I’d never seen, and which they’d seen a million times. I really enjoyed it! But I just need to say…you can’t just TELL people that you took wedding vows. That’s why these things have witnesses. /grownup overanalyzing

I have to say, though, I wasn’t prepared to be emotionally affected by this song from the film. But as it’s partially about siblings needing to carry on after the death of their parents, can you blame me? Here’s Do You Want To Build a Snowman?

Thankfully, I know that my brother and sister will always wanna build a snowman with me. 🙂

Karaoke at The Watering Hole in NYC

Karaoke at The Watering Hole in NYC

** BIBLE STUDY (AND OTHER SURPRISES FROM MY OLDEST FRIENDS)

I’ve known Eileen and Joanna since I was 5 going on 6 and they were 8 and 4 respectively. They knew my dad almost as long as I did, so it made sense that the first thing I did when Joanna picked me up from the airport was go with her and Eileen to “our spot,” Uno’s. 🙂 We talked (and cried) about my dad, and then we talked about other stuff going on in our lives, the way we always do, because no matter how long we’re far apart, we always pick up right where we left off.

I stayed at Joanna’s new apartment, and that was a bit of a trip, as 1) it’s her first apartment away from her parents, and 2) it’s her first apartment with her new hubby, Chuck! They were both so gracious to let me stay without the slightest hesitation, making it so much easier for me to grieve without having to worry about schlepping my stuff all over town. One of the most interesting parts of staying with them was that I got to be included in what religion means to them, individually and as a couple. They have both been baptized as Seventh Day Adventists, and while that’s not my particular bag, I do appreciate the fact that they’re both so devoted. We said grace before meals, I helped Joanna at a soup kitchen at church one Sunday (which was a great experience, and I met some lovely people), and both The Boy and I were included in their weekly Bible study that Joanna hosts every Friday night. Eileen was there, as were a couple of their brothers and other friends I’d gotten to know growing up, with one or two new faces as well. I loved how laid back it was, and how much they all were invested in learning more, questioning more, and digging deeply into the text. It was interesting, too, when The Boy (who’s Jewish) was able to remind them of names and stories from the Old Testament. 🙂 They were very impressed with him! I, on the other hand, have the memory of a goldfish.

Luckily, I got to be in town for Joanna’s birthday, and her family had one of their traditional birthday BBQs on the first Sunday I was there. I was so glad, not only because I was able to be there to help Joanna celebrate, but it was also really nice to be around this huge, bustling family that has always been like family to me at this time in my life. It reminded me that I couldn’t ever be alone even if I wanted to! 🙂

Me, Vanessa, and Eileen at Martha's Country Bakery in Astoria

Me, Vanessa, and Eileen at Martha’s Country Bakery in Astoria

I got to see another old friend, too – my friend Vanessa, whom I’ve known “since the womb.” Over time, our contact has gotten more and more sporadic, but it’s always great to see her when I do! She, Eileen, and I ended up having dinner one night, and it was a wonderful night of conversation. They schooled me on the ins and outs of pregnancy (Vanessa has one child, Eileen has two), which was pretty much the most effective form of birth control ever. 🙂 We talked about relationships. And we also each talked about our plans for the future, and I ended up being hugely inspired!

Lastly, Joanna, Chuck, Eileen, their brother Carlos, Lindsay and I all went out to karaoke on my last night in town, and it was the perfect way to end my trip. We basically took karaoke over. The host loved us, and we had a blast singing everything from The Beatles to Pharrell. (Yes, I sang “Happy.” And “Roar,” which is super-hard. And Joanna, Eileen, and I teamed up to sing “Man in the Mirror.”)

These people are my foundation, and I love them all more than I can put into words.

Adam and me

Adam and me

** THE BEST WRITING PARTNER (AND FRIEND) EVER

It’s a crazy thing, but Adam has been right there for me for all of my major deaths. We were roommates when my mother died, so he was there for a lot of random crying in the living room. He came to the wake/burial/after-burial lunch, even though I’d only known him two years at that point, because he knew it was important to me. When my dog, Scarlett, died, he was there when it happened, and he helped me get it together enough to figure out what to do when I was a basketcase. In the end, so I wouldn’t have to put her out on the street, he gave me the money to cremate her when I couldn’t afford it, and even though he’s someone who’s not much of a “dog person,” he patted her head and called her a Good Dog before covering her with a blanket. And he was there for me again on this trip when I lost my dad, not only coming to the funeral and the burial, but organizing a dinner with many of my friends “to celebrate your father’s life and his greatest achievement, which as far as we’re concerned is YOU.” (that’s from the email he sent) I was so touched that he thought to do that, and was so grateful to see everyone at my favorite pizza place in Astoria, Alba’s.

Many members of my tribe at Alba's (l-r): Matt, Olga, Me, Liz B, Talitha, Holly, Caroline, Adam, Deb, Lori, Robin

Many members of my tribe at Alba’s (l-r): Matt, Olga, Me, Liz B, Talitha, Holly, Caroline, Adam, Deb, Lori, Robin

Our friendship has been all over the place over the years, but it’s never been closer than when we decided to start writing together last year. Suddenly, our dynamic made sense, and I know we’re going to create some amazing things from here on out! However, it was really great to spend some time with him just wandering around Central Park or grabbing milkshakes and talking about stuff other than writing. Because no matter what we end up doing professionally, he’ll always be the guy who helped me bury my dog.

Lindsay and Me

Lindsay and Me

** CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH

There’s a reason why New Yorkers freaked out when they thought that bottomless champagne brunches were going to be no more. Bottomless champagne brunches are the cornerstone of good stories and anything interesting happening on a Saturday morning. My brunch with Lindsay and The Boy was no exception. We went to a place called Aged in Forest Hills. The food was bleh, but the champagne just kept on coming – in pitchers, no less. (Hey, I never said it was classy champagne) Let’s just say that we got up to some champagne-fueled shenannigans and leave it at that. 🙂 I had to include it in my highlights, because it was an amazing time. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with my favorite Lindtball, and she and The Boy got along super-well. It was a fun way to end my time with The Boy in New York before Joanna, Chuck and I had to drive him to the airport later that day.

Brian and Me

Brian and Me

** DINNER IN HARLEM

It’s always touching when people reach out to you unexpectedly. When I put it out to my friends on Facebook that I wanted to see everyone, but was in no mood/condition to think about planning and scheduling, my friend Brian was one of the first people to text me, inviting me to dinner in his newly purchased apartment in Harlem. It was so great to hang out and chat with him, his place is super-cute, and he made me a wonderful dinner (complete with a great red wine he got through this wine club he’s part of). Also, I got an added bonus when he got my friend Robyn (whom I knew from New York, but who now lives in NC with her family and daughter) on Face Time for a group chat! It was so great to hang with them and relive our zanier days. 🙂

You know what wasn’t great about that day? THE FUCKING RAIN. It was torrential downpours all day that day, so I was soaked to the bone. Thankfully, Brian was able to put my sneakers in his dryer so that I wouldn’t have to leave with soaked shoes!

Holly and Olga at Alice's Tea Cup

Holly and Olga at Alice’s Tea Cup

** ALICE’S TEA CUP

I got to spend a great afternoon with my friends Olga and Holly (one of whom was off from work, the other who was playing hooky from work – I won’t say which did what!) in Manhattan, and we had a tea service at Alice’s Tea Cup, which is one of my favorite places in the world to get scones. It was a surprisingly girly-type lady day for the three of us – we’re none of us particularly girly – and a lot of fun. Tea was followed by wandering the streets of the UES aimlessly. It was the kind of lazy, aimless day with good friends that I desperately needed.

Robin and Eli

Robin and Eli

** WATCHING ROBIN BE A MOM / WATCHING ALEX BE A DAD

I’ve known Robin since I was 10, and I’ve seen her go through many ups and downs. We’ve seen each other go through a lot of sad shit, and a lot of stupid shit. 🙂 But the most amazing thing to watch during this trip home was Robin being a mom. We hung out several times over the course of my stay, one evening at her house on Long Island, and I was constantly amazed by how calm and centered she is now that she has Eli. There’s this zen quality about her now, a purposeful energy that I never noticed there before, and it was so cool to see. Watching her with her new son, I was so proud of her, and so glad to see her so at peace and happy. Eli is a lucky boy to have both her and her husband, Matt.

Meanwhile, The Boy and I went to visit my friend Alex, Liz’s husband, when Liz went to Houston on business and he was home alone with Emma for the first time. That was another revelation. Alex is such a loving, doting dad. He, like most of my tribe, is also an artist – a filmmaker, to be exact. Now, it’s difficult to be an artist these days, and life sometimes gets in the way. However, rather than using Emma as an excuse as to why he can’t make films, she’s inspired him to do the opposite. She’s lit a fire under him to create, because he doesn’t want to be the kind of parent who says coulda, woulda, shoulda. He wants his daughter to have the example of someone who did. I was proud of him, too, and he and Liz are also amazing parents.

All of this parent-watching totally confirmed my desire to have a kid. Or rather, made me want to be given a kid. Whether I’ll ever want to actually pop one out myself is still up in the air. 🙂

The Tribe in Croton: Liz M, Charlotte, Robin, Eli, Jean, Adeline, Katie, and me on the floor

The Tribe in Croton: Liz M, Charlotte, Robin, Eli, Jean, Adeline, Katie, and me on the floor

** AFTERNOON IN CROTON

I was so thrilled when my friends Katie and Liz organized a trip to go visit Jean in Croton (which is about an hour and a half outside of NYC). I had yet to see her new home (she lived in Forest Hills when I left New York), and I was excited to see her and her new baby, Adeline, as well as her daughter, Charlotte, who just turned seven. The house and the town are both beautiful, and also very Jean. She, Liz, Katie and I took Adeline out for a stroll, and we stopped for coffee at The Black Cow, then for ice cream at The Blue Pig (apparently, they love their colored animals in Croton). We marveled at the fact that, despite being in our mid-thirties and despite three-fourths of us being mothers, we were still talking about hugely inappropriate things loudly in the middle of a coffee shop. 🙂 When we returned to the house, Jean’s husband, Kevin, and Charlotte were back after having gone out, and I spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging out with Char, who is such a sweetheart. She showed me her “science lab” in the backyard, and when Liz presented her with a Big Sister sash in honor of her new sister, she decided to make a speech for all of us about how glad she is that her mommy had Adeline. 🙂 Too cute. Robin, Matt, and Eli joined us later, and it was so great to have all of us together in one spot after so long away. Not just me, because I live on the West Coast, but now Jean lives far from the rest of them, and everyone’s lives get so busy. These are also ladies with whom, no matter how far I go or how long we’re apart, I can always pick up where we left off as if nothing happened.

However, the biggest thing I realized when I was away in New York was that I actually don’t like being without The Boy for very long. 🙂 I was glad I took the extra week for my own grieving process, but I began to really miss The Boy about halfway through it, and was thrilled when I got back to LAX and he pulled up in his car to take me home.

Oh, and did I mention I ended up flying home in first class on my Delta flight when on standby? Cause I did. And it was awesome. 🙂  And exactly what I needed.  (BIG thanks to my friend Heather, and her mom, Lauren – who works at Delta – for getting me set up with a flight. I wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye to my dad without them)

I am so lucky to be so loved.

TERESA HOMECOMING 2013: Teresa's Stamp of Approval (Eat! Go! Shop!)

Panda sex. Your argument is invalid. (Museum of Sex, 2013)

Panda sex. Your argument is invalid. (Museum of Sex, 2013)

There was a lot of time to kill during my trip to the East Coast. After all, most of my friends have Real Jobs and are busy during the day. The ones who don’t have Real Jobs either have kids, or internships or, you know, their lives keeping them busy. So, that means that The Boy and I had a lot of time to check out restaurants, stores, museums, and other awesome places about which I want to shout from the rooftops!

Shouting on the rooftop of my apartment building would be way frowned upon. So, I’m taking to my blog instead. Here are some awesome places I went to during my recent trip to New York, Maryland, and Virginia that now bear the Teresa Jusino Stamp of Approval:

Pizza from Alba's in Astoria. Yummy!

Pizza from Alba’s in Astoria. Yummy!

GIT YO’ EAT ON!

Alba’s Pizza and Restaurant (Astoria, Queens – NYC) – This was absolutely the very first place I had to go eat when I got to New York. Seriously, the first. The pizza’s amazing, and the staff is totally warm and friendly. They also get bonus points for having legit Queens accents. 🙂

S’Mac (East Village, Manhattan – NYC) – Do you like mac and cheese? If not, I seriously question your life choices. But if you DO, S’Mac has an awesome, tasty selection of mac and cheese made to order in individual iron skillets. My recommendation? The Buffalo Chicken mac and cheese. It’s The. Best. Then again, if you’re a first-timer, it’s always good to start out with the Sampler pan so you get a little bit of everything (except the Buffalo Chicken and the Masala). Really, there are no wrong choices here.

Dutch Boy Burger in Crown Heights, BK.

Dutch Boy Burger in Crown Heights, BK.

Dutch Boy Burger (Crown Heights, Brooklyn – NYC) – I never thought I’d have a burger for breakfast until I had a breakfast burger here and NEARLY DIED from how good it was. It’s a super-cozy diner that’s connected to Franklin Park Bar (so you have access to that bar, and share a small game room where you can skee-ball to your heart’s content), it has great food, and fabulous service. In particular, there’s an awesome server there named Zach. If he’s ever serving you, tip him SUPER WELL. Because I said so. 😉

Tom’s  (Crown Heights, Brooklyn – NYC) – No, this isn’t the Tom’s Restaurant from Seinfeld or the Suzanne Vega song (I’ve actually been to that diner, and it kinda sucks. I had one of the most boring, tasteless meals of my life there). This is the better one. The Tom’s Restaurant in Brooklyn that is only open for breakfast an lunch and knows how to do brunch. There’s always a line on weekends, but the line is worth it, because the restaurant staff bring food out to the line as they wait. I had small servings of french fries, fruit, cookies, and silver dollar pancakes served to me as I waited. I basically had breakfast before going in to have breakfast. And then the breakfast I had in there was extraordinary. These are legit the best pancakes I’ve ever had. Two words: Harvest Pancakes. Make a note, then go there and shove them in your face.

Martha’s Country Bakery (Forest Hills, Queens – NYC) – I was so happy to be able to go back to one of my favorite bakeries in the city. Sadly, my “home” Martha’s in Astoria was undergoing renovations during my trip, but I got to hang with two of my best friends in the Forest Hills location where we indulged in their tasty treats and wonderful coffee drinks (including Red Velvet Hot Chocolate!).

Me, The Boy, Deb, and Holly at Tiffin Wallah.

Me, The Boy, Deb, and Holly at Tiffin Wallah.

Tiffin Wallah (Gramercy/Murray Hill-ish, Manhattan – NYC) – My favorite mid-range Indian restaurant in NYC. It’s vegetarian, so don’t go there expecting rogan josh or nothin’. BUT their food is spectacular and the atmosphere is really chill. Also, they give you a free meal on your birthday, so if it’s your bday, make sure you have ID on you! 🙂

Nimba (Crown Heights, Brooklyn – NYC) – It’s not just the coffee (which is cold brew and tastes amazing), nor is it the food (their breakfast sandwiches are incredible!), nor is it even the hip, low-key atmosphere that makes you want to curl up on one of their couches or sit at one of their tables to read for hours. What makes Nimba stand out is its incredibly friendly and helpful staff. They make it a point to learn people’s names and remember them. They are so super-sweet to talk to. And at one point, when I ordered a breakfast sandwich that required eggs, and they’d run out, a woman who worked there ran to the corner store to get more, whereas any other place would’ve been like “Sorry, we’re all out.” I’m a Queens girl through and through, but places like Nimba make me sorry that I didn’t live in Brooklyn for a longer period of time.

Katie, Jean, Me, The Boy, Robin, and Liz at Brick Cafe.

Katie, Jean, Me, The Boy, Robin, and Liz at Brick Cafe.

Brick Cafe (Astoria, Queens – NYC) – this is now one of my favorite brunch places in Astoria. It has a warm, almost rustic atmosphere, and all the food, from the brunch-specific menu items to their gnocchi and their desserts, is really well done. It’s a great place to sit and while away a couple of hours on a Saturday morning with some good friends, which is exactly what I did. 🙂

Ayse (Everedy Square – Frederick, MD) – OMG, best meze EVER. What is meze? Basically Eastern Mediterranean tapas. 🙂 But seriously, the food is amazing here. It’s a bit pricey, but if you can splurge a little, your money will be well-spent. Also, the atmosphere and decor is upscale without being stuffy, and definitely gives off a Grecian vibe. Seriously, as I dined, and the sun streamed through the high windows as I glanced around the blue and white dining room, I felt like I was in every photo of Greece in every travel magazine I’ve ever seen, totally forgetting it was autumn in Maryland. 🙂

The Perfect Truffle (Everedy Square – Frederick, MD) – This place is right next door to Ayse and was the perfect dessert after a great meal. These truffles are gorgeous to look at and taste amazing. I recommend the caramel apple truffle!

Amphora Diner (Herndon, VA) – A cozy diner that doesn’t feel like a greasy-spoon hole-in-the-wall, or like a Denny’s. 🙂 I really liked this place. The meal my lunch companions and I had was great, but what I really want to recommend is the Amphora bakery! Their Double Chocolate cake is soooooo good, and seriously, the gigantic chocolate chip cookie I got there is totally one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life. And it was also the side of my head. I approve.

Diana shows off the Whiskey Tavern t-shirt the staff gave her as a wedding present. :)

Diana shows off the Whiskey Tavern t-shirt the staff gave her as a wedding present. 🙂

GIT YO’ DRINK ON!

T.G. Whitney’s (East Side, Manhattan – NYC) – I went here for karaoke on a Friday night and was not disappointed! Karaoke host, Matt, is one of the best karaoke hosts I’ve seen (and I’m a bit of a connoisseur), doing an awesome job of balancing out the evening to make sure that everyone got to sing, and that there was a good balance of songs throughout the night. The environment is super-chill, and the regulars are really nice. At the end of karaoke (at around 1:30am) one of them bought whoever was left in the bar a round of shots. Now, that’s what I call karaoke camaraderie!

Whiskey Tavern (Chinatown, Manhattan – NYC) – I’d never been to this place before until this trip, when I went there for my friend, Diana’s post-wedding brunch, and I fell in love! It’s her favorite place, and I totally get why. The staff is amazing, and really takes the time to get to know you. The bar is spacious, and there’s a great outdoor seating area in back. I definitely hope to go back there to do some more casual drinking.

Barcade (Williamsburg, Brooklyn – NYC) – I’ve written about this place before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Varied beer selection, and old-school arcade games (Frogger, TMNT, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Tetris…) that you can still play for a quarter! Also, it’s a green business that’s powered by wind power, so smaller carbon footprint, and it’s a huge space with picnic tables that allows you to sit, or roam around deciding what game to play without ever feeling cramped. I also love the tiny details like having shelves in between each game so that you have somewhere to put your drinks while you play. If you’re a geek who loves to drink, this will become your Mecca.

Repping Doctor Who fandom for rul. Purchased at Brainstorm Comics.

Repping Doctor Who fandom for rul. Purchased at Brainstorm Comics.

GIT YO’ SHOP ON!

Curious Iguana (Frederick, MD) – As The Boy and I walked around downtown Frederick, we happened upon this adorable bookstore, and I had to poke my head in. I’m so glad I did. Curious Iguana is the epitome of why independent bookstores should never go away. They have a great selection of books, the layout of the space is fun, and the girl behind the counter was actually knowledgeable about books. When I asked her for specific things, she knew exactly what I was talking about, where to find it, and she went and got it for me herself. That should be the rule, not a special thing worthy of commendation, but in a world of superstores where employees are paid too low to be inspired to care and books are only one of many things they sell, it was nice to go to a place where books are still special and both they, and the store’s customers, are treated with respect. I ended up buying Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland. Apparently, I was having an Indian Author kind of a day. 🙂

Brainstorm Comics & Gaming (Frederick, MD) – This is apparently downtown Frederick’s only comic shop, which is fine, because this store is pretty awesome and should be able to meet most geeky needs in town! 🙂 The store is huge, and caters to comics and gaming (with a definite Warhammer focus, but they have other games, too). But most importantly, there’s a huge section of Doctor Who stuff, where I got the shirt in the above photo. If you happen to be in Frederick, go to there!

Purple Passion (Chelsea, Manhattan – NYC) – Screw Fifty Shades of Grey. If you want to actually learn about BDSM and whether or not there’s anything in that for you, a store like Purple Passion is a great place to start. It looks teensy and kind of dark from the outside, but once you go in, it’s a huge, well-lit space filled with clothing and apparatuses for all of your BDSM needs. The staff is also extremely helpful and friendly, creating a warm, open environment where you can totally ask whatever questions you have, no matter how stupid or lame you think they are, and they will fill you in. They also have regular workshops and events designed to help you learn how to use all the neat new toys you just bought! 🙂 Yes, they have a website, but the selection in the store is much better – and really, for custom stuff like corsets, in-person is better.

GIT YO’ LEARN ON!

From the "Universe of Desire" exhibit at the Museum of Sex.

From the “Universe of Desire” exhibit at the Museum of Sex.

Ducks are horrible creatures. No, really. Horrible. And yes, that's an actual duck penis.

Ducks are horrible creatures. No, really. Horrible. And yes, that’s an actual duck penis.

See? Ducks are fucking VILE.

See? Ducks are fucking VILE.

To get your mind off the ducks, here are some happy dolphins, fucking in the blowhole. Which, apparently, they do.

To get your mind off the ducks, here are some happy dolphins, fucking in the blowhole. Which, apparently, they do.

Deer threesome! Yes, this apparently also happens in nature. Deer love to get it on in groups!

Deer threesome! Yes, this apparently also happens in nature. Deer love to get it on in groups!

Museum of Sex (Flatiron District, Manhattan – NYC) – It’s a great space and, like the TARDIS, it’s bigger on the inside. Of the three exhibits on now, I really loved the “Universe of Desire” exhibit, which examined how people talk about/seek out sex online, and “The Sex Lives of Animals,” the title of which explains it all. This exhibit was actually really fascinating and illuminated the huge variety of sexual activity in the animal kingdom, particularly that of the bonobo, which is one of humanity’s closest relatives. No, humans are not the only beings on the planet who have sex for pleasure. Yes, homosexuality does exist in nature (in 500 species!). Yes, gender is fluid in nature (in many species, the females initiate sex or the males carry babies, sometimes switching depending on the needs of their immediate group). And yes, DUCKS ARE THE MOST VILE CREATURES ON THE PLANET AND I WOULD TOTALLY BE IN FAVOR OF WIPING THEM OFF THE PLANET WERE IN NOT FOR THE FREAKING ENVIRONMENT. (Seriously, though, ducks are rapist necrophiliacs with ridiculous corkscrew cocks. They should be stopped at all costs.) The Museum of Sex is a great way to explore sexuality, and by doing so, exploring human nature. And next time anyone tells you to “go fuck a duck!” you should be HUGELY insulted and punch them in their fucking mouths.

2013-10-13 21.18.30

Museum of the Moving Image (Astoria, Queens – NYC) – Holy Entertainment Industry Geeks, Batman! This place is the spot if you want to get down and nerdy about film and television (or even video games! Those are moving images, too, and they have old-school arcade games on display). In addition to having very thorough displays focused on every film/TV department (the Screenwriter section was a little sparse, but whatever. The few scripts and notebooks they had – like a marked up copy of Citizen Kane, or Larry David’s Seinfeld notebook – were pretty rad), they also have hands-on exhibits (like a booth in which you can ADR dialogue), and memorabilia from your favorite shows and films! There was a Breaking Bad exhibit when I visited! Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photos – but it was pretty damn cool to be thisclose to Walter White’s jacket, or the pink teddy bear that was floating in the pool. 🙂 If you love entertainment, it’s a great place to go!

The Boy geeks out over the sound plot for "Apocalypse Now."

The Boy geeks out over the sound plot for “Apocalypse Now.”

Original Star Trek fan fiction from the 1970s! Damn RIGHT that belongs in a museum! :)

Original Star Trek fanzines from the 1970s! Damn RIGHT that belongs in a museum! 🙂

The door into John Malkovich's brain.

The door into John Malkovich’s brain.

She was having a really bad day...

She was having a really bad day…

But if you do nothing else in New York City, make sure you get a “New York Breakfast” which consists of a cup of coffee “regular,” and a sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel or a roll. You can get this at just about any bagel place/deli/bodega with a grill. Seriously, when I had one of these for the first time in a year, I nearly cried. They just don’t make ’em like this anywhere else.

New York breakfast. You're welcome.

New York breakfast. You’re welcome.

TERESA HOMECOMING 2013: Please, and Thank You

"O Quilt" by Laura McMillian and Kristin Reger at the Museum of Sex in NYC.

“O Quilt” by Laura McMillian and Kristin Reger at the Museum of Sex in NYC.

Apologies for being M.I.A. for the past few weeks, but I was preparing, then on my annual pilgrimage to my first home and true love, New York! There were a couple of reasons for the trip:

  • The wedding of my “little sister,” my friend Joanna, who married the love of her life, Carlos (aka “Chuck”), on October 27th.
  • I can only really afford to go home once a year these days, so this also served as my “holiday visit,” because I likely won’t be able to return in December.

and

  • I was bringing The Boy home for the first time.

This last thing was particularly exciting, because…well…I’ve never had anyone to bring home before. “Take home,” sure. But never “bring home” to meet my family. This was a whole new world of experience for me, and I found myself getting really excited every time The Boy and I were about meet a loved one to whom I hadn’t yet introduced him.

I was proud to show him off!

And as I knew he would, he passed any and all tests with flying colors! 🙂 My family approved, and my friends approved. I was told several times how “cute” we are (we really are. It’s pretty disgusting.), and the best part was that incorporating him into my New York life seemed like the most natural thing in the world. He belongs there.

He wasn’t the only one being put through paces on this trip, either. I joined him in the D.C. area to visit his family, and while I’d already met his parents when they’ve visited L.A, I was introduced to grandparents and aunts and uncles on this trip, all of whom are really awesome and sweet. His parents greeted me as if they were actually glad to see me again. Crazy, right? 😉

We haven’t even been together a year yet (that milestone is coming next month), but traveling together for three weeks gives you an opportunity to look at your relationship in a way that even living together doesn’t. Because even when you’re living together, you can have space from each other – each of you going to separate rooms for “alone time,” or going about your jobs or other aspects of your lives. On this trip, however, we were constantly in each others’ faces, sitting together on cramped modes of transportation, sleeping in the close quarters of friends of mine who generously let us crash in their apartments. Every meal shared, every experience shared…

And it was exhausting!

You see, I’m someone who’s used to traveling alone. I’m used to wandering on my own and doing what I want without having to entertain or be entertained. Now, I had to take someone else’s needs and wants into account. Change is often uncomfortable, but when the result is worth it, you don’t mind so much.

Three weeks is a long time to spend traveling, and there was one point when we were just devastatingly exhausted and sitting in a coffee shop mostly silent over coffee and bagels as the rain poured outside (I’m starting to become an L.A. person in that I hadn’t thought to carry around an umbrella…). I realized that I kind of wished that I could find some moments in which I could be alone. I love The Boy, of course, but…we were just in each other’s grill all the time. I was sure he must have been feeling the same way, so I brought it up to break the silence. I jokingly asked, “So, are you sick of me yet? It’s totally OK if the answer is yes. I mean, we’ve been in each other’s grill all the time, I’d totally understand if you wanted space from me.” To which he replied, “No. I really love spending time with you, I couldn’t get tired of you even though we are, as you say, ‘in each other’s grill’ all the time. Why? Are you?”

And then I felt like the World’s Biggest Asshole.

“Well…?” I replied. And he smiled. I was quick to insist that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the fact that I was used to traveling alone and not used to incorporating someone else into my life, etc, etc. “It’s OK,” he said. “I get it. It’s really OK.” And I fell in love with him a little bit more in that moment – because he gets it. Because I can tell him anything and trust that I won’t be misunderstood, because he always understands me even when others don’t. We continued to sit there in grateful, exhausted silence, and I realized that if I was gonna give up pieces of my independence for anybody, it was gonna be for this person, because this person is so worth it.

Communication is key. That sounds so cliche, but that’s because people say it all the time because it’s true. The Boy and I seem to be pretty good at it, and it’s one of the things for which I’m the most grateful. I can tell him anything. He can tell me anything. And it’s OK. No matter what. And we get it. We get each other.

And we take care of each other. I noticed that we’re really nice to each other. Like, super-polite in a way I haven’t noticed in other couples, or even in us toward other people. I mean, we’re both generally polite, and know polite people – it’s just that it seems like we’re trying a little harder with each other.  “Would you please pass me the salt?” at the diner. “Thank you for letting me have the window seat” on the plane. “Would you please hand me my backpack?” “Thank you for taking care of me on this trip.” I feel like we’re trying to be our best selves for each other, and that feels really nice. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of snark, but our relationship isn’t drowned in irony, which is really saying something, considering that it’s become kinda hard for me to verbally express any kind of real emotion without sarcasm or a joke attached to it, because…well…feelings are icky and stupid. 😉 But I do it for him because, again, he’s worth it.

So, as it turns out, as much fun as I had in New York, and as wonderful as it was to see my friends and family, the best part about this trip was realizing how lucky I am to have this person in my life, and what an awesome choice I made in partners. Yay, us! 🙂

/gross, nauseating, obnoxious display of affection (See? Sarcasm.)

September 11, 2001: The World’s Biggest Small Town

The photo above is one of me and the cast of my first post-college play. I’d call it my first “professional” acting gig, but none of us got paid. 🙂 It was an all-black (except for me, obviously – dang, I was a minority in a room full of minorities!) production of Antigone. The production was crappy, but I loved the cast (and we bonded in the face of a well-meaning, but less-than-competent director), and I was excited, because it was the first thing I’d auditioned for that I got. I was in The Chorus. 🙂 This photo was taken in October 2001.

I’m posting it, because today is September 11th, and it’s the kind of day that needs acknowledging somehow. I’ll leave the grief to the families of the victims. Thankfully, I didn’t know anyone in the Towers (though I know a couple of close calls), so I don’t feel right pretending to wallow in sadness today. My heart is with anyone who lost anyone that day…but that’s all. If you’d like to know my experience of that day, you can read all about it in this post I wrote in 2004.

But today, I thought about the fact that I was in this play a month after the attack on the World Trade Center. While the atmosphere in the city had changed, was charged in a way it had never been before in my lifetime…people were still making art. People were still going to plays. People were still dying their hair ridiculous shades of red/orange/blonde (or maybe that was just me?). 🙂

The point is, a month after this tragedy happened, the city was going about its business. With shifted priorities and a new wariness, for sure, but still – we moved on. It’s always interesting to me when people I meet from outside New York talk to me about 9/11. It’s become this mythological event to those outside NYC, and when people have asked me about where I was that day, or what the city was like, I always feel like they expect this horrible, tragic tale; like they expect to hear about a New York that was either beautifully solemn or inspiring in its fierce survival.

The thing is, while I was inspired by the ability of my city to pick itself up and dust itself off, it didn’t feel as dramatic as all that on the inside. We’d simply found a new normal. And a month later – despite the armed military now at all the major train stations; despite the warnings to “say something” if we “see something”; despite the trips to volunteer with the Red Cross at Ground Zero, or new security concerns at all major office buildings – I was in a really bad production of Antigone at a teensy theater while working a day job. I had just graduated from college, and was starting my post-collegiate life hopeful, because I had a job that paid my bills and I was able to pursue the arts I loved.

I don’t know why I’m writing all this, really. I guess I just want people to know that life in New York after September 11th wasn’t a movie. It wasn’t whatever dramatic scenario you might be imagining in your head – (though I’m of the opinion that every life, no matter how “normal” and “boring” has drama to be found in it). It was just life, and it went on, whether people lost people in the Towers or not. People went to jobs, went home to families, and did things like go to sporting events, or movies, or plays.

People tend to mythologize New York if they’re not from there, either putting it on a pedestal or demonizing it. The truth is, it’s the World’s Biggest Small Town. It’s a place where people know each other and you can’t go five feet without bumping into someone that you either dated or went to high school with. It’s a place where, despite what television might have taught you, no one really cares (except maybe the transplants) what you wear or what you do so long as you stand by your choices. They might argue with you about those choices, but it isn’t a genuine attempt to change your mind – it’s just that life in a melting pot teaches you to appreciate the heat of molecules colliding with each other, and we’re raised to love the energy of a good fight. But people grow up, live, work, and die in New York, just going about their business and not doing anything very grand at all. People raise children and hold blue-collar jobs. People have close friends and care about strangers. I guess it bothers me that my New York often gets lost in the hype – so I’m writing about it now.

LI’L GEEKLETS: Best Destinations For Little Geeks (and Their Parents) in NYC! [REPRINT]

Photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, New York City.

Visiting New York? Traveling with the kids?

I know, sometimes it’s difficult finding places that both you AND your child enjoy. However, as a Geek Parent, you have it easier than most. You play with toys and watch cartoons ALL THE TIME. 🙂 And there are plenty of places in New York City that indulge your inner-geek while also appealing to the budding geek in your child, all while giving you the playfulness you both crave! Wanna know my favorite child-friendly geek attractions across the Five Boroughs of New York City?

Check out my full write-up and more photos at ChinaShop: BEST DESTINATIONS FOR GEEK KIDS (AND THEIR PARENTS!) IN NYC

**NOTE (10/14/12): The Geek Girl Traveler Twitter and Facebook page are no longer active. The ONLY place to find my Geek Girl Traveler articles now is here at the Teresa Jusino Experience, at my personal Twitter (@teresajusino), or at my Facebook page (facebook.com/TeresaJusinoExperience)! The email address for tips, however, IS STILL ACTIVE (geekgirltraveler[at]gmail[dot]com)! So, email away!**

GEEKY STAYS: The Library Hotel [REPRINT]

Photo by Moi. The wall behind the front desk at the Library Hotel, New York City.

You know what’s awesome? Getting to spend the night in an amazing boutique hotel with oodles of geek cred for free, that’s what.

One of the benefits of being a travel writer.

Thankfully, it wasn’t just the unbeatable price that made me rave about it in my review over at ChinaShop. The Library Hotel is a beautiful place to stay that happens to be organized by the Dewey Decimal System! I KNOW! 🙂 This place is book-lover heaven. Not only that, but if there’s a particular thing you geek out about, from Astronomy to Mathematics to History, you can stay in a room devoted entirely to it!

But what really makes The Library Hotel special is the staff. Everyone, from the front desk staff to the kitchen staff to the housekeepers were all warm and kind and extremely helpful. And not just to me, but to other guests!

Check out my full write up and more photos at ChinaShop: THE GEEKIEST STAY IN NEW YORK: THE LIBRARY HOTEL

GEEK NIGHTLIFE: Brooklyn Rules NYC Geek Nightlife [REPRINT]

Photo by Moi. The wall of merch at Barcade, New York City.

I’m a lifelong Queens girl, so it kinda pains me to say this…

But as far as geekery is concerned, Brooklyn is where it’s at, as evidenced by the preponderance of geektastic drinking establishments in the borough. (Do you like how I used the words “preponderance” and “geektastic” in the same sentence? It’s like I can’t use big words without using made-up words to balance it out…)

For fans of Doctor Who or steampunk, The Way Station in Prospect Heights, BK is the place to go! The themed (and reasonably priced) drink cocktails, like the “Captain Jack Harkness,” are upstaged only by the lush steampunk decor and the now-legendary TARDIS bathroom! It’s also a performance venue that hosts music and burlesque acts, steampunk parties, and screenings that appeal to geeks of all stripes.

Is your inner-geek of the gamer variety? Well then you need to check out Barcade in Williamsburg! The cute, summer camp-esque bar is chock full of vintage arcade games like Pac-Man, Centipede, and Donkey Kong, all of which you can still play for 25 cents a pop. The place has also got a great beer selection and is a “green” business, so you can feel good about the fact that your carbon footprint as you shoot 8-bit aliens will be teensy.

Check out my full write up and more photos at ChinaShop: GEEK DRINKING IN BROOKLYN BOROUGH.

**NOTE (10/14/12): The Geek Girl Traveler Twitter and Facebook page are no longer active. The ONLY place to find my Geek Girl Traveler articles now is here at the Teresa Jusino Experience, at my personal Twitter (@teresajusino), or at my Facebook page (facebook.com/TeresaJusinoExperience)! The email address for tips, however, IS STILL ACTIVE (geekgirltraveler[at]gmail[dot]com)! So, email away!**

Countdown to L.A. – City As Identity

Days to L.A. – 11

I know I said I was going to to be writing all sorts of insightful things about New York. But I’ve been working full babysitting days all week and trying to catch up with people before I go. I’ve also been letting the fact that I’m actually, truly leaving sink in for the first time, and it’s sort of paralyzed me. I haven’t wanted to do much of anything, because everything I have to do right now brings me one step closer to leaving the only home I’ve ever known, and it scares the living bejeezus out of me.

I bought my plane ticket a few days ago. One-way. LGA to LAX departing August 31st at 6:39PM arriving in L.A. at 11:03PM. I stared at the computer screen for about an hour before I was able to click “Submit” to make the purchase.

Today, I talked to my BFF, at whose apartment I’ve been staying while she and her new hubby have been on their Hawaiian honeymoon. She’s now in L.A. for a friend’s wedding, and when I spoke to her, she was on the Santa Monica pier. I said, “So, you’re in my future home! You’re getting to see it before I am!” To which she replied, “Eh. It’s not anything special,” then proceeded to list off the reasons why L.A. isn’t that special. A part of it is because she’s just not an L.A. person. She’s a dyed in the wool New Yorker, and ain’t nothing changing that. But another part felt like she was saying those things because she was trying to make it sound less appealing for my benefit, as if to convince me to stay home. Meanwhile, I felt myself getting a bit insulted, because as she talked about the people who do nothing but “talk to their agents on the phone” and talk about how “New York has seasons” and how the only difference between L.A. beaches and New York beaches is that “they have palm trees,” I was thinking to my self But, I want to BE one of those people talking to my agent on the phone. And I’d LIKE to live in a place where I don’t sweat like a piglet when it’s hot out or commute in a blizzard. And I like palm trees.

Which is funny, because not too long ago another of my close friends – a transplant to NYC from the Midwest – was talking about needing to get out of here, because it was too loud and busy and overwhelming, and I was defiending it with every cell in my body, feeling the way my BFF must have – insulted by the very idea that someone would want to leave this amazing city.

But it’s more than that. Because it feels like a personal insult. When my friend was talking about leaving New York, his talking about how much he hated it and needed to be somewhere other than this place I loved felt like a slight against me. New York is such a part of me, it felt like by insulting my city, he was insulting me. I hope that my BFF doesn’t feel that way – she must know how much I love her, AND this place. But I find it interesting that the cities in which we live are more than just cities. They’re extensions of ourselves. We are so emotionally invested in them, and allow them to become such a part of our identities that we defend their honors as we would our own.

And so choosing to move to L.A. sometimes makes me feel like I’m betraying that honor. It feels like I’m betraying myself, like I’m changing to become this other thing who isn’t me. It scares me to think that my friends and family think that this move will change me. Or perhaps, what scares me is knowing it will.

Then again, change isn’t always bad. If I didn’t think I needed a change, I wouldn’t be going in the first place. I don’t see it as change even, so much as becoming more myself. One of the best ways to get to the core of who you are is to put yourself in a new situation where no one really knows you; where you can’t fall back on old habits or fall prey to old routines. Where you have to deal with brand new situations as they come and decide in each moment the kind of person you want to be. Of course, this is possible staying in one place, but you have to work harder, and not everyone is capable of doing it. Most of us need a huge kick in the pants to test ourselves. L.A. is my kick in the pants now, much like Dublin was eleven years ago.

I’m excited and happy about the move. I’m sad because I’m going to miss my friends and family. I’m thrilled at the prospect of new opportunities. I’m disappointed in myself for “selling out” my New York-ness. And I’m scared of the unknown, and have the irrational fear that my new city will laugh in my face and lift its leg to piss all over me. This has been my emotional rollercoaster lately. Enjoy that. 🙂

Incidentally, the friend I mentioned above was supposed to be moving out West around the same time I am, and has instead decided to stay in New York and has just leased a new apartment. So, a part of me feels that, even though I’m leaving, I’ve had a part in making a convert. At least that’s something.

This moment of introspection has been brought to you by Altoona Hills kosher Australian wine, and Mr. and Mrs. Golub. 🙂

Countdown to L.A. – Friends With Benefits

First of all, there should probably be an actual countdown going, right? OK…

Days to L.A. – 24

Whoa. That’s not a lot of days, is it? No, I haven’t bought my ticket yet. Is it freaking me out? Maybe. Shut up.

So, I saw Friends With Benefits with Robin a couple of days ago, and I really loved it! Not just because it was sweet in the snarky-sarcastic way I adore, and not just because Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are wonderful (and ridiculously hot), but because this was one of those times when a movie came into my life exactly when I needed it to.

Mila Kunis’ character, Jamie, is from New York. Dylan, played by JT, is from L.A. And from the very beginning, their relationship is, in part, based on selling the best of their cities to each other. Jamie showing Dylan “her” New York almost made me cry, because she focused on the very things a native would focus on. Watching her experience L.A. with Dylan for the first time made me hopeful, and reminded me of how I felt when I visited earlier this year – that L.A. is a lot less shallow than reported and the kind of place where you can heal and be more yourself. It made both cities look really good, and perfectly captured both my nostalgia for the home I’m about to leave, and hope/excitement for the home I’m about to create.

There’s also the issue of Dylan, the character who makes the big cross-country move away from his family, also having a father who is suffering from dementia. Wasn’t expecting that, and that touched a pretty sensitive nerve. Probably the most difficult part of moving is leaving my dad. But when I think about it, he’s the person who would’ve understood this move the most, if he were in his right mind.

So, thanks Will Gluck, for writing a film that was both enjoyable and helped me process my feelings about moving to the Left Coast.

Countdown to L.A. – Officially Homeless

I’ve been neglecting the blog – and much of my more substantial online life – because I’ve been focused on moving out of my apartment in Brooklyn by the time my lease was up today.

Well, it’s done. This weekend I sold off/gave away/packed up all my meager belongings and got out of my cute apartment in Bed-Stuy. I am now officially homeless. All that means, though, is that I don’t have a legal residence for a while. It doesn’t mean I’m out on the street! I’m staying at my friend Maria’s where I’m currently catsitting until the 5th. From there, I stay at my friend Robin’s for two weeks while she and her new hubby go on their honeymoon. Then it’s off to Astoria, where I’ll be staying with friends, Liz & Alex, until I leave New York for good (at least, for a while) on September 1st.

This month, I’ll be spending a lot of time reflecting on life as a New Yorker, getting in some last licks at some of my favorite places, getting to places I’d never before got around to seeing before I go, and hanging with all of my favorite people. And I’ll be sharing it all with you.

The countdown to L.A. begins…

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