Two Birds, One Stone

When I wrote my 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 list, several of the items on the list were meant to be ongoing. I didn’t intend to only go to one brewery, or to only go on one interesting photo-taking excursion. This past weekend, not only did I visit another brewery (the first one was Defiant Brewery in Pearl River, NY), but I had two days in a row of interesting photo-taking excursions! (It’s not the first time I’ve packed a weekend chock-full of photo-taking, either.)

On Friday, I went into New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Pookie and Schnookie. They go on trips like this every few months, and I’ve long been jealous of the amazing photo opportunities. I was a little nervous about the art museum factor, because I was having trouble visualizing how long I’d stay entertained taking photos of sculptures and paintings.

January 22, 2010

Well, as it turns out, there’s a lot of really interesting stuff at the Met. (Understatement of the century? Perhaps.) A lot of the pictures didn’t turn out how I wanted them to, but for all of my test shots (hee), I got a few photos I’m really, really pleased with.

geometric patterns! everyone stop!

What was also interesting was the fact that despite being surrounded by priceless, historic works of art, I was taking pictures of gratings, geometric patterns, and the architectural details of the museum itself. I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s just my style.

I'd totally hang one of these in my apartment.

But it was an adventure kind of day, with some time spent on a random NYC street waiting for the real business of the day to conclude (some of my favorite photos are from that hour, actually!), cupcakes, and the chance to stretch the way you look at what’s around you. I can’t wait to see the pictures I took with the film camera that day.

Is it possible to make ugly NJ Transit seats almost pleasing to the eye?

I got a few items on my Scavenger Hunt, and this one shot on an ugly NJ Transit train that might be one of my favorites from the whole day. How crazy is that?

how could I have forgotten?

Did I mention the cupcakes? I had another one on Saturday and it was, if possible, more mindblowing than these ones. And I just realized I never posted the photo of that cupcake, either. I think that means I’ll have to go back for another one, and SOON.

Saturday was the first photo meetup I’ve organized, and it brought together work friends, a college friend, Dan, and a flickr friend in a way that I was nervous about beforehand. What if they hated each other and it was all my fault? Okay, well, I didn’t really think that would happen, because I know all of these people and if *I* think they are all awesome, it just follows naturally that they all think the same about each other. Turns out? We all had an awesome time. It was so cool.

rusty geometric patterns

We first walked around campus taking pictures of details, buildings, and dead plants. There were a lot of test shots. We took a break for coffee to rest our feet and quench our thirst, and then visited not one, but TWO paper stores. The boys entertained themselves with a book about farts, while everyone else enabled me as I bought paper, a stamp, another e for my wall of Es, oh and a little dandelion card that’s so small and adorable that I’m sure I’ll never use it.

star filtered little beers

By that point we were hungry and starting to get chilly, so we headed over to Triumph Brewery, which I’ve been hearing about from friends and coworkers for a long time. They have quite a few beers available, and most of us got samplers of all seven beers. I got to try the Honey Blonde (very good, very light), Amber Ale (loved it), Bock (also loved it), Irish Dry Stout (stouts are never my favorites, but I liked this one a lot), Bengal Gold IPA (not as crazy strong as most IPAs, but still an IPA. I’d have to be in the mood for it; the sampler size was perfect), Winter Wonder (totally awesome, and such a high alcohol content that Dan’s came in a snifter rather than a pint glass. When he asked for a man-style glass for it, they refused because the high alcohol content means they have to serve it in smaller glasses), and the Gothic Ale (an English style ale that was a little warm on purpose. Good but not my favorite). The food was pretty awesome, too. I’m so glad we went, and I’m glad I got to go with so many people, and I still can’t believe how much we laughed.

for our imaginary upcoming photo exhibit

After the brewery, we were all craving something sweet, so we proceeded to the Bent Spoon, where a few of us got shakes, a few got ice cream, Dan got some intense hot chocolate, and I got another cupcake. We all wished we’d gotten what the others had gotten and the only reasonable conclusion was that we’d all need to visit again, and often. We’re already concocting plans for a warmer-weather, more beachy type of meetup.

But more than anything else, both days were everything you want a photo excursion to be – fun times full of sparkling wit, embarrassing admissions, tasty food, realizing that other people take awful photos half the time too, and above all being inspired by people who love photography as much as you do. I can’t wait until the next time we do this!

#13: Finish those damn cross stitches for my mom already!

For her birthday in 2006, I made my mom a small square cross stitch. It was an Elizabethan knot garden and I got it from a book of traditional cross stitch motifs that I bought when I first became obsessed with the immediacy of cross stitch as a hobby. Of course, that small cross stitch took significantly more time than I ever expected, but it turned out so cool and my mom was really happy with it.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2006

I surprised her in 2007 by making another Elizabethan knot garden and revealing that it would be a trilogy, and very soon.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2007

And then I sort of got tired of working on such intense, detailed stitching projects (compared to my usual fare!). But I wanted to finish the set, especially after my parents redecorated their bedroom and the colors worked perfectly with the little cross stitched gardens. So when I wrote my list of things to do while I was 27 in the summer of 2008, I made finishing (okay, starting and THEN finishing) the last garden #17.

And it just didn’t happen. My mom eventually stopped asking about it, and I felt bad.

So when I put the same task on my list of things to do while I’m 28 this past summer, I really meant it. I mean, cursing on my list? GASP. But secretly, I started working on it. And I finished it and succeeded in not taking or posting any photos of the finished project so as not to reveal the surprise.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2009

And my mom was surprised, and super happy, and she didn’t even make any comments about how it took three years to get all three. And now they live happily on her dresser, and even though they’re deceptively difficult to get a crisp photo of, they look pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

January 21, 2010

#2: Visit Local Breweries

December 4, 2009

It’s really no secret that I’m kind of in love with beer. (I’m thisclose to finishing my 52 Beers project, in fact.) So adding an item about visiting local breweries when I wrote my 28 to do list seemed a bit obvious. But for all of my love of beer, there are several really good breweries in the general area, and I have never been to ANY of them. I don’t know why. It’s silly. So! This past weekend, when Pete said he wanted to celebrate his birthday at Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River, New York, you better believe I was in. (Okay fine, I would have been in to celebrate Pete’s birthday, brewery or not, but the brewery was like an added bonus. Especially given how much I like to check things off of lists!)

the menu

Anyway! My friends have been frequenting this brewery for a while, because the beer is good, the prices make your jaw drop, and the atmosphere is awesome. It was pretty crowded when we showed up around 10pm on a Friday night, but after an hour or two, it calmed down to the perfect type of bar vibe: there’s a place to sit, the beer is awesome, and you can hear each other talk. (I never claimed to be one of the cool kids!)

clearly, this shot was a misfire, focus-wise

I’ve been to breweries before, but Defiant had way more beers to choose from than I expected. I tried the Prohibition Pilsner (light for your non-dark-beer-loving pals, but not so light that a real beer lover won’t be happy) and one of the lagers, the Muddy Creek Lager, which I really enjoyed. The beer was really good. And for every three you drink, the fourth is free. Free! And they’re only $3.25 to start with! Honestly. It’s probably good that I don’t live closer.

Chocolate Porter, Defiant Brewing Company

It was a lot of fun, and not just because of the beer. I can’t wait to go back. Even if my clothes reeked of hops and yeast and barley something AWFUL after we left. (But don’t consider this item checked off! Triumph, I’m looking at you!)

the bartenders do double duty

Things That Make Me Happy

  1. the CLICK of the shutter and the the kerCHUNK of the film advancing on a film camera
  2. the smell of wet leaves on the ground
  3. bagels
  4. sunshine in the morning
  5. holidays with my family
  6. making apple pie with my mom
  7. converse
  8. composition books
  9. Coke Cherry Zero
  10. waking up to discover a text message arrived while I was sleeping
  11. planning my outfit around my patterned socks
  12. being in the middle of a really good, really long book
  13. lazy Sundays watching football and tv shows on dvd all day
  14. watercolors
  15. the promise of a full scale Thanksgiving dinner

Third Time's the Charm

I just got back from the gym and I’m sweaty and my face is beet red in a decidedly unpretty way. But I’m full of all of those good vibes I always hear people talking about when it comes to exercise.  This morning’s run was my last run in week 9 of the Couch to 5k program. And week 9 is the last week. So that means I have now officially COMPLETED Couch to 5k. Well, sort of.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely trying to knock this accomplishment, because for me, sticking with this for nine weeks is a big deal. This is not the first time I’ve attempted Couch to 5k. Well, frankly, it’s not the first time I’ve come up with a New! Perfect! Plan! for how I’m really going to get in shape for real this time! I swear! Let’s not mention my brief and wallet-destroying stint with that personal trainer last fall. Or when I was totally going to pull off that 30 Day Shred thing that the entire interweb was obsessed with. So I’m really freaking proud of myself that I started it, I stuck with it, even though I absolutely, 100% hate going to the gym and I hate how sweaty I get and I hate how my head is too enormously huge for any of those supposedly “no slip” headbands they sell for “active hairstyles!” and my bangs are always in my eyes, have I mentioned that I hate the gym? But! I have gone three times a week for NINE WHOLE WEEKS and I’m so impressed with myself.

Of course, the reason I’m qualifying my success here is that I run too slowly, so even though I have completed the nine week program and can now run for 30 minutes without stopping (even though it’s a bit of a colossal mental struggle every time, my body is completely capable of rising to the challenge), 30 minutes at the speed I’ve got the treadmill set is more like 2.6 or 2.75 miles, not 3.1. So that’s my next goal: either ratchet up the speed, or just run slowly but longer until I am really running three miles without stopping.

But still! Can you believe it? I can’t. The last time I was able to do this, I was 14 and miserable on the field hockey team. This is much, much better. Just be happy you’re not sitting next to me. Sweating is gross.

#24: Go on interesting photo-taking excursions

This item on my 28 To Do List was meant to be an ongoing one. This one was meant to inspire me to go on as MANY photo-taking excursions as possible. A week and a half into my 28th year, I think I’m doing pretty darn well. (I’ve also finished rolls on both of my film cameras. While that’s not strictly an excursion, it goes along with the whole spirit of #24, I think.)

Last Friday, Pete, Sheryl and I went out to western NJ to take photos at the 27th Annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning. We stood at the edge of the farm where she keeps her horses and took pictures through the haze as the balloons inflated and gently rose up and floated away in groups of two and three, until there were well more than 20 visible at once. Hot air balloons are surprisingly soothing, the way they move about so gracefully. It was also almost nostalgic, because my grandmother lives in that general part of New Jersey, and there were times visiting her as a kid that we’d see hot air balloons flying over her house. So that part was cool, too.

so many, so awesome

Then on Saturday, I met up with a bunch of my flickr friends at Coney Island in Brooklyn, a place I’ve never been, despite hearing about it during Mets games (“The Cyclones are Brooklyn!”). We ate hot dogs at the original Nathan’s, and then walked up and down the boardwalk, taking in the sights, and thousands and thousands of scantily clad people. Then the skies opened up; we heard a wave of screams as the folks on the beach ran toward the boardwalk, and we were all drenched within seconds. (No camera equipment was harmed, thank goodness.) We took cover under a cheery white and red striped tent, splashing in puddles, and once the rain stopped, we recommenced our walking on the boardwalk. We took pictures in a photobooth, we took photos of and with each other, we couldn’t quite understand the wacky weather, and mostly we just enjoyed each other’s company. The weather sucked, yes. My shoes and socks and jeans were still quite damp when I got back. But it was worth it.

Wonder Wheel, all moody

we took refuge under a tent of stripes

hello, goodbye

And then this past Wednesday, Pete had an extra ticket to see the Daily Show, so we decided to make a photo-taking day of it. Did we realize it was going to rain again? Well, maybe. But we couldn’t let the tickets go to waste, so we brought an umbrella (okay, Pete brought an umbrella; I didn’t want to carry one around so I stuck with my superpowered gor-tex raincoat) and figured we’d suck it up. We went to the Intrepid and managed to take a whole lot of hurried shots as the rain began, trying desperately not to slip on the wet deck of the aircraft carrier. We then headed down to the hangar deck, where the main museumy parts are located. I didn’t bother reading any of the descriptions, but just took pictures of things that looked cool. I also couldn’t help thinking that a visit to the Intrepid would have been just as much fun with my dad, who could have explained all of the planes and helicopters for me. It was an amazing place, even if we did get totally soaked walking over to the Daily Show studio.


green lights


So all in all, my first few photo-taking excursions were fantastic. Let’s just hope future ones don’t all involve weird weather and waterlogged sneakers. Seriously.

#1. Take pictures in a photobooth

The first item on my list of 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 was accomplished on Saturday at Coney Island, thanks to some sleuthing by the lovely Jodi, who saw my list and then looked up where the photobooths were at Coney Island! How cool is that? Very. Of course, I messed it up by (a) not being ready for the first shot, (b) making the same face in the second and third shots, and (c) not thinking that duh it needed to dry before putting it safely in between the pages of my book. But still! Awesome!

Twenty Eight Things To Do While I’m 28

  1. Take pictures in a photobooth. (done!)
  2. Visit local breweries. (Defiant and Triumph)
  3. Complete the Couch to 5k program for real this time. (finally)
  4. Learn how to knit. (with only days to spare!)
  5. Bake cupcakes. (Carrot cake cupcakes for Dan’s birthday)
  6. Relax. The real way other people do, instead of the way where I force myself to.
  7. Take more pictures of people.
  8. Go on a trip.
  9. Write a list of 365 things that make me happy. (in progress)
  10. Have people over.
  11. Watch some of those movies everyone thinks I should have seen but I haven’t. (done)
  12. Have plants. Don’t kill them.
  13. Finish those damn cross stitches for my mom already! (done)
  14. Take a good picture of me and Dan.
  15. Go to as many baseball games as possible.
  16. Make my new apartment feel like home without spending too much money.
  17. Don’t let my handwriting go to waste.
  18. Write 28 lists. (working on it)
  19. Spend more time outside.
  20. Banish my beer-sponsored belly and fit into those skinny jeans after all.
  21. Learn how to cook at least three new things. (roasted sweet potato salad, three-bean super stew, pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella and chickpeas)
  22. Say what I think. Ask for what I want.
  23. Love the people who matter to me.
  24. Go on interesting photo-taking excursions. (the balloon festival, Coney Island, the Met, Princeton, crafts in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, the Museum of Natural History)
  25. Take a risk or two.
  26. Work toward completing a rainbow of shoes. (Love it.)
  27. Lie in the grass, look at the sky, and feel the wind.
  28. No really, age is just a number. Grow up. Stay young. Be silly. Talk a lot. Take pictures. Hug more. Be happy.

(27 Things To Do While I Was 27)